The Making of the Madman
By Mhija and ADillonMostDirty 
He's big, he's purple, and he has some disturbing origins...
We talked to Andy 'fantasyworld' Ho (Lead Analyst) Colt 'Ezreal' Hallam (Lead Game Designer) and Edmundo 'odnumde' Sanchez (Art Lead) to shed some light on the man, the monster, the .
- Mundo never start in mail room.
What prompted the creation of Dr. Mundo?
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.