After several years, League of Legends developer Riot is reimagining the popular MOBA’s entire lore.
Why, you ask? It just spun out of control over the years as more elements were added and the developer decided it wanted to flesh out the narrative in a way not possible with the limiting rules already set in place.
“In some cases – say, with a champion update – the original concept is mostly sound (or even timelessly awesome!) and all we have to do is bump things up to modern standards,” Riot’s Tommy Gnox explained in a new blog post. “Sometimes, however, we look back at decisions that made perfect sense when we originally made them, but are now at odds with our design values and ultimately limit our ability to continually improve League of Legends. That’s unacceptable, and in such situations we seek to aggressively reimagine content in a way that realises its full potential.”
“After a while, these early choices began to create unexpected problems,” he added. “Every new champion needed a reason to join and remain in the League, and as their number grew, the net result was that over time the world started to feel, well, small, and eventually less interesting. The institutions we’d designed fostered creative stagnation, limiting the ways that champions, factions and Runeterra itself could grow and change. Furthermore, the very idea of all-powerful Summoners made Champions little more than puppets manipulated by godlike powers. The background we’d created to explain in-game action was ultimately restricting the potential narrative development of the game’s defining characters.”
Now this isn’t a case of igniting a flame to everything we know. Many of the fundamental elements will remain in place, while others will be rejigged to tell a new, potentially more interesting story outside of just the core mechanics. It sounds akin to the way Crystal Dynamics rebooted Tomb Raider or Ronald D. Moore re-imagined Battlestar Galactica.
“Story has the potential to affect every element of League of Legends, so the decision to venture into new narrative territory wasn’t made quickly or capriciously,” Gnox stated. “The need for change only became apparent over time, and the choice was made only after a great deal of deliberation. Further, we want you to know that this new approach is focused on opening up possibilities and unlocking a wider, more fully-fledged world – the point isn’t to tear up older stories that form their own cherished part of League’s history.”
“At a very broad level, we’ve decided to push League’s story beyond its original focus on explaining in-game action and forge a new narrative path for Runeterra,” he continued. “One of the principles we’d love to discuss further is our focus on ensuring that champion identities remain consistent regardless of where you encounter them; for example, Darius should always feel the same regardless of whether he’s administering an axe in a story piece, the game, or a cinematic. Exploring champions’ backstories and motivations beyond what you see in the game doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly start feeling like different characters; what it does do is offer a huge spectrum of options for fleshing out personalities and deepening connections.”
For more on this, check out Riot’s full explanation on why it’s going back to the drawing board on this one.