BlizzCon 2017 Heroes of the Storm: What’s Next Panel Transcript

Announcer: What’s Next Panel.

Alan: Hello, BlizzCon. It is awesome to be back here with you guys. My name is Alan Dabiri. I am the Game Director for Heroes of the Storm. Hello. I am joined up here by Travis McGeathy.

Travis: Hi, everyone.

Alan: I am joined up here by Travis McGeathy (Lead Game Designer) and Matthew Cooper (Lead Live Designer). So thank you for joining us for the What’s Next Panel for Heroes of the Storm. In this panel, we are going to dive into some really cool stuff coming to the game, Post BlizzCon.

 

So, Travis is going to talk about some cool system and feature work that is coming, and then Matt’s going to come up here and dive into some cool gameplay changes that we have coming shortly as well. And for those of you here at BlizzCon with us, a lot of what these guys are going to be talking about is actually, or they are actually available on the showfloor playable on our demo stations. So if you haven’t done it already, be sure to check them out.

First off though, I wanted to take a quick look back at 2017, and all the things that have actually come to the game. So, this year has been an incredible year for Heroes of the Storm. We have just had a ton of awesome releases with great content and updates. The biggest one of course, was our Heroes 2.0 release that came out earlier this year.

 

This release brought our first major Overwatch theme drop, a ton of awesome new content, and some great changes to our add-a-game progression and reward systems; and the end result of this release was really the single biggest moment in Heroes history. We had our highest player engagement numbers of all time, and that actually includes the original launch of the game.

So, it’s just been an awesome, awesome release for us. And since that time, we have been riding that wave with more releases, more content and more updates. So, I kind of wanted to take a quick look back here. Speaking of that content, we released two new battlegrounds this year.

The first that came with Heroes 2.0 was Hanamura. Hanamura brought this beautifully unique environment to the game. It also brought some new and unique game play changes. And, so you know, the biggest being payloads, of course. In Heroes of the Storm, we are always trying to push ourselves. We are always trying out new things.

 

We want to experiment. We want new things for the game, the genre and ourselves. And so, in the case of Hanamura, some of those ideas didn’t work out exactly how we wanted, and thanks to the awesome feedback from you guys, we actually took Hanamura back in the shop, and we are working on it. We are actually going to bring it back in the future. Bigger and better.

So, the second battleground was Volskaya Foundry. This was our second Overwatch battleground, and while we have had player control vehicles on other maps, this was our first opportunity to bring a 2-player vehicle to the game. So, for those of you who are Cho’gall fans, you can get some of that 2-player action regardless what heroes you are playing.

 

And then also, because we are insane, we threw conveyor belts all over the capture points, just for some ridiculous team fights as well. But we are also loving that battleground too. So, with the addition of these two battlegrounds, we will actually be ending 2017 with 14 battlegrounds that we have released for this game. That is double the 7 that we originally launched with. So, a lot of cool battlegrounds in the game now.

Beyond the battlegrounds, we have also added a crazy number of new heroes this year, 15 new heroes to be exact. And if we just kind of take a quick look back here, you know we brought Zul’jin, Valeera, Lucio, Probius. So, you might have seen someone kind of roaming around the showfloor here.

 

Cassia, Genji (everyone’s favorite highly mobile cyber ninja). I’m sure… Unless you are a backline-squishy, maybe not so favorite, but we have D.va, Malthael, who I love, Stukov, for really cool StarCraft support, unique healing mechanic and some cool heroics. Garrosh, Kel’Thuzad (our most requested hero ever).

And more recently we have brought Ana to the game, and Junkrat. And as you guys have seen this morning, we just announced that before the end of the year, we will be bringing Alexstrasza and Hanzo to the game. So, that’s a lot of heroes. In fact, by the time we ship Hanzo, we will have 75 heroes in this game. That is, more than double the 30 that we originally launched with. So, lot of awesome new heroes coming as well.

 

And beyond the new heroes, we also went back and reworked a bunch of existing heroes. In fact, we did 16 hero reworks this year so far. Here is a quick class photo of these ones. So, we are always improving and refining our hero design sensibilities. And so these hero reworks are an opportunity for us to go back, look at a hero, modernize them, energize them, and also look at talent diversity and balance issues as well.

 

But we really enjoy going back and like looking at these heroes because there are heroes that we can kind of bring back into the meta by doing this. And this doesn’t include these 16 hero reworks actually don’t include all of the balance updates we are doing as well. In fact, we touched 59 different heroes this year, with balance updates.

These are just number tweaks. Things to make the game fun, fair and balanced. So, lot of changes across this year and all of it has been done in collaboration with you guys. Your feedback, that we get, is invaluable towards developing this game. So I really want to thank you, guys. So give yourselves all a round of applause, for all your fantastic feedback.

Okay, so that’s a lot of cool stuff. I didn’t even go into all of these system works and other UI changes, and cool updates we have done. But looking back at all this content, it has also kind of helped us think about how we want to release stuff going forward. In this year, in 2017, we had some pretty crazy releases where we would drop a ton on the game at the same time.

A typical release that we might have had, might have been like a brand new hero. We might have done several reworks (four reworks in the case of Kel’Thuzad). We might have a bunch of balance updates that came along with it, an event with a whole bunch of awesome new skins, and then sometimes we might even throw a new battleground into the mix.

 

So, on the one hand, this can be really exciting because a bunch of cool stuff is coming to the game all at once; but we have also seen a couple of issues with this approach. First off, we feel like not all of the content we release has a moment to shine. So hero reworks, battlegrounds, other updates are often overshadowed by a brand new hero.

Secondly, we also feel that by dropping a ton of gameplay changes at the same time, we have seen that we can create some instability in the meta as well; and of course, this can cause some disruption for the game. So what you are going to see us start doing going forward is actually start to spread this content on a little more, so that each thing kind of has its room to shine. So as an example we might actually release a brand new hero. Shortly thereafter, we might actually have a major hero rework on its own. And since it’s on its own, we can actually support it better.

We might do additional artwork for it. We might put some new effects, sound, maybe even do a new spotlight video that highlights all the changes that are coming with this hero rework. After that, we might have a cool event with a bunch of cool skins coming out, a new battleground followed by another brand new hero.

 

So, really, it’s a lot of awesome content coming at a steady pace that is healthy for the game. So, with that now I want to dive into the stuff that you really care about which is all the cool stuff coming in the future here. So I’m going to hand it off to Travis to talk about some more fun stuff.

NEXT: UPCOMING CONTENT

BlizzCon 2017 Heroes of the Storm: What's Next panel transcript
1. Year in Review2. Upcoming Content3. 2018 Gameplay Update4. Community Q&A

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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