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Continue reading for a smorgasbord of posts regarding Freljord lore and Lyte discussing more about the honor system.
More Freljord Lore Discussion
( Warning: The post below is a little messy from the quote usage! )
As we saw yesterday, summoners are still venting their frustrations with the recent slew of lore changes. In a thread titled "An analysis of the Frejlord rewrites + general lore problems", RiotRuaan responded to concerns about nearly every champion who's lore has been updated as well as answered a few general lore questions.
The quoted parts are quote from the original post RiotRunaan is responding to, followed by his actual response.
"I know this is a weird transition, and I'd also like to point out that the way this new stuff is being delivered to you (sort of piece by piece, willy-nilly) on the PBE is my no means ideal. This is one thing I'm positive we can do better. Delivering what is intended to be a "big story" like this is awkward. It feels scattered, disconnected, and slapdash this way, so we're looking into ways to bring you guys a better experience in the future. Kitae's talked about this a little, but there is a bigger picture here; the Freljord stuff is not just bio rewrites here and there just because we felt like making changes to existing characters.
First off, up front: I can accept that the original lorewriting was shortsighted and that you want to take the world of Runeterra in a different direction now. That's a good, honest explanation and I'm willing to roll with the decision, even if it gets a little bumpy sometimes.So I've been at Riot as a part of this team for a while now, and I've worked on lore old and new. To be honest, some of the original lore-writing was shortsighted and scattered because our team was incredibly small, and while we had a lot of ideas, we didn't really have a big, unified vision for the grand scope of our world to rally behind and work towards. A lot of things started to feel like one-off stories because we could never really be sure we'd be able to develop it further.
Part of what we've been working these days on behind the scenes is a vision for Runeterra and all its nuances that we're all aligned on. Some of the changes in working towards this goal will be big (Trundle), some of them will be small (Sejuani), but I want to express that personally, I'm much more confident in the storytelling potential of our world now than when I was working on the JoJ. Like you said, it gets a little bumpy sometimes, and I know where you're coming from (I freaked out when Blizzard made the blood elves Horde--they were my favorite race in WC3 and the development initially felt ill-founded and tacked on, but as it turned out, a lot of great things came from the blood elves joining the horde that I couldn't have predicted from the outset). I hope you can bear with us
Now, this might get lengthy--I just want to elaborate on some of the things we were aiming towards with a few of the new bios.
At first I was upset that they were swapping her origin from extra-planar to Freljordian, mostly because it removed the potential for other elemental phoenixes to appear in lore or even as champions as mentioned by the end of her original lore - "In a move that caught the League by surprise, the Cryophoenix recently entreated the summoners of the Institute of War to research a means in bringing across others of her elemental fellows."Ultimately, however, Kitae (or was it Runaan?) made a good point in that her lore change really doesn't affect her role in the world (other than that one line from the old bio). She was guardian of the Freljord as her adoptive home; now she's just a native.
I understand that the loss of Anivia's desire to bring other elementals into Runeterra felt like a loss of motivation and potential, but I hope we've left some bread crumbs to some interesting stuff for you guys to chew on.
There's some cool stuff hidden in Anivia's new bio that I'm actually pretty hopeful about. For one, the notion that she forgets her past life every time she dies and is reborn "pure." There's a lot of history she must have been witness to in her past lives, including Lissandra's treachery and manipulation of the Freljord as a whole. What part did she play in battles of the past? What's the darkness she feels creeping into the Freljord now, and why is it familiar? And another thought, what's up with that new Anivia skin on the PBE? Hmm. :)
Here I have some larger problems. I really don't like how she's effectively been changed from a strong visionary leader to someone who effectively rules via divine providence.
Her people didn't believe in her vision of a united Freljord, some of them tried to rebel and kill her, but she found a magic bow at the last second and used it to kill everyone who disagreed with her. Really? That's her story? That's how she came to power? And we're just supposed to accept it because she's a designated "good guy?"
I think this rewrite is a huge blow to Ashe's integrity as a character.Is Ashe is supposed to be a designated "good guy"?
