10 things Blizzard developers revealed during Heroes of the Dorm grand finals
On the scene at Los Angeles, GosuGamers were able to talk Heroes of the Storm with Blizzard Technical Designer John Hodgson and Game Designer Kent-Erik Hagman.
The room was small and quiet. Well, as quiet as it could get with over 2,000 people screaming, shouting, and "raising their dongers" liberally and frequently right outside. The hype outside the room was palpable, but for the next 25 minutes myself and a couple other media outlets were given an opportunity to escape from the noise for a moment and ask John Hodgson and Kent-Erik Hagman all about the future of Heroes of the Storm. Here are some of the biggest points I was able to gleam from my time with some seriously talented designers:
- The hardest part of creating Heroes of the Storm was taking traditional MOBA concepts and "Blizzifying" them. Essentially, they needed to take all of the non-fun aspects of the game and maximize player attention on the heroes and the experience you get from playing them. It was hard because Blizzard loves the MOBA genre: It was born from their own mechanics!
- Removing items in favor of the talent system is one of the most iconic features of Heroes from a design standpoint. Items have to be balanced for each hero, but talents can be specifically tuned to promote weak or ignored builds.
- The Diablo themed battleground teased at Blizzcon 2014 will be coming out soon. It is being worked on.
- There is internal debate among the developer team about universal talents (Blood for Blood, Stone skin, Envenom, etc). They are designed to be simple and safe and were designed to help players flesh out different builds for different heroes. However, there is a risk that universal talents actually behave more like "Items" than talents, as they have to be universally balanced. Some generics the developer team feel are working very well, M.U.L.E and Cleanse in particular as they can be chosen reactively depending on your opponent.
- The internal pace in which new patches are to be released has increased, and it was strongly implied a patch will be out in the next two or so weeks.
- Valla's popularity and casual and pro games isn't seen as a problem to Blizzard. Her popularity is because she is cheap, was given for free along with Diablo 3, and does many things very well. Thankfully, her win-rate isn't too out of control and if there were to have any changes made to Valla, it would be done so with very serious thought. Similar to the changes Tychus underwent. Despite all this, a very slight change to Valla was hinted at for the next patch.
- The older heroes had a design problem of being able to do too many things at once. This "Kitchen sink" design problem resulted in heroes like pre-nerf Uther and Stiches being able to do an overwhelming number of things very well. They could, heal, stun, initiate, damage, tank and essentially were a strong pick no matter what. The new design philosophy going forward is very aware of avoiding this problem and seeks to make heroes into doing specific things well, and other things not so well. This makes true hybrid heroes like Tassadar and Tyrael more valuable while promoting more varied team compositions.
- Blizzard internally predicts a major meta change come early June when the game is released. Due to an influx of highly skilled players from other genres and an influx of new heroes.
- Diablo was slated for an overhaul, but then it was discovered that all he really needed was some quality of life smoothness to his abilities. This same type of treatment will happen to Anub'arak (with specific regard to his Beetle AI) and the developers predict this will make him a much, much stronger hero.
- There are many battlegrounds that are still being worked on, and they are constantly changed and revised. Battlegrounds undergo the most revision and changes throughout the development cycle.
In closing, I tried to get Kael'Thas confirmed as hard as I could. However, I was swiftly met with smirks, comically blank faces, and perfect response: "Kael-who? Oh, is that some type of vegetable hero?"
So take that as you will.
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