Article about LoL Lore from Kitae Talk

First Riot Post
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SotLTravis

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Adjudicator

11-15-2012

http://kotaku.com/5960965/whats-wron...e-of-legends/?

A few excerpts for those too lazy to read the whole thing:

To that end, Riot instituted a new process based on TV writers rooms so that different divisions all are in sync.

Another tournament IP problem is the idea that the LoL universe's summoners control everything. With the super-powerful sorcerers steering fate, the Champions don't have any sense of agency. They're just fighting for reasons that someone else tells them.

"We want to create characters like Don Draper or Tony Soprano," Norman said.


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Cerubois

Senior Member

11-15-2012

Quote:
Depth is the goal, said Norman. Adding layers to characters can only help when it comes time to craft stories that are more engaging. Take undead knight Mordekaiser. He can rip a player's soul out of its body and have it kill their friends. That's bad-ass but not terribly deep
Quote:
However, when it comes to fictional characters, Norman declared that what you don't want to do is say "he's so cool once you get to know him." That begs a time commitment, she explained. "What you want is have a simple in-game metaphor for what appeals to you about the character."
Don't these things kinda contradict each other?

A simple character with an in-depth story is not a good idea for third-person games. That's what you do for a game like Mass Effect. Not LoL. You are not playing as the character in LoL, lore-wise. You are connected with them. They have their own personality, their own mind, their own motivations. You get to know them just by playing with them. And you know what, if you want something worthwhile, you need to put time into it.

If you take a look at the stories being made in the Fanfiction section, you can easily see who the popular characters are:

-Shyvana
-Lux
-Riven
-Katarina
-Orianna
-Twisted Fate

These are all characters with quite a bit of depth to them, yet relatively simple stories. They're the characters we're attracted to, it's their personalities, their hidden emotions.

Compared to relatively simple characters, such as:

-Volibear
-Warwick
-Xin Zhao
-Yorick
-Zyra
-Tristana
-Sivir
(the list goes on!)

We like the characters who we can relate with, not the ones who are focused on one thing, and one thing only. They're boring.

Quote:
For example, with every dispute being solved by way of faction Champion skirmishes, you can't use a plot development like all-out war as a possibility. Another tournament IP problem is the idea that the LoL universe's summoners control everything. With the super-powerful sorcerers steering fate, the Champions don't have any sense of agency. They're just fighting for reasons that someone else tells them.
So you're going to change the entire story? The League is there to save the world, as another "all-out war" will destroy it. Sure, the story was made to explain the game in its early stages, but then it was expanded upon, given life, given so much more reason to exist! Every bit of it makes sense, because the writers spent so long explaining how it works! We, as fan writers, have managed to create our worlds due to the fact that we can logically see how and why things are happening, where the characters stand in the plight of the world (whether it's for their country or for themselves), and how the League is perhaps playing a dictatorship, but for the good of the world. Don't you see how much depth there is to it already?

So what's wrong with League of Legends?


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Eredaar

Senior Member

11-16-2012

Honestly, this is pathetic, can'r Riot see that the whole front page is filled with WE DON'T LIKE WHAT YOUR DOING


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Larcent

Senior Member

11-16-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerubois View Post
So you're going to change the entire story? The League is there to save the world, as another "all-out war" will destroy it. Sure, the story was made to explain the game in its early stages, but then it was expanded upon, given life, given so much more reason to exist! Every bit of it makes sense, because the writers spent so long explaining how it works! We, as fan writers, have managed to create our worlds due to the fact that we can logically see how and why things are happening, where the characters stand in the plight of the world (whether it's for their country or for themselves), and how the League is perhaps playing a dictatorship, but for the good of the world. Don't you see how much depth there is to it already?
But ... none of this is a story that can be expanded upon through playing the actual game.

League of Legends has a huge storytelling issue that Kitae alludes to that doesn't have an easy solution: What you're asking for is stories about chess pieces. What we're doing in the fan fiction (and I wrote a whole damn book about Galio there) is writing stories about pawns and knights and kings. Much of the storytelling is utterly impossible to replicate through the game experience. It's essentially like the books on the shelves in the Elder Scrolls game. "Here, read this if you want." (I hate those books, by the way. They're either so dull that they aren't worth my time or they're so interesting I end up wondering why I wasn't playing out that experience rather than scavenging through junk)

There's nothing inherently wrong about wanting to make your chess pieces more interesting. But when you play chess, those stories have absolutely no bearing on what you do.

I was actually thinking of starting a "challenge" thread on the lore forum for lore lovers to really, really think about how narrative could be presented in this game to appeal to all players, not just those who want to read stories.


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Cerubois

Senior Member

11-16-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larcent View Post
But ... none of this is a story that can be expanded upon through playing the actual game.