Actually, that is how she came off before, I think. Most of Freljord united behind her. Sejuani, on the other hand, was the designated "villain."
Now, Ashe's bio isn't saying that all of her people didn't believe in her vision, nor was everyone questioning her right to rule via her bloodline. It was an uncomfortable, scary change for her tribe. They were so used to battle and bloodshed, Ashe's vision of a united Freljord isn't something everyone believes is even possible. That's the mindset the assassins came from. Even finding Avarosa's bow hasn't settled everyone's fears--Quinn's journal detailed this a little bit, too. The barbarians of Freljord are warriors, not farmers.
This is one of the worst in my eyes. Tying Gragas into Freljord (at least in the manner it's been done here) feels completely hackneyed and pointless. Almost every event in his new bio is a nonsequiter.
He finds a shard of magic ice that keeps his beer cold - okay, great? This artifact doesn't tie into his character or his in-game abilities in any way whatsoever. I'm willing to bet it's never mentioned again. It seems that other than "imbuing his lager with incredible properties" (which aren't explained or elaborated upon in any way) it serves no purpose.
Next, he just barges into a diplomatic negotiation between Ashe and some other tribe, starts a massive fight, gets everybody drunk and hey, hooray! A positive diplomatic outcome for Ashe, and Gragas is hailed as a hero. Just because. The whole event is completely unbelievable.
Next he "sets off to wander the tundra in search of ingredients for Runeterra's perfect pint." What useful ingredients for brew does he expect to find in the frozen wastes? It was previously established that the whole reason he was in the Freljord to begin with was to find the purest water in existence. Now he's got his magic ice and he's continuing to just "wander the tundra" (in naught but a loincloth, mind you) in search of... what, exactly?
More than anything else I have spoken about or will speak about in this post, this Gragas lore rewrite needs to be revisted, badly. It doesn't read well and the tie-in to Freljord feels totally irrelevant.You raise a lot of thoughtful points. To clarify our goals, we wanted to hold onto Gragas' personality, but we wanted to give him the a story where his rabble-rousing and beer-brewing could have a real impact instead of having him feel like a one-off drunk guy "over there."
Can we backtrack a little? Can you guys talk to me about what you found compelling about Gragas' original story vs. his new one? To be completely honest, I always found Gragas' old story a little lacking, but he isn't my kind of character. What are Gragas players looking for here?
I know this particular rework has been a point of major contention for a lot of people, but honestly... I'm okay with it. I like the new Trundle design and story enough to let the poor justification for it ("we completed one arc; it's impossible to continue from here!") slide
One complaint on consistency, however: Trundle bullsh!ts a story about magic weapons signifying a right to rulership so that he can become the leader of his tribe, goes and gets himself a magic weapon, and then... uses it to kill the old chieftan. What on earth was the point of the story and the right to rule stuff if he's just going to give himself a Klingon promotion anyway? It feels like that whole bit was shoehorned in just so that you could go "look guys, he's still a trickster!" (even though that was never part of his character to begin with).
Also, a non-lore issue - seriously, you need to make the Traditional Trundle skin actually look like old Trundle. Right now, it just looks like you slapped his old texture on his new and proportionately very different model. It's not at all up to par with the quality of the other Traditional skins we've seen so far.I could have definitely clarified a lot of this better in Trundle's bio, you're right. Trundle killing the old chieftain wasn't the exact way in which he was promoted by his own warband, his kin essentially rallied behind him the moment he showed up with the weapon. Trundle killing him was more an act of show and revenge for the humiliation he'd suffered at the chieftain's hands. Following that, Trundle proclaimed his further goals--to unite the rest of the scattered trolls and lead them as King.
As for the last point, I really hesitate to speak on art issues as it's not my discipline, but I know there's issues with readability in terms of model size across skins. Trundle has to be recognizable as the same champion no matter what skin he's wearing--I think that's where the discrepancy is coming from. If he's much smaller or much different, he might be misread as a completely different champion. Again, this is a tough issue and I'm not an artist by any means, so I'm sorry for how limited this answer feels.
