Rioters got together yesterday for some Q&A about Ekko, the Boy Who Shattered Time. From gameplay, art, story, skin possibilities, and much more. Below are the compiled questions & answers.
FauxSchizzle: Hey guys, here’s an awesome piece of concept art that really inspired the team! We hope you love this piece as much as we do:
Riot ShadowStorm: We also wanted to share this concept art timeline. This starts from the earliest ideas of making a “time assassin”, and reflects a lot of growth and refinement in the character. While this is only the art side, the evolution you see here reflects constant iteration between art, narrative, and design, which ultimately resulted in the Ekko you now know.
Hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at Ekko!
Direct image link here.
(Heads up – it’s a pretty large image!)
Q: How fun was it to develop Ekko?
Riot ShadowStorm: That depends… do you think puns are fun? Because there were a LOT of time puns. Roughly a Zilean of them, if you will. runs away
Q: So are we going to see a Zilean and Ekko pair of skins?
Q: Hello! I am sooo happy you guys are doing this AMA. I always wanted to be part of one! I have some questions here… I know, they are a LOT, but I already tried to hang back…
1) What was the inspiration to design Ekko?
2) How do you characterize Ekko? Any specific character traits he has?
3) Who is the boy we saw in the comic?
4) Speaking of the comic: Apparently the boy is on the mural because Ekko couldn’t save him (if he could, he wouldn’t be dead; So not saving and dead go hand in hand here) Is that the reason Jinx is also on the mural? Because Ekko couldn’t save her? (she went crazy instead).
5) What is his relation to VI? Are the rumours true Jinx, VI and Ekko were in the same gang?
6) If so, what keeps Ekko in Zaun? It seems like a pretty bad place to live, why is he so proud of this city-state? Or are we fooled by media to think that Zaun is a pretty ugly place?
7) What does the XII on his sword mean? Any connections to VI (6) or Jinx’s X (10)? Oh, and Caitlyns Nemesis C (100)?
8) VI doesn’t remember her parents or her real name (or where her tattoo came from), does the same apply to Ekko?
9) Is Ekko his real name? Did he call himself Ekko because of his timey-wimey-abilities?
10) Ekko seems pretty young. If we consider that he knows both Jinx and VI (before the one went crazy and the other joined the cops) is it possible that he keeps himself young with his timey-wimey-abilities?
11) Will there be more information about Zaun, Ekko and lore in genereal in near future?
12) I wonder: Why does Ekko has this symbol over his head while he ults? I didn’t quite get the use of that…
Again: Thank you a lot for doing this AMA. I would be super happy if you could answer a few of my questions. Thank you and have a lovely evening/noon/night whatever. =)
1) We felt the Time magic space wasn’t fully taken up with Zilean and were like, “What if we made a Time Assassin with Rewind?!?!?!?” Edmundo and Chris, came up with some great concept art of this punk Zaunite kid with a knowing smirk on his face and an hourglass on his back and it all clicked together from there
3) Ajuna, Ekko’s friend.
5) Ekko knew Vi when they were both younger before she left for Piltover. He’s got mixed feelings about her now. On one hand he knows who she was and what she could be and that she’s a good person, but on the other hand she sold out and is working for the Pilties now.
6) Ekko stays in Zaun because he knows that it’s not all bad. People like Ajuna (the friend he lost in the comic) live there. He believes in Zaun, and in it’s future (although currently in a somewhat childlike and less forward thinking way, he’s still a kid, still learning). Also the only other option is what? going to Piltover? He sees how they treat Zaun. In Ekko’s mind many corrupt Piltovian nobles are just as twisted as any Zaunite bad guy.
8) Ekko has parents who are gasp! not dead. They both work very hard and very long hours giving him a lot of time to do things on his own.
9) Ekko, like Vi and Jinx, does not go by his given name. Ekko was given to him by his friends.
10) He does not keep himself young, his time powers are not able to reach across years like Zilean. Ekko is straight up younger than Vi and Jinx
12) the symbol over his ult’s image is a UI element there for gameplay clarity (like the ones over Azir soldiers). It’s not something he’d have “IRL”
Q: Ok that’s interesting. Not gonna ask for many details but would you say his relationship with them (parents) is positive in some form?
FauxSchizzle: He loves them for sure, but they are a bit distant and removed from his life. Ekko (like a lot of teens) considers his friends his true family.
Q: Is Ekko single? Can I date him? My insane crush on Ekko aside, is the marking on his face significant in some way? Or is it just a design in his concept that looked nice?
Iniquitee: Ekko is totally single. Which is odd, given he can use his time powers to hit on someone multiple times. His face paint is an expression of his personality – it’s his personal symbol.
1) What made you decided to make him AP over AD?
2) What does Vel’Koz think about Ekko power over time?
3) For that matter, what does Zilean think?
4) Why make him from Zaun?
5) What do you think about the players reactions to him so far?
1) Two reasons: Thematically Ekko is a pretty skinny kid who uses wits and time magic to win fights over raw physical prowess. Mechanically, making an assassin AP locks him out from certain benefits AD grants (such as powerful basic attacks, lifesteal, and crazy tower taking). This allowed us to make his spells and utility stronger.
