As someone who’s paying a lot of attention to champion archetypes as of late, I wanted to give you a look into our thoughts and plans for the future.
What our goals are for champion thematics:
Our goal is simple – to provide a variety of compelling modern fantasy archetypes that appeal to different League of Legends players. While this is a simple goal, its execution is, as you can imagine, pretty complex. What this means is we need not only a diverse array of character types, but they need to still appeal to people who play League and have some sort of sensible cohesion.
Variety? Awesome – that means you should go make everything possible!
This is an area to be careful with – some things are not cohesive for our IP, or are simply things that almost no one likes. A candy clown that shoots rainbows isn’t a thematic match for our game because it walks a different line of serious/epic and humor/witty. What we can do, though, is have a wide berth exploring these archetypes. Our game has a pretty big potential variety, especially when you compare ends of the spectrum (Cho’Gath vs Lulu, Annie vs. Garen) and that gives us a lot of creative liberty.
This applies, though, to any creative endeavor. Think of great worlds and IP’s: I bet it’s cohesive. Whether it’s the crushing depression and heaviness of Warhammer 40K, the more modern and larger-than-life World of Warcraft, the clever humor and wit of Team Fortress 2, or the realism of Ghost Recon, these things all have unifying, cohesive themes. To create something that’s actually cool, this is important.
Your variety is lackluster and you only make beefy dudes with weapons.
While this is false, the perception is something we understand and are fixing.
This feeling arises from the proximity of releases. If you look over 12 months, Darius, Draven and Jayce aren’t a a problem – 3 of 26 yearly champions in this theme are fine, especially since their archetypes and gameplay are well-differentiated. When released in tandem, however, it can cause fatigue due to lack of short-term variety. The good news is that we’re fixing this!
The mistake I’ve been making here is look at a 6-12 month plan and not looking closely enough at the 1-3 month release schedule. Additionally, there are a lot of moving parts in regards to champions – they’re typically in development for anywhere from 3 to 6 months before they’re released. That range varies wildly because there’s a lot to a champion’s design (from gameplay to aesthetic to personality), and we’re always aiming higher. And then there are unpredictable complications like engineering hurdles and other scheduling concerns can impact this. In this case, we had to do shuffling based on some of these hurdles, and ended up with these being released closer together than we’d have liked.
This is something you’ll see really come together as we continue into this year, so we provide archetype variety in the short, mid and long-term. While I’m pretty happy with our releases this year, the timing hasn’t been great. We can solve that – your feedback has really pointed out how important this is to you all.
What about monsters and crazier creatures? You said you hate those!
To clarify, this is very untrue. In fact, we think monsters are ****ing rad! This is in line with the previous problem where not only are monsters a bit tougher to do, but need to look a little more short-term to solve some stuff like this. In fact, we have at least one really epic monstrous champion this year, and a few more on the non-human front. I’m actually really stoked about him, because it’s been awhile since we've seen a true monster. As a fan of that archetype, this should have no trouble delivering
Humans are all the same, and making humans is a bad idea.
In this case, I disagree fully. Humans have a massive range of archetypes available – Draven, Garen and Vladimir are completely different, even if they’re humans. I think looking only at species is a bit of a shallow analysis – there’s a lot more to variety than species (though species is also an axis). And a lot of data we’ve gathered shows that when done well, humans are also really compelling.
Simply, we should do both humans and creatures.
We have some smart plans to improve this and bring greater variety, especially on the species front, and have some other big plans for our world that will make this level-up big time. What you see, the gameplay, what you read, hear and experience all has to come together to make a notable and specific experience. Fans of Lulu, Zyra and Draven should be very different League players. That’s intentional! We all have strong, specific creative preferences – and many times those differ from other players’. The key to making this work is to provide variety – few players should like every champion, but all players should find champions that they are like “that one is for me!”