BlizzCon 2016 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel Transcript
Jade: Thank you, Ed. That was a great introduction, I appreciate it. Hello, BlizzCon! How is everyone doing? I’m Jade Martin, I’m one of the hero designers here on this wonderful game, and I’m super pumped to be here to talk to you guys today.
Ragnaros is a unique addition to the Nexus. For those of you who don’t know his trait: Molten Core, allows him to channel on allied or destroyed forts, and take them over for a period of time getting a new set of empowered abilities.
This is pretty unique to the Nexus, and I can’t wait to see what everyone does with it; but before we get to that, I’d love to talk to you all about the development of Ragnaros.
Ragnaros was an immense challenge for us. How do we take this character from Warcraft lore, this iconic character and transfer him into the Nexus? We knew we were going to have a challenge in front of us, but we were all excited and we kind of had an idea of what we wanted to do. We wanted a hero that can manipulate the battlefield, and there were a couple ways we could go about this, but one of the very early prototype ideas that we had was actually having Ragnaros replace the core.
As you see here, it is a very early prototype of his Firelord model from Warcraft III. He had a global set of abilities and these abilities would allow him to rain destruction from the sky with meteors, send lava waves, throw sulfuras into the air… a lot of the abilities you actually see on his kit today, but he also had the ability to summon a Son of Flame.
The Son of Flame was controllable by the Ragnaros flare and gave him a lot of his team presence. We were pretty happy with this design, and we decided to take it to our team. When we are happy with a design, we like to take it to our team so they can give us feedback.
It’s very valuable to us because they are front line of defense. They really let us know if we’re doing a good job or a bad job. We got that first round of feedback and the majority was pretty good, but we knew there was an overwhelming amount of feedback from our own team saying: “I don’t feel like Ragnaros,” and that’s a huge problem.
If you’re locking in as Ragnaros, you want to play as Ragnaros. So we got together the design team and we discussed what it was the players were missing, where we weren’t hitting that mark, and we boiled it down to two things.
The first being this early concept Son of Flame you see here, the players were controlling that the majority of the game. That was kind of the avatar they saw, that was the hero they were playing.
Number two, the only time you ever saw Ragnaros was when you were losing. He was a stationary core hero, so you never saw him except for his global abilities, and that felt horrible.
It was like: “Okay, I’m losing, and oh… I’m Ragnaros” … that didn’t feel happy. That didn’t feel like the raid boss. So we knew we had to do something. We gave him the ability to submerge. Yes, that’s right, I gave the ability to Ragnaros to submerge and move the core.
As you can imagine, this is a terrible idea. Terrible. There are so many things wrong with this. I mean, is he invulnerable? Is he taking actual core damage? What gets left behind when he moves the core?
That’s a prototype in the top left there. Heart of the Core is what we were calling it, and he’s so colossal. He’s the size of the core, you’re going up anywhere in the battlefield and blocking off chokepoints, appearing above players. It was just not healthy for our game.
We realized, I think it was about a play test maybe two that this wasn’t going to work. So we cut the idea, but we did learn something from it. It was really cool to see Ragnaros in the battlefields despite all the problems it caused, and we really wanted to chase that fantasy of the raid boss being summoned in; and it was at this time we kind of realized Ragnaros wasn’t the core hero, that wasn’t his fantasy.
Everyone wanted to play as Ragnaros, they didn’t want him sitting at the core, so we said to ourselves: “If not the core, then where?” It was at this time we got together and discussed where we could get that same epic raid boss feeling of summoning in Ragnaros, and someone had the idea of what if he was able to take over forts and keeps?
It was like a lightbulb, it clicked, it was like I think we could do that, we can transition the kit from the core to these forts and keeps, and we know the space is large enough. He’s not just showing up in random chokepoints, we know we can fit a fort there so we can certainly fit Ragnaros; and the great thing about the forts and keeps is they are all over the map. They are predetermined.