As the subject of this thread, I think most of what needs to be said has already been said. Kitae has already said that Lee Sin being blind back then was an oversight and will be fixed, so that's good.
I still think this is another one that feels like shoehorning, though. Udyr doesn't need to be from Freljord. It doesn't match his design, and it serves no purpose other than to tie yet another character into "the brewing conflict, etc." In addition, I like the concept of him being a wild-man and martial artist a lot more than a "spirit shaman."There's been a lot said on this by Kitae already, there isn't much else I can add to the conversation right now--most of the discussion has taken place here.
This rewrite doesn't deviate from his original lore very much, so there's not a lot to take issue with. I actually believe that allying him with Sejuani makes a lot more sense than having him aligned with Ashe, so that's cool. I don't like the way it was done at all, though.
Volibear and the Ursine's alliance with Sejuani is literally a single line. After he becomes the leader of the Ursine: "His influence was swift and decisive: he roused his tribe from complacency, revived their battle-hardened traditions, and allied with Sejuani, the warrior who would fight with them against the coming evil." Uh, according to who? This feels like a complete afterthought, and needs to be integrated into his story and explained much more smoothly than it is now.As the writer of Volibear's original lore, I agree, his nature does fall in line with Sejuani more than it does with Ashe. I had a different idea of where Volibear would go as a character back when he was initially written, but after tons of collaboration with the team, I'm excited about what he's in for now.
Yeah, I agree, the one-line alliance with Sejuani feels like an afterthought. Then again, trying to detail how Volibear and Sejuani meet, how they keep from killing each other (as they're both leaders of fierce warrior tribes), and how they ultimately choose to forge an alliance is potentially a huge story in of itself. Something that awesome would feel really diminished as one line in the bio, and elaborating on it in too much detail risks turning Volibear's bio into a giant wikipedia article that summarizes and diminishes way too much and leaves nothing to the imagination.RiotRunaan then followed up by responding to the original posters second set of comments and teased a bit about the mysterious figure from Tryndamere's lore.
The bios aren't intended to be a full-on storytelling device, they're meant to grant insight into a character's motivation, origin, or some significant part of his or her backstory.
A similar example would be the fact that we didn't detail Ashe and Tryndamere's marriage in either of their bios, as that, too, would have felt like a one-off (and whether or not you want to believe it's a purely political marriage or more, diminishing the development of ANY potentially romantic story is a huge no-no in my book, that stuff needs space to breathe!). So, I know that bios can leave a lot to be desired, and they're not ideal at all--which is why we're not using them to explain everything about our champions.
Also, a reminder to Kitae and the lore team: we were promised all the way back in October that we'd be getting new lore for Maokai and Nocturne to make them mesh with the Twisted Treeline being in the Shadow Isles now, and that still hasn't happened. And we were promised that Singed would get a lore rewrite to account for Warwick and Soraka's new lore even before then, and we still don't have that either. I would think that two champions having lore that directly contradict one another would be higher priority on the fix-list than jamming Gragas into Freljord.We're still working on this, we haven't forgotten. We prioritized a lot of the Freljord stuff because of the upcoming Freljord patch (which a ton of work has gone into, there's a lot you guys haven't seen yet), but we're working on the other updates, too (Entropy specifically has been rockin' this, he's kind of a badass)."
I see what you're trying to do but I don't think it's working, to me Ashe feels like MORE Of a designated 'good guy' than before, and now it doesn't feel like it's a result of her own merit, it feels like she sort of got handed her power what with being -guided- to the bow by random-magic hawk rather than seeking it out, plus the people in her tribe that don't agree with her seem more like being 'short-sighted / evil' rather than reasonable.If someone or a group of someone's had challenged her for leadership or to a contest or something that'd be fine, or if she had to do some kind of rite in order to stay leader, that'd work a bit better too, but as it is now she feels like a divine-right messiah getting steered around by magic-hawk (avarosa's ghost?)
I see where you're coming from, but can that not be a nuance of the story itself? Whether or not she's been handed a lucky break, Ashe will still have to prove herself. Keep in mind this is more or less "chapter one" of Ashe's story. A lot of the Avarosan tribe might share your feelings, actually.
