With Neon’s reveal taking the local scene by storm, it truly is a great win for Filipino representation to finally get its breakout moment. Not only did Riot Games add a dash of Pinoy flavor into VALORANT, but did you know that Neon was also designed, voiced, and QA’d by Filipinos as well? Neon is, for the most part, proudly Pinoy!
VALORANT ‘Neon Ninong’ Ryan Cousart
A big part of bringing Neon to life is none other than game designer Ryan Cousart, who was integral in the process. While designing Neon, Ryan and the team kept coming back to two words that formed the basis of the character – Fast and Frenetic.
“I remember when August Browning (League of Legends Lead Champion Designer) had originally come to us with this idea for having an Agent with the ability to sprint fast on a basic ability—I had lots of reasons why I thought it would be an insurmountable amount of work to achieve it,” shares Cousart, who outlined the initial challenges in designing Neon.
“The goal we had aligned on for Neon was that she would move fast and her utility should supplement. After seeing how far it had gone with Jay Watford (Game Designer) and August before I hopped on to take it to the finish line, I was so excited to see how well we had hit the goal of having abilities that pair well with going fast that it left the prototype phase with basically the same kit!”
Ryan is incredibly proud of this achievement, saying that “I’ve been at Riot for a while now and until now, there’s only been talk here and there of making a character from the Philippines. I’m a Filipino designer, so the opportunity to help bring a Filipina agent to life in VALORANT is an absolute blessing to me all the way down to the core.”
VALORANT Neon Voice Actor Vanille Velasquez
Cousart’s work with Neon didn’t stop with the design, as he was also integral in working with Vanille Velasquez, the voice actress for the character.
Best known for her works as Yuni (Unicorn Girls), Amy (Pandora in the Crimson Shell), and the Heroine (Project Star: Makeover Story), Vanille was in constant communication with Cousart, even to the point that she even helped write a few of Neon’s lines to make it more authentic.
Neon also has great taste in music, and if you find yourself bopping to the beat and seeing an oddly familiar name, that’s because the song from Neon’s trailer was performed by none other than Ylona Garcia and 88rising, entitled “Entertain Me”
VALORANT Quality Lead Gabby Llanillo
Making Neon work in-game is equally as important and a big part of that can be attributed to the work of Gabby Llanillo, who is the QA Engineer II and Quality Lead for VALORANT.
Gabby reveals that Filipinos make up a huge portion of the VALORANT audience so this achievement is a very special one, especially since “we’re constantly overlooked for representation in media in general.”
Gabby brings with her years of QA experience from previous posts at Square Enix and most recently, Naughty Dog and her work on The Last of Us Part II.
Official First Neon Cosplay – Charess
If all of that wasn’t enough for you, VALORANT and Riot Games have also tapped well-known Filipina cosplayer Charess to transform herself into the electrifying new agent. The cosplay is ultra-accurate that you’d mistake her for actually being the agent herself, especially with only a couple of weeks to pull the stunning cosplay.
Of course, we also have to give props to the team who made all of it possible for Charess – from the cinematographer Nicko Wong (WongBros TVPS) to the Photographers Macvan Dihayco / Andy Go and even to the creative director Archie Abong (DigitalArch).
The team even created an awesome cosplay trailer complete with a character select screen showcasing Neon’s moves and background. Production value +100!
Neon, part of VALORANT Episode 4 Act 1, goes live on January 11, 2022.