One usually assumes that MOBAs are all about the teamwork and the frantic gameplay. While that’s certainly true, some developers also work on stories for their games even though we might not notice that particular aspect too much. Riot is one such developer and it has been writing interesting stories about League of Legends for a very long time. Sure, not all of us read a Champion’s bio or the description of certain items, but some players do and are genuinely interested in the lore. However, Riot says that now the League of Legends storyline is restricting them from taking the game into the direction they want so a few things need to change.
“In the early days of League, we created a fictional background that would justify how players could control champions during games,” Riot’s Tommy Gnox said in a blog post. “We came up with concepts like Summoners, Fields of Justice, an Institute of War, and indeed, the League of Legends itself – all in an attempt to provide fictional context for in-game action. After a while, these early choices began to create unexpected problems. 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.”
Gnox emphasizes the fact that League of Legends is a game that constantly evolves and as such, the narrative must evolve with it. He also says that there is a clear distinction between the story and the gameplay so one must not hold the other back. Currently Riot feels that the story is dragging the game down so they’re working on changing it quite a bit. The changes will come gradually to League of Legends, but it seems like Runeterra and its inhabitants – including its Champions – will have a very different story to tell by the time Riot is done. Veteran players who have been invested in the lore for a long time might not enjoy this at all, but it sounds like the new narrative will be better than the current one so who knows, they might actually end up loving it after a while.
Elsewhere, Gnox said that “for example, 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.”