Her opponents may not be so short-sighted. Quinn's journal noted that many of the fringe tribes who had joined the Avarosan eventually abandoned her to join Sejuani, a leader who believes in the Freljord's ancient traditions and the rights of battle more than unity and bartering. Ashe may have united many small tribes to get the Avarosan where they are, but I'm not convinced she can keep it together.
I'll agree, Gragas's original story was a bit lacking, but the new one feels even more out of place, but Noxus/ The Great Barrier was just replaced with the Freljord. A revamp more like Trundle's might've worked better but honestly it feels unnecessary to tie Gragas into the Freljord at all, the old 'Graggy Ice' lore always felt like sort of a joke, it might've been okay to reference him as a result of the old stuff, but it's just hard for me to take his inclusion in Ashe's forces seriously, it just doesn't feel right.
Maybe something that explained how Gragas used to live in the Great barrier but never felt at home there, but found living with the Barbarians / Freljord natives much more to his liking? I don't know, but I do know that the current lore isn't much better than the original stuff, and by virtue of being a retcon just makes people feel less comfortable.
Ah, I like the notion about not feeling at home in the Great Barrier. I suppose it does seem like he sort of stumbles into his role in the Freljord right now, but I can see why he'd feel at home there. The Freljord barbarians are rowdy people who enjoy a brawl and, of course, a good drink to keep warm.
But with Tryndamere's story so much has been cut out we're left with a lot of confusion when we try to reconcile the old lore with the new.
Reading the new stuff I don't know if he's working alone, or if he's leading a new group, or if he's even married to Ashe, or why he would be if his goal is revenge on random living-sword guy (and with his demonblade skin that just adds another level of discomfort to this whole thing, I don't have a lot of faith in riot to make whatever story this demonblade sideplot is... work), rather than leading the barbarians.
Plus again, Noxus was removed, so there's less interaction among the various city-states which makes the world feel less rich.We could have added a small line about his current standing with the Avarosan, and that would have felt tacked on much like the Sejuani line in Volibear's bio, but would this help reconcile a bit of the disconnect for you guys? It's sometimes kind of a tough call as to what "one-liners" we want to include in a champion's bio, but this might be one that makes a lot of sense.
Speaking from personal taste, I think Noxus' involvement in the JoJ storyline more interesting than Noxus' involvement in Tryndamere's old bio--"Noxian assassins" felt really overdone in our older storytelling and didn't really paint a compelling picture of Noxus as anything more than jerks who are out to assassinate everyone all the time forever (again, just my personal thoughts, not speaking for the whole lore team here).He then followed up to questions about that last part with:
Also, in terms of the nemesis in Tryndamere's new story, hang onto your hats... it may not be what you're expecting. :)"
"Tryndamere's nemesis is not a minion of the Ice Witch."Lastly, RiotRunaan talked just a bit more about Gragas's new lore and attempted to understand why players are so unhappy with it.
"A common theme I'm getting from you guys is that Gragas no longer feels powerful and special as a result of the magical brew he drinks, and this is pretty fair. This is something I can bring up with the rest of the team.
Aside from that, I don't really feel that the issues being brought up are actually limited by Gragas' new story. You're right, he helped Ashe, but it was almost an accident--he could have easily helped Sejuani, too, but he didn't stumble into her conflict. There's something funny about that particular circumstance which fits with the humor of the character like you're saying in this post. We didn't intend to make Gragas into a super-serious, conflict-defining character by giving him an opportunity to play a role in the Freljord--like you said, even big serious stories need some comic relief. Gragas can offer that here.On the same page, Harrow also commented on a few lore things.
And again, none of this says that Gragas is stuck in the Freljord forever. I agree that Gragas could play a very fun role in a variety of stories, most of them humor-focused. He could go everywhere (like I said, Bilgewater could be particularly funny--imagine Gragas and Miss Fortune in a drinking contest, for example), he could be a part of smaller, more comedic stories in the future. Putting him in the Freljord hasn't made him a huge, die-hard patriot of the place, but it's given him some storytelling potential there at this point in Runeterra's development."