2) VK prolly just wants to disintegrate him to “get dat knowledge”
3) Ekko is pretty reckless in the use of his Z-Drive, I’m guessing Zilean (or Bard) might be somewhat concerned over the rippling affects of twiddling with the time stream.
4) So he had this hextech time device so it was Zaun or Piltover for sure. We liked Zaun because we’ve got a lot of villains from there but not many very appealing heroes (Vi moved to Piltover), felt we could strengthen the faction as well as tell better stories with Ekko being from Zaun. There was also a degree of Ezreal overlap with a Piltovian Ekko. Put “time kid” in a city of privileged and you get a very different type of person.
5) I’m happy with them :) People seem really excited and they’re picking up on a lot of major notes we wanted to hit on his character and gameplay. He’s gonna be fun.
Q: What is his opinion on ZAC and does he think ZAC needs a new skin? :P
FauxSchizzle: Hahaha, I see what you did there.
Zac is interesting. We wrote some funny Zac jokes, but when we heard them they sounded so mean. It was then that we realized Ekko probably would like Zac, and see that he wasn’t a bad guy at all. He might poke at him (literally) to see what Zac is made of and his unique properties.
Q: Were there any funny/interesting stories about programming mishaps that occurred during the development of Ekko? Can you tell us about any changes to his design as he was being developed? Ekko is one of the most interesting characters by far, and I’m excited to learn more about him!
Riot Szymba: We went through a massive amount of changes on how we wanted to represent his ultimate in game and specifically how to best represent the endpoint for both Ekko and his enemies. The W spell was also really problematic in trying to achieve the balance between the predictive gameplay for Ekko and the clarity/readability for enemies.
At one point before we started on his vfx, we made his ultimate so that instead of the trail he had a line of minions following him around the map to show where he had been xD
Q: I’m curious to know what Ekko thinks of Janna. He’s got a lot of pride for Zaun and a very strong dislike for Piltover. She had similar roots growing up in the slums but not only has defected from Zaun, she also flew for Piltover in the annual zeppelin race dethroning Zaun as the champions (Assuming that’s still canon). I’d imagine he must have something more to say than just, “How about that weather?”.
FauxSchizzle: He’s probably disappointed in her, but since he most likely has never had a personal connection with her (like he did with Vi), doesn’t take it too personally. She’s one of the defectors. He thinks she gave up on Zaun, which is something Ekko will never do.
Let me also state that Ekko does not think Zaun is perfect. He knows very well how is city is perceived and why it has the reputation. But he hopes that things will get better one day.
Q: Approximately how old is Ekko?
FauxSchizzle: Definitely a teenager… probably 16- to 17.
Q: How old is Ajuna (the boy who died in the comic)?
FauxSchizzle: Ajuna’s about 12. Sad. :(
1) What sparked Ekko’s hate for Piltover? Was Ajuna’s killer the final straw?
2) Is it right to assume Ekko is the one who paints the mural?
3) Is the hourglass on his face a tattoo, a birthmark, or painted?
4) Is the gang Vi was in Ekko’s group?
5) How does Ekko feel about Yordles?
6) What champions can be Ekko’s friends? And enemies?
7) Is Twitch really Mr. Tails?
1) Ekko’s always had a distaste for Piltover. Seeing friends and other people leave Zaun for the City of Progress gave him a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
Ajuna’s killer being from Piltover certainly didn’t help.
2) Parts of it, definitely. Like in other urban cities where violence/accidents claim lives, these street memorials are very communal, often with many contributors. Lots of people lose those they love.
4) I doubt it, personally, because of their age difference, but they are aware of each other.
5) I don’t think he’s formulated an opinion, having only heard stories about them and never meeting one.
6) Good question. I’m sure that Ekko would eventually put aside his disappointment with Vi, and maybe one day he’d befriend Caitlyn. But both of those are big IFs.
Enemies? Viktor, Mundo, Singed.
He doesn’t think too fondly of Jayce or Ezreal most likely.
7) Many rats escape into sewers, some things we can never know for sure.
Q: So Ekko views those three (Mundo, Viktor, Singed) as being harmful to his goal of reforming Zaun? Or is there a more specific reason behind this?
FauxSchizzle: These are people that Ekko views as taking advantage of Zaun. It’s important to remember that Ekko is a teenager and while he’s very smart, he’s also highly emotional and sometimes his view of the world is skewed.
Q: Oddly enough, despite being from Piltover, Ekko doesn’t really have a special interaction with Ezreal. What’s their relationship together?
FauxSchizzle: Ekko would think Ezreal is a poser.
Q: Is this new comic that you recently released in any way connected to the reveal trailer? It looks like it happened before the events in the trailer, because at the end of the comic the scenes are the same as they are at the start of the trailer.
Gypsylord: Comic is directly related to the trailer. Ajuna (googles kid) died in the comic and he appears on the mural in trailer. Ekko is defending the mural (and the memory of his friends).
Q: So in the trailer at the end when Ekko has defeated his enemy he rewinded time. Did he rewind that whole battle just to save the mural?
