Edmundo: Mundo was conceived and created back in the day when there were only like 30 folks at Riot. He was born from an original character description by Steven “Guinsoo” Feak, which he paired with a drawing I did of a surgeon, and gave him the placeholder name “Dr. Mabuse.” (which actually came from a 1922 German silent horror film of the same name...don’t ask). Obviously that name wasn’t going to fly, so we did some brainstorming to come up with something better. Brandon Beck happened to walk by while I was working on him and said, “Let’s just call him Dr. Mundo.” I wasn’t going to complain haha.
Andy: I had come into Riot as an intern and noticed that there were a bunch of work-in-progress champion designs that had some assets, but hadn’t yet been finalized. Dr. Mundo was one of those, and I kind of just felt compelled to try and finish him. I pulled out all my limited tech skills and somehow managed to hack together a bunch of if/then lines of code that became Mundo’s early kit.
Colt: Andy took the reins on Mundo. This was back when we were pumping out champions at a pretty insane pace, so the turnaround for Mundo was about a month--very short compared to the time and attention to detail we pour into champions these days. For animation references, we’d just record people acting like we thought a hulked-out chemical madman would. Somewhere in the archives there’s a video of one of the designers stomping around with his tongue out like Mundo so we could figure out what the heck he should be doing in game.
May the best Mundo… Mundo.
How did Mundo’s character develop?
Edmundo: The original design was an absolute monstrosity. I’m not kidding, he was literally some sewn-together hodgepodge of body parts from different creatures. There were lizard feet, a bunch of random limbs--a real freak show. We were going for some kind of collector vibe, a doctor who enhanced himself by Frankensteining himself together with various pieces, but it (obviously) didn’t make any sense. We talked a bunch about how to shift his concept, and we ultimately landed on the idea of him being a Hulk-like scientist that was just...perma-Hulk.
Colt: The initial Mundo concept was vetoed pretty quickly. We just couldn’t make it make sense. Did he cut off dinosaur feet? Were there giant lizard men out there? It just wasn’t going to work. Edmundo came up with the second iteration, where Mundo was a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type character--only we decided he was permanently stuck as Mr. Hyde. The tech wasn’t there yet™ for a transforming character. We weren’t able to mess around with that until Nidalee.
Andy: We’d changed the concept, though he was still a doctor for some reason. At first he had scissors, but we didn’t have the tech yet to make those function properly either. So we ended up giving him this giant bone-saw, and that looked really weird. The act of throwing it at people felt really good gameplay-wise, but the huge sword-saw thing he had was very awkward visually. In true hacky fashion, we ended up just taking the giant model and scaling it down a bunch until it was more like a cleaver, and that stuck.
While we were starting to lock down the visuals, we hadn’t really honed in on his personality yet. Even when we started bringing in voice actors, we pretty much planned to let them run with it. Fortunately, the first guy who auditioned positively nailed it with this hulking, maniacal, brutish persona, which also had a strong helping of derp to him. His rendition of Mundo really excited us, and we molded a lot of his final design around that.
Mundo smash like a boss!
What went into creating Mundo’s kit?
Colt: There were some core gameplay elements we became attached to early on--mainly all the health regen. We loved the idea of a guy who could really quickly regain his health bar if you didn’t finish him off. That “fire hose of health regen” feeling was super satisfying. Initially we toyed with reverse damage, where he’d turn on his ult and gain as much damage as he’d been dealt. But that basically made no one want to attack Mundo, so it ended up both screwing over your teammates and not letting the player enjoy the tank fantasy they’d signed on for. Tanks want to be attacked. We needed to incentivize players to come after you, to create that feeling of wanting to do it even though you know it’s bad for you, like chasing Singed or hunting down Teemo. Beating up Mundo creates that Raid Boss DPS moment when you have to burst him down at the last second or he’s coming back to get you.
Having a health cost for abilities was another core hook we wanted, which ended up working really well with his passive and ult. We wanted him to land in this area where it felt good for him to be taking damage.
Andy: We played around with a few things for Mundo’s attacks. We really loved the way throwing cleavers felt, so we became kind of obsessed with them. For a time, the more cleavers you threw, the faster you could throw them. Eventually his cleaver cooldown would drop to zero, so he was machine-gunning cleavers everywhere. At one point we even integrated the cleavers into his ult! Mundo would just plant down and throw cleavers infinitely, like a Vel’koz ult, but with these blades. That was a little too crazy though, even for Mundo haha.
Mundo do hostile takeover.
Why do you think Mundo--especially Corporate Mundo--has become such a community fixture?