First up, hecommented on Tryndamere's new back story, reminding us that it doesn't change his alliance with Ashe.
"Tryndamere is still allied with Ashe, and Tryndamere's new backstory doesn't contradict him rallying other barbarian tribes.He then continued to elaborate on Gragas's updated bio, saying:
Note that in Gragas's story, Ashe is trying to sway some unruly Freljordian tribes to her side. Who's more unruly than a band of barbarians?"
"By a normal person's standards, Gragas is drunk all the time. But he thinks the brews he could make will allow him to transcend normal-person drunkenness. He wants to reach new heights of inebriation.
Maybe it's not explicitly spelled out, but Gragas's willingness to use any ingredient in his drink - including untested magical ice - do give his drink special properties. And since he's the only person who is able to drink as much of his own supply as he is, he inherits that magic himself.Lyte on Honor
I think you and I see Gragas in the same way, and I think the new Gragas story says a lot about Gragas as a person. Maybe it's not as explicit as the previous bio page, but I don't think that's a weakness."
Responding to comments that the honor system is starting to grow flaccid, Lyte commented on the system, noted a few of it's complications, and shared some future plans.
"One of the major issues with the system is that players often compare it to the launch of the Honor Initiative. Every feature launches with huge spikes in usage; in fact, some people can model these spikes in usage with impulse functions. But, launch behavior isn't normal behavior--Honor was being handed out like candy, and we had to put a lot of restrictions in place to make sure Honor Badges didn't flood the ecosystem.
Nowadays, there's a lot of Honor being handed out on every server; admittedly, there's less Honor handed out at high MMR and Ranked Modes and this could be considered a problem. Honor, in its current form, is just the foundation for what we want to do with positive feedback in the game. RoamingNumeral is a designer on the player behavior team that is going to expand the Honor Initiative and add more features and functionality to it--he has quite a few research tasks going on to explore the potential upgrades, and I'm sure players have some ideas that could be valuable as well.
For example, we've talked in the past about the potential of small prizes for players that are accurate at identifying sportsmanlike players. Most of the player behavior team is focusing on Champ Select right now, but we look forward to continue adding to Honor."He elaborated further, saying:
"The key to getting a badge is consistently getting Honor, and not necessarily the total number of Honor you have received.Reiterating a bit, he continued:
RoamingNumeral did make changes recently to the decay speed of Honor, so the rate of consistency necessary to unlock a badge is a bit easier now."
"This is what we're seeing--positive players are still getting Honor every other game or so, and we believe this is decently healthy. There's certainly pockets of the game where Honor is more rare, such as high MMR or Ranked Mode.Lyte then commented on why Honor decay was implemented in the first place.
We're in the process of figuring out next steps for Honor given all the data we've collected so far though"
"Allowing players to lose Honor was an intentional design decision to avoid potential abuse cases; for example, we want to avoid players showing positive behavior just enough to get a badge, then go back to negative behavior. We want to encourage players to maintain sportsmanlike behavior throughout their time playing League of Legends.
However, right now it's a pretty poor experience to not really know when you lost your badge. This is something we had to cut in the feature, but recognize is a poor experience right now."When a summoner asked if there is a possibility of lowering the requirements, compared to what it takes to actually acquire them, to keep a ribbon once you've earned it, Lyte responded:
"We've talked about this as an option, and it's not too bad."Responding to a summoner idea, he then shared his thoughts on why IP or some other in game resource isn't awarded for honoring your fellow players.
"The goal of Honor is to have a foundation system that we can use to reinforce positive behaviors throughout League of Legends. If we rewarded currency when players give Honor, we're providing the wrong incentive and we would visibly see an increase in the number of Honors going to random people or being used in trades to bump each other's currency up.
We have to figure out rewards that are meaningful to both the players giving and receiving Honor, and provide the right incentive to nudge players to all exhibit more sportsmanlike behavior. It's a difficult problem, but one I think can be done in the future."