Ask Riot: Unbench the Kench
The latest on Tahm Kench’s mini-update and the revival of server transfers.
Hi all! It’s been a while since we shared our progress on Dr. Mundo’s champion update, and we have lots more to show today. Production is in full-swing, so we’ll be looking at his latest character model, animations, VFX, and SFX. Then we’ll take a peek at his Rageborn skin.
Before we jump in, let’s recap what we’ve shared so far.
We set out with three main goals for Dr. Mundo’s update:
One of our early challenges for Mundo was landing on the right tone for his doctor theme—is he a brilliant doctor who went mad, or a “brilliant doctor” who is mad? We read a lot of your feedback after our first post, and we saw that the thing that was important to many of you was that we keep Mundo a fun and comical champion. So that’s the direction we’ve headed. Our goal is for Mundo to embody a “dark comedy” theme, which we think is unique in League’s champion roster.
As for gameplay, we tried a few directions for Mundo’s kit, but the one that stuck was making him an extremely difficult champion to lock down. Having CC-immunity in any form is a powerful tool, so as a trade-off, Mundo will remain a champ with no mobility or hard CC. And of course, he’ll still chuck cleavers.
Finally, the last time we shared Mundo’s concept art, we heard that his hair was feeling a bit too well-kept for Mundo. We talked about that feedback as a team, and we agreed, so we’ve untidied him up a bit.
Edgar “SpaceReptile” Monteon, Job Title: Character Artist
Being part of the development process for Mundo drew me in as a character artist right away.
Mundo’s visual process began with concept art to establish his identity, then these visual elements get "digested" (so to speak) and become fleshed out. Throughout, I spent enough time creating Mundo's sandal, dials, torn clothing to be completely immersed in the visual story that is Mundo. This immersive experience is what’s most insightful and fun for me, and it’s what I would like to share with you.
Creating Mundo’s new model and texture is like setting the stage for other disciplines (like animators and VFX artists) to expand him further. We also have to think about how we retain what we love from Mundo’s old model. From a visual perspective, Mundo is an explosive character that does not fit in his clothing, and this is what makes him so threatening and powerful to me.
With new Mundo, you can see there’s more room for a more dynamic character—he wears a soft sandal and his animations have multiple layers of personality. It’s evident Mundo went through an ordeal of modifications and then escaped from somewhere. The type of outfit Mundo wears, as well as his weapons, are a tell-tale sign of what has transpired in Mundo’s recent past, and it was a blast painting in details that support this story.
Drew “sandwichtown” Morgan, Lead Animator:
During early exploration, I wanted to lean heavily on the silliness of Mundo and have some fun seeing how goofy we could push him. Part of what makes him unique is his severe dumbness, so it was fun exploring how dumb and weird he could be. We knew he also needed to feel dangerous though, and so the real challenge was balancing how seriously scary he could be while still being a bit of a caricature. Most of his core mechanics are meant to feel weighty and strong, but sprinkled in there are some moments of levity.
Originally his Q was going to be a jumping toss, which felt pretty good but was feeling too happy and carefree. The current version has him really leaning into the ax cleave, only briefly breaking his stride to wind up, then continuing to trudge along immediately after while he grabs a new weapon from his bag. Having him continue his stride mid throw helps him feel determined and purposeful. Always marching forward.
His tower attack however highlights his stupidity and inability to feel pain...
Emotes will be a place to tip the balance a bit more goofy, but the core animation set will maintain the feel of an unstoppable brute. Mundo is not delicate, and he doesn't really use restraint. His movements should all be at 100% because he doesn't know how to hold back, which is why he is so uncontrollably dangerous.
Jason “LankyTree” Chisolm, VFX Artist:
As a long time League player, VGUs remain some of my favorite projects to be a part of, especially when it’s a champion as iconic as Dr. Mundo. I like to start out each and every project by coming up with a few VFX pillars—these essentially serve as guidelines for me. Every effect I make should help reinforce these pillars and be informed by them.
One of the major ones for this project was “chemically enhanced physicality.” I wanted to really emphasize that Mundo’s over-the-top strength and utter disregard for pain is the result of chemical augmentation and experimentation. The big standout example of this is Mundo’s ultimate. It’s this really iconic moment where we get to see Mundo transform into this HP regenerating monster. It’s something the team really wanted to highlight and bring a lot of attention to.
So let’s take a look into Mundo’s big bag of unstable chemicals and medical tools to see how it’s done.
How do we highlight such a big transformation? Well quite simply by making him big, so big he bursts out of his jacket, absolutely shredding it to pieces and sending the many buckles flying. Then we saturate him in some good old fashioned Zaunite chemicals. He’s so heavily saturated that it’s just evaporating off of him, surrounding him in this gaseous cloud, and what doesn’t evaporate drips off to really give a sense that he’s soaked in these chemicals.
Jayvon “Riot Jirsan” Rymer, Sound Designer:
Like other VGUs, it's always cool to look at where we were before in comparison to what we are trying to evolve the champion into. For Dr. Mundo, I really wanted to keep a few things that players have come to know about him, but also push his physicality and strength even more. I really wanted it to feel like you are in a fight with a giant unpredictable force that only increases in power as time goes by. There were a lot of cool experiments that other disciplines were working on with his muscle expansion and size, so I wanted to make sure I captured a bit of that in his abilities.
A cool space that I had fun exploring was the sound of the Zaunite chemicals that he uses. I tried different things, like processing ice recordings to see what tonalities I could get from it, dropping ice cubes on a super hot pan with oil, and even using chicken recordings from our library and reprocessing them to get cool tonal textures. Nothing specific is quite ready to share yet, but here’s a bit of a compilation of some of the elements I was able to get from those explorations.
Sunuman “KindLeJack” DePandito, Surgeon-Hobbyist:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There’s nothing more exciting than completing a champion update only to crack open their skin catalogue and see the vast potential which lies therein! At Riot we prize the “player focused mindset,” and I feel like there’s little more player focused than bringing the love and learnings from all those years of experience to a faithful old champ’s moldering cosmetic collection. The newer skins get cleaned up and adjusted to work with the new base design and there’s always wins to be had there, but the senior citiskins are the ones that really get to pop out of the salon ready to drop some jaws.
Speaking of which…
Ready for the Rift Quest invitational PvP tournament, it’s Rageborn Mundo! Today I wanted to share one specific skin from Mundo’s impressive trove that is finally finding a home in a now-storied skin theme. “Red Mundo” is coming back with a bolder edge—paying homage to classic fantasy but updated for the current edition, Mundo burns with the rage of a berserker as he paves the road to victory with naves. Not even cute necromancers are safe!
That’s all we have to share for today. As always, we’ll be looking through your thoughts and feedback, so please keep ‘em coming. This will be our last post for Mundo’s VGU, and you can expect to see it on PBE in a few months. Until then, happy doctoring!