Edmundo: I think people love Mundo just because he’s a fun character to play and watch run around doing Mundo things. He’s almost a cartoon, and has become pretty iconic at this point. Corporate Mundo is definitely one of my favorites, and it’s no surprise the community loves it, since the idea came from them.
Andy: Corporate Mundo was a weird phenomenon. There was a lot of community fan art that started cropping up with the concept. Teams here at Riot got behind it because it was just hilariously derpy.
Mundo will go where he pleases!
What do you think is Mundo’s future?
Colt: I don’t know that he’ll ever drastically change, taking his history into consideration. He gets moderate-sized tweaks every now and then to bring his mechanics up to date or tune his power, but the core of his kit has stayed remarkably consistent over the years. It may be because he just fills a cool niche. He performs well as a poke-tank, takes damage in a unique way, and--obviously--he goes where he pleases.
Andy: The only thing I’d really want to change would be the godawful Burning Agony particles. It was originally an old unused particle we had in the vault, and we ended up using it for Mundo just because it fit the name in a hilariously literal sort of way. But fireballs spinning around him makes no real sense thematically, so I’d love for us to give it another go at some point.
Edmundo: If we were to update Mundo in the future, there are things about his background we could explore more now that we have a better understanding of the world. He lacks a bit of depth right now, and we could give him some more believability. On the visual side I’d love to just generally update and polish some of his more out-of-date game assets, but I don’t think we’d change anything core. You can be damn sure he’d keep that colorful skin and good ol’ Mundo charm.
The next champion update will be none other than the Madman of Zaun himself, Dr. Mundo. This project is very early in development and is scheduled for 2021, so expect to see a few more new champs in between the marksmen and Mundo.
The reason we’re sharing so early is because we saw a strong positive reaction from players when we did the /dev blogs for Fiddlesticks and Volibear, so it’s something we want to do for Mundo as well. We aren’t going into any more detail on Mundo’s VGU here, as we'll be releasing a full post next week that’ll cover the super early exploration phase for his gameplay, narrative, and art.
As we mentioned in the recent Champion Roadmap, Dr. Mundo is up next for a VGU in 2021. We shared a lot of work-in-progress during Fiddle’s and Voli’s VGU, and we plan to do the same for Mundo. Our hope is that by showing the direction and plans for VGUs early, we can get more feedback from you all about what’s working well and what we can improve on. This approach has gone well so far—both in regards to the feedback we’ve received and the reception from you all—so today we want to share an early look at our work on Mundo’s update.
Let’s start by talking a little bit about why we chose Dr. Mundo for a VGU and what our goals are.
Honestly, one of the main reasons we wanted to update Dr. Mundo is because of how dated his visuals have become—Mundo sticks out like a sore thumb in the current roster of champions. We felt like there was a lot of potential to really upgrade Mundo’s visuals and theme to not only look better, but to fit in better with how League's visual style has evolved over the years.
We also think there’s room for gameplay improvements to Mundo’s kit. He has a lot that currently works well for him, like his super-tank regeneration and the ability to constantly chuck cleavers—both of which you can expect to stay, in some form or another, after his update.
Another major goal for Mundo’s gameplay is to keep him a very simple champion. We want to build more mastery into his kit, but not the kind of mastery that will suddenly require you to have lightning fast reflexes, so expect his kit complexity to stay pretty similar.
With these goals in mind, let’s hear what Dr. Mundo’s lead gameplay designer, concept artist, and narrative writer have been exploring so far.
Most League players probably have a memory (or several) of blasting outrageous amounts of damage into a Dr. Mundo, then watching as he goes on to kill your carry and walk out with more health than he started. The extreme tankiness and regeneration are definitely things we believe are core to the Doctor’s identity, and ultimately when you play him you should feel like taking damage is a problem for other champions. This early in the process, we wanted to explore a variety of things we could do to ham up this experience even more.
Our main goals are to 1) give opponents more counterplay options against Mundo, 2) increase Mundo’s gameplay variance beyond landing cleavers, and 3) bring Mundo into the modern era of League without sacrificing his overall simplicity. We haven’t landed on the final direction for his kit yet, but here’s a few of the things we’ve tried so far.
The first iteration we tested had Dr. Mundo gain one max health every time he was hit, and we soon after tried other versions of Mundo gaining max health by welcoming incoming damage. After a number of tests, it became clear that this was too much of an incentive for bad decision making. Players would often overcommit, intentionally position poorly, or seek out really bad trades, so we pivoted slightly to Mundo converting his defensive stats into, you guessed it, more health.