FauxSchizzle: Yes. Memory haunts and hurts. Ekko couldn’t let that tribute to his friend go demolished.
Q: Ekko seems to have alot of hometown pride, but I can’t really see why. Does he ever feel like his circumstances (orphan, street kid, protector, living in the shadow of piltover, etc.) are holding him back?
FauxSchizzle: This question really dives into what home is. A lot of Ekko’s pride comes from being born and raised in Zaun. Home is always home, even if it’s not always the greatest place in the world. It’s also defined by the people you care about.
Q: Is Ekko Lucian’s brother?
FauxSchizzle: Ekko has no relation to Lucian. They don’t even know each other.
Q: Why is Ekko’s sword dull?
Riot ShadowStorm: It’s actually a clock hand that he stole from Piltover! We intentionally went with a blunt weapon for a few reasons:
- Gameplay-wise, we knew he was AP (gypsylord has talked about this elsewhere), so wanted to differentiate him from somebody like Yasuo in terms of weapon
- Ekko is young, and probably wouldn’t have the kind of training to wield a sharp weapon as effectively
- Zaun might be a rough place, but Ekko isn’t a killer at heart. A blunt weapon gives him what he needs, without the deadly side-effects
Q: How much does voice play a part in shaping a champion? Was Ekko already mostly fleshed out before the voice work was done or did the voice help with designing his character?
Riot Szymba: This totally varies on a champion-to-champion basis. Sometimes, finding the right VO actor really helps the team come together around a champion’s actions and personality. For Ekko, we as a team had a really good idea of who this character was and the type of voice we were looking for when we started searching for actors.
Q: Is the enemy team able to see Ekko’s ghost following him around?
Iniquitee: Yes they are – it’s an important part of his counter-play, similar to being aware of where Orianna’s ball is at any moment (since it can be potentially dangerous!).
Q: Anyway, what is your favorite aspects of Ekko? And is there anything you wish you could have included with him?
Also, what would you call Ekko’s time clone thing? Is that an echo of him? Ekko’s Echo?
Riot ShadowStorm: Personally, my favorite thing about Ekko is his relationship to Zaun. He’s very different than the other Zaunite champions we have, and I think he gives us an awesome avenue to look at Zaun as something more than “goopy-terror-badguy-land”.
As for the time clone… I’d call it Ekko’s Luden, just to be really silly.
1) Why was that whistling guy going around killing people?
2) How far back in time can Ekko go?
3) How did he find the Z-drive?
4) Is he related to Ezreal in any way?
5) Does he have a rival? If so who?
1) The Piltie? He’s not a very nice person, despite his heritage and dress. He holds human life in low regard, especially those poorer than he is. We will never know if he was telling the truth about Ajuna trying to rob him.
I would also note that he’s not expecting to be caught. We used the German film “M” as a source of inspiration.
2) Short periods of time.
3) He didn’t find it, Ekko BUILT it.
5) Plenty: Viktor, Singed, Mundo, Jayce…
Q: Was there an issue about having another time-based champion when Ekko was being created?
Also, do Ekko and Zilean know eachother?
Riot ShadowStorm: There wasn’t too much of an issue there. We were definitely conscious not to step on Zilean’s toes though. I think Ekko does some cool, different things with time (both in gameplay, and as a character overall), so there isn’t much of an issue there.
Q: I know there is a back-burner filled with champion concepts but do most of the unique champs lately like Ekko, Kalista and Azir come from a demand you have for a role or to do you guys try to take the really unique ideas and run with them since you now have more time and energy you can invest in the champ development?
Riot Szymba: Good question! The reality is the ideation process takes both of those ideas into account. Sometimes we start with whether a certain role/position needs a little love and other times we think about what thematic we haven’t yet explored in LoL. With Ekko, we started with the idea that we wanted to make a new version of an Assassin and then began thinking about what type of thematics we could explore in that space.
Q: How does Ekko’s ult interact with Azir’s (does Ekko’s “dash” back to his spot 4 seconds ago get interrupted if it goes through Azir’s ult)?
Riot Velocity: When Ekko activates his ult he is both untargetable and invulnerable during the cast, which means that passing through any terrain (even Azir ult) won’t stop him!
Q: As far as Ekko’s lore goes in Chronobreak, what reason did anyone from Piltover have to be in Zaun? Why would that man kill an innocent child? He was a thief, or so accused, but that doesn’t mean he had to die. And as far as we’ve ever seen, Piltover’s lore describes the city-state as the least militarized and most empathetic. They are extreme rivals — but what would push a man from Piltover to come to Zaun? What is going on? Later Ekko is fighting Singed, or so I assume, does that have any connection to what happened with Ekko and the man from Piltover?
IS HE EVEN FROM PILTOVER?
FauxSchizzle: Piltover and Zaun are not too far apart. Some people are not very nice and live in nice places. They know better than to make a mess on their own doorstep. Even places where peace and progress reign have a few rotten apples. Unfortunately for Ajuna, he met one.
Ekko is not fighting Singed or Viktor or Urgot. That character — a Vigilnaut, is a hexmaturgically enhanced goon, most likely in the employ of someone else.
Read the full Q&A over at the Champion Q&A boards!