A Behind the Scene Interview with Overwatch Observer, Seenkay
After the great production value we saw at the Blizzard Overwatch World Cup, we were able to catch up with Observer, Seenkay, to talk about his role behind the scenes and his impression on the evolving spectator client.
Would you be able to introduce yourself, what you do, and how you ended up here at Blizzcon?
Hi my name is Sean. I am Seenkay, and I am one of the observers for the Overwatch World Cup. For me, I volunteered for Agents Rising, one of the first large Overwatch LANs. I did some more observing over the summer, and then got into this role for Blizzard.
What is the makeup of the Observer team? What is your role in the group and what are the overall objectives as a team?
There are essentially 6 of us and a director. We have 3 free cam and 3 first person perspective. I personally do the first person perspectives. I basically switch between different heroes to show where the action is and to call out where specific things are happening in game. Overall, what we try to do is provide continuous flow of action that people can watch, so we aren’t jumping around the game and people have an idea where the camera is at all times, so they do not get lost in teamfights. This involves switching to freecams that are farther away when there is a lot of stuff going on, and be on heroes who will have the most impact during the fight.
Obviously, this takes a lot of coordination within the group. When you are confronted with two heroes who need to be on camera, how do you adjust for the viewer experience and how do you determine character priority?
We’ve done a lot of testing, and we have determined a general work flow. Certain people are looking at specific things. Different people are looking to specific aspects, or the director will point out a moment we should be looking at. In the case there are two high impact Ultimates, I will set up for one Ultimate, but we will have the director who will try to switch to which one is most successful. We will try to make the adjustment if we can. Sometimes it is better to stick with the losing perspective, versus moving around throughout the teamfight. You end up on the hero who loses the duel, but we then try to switch to the hero who won to keep a continuous flow.
I wanted to touch upon an interesting feature we saw a lot at the Overwatch World Cup. The observers were using the over-the-shoulder view at lot more. What do you think are the decisions behind using this perspective?
In the last patch, the third person perspective was changed from a locked cam that we could rotate around the character to a fixed over the shoulder. We practiced a lot with the old version. We are trying to do different things with this view and adjust its usage for the all characters. It looks good on some heroes, but it doesn’t really work for others. For example, we can’t go to it for characters like Reinhardt and Roadhog because the character models are so large that they take up too much of the view. We avoid going on it during the middle of a fight; but we will use it to transition from freecam into a first person. This gives a better viewer experience, as we are flowing into the first person view versus abruptly thrusting the viewer into it.
As a member of the observer team, you are one of the best voices in to consult when improving the spectator client. What feedback have you had so far, and what would you like to see as we move into different mediums, like television?
We talked to Blizzard about all of the feedback we have. What we are looking for is a lot of customization for what we can do with the camera. They’ve added a lot of good features into the client already, like Pause. So it’s definitely getting better. We were thinking about being able to obtain certain types of information, like whether a hero is in a fight. There’s only so much information you can retrieve from the top bar. If you watch DotA2, they have stats about certain players. We are getting there with the World Cup by bringing up damage statistics for the current game. However, we don’t have a lot of long term statistics, like this player has a specific win rate on a hero in this tournament or over the season.
For television, there’s a lot more production involved on the viewing experience. From a streaming perspective, we only focus on the in-game perspective. There are more aspects to focus on, like the actual cameras and graphics, which they definitely have done well for the World Cup.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to come into the scene as an observer? What tips would you be able to give?
I think a lot of it comes from a foundation of playing the game at a high level, but it is also important to watch a large quantity of competitive games. The difference between quick play and competitive is very large. You need to understand what the pro players are doing, as this tends to be different from what occurs in pubs. This way you can predict what will happen and be able to better switch perspectives.
Thank you so much for setting aside your time to talk to us. Good luck in the future and I hope to see you involved further in the observer scene!
You can follow Sean on Twitter @seenkay_tv.
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