After a couple items his health bar became... an absolute unit.
However, with such a ridiculous amount of health, the champions and items that were strong against Mundo became even stronger, and those that were weak became even weaker. This created even more polarized games than current Dr. Mundo, so ultimately we decided to stop pursuing this route.
Also, let me explain that little line, because it’s not the execute threshold for Elder Dragon buff. We also tried giving Dr. Mundo really high health regeneration all the time, but some of the damage he took would lower his max health. The line is showing his “current” maximum health, which would only recover on fountain or on death. However, this contradicted the regeneration fantasy by making players feel punished for taking poke damage instead of protected from it, which is not a feeling we want for a masochistic tank. It also led to some stress and confusion around when to fight, when to recall, and generally managing your max health. Overall it was too much for poor Mundo’s brain to think about, so we moved on to some simpler abilities.
Outside of giga health regeneration, we thought about other tools you’d expect from a Zaunite mutant-freak. We tried a few things (like not-so-surgical embedding and ripping out his cleavers), but the one that we tested the most was a chain-reacting corpse explosion.
While fun, ultimately this ability felt too zoning-oriented and overall “magey” for what you’d expect from a ripped melee top laner. Mundo having multiple tools to avoid going into melee didn’t fit the character that he is visually, nor did it really encourage the type of gameplay we want Mundo to have.
We’re still in a phase where everything is super crazy and experimental… kind of like Mundo. While none of these early explorations have felt quite right, our muscly purple MD will still be one of League’s marquee megatanks. We’re super excited to share these early explorations with you, to see where his gameplay goes, and about all the totally legitimate medical knowledge we’ll pick up along the way.
Like Fiddlesticks, Dr. Mundo was one of my first loves in League (a trend is emerging). There’s nothing quite like the rush of wading through your foes without a care in the world as their carries cry for someone to save them.
We started out with a big exploration, plumbing the depths of Zaun for directions revolving around what Mundo is and what Mundo could be. This is my favourite part of design because we aren’t yet focused on answering questions, only to ask, and even though this kind of wild dreaming isn’t always practical, it can lead to unexpected sparks that inspire a brighter future.
Ultimately the visual fantasies that are at his core are clear: DOCTOR and... MUNDO. The “Doctor” theme could be approached in many ways and all of them would be an improvement, so I’m really excited there. “Mundo,” on the other hand, is that quality of just being Mundo. Some would say it’s indescribable, others pure purple, but I’d eyeball it as being an unkillable regenerating freak-machine that maybe doesn’t have the cleanest grip on reality.
Tone is something we are discussing a lot. Some say Mundo is a horrific serial killer, others a lovable dope, some even tell me he’s quite handsome. We think finding the right juxtaposition between the comedy and the menace of Mundo will be key. It’s going to be a wild ride, and I’m sure the design will go exactly where it wants to.
Reworking Mundo has been a unique experience from the start. Often when we rework old champs, they’re in such bad shape that some of our changes end up being pretty drastic. On day one of this rework, we all kind of agreed that we like Mundo. So does much of the world. Obviously that didn’t mean he couldn’t be improved (especially visually), but everyone in the room felt he filled a unique space in our champ roster—one that we didn’t want to abandon entirely. The idea of an unstoppable psycho who can’t be hurt, combined with the whole “doctor” angle, is a goldmine that we wanted to dig into.
SO THE QUESTION THEN BECAME, “HOW DO WE MAKE HIM MORE SUCCESSFUL AT FULFILLING THE FANTASY OF BEING AN UNKILLABLE PSYCHO DOCTOR?”
The next question I asked was, “Exactly how stupid do we want him to be?” We thought about making him an actual doctor, perhaps someone who went mad through his own medicine, but that put him in the same crazy scientist space as Singed.
So we began to experiment with his role as a man who is not a doctor at all, but someone who thinks he’s a doctor and is too stupid to know he isn’t. We realized that while we have no shortage of crazy champs—Ziggs, Jinx, and Kled, to name a few—how many do we really have who are flat-out dumb? Maybe Trundle? (And even he’s supposed to be smart for a troll.) We also realized the dumb thing works really well for a guy who’s supposedly unaware of what is happening to his own body.
No matter where Mundo goes, it’s been fun exploring the different potential avenues for his character.
We’re planning to release Dr. Mundo in 2021, so you can expect the next /dev blog towards the end of the year, once we enter full production.
As always, let us know what you think: What excites you? What terrifies you? Why is Mundo the handsomest purple doctor of all time? We’ll be reading through your thoughts and feedback, as we want all of you to help us make the best Mundo possible.
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