Dev Blog: Building a Better Bio

By Ant in Oz

During the Bilgewater: Burning Tides event, you may have noticed we took the opportunity to update the bios of key champs featured in the story: Twisted Fate, Graves, Miss Fortune and Gangplank. (And if you didn’t, go read ‘em now – we’ll wait for ya!)

This was a bit of an experiment with a new format for doing bios: half traditional bio, half short piece of fiction. We really wanted to dive a little deeper with those bios – getting into the champions’ heads, and adding extra depth.

We also wanted to see what you guys thought of them before we plowed blindly ahead. The overall impression has been really positive, so we are now looking to start working on new bios for all our existing champs – though this will take some time!

Bios back in the day

Some of our older bios are starting to show their age; they’re getting a little creaky around the edges, and some of the details are a little fuzzy. Back when they were first written, the world of Runeterra was a rather different place than it is now – the world and its civilizations were just starting to get fleshed out. Those were Runeterra’s formative years, when we were still getting our own heads around the world, its history, and the people who inhabit it.

The Foundations team (essentially, our world building team) has been doing lots of work over the last few years to really get a solid understanding of Runeterra (check out this Foundations blog on Bilgewater to get a little insight into what the team does).

Just as our splash images have evolved (read about that here!), it’s time for our biographies and character backgrounds to do likewise.

Rito plz don’t destroy my beloved champ

We know you guys love your champs. We love them too!

So, what’s our goal with these updated bios? We want to strengthen the core thematic of the champs, and further explore their motivations, personality and background. For most of our champs, that’s simply adding more depth to what’s already there, and really getting to dive into what drives them.

Bios are also a great opportunity to add a little color to our champs – to give examples of them doing the stuff that makes them who they are, rather than just saying it, as in the classic ‘show don’t tell’ mantra.

For example, we could say, “Gangplank is the meanest pirate of them all”, but it’s much more effective to actually see the dastardly things that helped forge his black reputation. So, in the Gangplank bio we fleshed this out with mentions of the temples he’s sacked in Ionia, the Demacian villages he’s razed to the ground, and the time he stole Swain’s personal flagship. These little snippets are also potential story hooks – something other Rioters (and players) can use as a spark to explore further (e.g. “You know, Gangplank sneaking into Noxus and stealing Swain’s ship would make a cool story. Hmmm…”).

As we work to expand out our bios, the most important thing is that we hold true to the core essence of why players love that particular champ.

Which champs next?

Having landed on a style of bios that we were pretty happy with, the next question after Bilgewater was which champs to tackle next.

Long-term, we are planning to re-do the bios for all our existing champions, but that’s no small task – we have over 125 champs now, after all. Getting them all done to the level we want isn’t going happen overnight. So, we started having a think about which champions we wanted to do next.

Which leads us to…

The Harrowing

One of the things that we all wanted to know after Burning Tides: The Reckoning was what happened next.

While that story focused on TF and Graves (and we are looking to explore their next adventure together soon…), one of the things we really wanted to see was what would happen if the Harrowing rolled into Bilgewater while the port-city was still tearing itself apart in the aftermath of Gangplank’s upheaval. One of the writers on Foundations, Graham “Dinopawz” McNeill, took up the challenge and started putting pen to paper (well, digits to keyboard) to tell that story – Shadow and Fortune – which you’ll be able to read very soon.

It was around this time, too, that Foundations was deep-diving into the history of the Shadow Isles, exploring the tragic events that led to its formation. Many of the key Shadow Isles champs featured in this history, and as some of them would also be making an appearance in Shadow and Fortune, it seemed like the obvious choice to tackle them next. We didn’t get to every Shadow Isles champ, unfortunately, but we’ll come back to the others as soon as we can.

A new way to view the champ bios

As well as working on writing new bios, we’ve also been exploring how to present them in a better way. We wanted a page that would do justice to the champions, and we think we have come up with a pretty cool step in the right direction (which you’ll see soon with the updated bios for Mordekaiser, Kalista, Hecarim, Thresh and Karthus!). Again, this is a bit of an experiment, and we’d love to hear what you guys think. If this is something that everyone really likes, then we’ll be looking to start rolling this out across our other champions as we write them.

So, when will my champ be done?

The next batches of champions we are looking at exploring are the Shuriman champions and those associated with Mount Targon. After that… we’ll have to see. Let us know if there are some that you really want to see updated.

We hope you guys enjoy the new bios for these Shadow Isles champions. Please let us know what you think of them – and which champs you want to see next!


3 years ago

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