League of Legends has a huge storytelling issue that Kitae alludes to that doesn't have an easy solution: What you're asking for is stories about chess pieces. What we're doing in the fan fiction (and I wrote a whole damn book about Galio there) is writing stories about pawns and knights and kings. Much of the storytelling is utterly impossible to replicate through the game experience. It's essentially like the books on the shelves in the Elder Scrolls game. "Here, read this if you want." (I hate those books, by the way. They're either so dull that they aren't worth my time or they're so interesting I end up wondering why I wasn't playing out that experience rather than scavenging through junk)

There's nothing inherently wrong about wanting to make your chess pieces more interesting. But when you play chess, those stories have absolutely no bearing on what you do.

I was actually thinking of starting a "challenge" thread on the lore forum for lore lovers to really, really think about how narrative could be presented in this game to appeal to all players, not just those who want to read stories.
The only reason why we can't influence the story through playing the game is because Riot hasn't given us the opportunity to. I can think of several ways we could influence the story, and starting actual lore-based matches, such as the Ionian-conflict match, is the easiest and most attractive among them. People played the game to determine whether Ionia became free from Noxus or not. That is cool.

The lore team took it further and expanded on the characters during this time. Lee Sin was introduced as a driving force behind the match. The champions of Ionia were influenced by it, and given suitable pieces in the JoJ. This match is legitimately the one reason I started reading the lore more.

Now, does this setup limit the possibilities in the storytelling? Sure it does. But any situation has limits, otherwise it either doesn't make sense, or you simply end up with an open-world game like Skyrim, in which the character doesn't matter at all. League lore is (or used to be) built upon the characters, how they interact, and what they hope to achieve by being here. Some of their goals would be monumental changes, such as Riven starting a civil war in Noxus. That's huge, but could be set up to not affect the game as much as it seems it would. Best of all, we could participate in it in some way, and have Riven form a team to face off against Swain and Leblanc in a League match to determine the result once and for all.

It's things like this that might change the world around the League, but the League remains its stable, defining self. It is there to make sure the world isn't destroyed. It is the UN, with the power to stop wars forcefully if needed.

One last thing I'll say is that no matter how much you try to appeal to everybody, you're never going to appeal to everybody. The results are obvious here. Riot is attempting to attract more players to shallower, easier-to-understand characters, and is losing the interest of the players who gave a damn beforehand. :/


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fortide

Senior Member

11-16-2012

They should at least bring back the League Judgment. The AMA's are nice, but the judgement were the thing that gave real depth to the characters. Take Lux for example - I'm pretty sure most people would've written her off as some naive happy go lucky pixie girl if you just read her lore background. But when you get to the judgment, you find out that she's quite empty on the inside and the happy face she puts up is a facade. I understand why they got rid of the JoJ, but I will never understand why they got rid of the judgments.


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NecroticBinder

Senior Member

11-17-2012

Oh, look, another shiny article that claims to have depth and contradicts itself. Sigh. well at least the article told me some things that I was warned of ahead of time and definitely fits with the timeline given for them.

Quote:
Norman says that Riot wants to shift to being an "awesome IP", one that "respects what players already love about our world."
Pardon me if I laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Because Kitae outright contradicts herself here. I'm going to say now, after this, I'm not taking the rest of the article seriously. They are destroying what characters love about the world, they are taking older characters and flat out destroying their lore or attempting too. Karthus for instance, or what they tried to do with Jayce/Viktor.

They also no longer have community involvement, or the JoJ. The first, to me is even more stinging. You can tell so many stories through letting the players have matches that actually determine thing lore wise. Sure, you'll lose some control in that you won't know the outcome until it's over (I think that's why they aren't done anymore) but you also bring depth to the lore in that you have the character involvement.

For example.
Quote:
Norman declared that what you don't want to do is say "he's so cool once you get to know him.
Isn't that depth? I mean, I'm not a professional writer, but to me that seems to be a sign of depth, the character takes time to fully understand. Viktor for instance, is cool on the surface, but you can also dig into his lore to find further coolness.

I know that I advocated trying to be more peaceful towards the Rioters but well, things like this kind of prove to me that it's pointless. You cannot win a battle when the other side refuses to even look at your arguments. You cannot make change when the other party will not acknowledge that other opinions outside of their own exist. The only way we could likely get real change is if Riot's income were threatened because of a massive uproar from the playerbase. (Again, Jayce and Viktor for example) Sadly, that isn't likely to happen since the lore junkies are outnumbered by the people who simply don't read.

I'll get off my soapbox now, with the final message that this article has destroyed any and all faith I had held for Riot's creative team.


