BlizzCon 2016 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel Transcript

Ragnaros: Concept Design

(Audience cheers exceptionally)

Ed: I’m done. So you guys saw that trailer at the opening ceremonies, right? Ohhh, chills, man! I’m Ed Crane, I’m a character artist on the Heroes of the Storm team and I get to tell you about the art of Ragnaros.



So with Varian, we decided to create him starting with his ability kit and his talents, but Ragnaros… we just wanted to embrace the nostalgia of being the raid boss.



To do that we are going to start with understanding his lore and his history. Who is Ragnaros? Well, Ragnaros’ release back into Azeroth and the creation of the Molten Core begins with a story of Thaurissan and the War of the Three Hammers. Thaurissan was a dark iron dwarf, and he had his enemies bearing down on him after his treacherous schemes had failed.

The War of the Three Hammers was a war between the Bronzebeards, the Wildhammers, and the Dark Iron clan. Thaurissan grabbed his seven most powerful dwarven mages, and descended to the darkest depths expecting to summon and enslave a powerful elemental; but to their surprise they summoned Ragnaros himself.

So with Ragnaros’ arrival, it caused a violent cataclysm. Ultimately, the enslavement of the surviving Dark Iron Dwarves, and the demise of Thaurissan. Rest in peace, Thaurissan, your Hearthstone card is awesome.



How many of you remember your first descent into the Molten Core? Man, walking that spiraling molten pathway to summon the firelord himself. He was so colossal, so massive, you had to scroll your camera all the way up just to look him in the eye to see what trouble you ere in.


What you felt in the raid at that moment is what we felt when we set out to create Ragnaros, and bring him to the Nexus. A call to arms went out to the art department, and we grabbed our flasks, our pots, and our food buffs. We were prepared.



Our mission was to recapture that powerful Ragnaros summoning moment and make you feel like a raid boss. So to do that, to make a big raid boss, you need a big concept. Boom! Man, we went all in on this. We knew we had a very difficult task because our normal hero is a model with some supporting effects, where as Ragnaros… he’s on fire. I mean, he is fire.



So we decided that we were going to make portions of him out of 3D, and then we are going to have the effects team make up the rest of it, and then we were going to just bring them all together into the final character; just really try to bring this concept to life.

There is the final turn around of base Ragnaros. The lower half is a 3D blockout model that we hand off to the effects team so they can create that whirling flaming cyclone that we all know and love.


There were many challenges that we had to overcome, but we were committed to bringing Ragnaros to the Nexus, but… what would Ragnaros be without Sulfuras?



The first legendary weapon added to the World of Warcraft. Luckily, Ragnaros has already farmed up all the mats, so this legendary weapon is yours. We were very inspired by the asset in World of Warcraft, but we wanted to give it that hero’s aesthetic, so we made it bigger and chunkier and more readable from players’ camera view; but that’s not all.

We concepted out each of his ability models because we felt it was crucial to gameplay that Ragnaros’ effects feel different than like say Kael’thas’ fire and Butcher’s Fire.



To do that, we really incorporated a lot of his environment from the Molten Core, and you can see the options where we are exploring with meteors, both the rolling and the falling varieties; but to make sure that their kits felt cohesive, we set up a facts sheet similar to this where we can see all the abilities playing at the same time. This is important to Ragnaros because he has two forms: a hero form and a raid boss form; and we really want you to know that when an ability is coming at you, it’s from Ragnaros.


Here is a concept sheet that we did for his death sequence to his Molten Core ability, that lets you take over a fort for a short amount of time, but we wanted that ability to feel powerful from beginning to end. So we went all out.



This is where we attempt to recapture that powerful Ragnaros summoning moment, he gets an entirely new model, and I wouldn’t be surprised if several of your enemies decided to stop and try to get away, but nobody escapes Ragnaros, right? You can see the death sequence coming up. Engage, there you go. Pretty cool, right? Ragnaros, he’s ready for the Nexus.


Developing and creating Ragnaros was an immense challenge, but you know we love to take a challenging hero, bring him to BlizzCon and show him off.



So we pushed the concept of Ragnaros to a 10, to the limits, and we started working on the master skin for Ragnaros. Well, ETC kicked in the door and yelled: “Crank it up to 11!” We always listen to heavy metal cows at Blizzard, so here is that master skin concept cranked up to an 11.



Yeah! When we start working on a master skin we are really just trying to take core aspects of that character and just level them up, so with Ragnaros we were inspired by the armor he wore in Sulfuron Keep in the Firelands. He is more metal, more imposing, and we added more spikes. I mean love them or hate them, spikes are aggressive, and that suits Ragnaros’ style just fine.

You can see the pieces that we needed to add, the 3D that we needed to add or replace over his existing character to create that master skin; and here are those same pieces sculpted and placed over top of the base Ragnaros sculpt just to make sure that we haveve got that concept.


Master Ragnaros in-game. We took that base concept, pushed it to a 10, took that master skin and pushed it to an 11.


Now where do we go from there: 12, 13? No, we’re Blizzard. We go right to an 18…… month-old version of himself. You may remember little Rag as an obtainable battle pet in the World of Warcraft. Well, we decided that would be a great launch skin. His proportion is significant enough that we needed to make an entirely new rig instead of animations, but you always try to give your kids the best right?



I showed you some awesome abilities and I’m sure you are very curious on what they actually do. Well, here is the man with most epic beard up here: Jade Martin (Ragnaros hero designer) to walk you through those.

Next: Ragnaros Abilities

BlizzCon 2016 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel Transcript
Varian: Concept DesignVarian: Game DesignRagnaros: Concept DesignRagnaros Abilities
Heroes: Talent UpdatesPanel 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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