BlizzCon 2015 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel Transcript

This is a full transcript of the Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel held at BlizzCon 2015 in the Anaheim Convention Center. Among the panelists were Hugh Shelton (lead hero designer), Kent-Erik Hagman (senior game designer) and Phill Gonzales (lead character artist).


Deep Dive Panel: Intro

Presentator: Welcome to the Heroes of the Storm- Hero Deep Dive Panel



Hugh: Good afternoon BlizzCon, it’s pretty cool. Who saw the opening ceremony and is excited to hear more about Lunara, Greymane and Cho’Gall? We are really happy to have this opportunity to share this information with you. My name is Hugh Shelton. I’m the lead Hero Designer and I’m joined by Phill Gonzáles (lead character artist), and Kent-Erik Hagman (senior game designer).



So before we take a look at the new heroes, let’s look back. We released this past year…. as you can see we’ve been pretty busy, and we are not slowing down.



Right now, back at the office we have over ten different heroes that are at various stages of development. You might be wondering how we go about choosing which characters to add into the game.



So we are here to talk about some of the things that we take into consideration each time.

First off, you’ve seen us adding heroes from World of Warcraft, from Diablo, from StarCraft, and from Warcraft in general — as well as from Blizzard classic games; and we are also really happy to be adding Overwatch heroes in the mix coming up pretty soon.



And we are always looking at role diversity and we have a lot of data to dig into on live, and so we know that heroes like Nova and Kael’thas are being played a lot; and these ranged assassins are showing up in a lot of the teams you are playing against, so by adding more ranged assassins we hope to really increase the variety of the types of team compositions that you’re playing against; and silhouette.



Silhouette is the outline of the character, and it is what helps characters stand out from all the other ones. Heroes like Lunara, Cho’gall and Greymane all have very distinct silhouettes; and so we know that they are going to stand out from the rest of our roster and then also sometimes we are looking to bend the rules of the genre, and we need characters that can fit with mechanics that are pretty unusual.



A character that rarely leaves the base or another character that requires two heroes to play (well they require somebody special) and so we have a list back at the office, and I didn’t just announce all these heroes but they are heroes that are on this big massive list.



We have– it’s nearly two hundred characters long and this is a sampling of who those characters are. This started off with the hero designers and the artists who work directly on hero development.

We have been adding to it by asking our entire Heroes of the Storm development team who they would like to see added in to the game, and we looked at what you wanted us to add in to the game by looking at posts on Reddit, by looking at websites that are dedicated to uploading the heroes that you’re excited about and then finally this list grows a little bit as Blizzard adds new characters, and it shrinks just a wee bit every time we add a hero into the storm.



So I talked about some of the things that we take into consideration, but really the most important thing is, are we excited about that character? Because we have a lot of really passionate developers on this team and many of us have spent most of our lives playing Blizzard games, and we strongly believe that we are going to make the best hero when the hero designer working on them is excited about them.

So choosing a character is just one step in this process of getting a hero into the game; once we have that hero selected we go into what we call the paper design phase — which lasts for about two weeks, and this is where a hero designer will work on coming up with the strengths and weaknesses of the character, their description and also the abilities that they will be using.



During this time there’s a lot of back and forth with the rest of the heroes development team, the design team particularly, to try to nail down what that kit is; and once we are feeling confident we can move into the next stage where we have a technical designer take that paper design and actually turn it into a playable hero.



Once they are a playable hero we can move into the next stage where we have AI play test.



This is just to test the hero against AI opponents to look for things like kit synergy problems, to look for any obvious bugs; and it also gives us an opportunity to balance the character a bit before moving to the next stage which is where we have design play tests.



These design play tests lasts for eight weeks for each hero, and we do them every single morning five days a week, two hours a day; and they include the hero designers, the map designers and the balance designers; and on top of those eight weeks, we also have four weeks where the entire Heroes of the Storm development team can play this new hero, and send in their feedback.



So you can see just on the design side of things we have a lot of time to iterate, we have a lot of time to respond to feedback and we get a lot of feedback from different people; but at the end of this time we feel pretty confident with the hero, and I’m going to hand things over to Phill so that he can talk a little bit about the art vision sync, and he’s also going to introduce you to Lunara.



Browse these pages:IntroLunaraGenn GreymaneHero Design: Genn Greymane
Cho'gallHero Design: Cho'gallPanel Q&A

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of 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.

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