One concept Riot kept returning to for the new character was a person that would be followed by an animal or pet. Dunn said the team had an idea where the player could somehow feed the pet to represent that you were getting stronger, but ultimately decided the "pet" idea wasn't the way to go. To me, this specific pairing of a lamb with a wolf felt very much like a death character. Dunn said while Riot has designed some other champions that technically use more than one character in certain instances, Kindred is the first time a champion has been fleshed out into two unique but equal partners.
It was kind of new for us to do a [champion] on this scale. Kindred was a very, very unique case for us.
With the general concept for Kindred settled on, it was time for Dunn and the rest of the team to make the concept come to life. Dunn said he leans heavily on other forms of media and his own life when trying to flesh out a new champion. I constantly consume video games, movies, television shows, books, plays, comics," he said. I look to experiences I've had, and I look for similar themes in either shows, or movies or books that I'm reading at the time. That's how I make it personal. Dunn said he did extensive research on the concept of death, including how it is perceived in different cultures.
Then, it was time for Dunn to start writing while the other members of his pod moved on with their own tasks. Concept art gets to draw. As a writer, you get a little bit left out, we just start doing story sketches," he said. It's our version of concept art. Most of these are never player facing, they're just meant to inspire the team from within. Dunn estimated he created between 12 to 14 short stories on Kindred from early development through release.
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The narrative writers are also heavily involved in crafting the champion's in-game dialogue. Dunn said it can take two to three months for the team to hire the voiceover actors, shoot the script, get feedback and then repeatedly fine tune everything until it sounds just right. Dunn said Kindred was a special challenge in this area because it was more than one character.
When they speak to each other, it's a unique set of rules of how it's going to work. Dunn did say the voiceover process and the creative process overall was made a little bit easier thanks to a little inspiration from his wife. She is very much Lamb, very appreciative, kind of poetic, very organized, rational," he said. Riot spends a good deal of time communicating the background and overall concept of each new champion to its players ahead of release. The company has created everything from short stories to music videos in its push to get players to connect with the always-expanding roster of characters.
But the company also understands that not every fan is interested in going outside the game to learn more about a champion's lore or story. Some just want to jump in game with their friends and start melting faces. Because of this, Dunn said Riot does make an effort to bake at least a little of each character's lore into the gameplay itself.
One thing we do and it's always a great gut check during play-testing, is imagine yourself as a random player of any character in the game. And you saw Kindred coming out of the jungle Just by seeing them, what is it you want players to feel? To me it felt like, what is that, why is it haunting me? In game, Kindred has an ability where they can announce which champion on the opposing team they intend to kill next, basically calling their shot, Babe Ruth-style.
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If they succeed, they earn a buff making them more powerful for the rest of the match. Dunn pointed this out as something that will hopefully connect players with the concept of death that the team designed the character around. They say basically, we're coming for you," Dunn said. If you enjoyed this look at the process that led to the creation of Kindred , you won't want to miss Tribeca Games' upcoming event, "The Craft and Creative of League of Legends.
Included on the agenda is the panel "Champion Design: Gangplank," which will use everyone's favorite pirate as a case study on how Riot brings a new champion to life. Check out the full schedule or buy tickets here.
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