July 29, 2023 at 9:55pm
By Jason Stettner
Interview with Rowan Parker, Creative Director of Riot Forge
A staple I do in all interviews in order to start things off is to ask that you elaborate a bit about your game (s) that people might not know?
Rowan: Riot Forge is Riot’s first 3rd party publisher. We work together with amazing independent game studios to make completable, single player, narrative driven games with the world and characters of League of Legends and Runeterra! We’ve launched 4 games to date, in a variety of genres. Forge’s latest game is CONVERGENCE: A League of Legends Story!
Could you tell us about the goals of Riot Forge and some of the games that have been published thus far?
Rowan: The world of League of Legends, known as Runeterra, is surprisingly deep. Many players and fans enjoy the characters of LoL and would love to know more about them plus explore the world of Runeterra, but our big online PvP MOBA game isn’t the best platform to tell deep champion stories.
Riot Forge is a great opportunity for us to expand on Runeterra and bring players closer to their favourite champions and factions, while telling compelling stories in a wider variety of game genres.
Today we have a focus on Convergence: A League of Legends Story, could you go over the general narrative and type of game that it is?
Rowan: CONVERGENCE: A League of Legends Story is a story-driven action platformer starring Ekko, a young inventor with a device to manipulate time! Players can traverse the sprawling city of Zaun, collect parts, craft gadgets, and unlock abilities—then rewind time to adapt their approach on each new challenge.
The story follows Ekko and his friends as they work together to keep their city safe from a Chem-Baron plot, but as danger looms and secrets come to light, Ekko realizes he can’t trust anyone—not even himself. Players don’t need to know anything at all about League of Legends to enjoy the game and story, but for fans, there’s plenty of easter eggs and lore to discover in Zaun!
The focus of the game is on Ekko, what aspects of the character do you find most interesting and in the context of the game could you describe what sort of abilities Ekko has that players can use, alongside how does that mirror the character in comparison to traditional League of Legends?
Rowan: Translating Ekko’s kit from the MOBA to a platformer was a lot of fun. In the MOBA we have to consider balance and ‘fairness’ as it’s an online PvP game. For Riot Forge titles like CONVERGENCE though, we can showcase the ‘true power level’ of our champs.
For anyone familiar with Ekko’s LoL kit, you’ll see all his skills realised in here, but also with the ability to craft gadgets and modify them for different strategic combat options.
We also got to explore Ekko’s traversal and movement, adding vast sections of parkour and platforming, where if you make a mistake, you only need to rewind and try again! It’s easily the most holistic execution of Ekko we’ve ever had to date.
Where are interested gamers able to play Convergence: A League of Legends Story, and for those coming from the core League of Legends experience why might they find this title interesting?
Rowan: CONVERGENCE is available on PC for Steam, Epic and GoG, and on all consoles. There’s definitely a lot of meat here for LoL fans that are familiar with both Ekko and/or the city of Zaun. It’s the first time players will be able to actually run around and explore the city, and we have plenty of narrative threads for players to eat up in the game.
Could you go over how a project at Riot Forge gets developed, what’s the pitching process like?
Rowan: It’s a pretty organic process, but it usually starts with myself or someone playing a game and saying “Damn. This game is really cool. I wonder if they’d be interested in working with us?!” and then we reach out! When we first contact studios, we don’t have a preconceived pitch.
We find out what gameplay loops they’re interested in and stories they want to tell, and we eventually begin to circle around a setting and cast from Runeterra that could make sense. It’s a deeply collaborative process. We also aren’t interested in making “skins” of a game or just slapping a coat of League of Legends paint on top of an existing game.
No-one wants to make (or play) that. I won’t personally greenlight a game until I’m convinced it’s a compelling game agnostic of the LoL IP. The games we’ve released so far do a great job of this, being excellent genre entries while showcasing the world of Runeterra.
Looking at the efforts of Riot Forge from a long term perspective, is the goal to help expand the universe of League of Legends or more so provide differing styles of games for differing types of players?
Rowan: I’d say it’s more the former, and Forge games are a great vehicle for that. There are lots of players in orbit around the League of Legends universe that would love to engage, but don’t want to sign up for a highly competitive PvP MOBA.
The variety of genres and games we make on Riot Forge speaks to the breadth of audience we’re hoping to reach. Whether you know anything about Runeterra or not, you can enjoy playing a Riot Forge game, and possibly fall in love with one of our characters at the same time. We hope there’s eventually something for everyone in our portfolio.
There certainly have been some differing types of gaming genres released from these League of Legends stories, is the focus on getting studios to make unique genres of games or are the studios more freely open to explore concepts with the existing roster of characters?
Rowan: Our studio partners are already experts in whatever genres of games they’ve been making for years. We’re more excited about what kinds of gameplay innovations they see in their respective genres, and how we can help elevate that with our IP and creative support.
Are there any upcoming games coming from Riot Forge that you would be interested in teasing?
Rowan: Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story is coming out later this year, so players and fans should keep their eyes peeled for that!
Lastly I would like to leave a spot for you to say something or go over anything I might have missed during the interview?
Rowan: Regardless of if you’re a long-time LoL player who just doesn’t have time for Ranked anymore, or you know nothing at all about the world of Runeterra, there’s hopefully something for you to enjoy in the games Riot Forge are releasing.
Also, we couldn’t achieve any of this without our amazing partner studios, who are the ones actually developing the games and bringing their unique expertise to bear on our IP.
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