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Let’s talk Snowdown Showdown, worldbuilding writers, and pro kills. Oh and hey! Ask Riot’s one-year anniversary is fast approaching, and we’re going to celebrate by having Marc “Tryndamere” Merrill and Brandon “Ryze” Beck, aka the co-founders of Riot and co-creators of League, sit down and answer a bunch of them. If you’ve got a burning question for the guys who started this whole thing, ask away!
Any chance of the Snowdown Showdown (or any 1v1) mode returning in the future?
The 1v1 Snowdown Showdown game mode was a mode that just didn’t work out. The idea of it seemed fun, but it was spectacularly unpopular when we released it. Maybe there’s an execution of it that could be more compelling than version 1.0, but it would need to undergo some serious surgery, and that just doesn’t feel worth it when compared against making newer modes like Blood Moon.
This mode actually ended up working a lot better as a viewing experience for tournaments or esports events (like All-Stars). I feel like it will continue to have a home there (it’s also fun to watch pros battle it out 1v1!).
For pro play, do you guys see low kill count games as a problem?
Ultimately, esports is a spectator sport. It has to be interesting to watch or folks will tune out. That doesn’t mean you should totally sacrifice strategy and good shot-calling in the name of bloodiness, but we all expect some amount of action.
It’s fine if the occasional game has low deaths, because that rarity makes it unusual and therefore interesting. But if low deaths become the norm and the audience is disengaged then we’ll almost certainly step in.
We strive for a balance, where the game is competitive and enjoyable for pros to play while also being awesome to watch and cheer along to.
What does Riot look for in narrative and worldbuilding writers?
Four things I look for in a worldbuilding writer:
- Detail-obsessed, but big picture minded. Worldbuilding writers need to be able to thread beautiful details through the story tapestry of the IP that still strengthens and feels natural to the larger design. The best writers I’ve worked with can dazzle with details, pulling me into the world so I feel like I’m seeing it with my own eyes, and then when I take a step back, I can see how those details play into a much larger story arc. This is especially important working in a fantasy genre because the details are really what brings an imaginary place to life and makes it feel real, so that when those larger story arcs play out, the impact is deep and resonant.
- No writer is an island, when it comes to worldbuilding. Strong communication skills are key. When a writer dreams up a new name, place, event, character, etc, they discuss with their fellow worldbuilders to make sure their addition feels natural, makes sense logically, is unique, and enriches the story landscape. Being comfortable giving and receiving feedback is crucial. At the end of the day, we’re telling a collective story. This isn’t one person’s vision or brainchild. It’s many voices, styles, ideas and imaginations chiming together, so communicating early and often is key to creating a harmony.
- Flexibility and versatility. Our universe is diverse and HUGE. That means our writers need to be able to flex lots of different muscles at different times, in order to keep balance amongst all the various champions and parts of the world. It’s okay to have a niche, but the strongest writers are able to hop from medium to medium, tone to tone, genre to genre, so we can tell the right stories at the right time.
- Experience. Our team moves quickly and writers need to be able to hit the ground running, which makes professional experience invaluable. Whether your experience is in writing for games, movies, TV, comics, prose, etc — show us the kick-ass stuff you’ve written so we can see the unique flavor you’ll bring to League.
We’ll do our best to read every question, but we can’t guarantee they’ll all get answers. Some questions may already be answered elsewhere, and some won’t be right for Ask Riot. This isn’t the best place to announce new features, for example, and we might skip conversations on issues we’ve talked about in depth before (though we can clarify individual points).
We are listening, though, so keep asking. We’ll make sure your questions are heard by the Rioters working on the stuff you’re curious about.