Netflix interview: The cast and crew of Riot Games' Arcane weigh in on their experiences
Session 2: Christian Linke and Alex Yee
Following our session with Purnell and Leung, we quickly hopped over to speak to the Creators and Executive Producers of Arcane themselves, Christian Linke and Alex Yee. Needless to say, building a city (much less an entire animated series) is no easy task, and it's certainly a completely different ball game from creating champions for League of Legends. But how exactly might they be different, and who's their favourite champion in LoL's ultra-diverse roster?
Well, let's find out.
Note: Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Given that Arcane is built upon the world that League of Legends has developed, why were Piltover and Zaun selected as opposed to another contrasting pair, like Demacia and Noxus?
Linke: Personally, I think we ended up choosing Piltover and Zaun because it's something that we really cared about in a creative sense. The whole interaction between magic and science was just immensely interesting to us and it had a sort of Da Vinci and Renaissance-era vibe to it, but this pair of cities also allowed us to explore what exactly this relationship (between magic and science) means for their societies. Additionally, Jinx and Vi are, quite simply, characters that are very near to our hearts. Alex and I were working on them for the game all the way back then, and being able to explore them in greater detail in Arcane was just a really cool opportunity for us.
Yee: Yes. To add onto what Christian has said, I think part of the reason we ended up choosing Piltover and Zaun is because the medieval fantasy aesthetic was pretty commonplace when we started working on Arcane, and as such we wanted to explore a different style. Also, this lined up nicely with the creative opportunities that we saw for "the birth of Hextech", giving us a platform that we can continue to build on in future.
Q: Were there any characters that you really felt deserved to be in Arcane but were unable to feature? What would you have liked to explore about them?
Linke: Personally, I would have liked to go deeper and have more yordles in there, but at some point we realised that if we added everything we wanted to, we wouldn't be able to give all of them their necessary space and time to shine. In fact, we actually feel that some of the characters who did make it into Arcane do deserve more time than what they currently have, but at the same time, we also had to have that discipline to say no.
Yee: Heh, that's a really tricky question, because to answer that we would have to admit which characters aren't in the show, wouldn't we? In any case, I think it's worth highlighrting that this project has been in development for a really long time, and during the six years that we were working on Arcane, numerous champions have been added to the LoL roster. As much as we might like to, we simply can't integrate these into our story on a whim, but what I will say is that if we were starting Arcane all over again right now we might (and probably would) be choosing our cast from a much larger pool of characters.
Q: Building a fantasy world is never easy, and inspiration can come from anywhere. What would you say was the most unexpected source of inspiration that came to each of you during the process?
(Author's note: Linke's answer to this question really struck a chord with me, and I think it's worth highlighting for everyone to think about.)
For me, when we started this project, there were a lot of questions that we felt we needed to address regarding things like power and social structure, and over the past few years we've seen a lot of changes in this regard happening in our own world. There were many political figures and movements that left an impression on our lives during this period, and although it's certainly different for everyone, I think we live in a very defining time. As people, we've seen so many situations where it's really easy for one side to just believe the other is wrong due to ignorance, and this concept was just something that grew louder and louder as we continued working on Arcane.
Yee: Oddly, I would think that my most unexpected source of inspiration was being given the chance to work on this project itself. Like many of the characters in Arcane, we were given this great responsibility to shoulder and having to deal with their own self-doubt and insecurities, so in that sense, I definitely didn't see it coming. Even so, it was a delightful experience nonetheless.
Q: You guys have been around at Riot for ages now, and you've produced countless champions in League of Legends that players all across the world know and love. Which one is your favourite, in terms of aesthetic, gameplay or otherwise?
Linke: Man, I feel like that's a question where the answer changes every few months for me! Still, I think the current favourite would probably have to be Mordekaiser. I'm running him in the jungle a lot recently, because I think he's pretty ridiculous, but Tahm Kench does come a close second.
Yee: To be honest, this is a question that is fundamentally impossible for me to answer, so I'll give you the answer that I have decided to say, and that's Caitlyn. I worked on her story and lore really early on, and coincidentally I'd like to think my most played position in League of Legends is ADC (Attack Damage Carry) too. I also feel that she plays a crucial role in Arcane's story as a "bridge" between the two cities, so yes - Caitlyn would have to be my answer.
Arcane is shaping up to be a really exciting watch even if you're not already acquainted with Jinx, Vi or League of Legends in general. Plus, with the holiday season just around the corner, chances are you'll probably have the time to check out at least one episode.
Of course, that's assuming you can stop after just one.