We know the space is large enough and players are going to see it more than when they’re just losing. We had this awesome idea, but we needed some way, some sort of vessel to bring Ragnaros in: enter Majordomo Executus.
This was another iteration, and what better hero to summon in Ragnaros into the battlefield than the one that actually did it in the Molten Core raid. We went forward with this idea of your avatar being Majordomo, and we gave him a set of abilities but his primary goal was really trying to summon in Ragnaros. That was the epic moment.
We took this to the team and lo and behold feedback came back: “I still don’t feel like Ragnaros, I love playing as the raid boss, it’s cool when I summon him in, but when I lock-in Ragnaros as my hero, I don’t want to play as Majordomo.”
This is a huge deal, like we were not hitting the fantasy of Ragnaros in there, and we knew if our team didn’t like it, you guys wouldn’t like it; and It is very important that we hit that fantasy.
So we got together, and this is very, very late in the development cycle. Much later than we would ever feel comfortable making changes, but we got together with our artists, our design team, our sound, our writers, and we talked. What can we do? We have this really cool unique mechanic of him taking over forts, but we aren’t nailing the hero fantasy.
So we discussed and one of the ideas that we had lingering in the back of our minds was: “What if we just let the player play as Ragnaros the whole time?” So he has that hero form, and then the Molten Core form.
The hero form is kind of like his weakened state. He is not quite as powerful, but when he takes over that fort, and those keeps, he becomes this gigantic raid boss that enemies fear and allies love, because let’s face it… who doesn’t want a raid boss?
So we moved forward with the idea and something really amazing happened when we took it to the team again. The feedback went from “I don’t feel like Ragnaros” to “I feel like the raid boss,” and it was so awesome, and we are so pumped and jazzed that we were headed in the direction we wanted to go; and a large part of that is his trait: Molten Core.
Molten Core allows Ragnaros to channel on an allied or destroyed fort, and after a couple seconds, he takes it over gaining a new set of abilities.
The first ability is Q — Molten Swing: he swings sulfuras in a huge arc stunning and dealing damage to enemies.
His W is Meteor Shower: he summons a volley of meteors from the sky that damage and slow enemies, making it hard to escape the Firelord.
His E is Rune Explosion: he summons a rune on the ground, after a short delay, explodes dealing damage –s you can see here with our punching bag Arthas.
We knew we needed a kit worthy of the Firelord, even for his hero form, and so his first ability is Empower Sulfuras. It causes his next attack to instantly hit dealing AOE damage, and healing him for portion of the damage dealt making him a very strong melee assassin with the ability to sustain.
His W – Living Meteor calls down a meteor at the target location that rolls in the targeted direction dealing damage along the way. This is great against fleeing enemies as you can see here in this clip.
And his E – Blast Wave. Blast Wave can be cast on Ragnaros, or an ally granting a short burst of movement speed that after the duration expires explodes dealing damage. This makes it a great initiator.
Let’s talk about his heroics. His first heroic is Sulfuras Smash: Ragnaros hurl Sulfuras into the sky and it smashes down at the target location dealing damage.
If you are really precise with it, it will deal triple the damage, and stun enemy heroes hitting the center. Great against mosh pitting ETCs.
His R2 – Lava Wave: I don’t know if anyone has seen this yet, but this is for those of you who prefer chaos. Ragnaros summons a Lava Wave from his core, sends it down the targeted lane to the enemy’s core instantly killing minions, and dealing incredible damage to heroes caught in its wake.
I’m really happy, and so proud of the team for all the work they put into Ragnaros and I can’t wait for you guys to get a chance to play him on the showfloor; but before we do that, I would love to hand it over to Alex to talk about future updates.
Next: Heroes: Talent Updates
|BlizzCon 2016 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel Transcript|
|Varian: Concept Design||Varian: Game Design||Ragnaros: Concept Design||Ragnaros Abilities|
|Heroes: Talent Updates||Panel Q&A|