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maxterdexter

Senior Member

11-17-2012

Trying to bring the gap closer to a constructive discussion of what is wrong with the lore, the main isues are:

- We used to have more, even if it was only "walls of text"
- No one likes retcons
- We'd had the drought for over a year now and all we got was the altars, the updated bios and the AMA threads

Kitae's compares the league's lore to the backstories of fighting games. I find nothing wrong with that aproach. Maybe she will be able to do something better and mindblowing, but for now we are getting retcons (That as we stablished, most people dislike retcons), the cool interaction of the altars, in another map, and "Oh the hunt".

We lost something valuable in the process of evolving the lore: "I don't like the judgments, they bring nothing to the character" said no one ever.

Then we got to these kind of comments that talk negatively of what we are used to (Fighting game lore building, walls of text) and get very little in return. Combining it with the perception that the lore isn't important that most players who doesn't keep up with the story have, makes the community feel on edge.

Meanwhile the community keeps searching things to be offended about, "oh you changed this so now it sucks" without taking the merits of the story itself.

Katarina is no longer a sociopaht, is more a soldier/assassin
Karthus lost the mistery behind him, this is a minus, but any story about him would do this
Mordekaiser got more menacing
I can't remember old Shylvana's or Fiora's lore, so this is a plus
Soraka and Warwick, I can't comprehend why it was so important that Ww was a chemist, and that Soraka unleashed a terrible evil into the world, that people get so worked up about this change. Yes I find the retcon unlikeable, but mostly out of principle and of disconection with other stories told (Karma's jugdment, Singed's bio) rather than this being "OMG Warwick so generic".
Twisted Treeline moving, this one I have more issue with, as it took the cheaper route of retconing, rather than creating a plot of old tt closing down and a new one surging in it's place.

Gathering all of the changes made, we get that the only real changes are Soraka/Warwick and Shadow Isles' TT. (And Fiora's and Shylvana's but those are cool)
Katarina was a matter of perspective (as in getting inside her head), the others were stories that haven't been told but now are and killed part of the mistery.

Also their silence makes me think that they are building up either a bunch of bios now or something else.

tl;dr

The track record isn't as bad as the community makes it seem, but we want more because we used to have more. We should give current lore team the space that they want to experiment, as the new things that they have done (The altars and "on the hunt") are cool, but at the same time the lore team should try to go in an aproach of "if ain't broken don't fix it". Also return the judgments! that wraps up the whole "why did they join the league" question elegantly.


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kitae

Lead Designer

11-17-2012
1 of 1 Riot Posts

Hey going to respond to a few things in this thread. I appreciate Kotaku covering the talk and think they did a pretty good job, but the article isn't 100% representative of the actual talk. In particular the quotes are a bit off so don't micro-analyze the specific wording they use.

Quote:
"We want to create characters like Don Draper or Tony Soprano," Norman said.
What I said was, these are characters we admire, who have depth but are also immediately compelling. This is one of the reasons we looked at the TV writing process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerubois View Post
A simple character with an in-depth story is not a good idea for third-person games.



These are all characters with quite a bit of depth to them, yet relatively simple stories. They're the characters we're attracted to, it's their personalities, their hidden emotions.
I think you are mistaking depth for complexity. You can have a very shallow character with a complex story, or deep character with a simple story.

We don't have great narrative tools right now to deliver a complex story, so we need to focus on characters with simple compelling stories. Despite that, we want to achieve character depth, so we can deliver more over time.

You listed a number of characters with simple compelling stories that you find appealing. Great! That's what we're going for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerubois View Post
So you're going to change the entire story? The League is there to save the world, as another "all-out war" will destroy it. Sure, the story was made to explain the game in its early stages, but then it was expanded upon, given life, given so much more reason to exist!
We're going to focus on telling stories where champions have agency and fight for what they believe in, over stories where champions are influenced by summoners and fight for moral causes they do not believe in. This is choosing the kinds of stories we want to tell, not changing the entire story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerubois View Post
The results are obvious here. Riot is attempting to attract more players to shallower, easier-to-understand characters, and is losing the interest of the players who gave a damn beforehand. :/
So shallow is the opposite of depth, and the entire presentation is basically saying "we want depth" so I think we're actually doing what you want.


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Redeemed In Fire

Senior Member

11-18-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by kitae View Post
We're going to focus on telling stories where champions have agency and fight for what they believe in, over stories where champions are influenced by summoners and fight for moral causes they do not believe in. This is choosing the kinds of stories we want to tell, not changing the entire story.
But we like those types of stories =/ I like how Demacia and Noxus are portrayed less as "good and evil" but more as complex city-states that sit on opposite ends of a spectrum, each with their benefits and flaws. I like how the League is the only thing stopping Valoran from erupting into a cauldron of irreparable broken magic soup. Heck, the reason Dominion exists is because of a fight that escalated so quickly summoners had to come contain it with absurdly powerful time magic. I want to know more about the summoners, and I want to know more about the League. Not just champions.