PCG: The Gnar concept existed before you came onboard, but you’ve no doubt got feelings about him. What is it about Gnar that you like?
AB: I just love Gnar’s theme. I think the writers—Leslie and Devin—did a good job telling a good story about this guy. I think he’s so cute but at the same time so sinister. I think you could compare him to the movie Gremlins: you just want to hug and love this guy, he’s so adorable, but that’s his trap, that’s what you don’t want to do. If you rub him the wrong way he’ll freak out and rip you apart. I think that’s really cool. I would say the first thing I love about Gnar is his theme.
From a game design standpoint, what I really enjoy is the transformation mechanic: I think that turned out really well and I’m happy that he has this uncontrollable transformation that feels really different, whether you're playing as him or against him. The LCS casters have coined the term “Gnar bar”—when a Gnar’s in the game you gotta watch the Gnar bar because it determines how fights flow. For a while it was a bit questionable: is little Gnar gonna feel good? Is big Gnar gonna feel good?
PCG: On that note, what were the biggest challenges designing Gnar?
AB: The biggest challenge from a game design standpoint was probably getting that transformation as good as possible, because it’s the whole hook of the character. Not doing it well means the character falls flat, and I think we did that pretty well.
Another challenge, honestly, has just been balancing him a bit. Originally when we were making him we thought, well, “Gnar won’t get picked up by pros because he’s not reliable”. Pros love reliability. But it’s turned out the opposite: if you’re really good at communication you make Gnar reliable, because now you can make your whole team work around the Gnar bar. On the other hand, if you’re in solo queue and you don’t know what you're doing, and your team isn’t on voicechat, it’s a lot harder to get people to coordinate around that. So it’s been hard to balance that, because he has such high payoffs when you actually coordinate with his intended mechanic.
On the next page: Vi has come too.