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How the team behind Bit.Trip injected humor into Hextech Mayhem


Where Ruined King is a dark and foreboding tale of love lost and madness, Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story is more of a pie in the face.

That’s mostly due to the developers: Choice Provisions, formerly known as Gaijin Games. The collective of developers is perhaps best known for its Bit.Trip series of video games, which includes the three Runner titles, which infused humor into the arcade-style rhythm games genre.

When Riot Forge reached out to the team with an opportunity to make a game based in the League of Legends’ world of Runeterra, the team knew it needed to be a runner.

“We also wanted to bring our unique silliness to the League Universe, which can take itself pretty seriously,” said Alex Neuse, Choice Provisions co-founder and co-director. “The obvious choice quickly became a yordle spat between Ziggs and Heimerdinger. Also, c’mon, how can you pass up characters with names like those.”

The game’s plot revolves around League of Legends champion and hexsplosives expert Ziggs trying to build the greatest bomb the world has ever seen. Meanwhile, champion and inventor Heimerdinger is out to stop him. The result is a battle that blows up, blasts, and bounces its way through the city of Piltover.

Rowan Parker, Riot Forge creative director, said that Hextech Mayhem is meant to be a light-hearted experience.

“Choice Provisions are focused on fun, creating a game that brings players joy,
he said. “The story’s seriousness and tone reflect this, making it a perfect match for Ziggs, who himself is light-hearted and enjoys creating mayhem.

“Riot Forge games will have varying levels of seriousness. While many games will represent real events that move our champions and the world of Runeterra forward, other times we’ll just be having some fun. Hextech Mayhem is the latter, giving Ziggs and Heimerdinger some space to be themselves and interact with fun, explosive gameplay.”

In designing the game, the team at Choice Provisions tried to set the title apart from other rhythm runners by pushing more into the musical elements of the genre, said Neuse.

“If I were to draw comparisons to other games, I would say that Hextech Mayhem is more like a Rock Band game disguised as a platformer,” he said. “In Hextech Mayhem, you definitely do interact with the rhythm of the music, but you also interact with the melody, the various verses, choruses, bridges, etc. It helps to keep the rhythm, but truly skilled players will benefit from letting the entire song scape inform their moves.”

All of this is done through Ziggs’ use of, of course, bombs.

“Ziggs, being such an explosive character, uses his bombs to do many actions,” said Mike Roush, Choice Provisions co-founder and co-director. “Ziggs can blast a bomb to perform an explosive jump or even a double jump. Bombs can also be used to attack and disrupt the nettlesome Wardens of Piltover as well as earning you some Mayhem points! Ziggs can “cook” a bomb and perform his ultimate creation, THE MEGA INFERNO BOMB!”

Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story | Official Announcement Trailer

The game also introduces a mayhem system and freestyle mayhem into the game, Neuse said.

“Many music games show players the prompts they’re meant to hit, and Hextech Mayhem is no different in this regard,” he said. “However, where Hextech Mayhem differs is that it allows players to input actions off-prompt, causing Freestyle Mayhem. In fact, freestyling is the best way to increase your rank—if you’re able to do it without tripping up. But just spamming inputs between prompts isn’t the way, either. You need to make sure you’re freestyling in concert with the music. When you’re able to do this, you will feel the flow.”

The over-the-top explosive design of the game and its big-headed protagonist is underscored with an art style designed to be both easily identifiable to League of Legends fans and something clearly created by the people behind the Bit.Trip titles, said Roush.

“On top of all of that, we wanted to push ourselves and use the opportunity to make the best looking game we have ever made,” he said. “Ziggs, being the rascally Yordle that he is, helped us define the cartoony style that we see. He is so full of personality that we knew he needed to be shrouded in a world that would make him shine. Putting all of these elements together defined the style we see in the game.”

Hextech Mayhem A League of Legends Story hits Netflix, the Nintendo Switch, and Epic Games Store on Nov. 16, finally coming out from the cover of its codename: Joyful Fun Game.

“That is precisely the kind of game we wanted to make, from the opening cutscene, through the gameplay, with the music, the script, characterizations of these beloved Champions, etc. Hextech Mayhem is just simply meant to be joyful and fun,” Roush said.

Not wanting Rousch to get the final word in, Neuse added: “Also, sharks haven’t really evolved since birds came on the scene, and they’ve survived 4 of the 5 mass extinctions in Earth’s history.”

Rousch concluded: “And finally, never trust a cobra.”

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