Riot Games is about to make major revisions to League of Legends' story. Riot's Tommy Gnox explained the reasons for this reboot in a blog post on the game's website.
In LoL, two teams of champions face off in objective-based battles. These skirmishes are meant to resolve wider political conflicts while sparing the world of Runeterra from all-out wars. The titular League of Legends is the organization that oversees these battles. The existing lore is built around the concept that players are omnipresent Summoners who are controlling these warriors.
This premise certainly is interesting. It gives a valid reason for these tightly controlled, small-scale battles too. However, Riot Games found that this storyline was restrictive.
"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," Gnox said on LeagueOfLegends.com. "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."
The narrative team now wants League of Legends' story to do more than simply explain the in-game action. They're hoping to enlarge the scope of the game's world beyond the arena.
"Essentially, it means that the game and story aren’t one-to-one copies of each other. League as a game is about creating awesome gameplay, while League as a story is about creating deep, vibrant characters and factions inhabiting an expansive world. We don’t want to limit story because of gameplay, just like we wouldn’t limit gameplay because of story – we want both of them (and all the other elements of League) to have the freedom to be as great as they possibly can be."
"Does this mean older story efforts like the Journal of Justice and League Judgments are meaningless? Of course not. In the same way that we can go back and enjoy old books, shows, films, art, and comics that have been superseded by more recent interpretations of the same material, League’s original lore remains a cherished part of its history. From comic books to classic literature, exploration of the same creative space in vastly different ways is a natural part of storytelling."
Riot Games will begin revealing more of League of Legends's world through small and large projects. They'll continue the trend of conveying story through various mediums. In the past we've seen short stories, music videos and cinematic trailers featuring the game's characters.
The narrative team will also keep players up-to-date on their work through additional developer blogs. Gnox says that they want players to be aware not only what's coming to the game but also what the development team's driving principles are.
"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."