BlizzCon 2018 Heroes of the Storm: What’s Next Panel Transcript

The BlizzCon 2018 Heroes of the Storm: What’s Next panel revealed the new hero: Orphea, and the developers discussed upcoming changes to the game.

Among the panelists were:

  • Kaeo Milker (production director)
  • Joe Piepiore (lead systems designer)
  • Matt Cooper (lead content designer)


BlizzCon 2018 Heroes of the Storm: What’s Next Panel Transcript

Kaeo: Hello, BlizzCon. Thanks so much for joining us here for the Heroes of the Storm: What’s Next panel. I’m Kaeo Milker. I’m the Production Director for the game. I’m joined today by Joe Piepiore, he is our lead systems designer.

Joe: Too kind, too kind.

Kaeo: We also have Matt Cooper who is our lead content designer. Yeah! So Matt, Joe and I work really closely together, along with our technical director Stanislav Spivakov, and our art director Trevor Jacobs. We all help guide and support the Heroes team in developing our game and this is the hero team.


Yeah! Alright, let’s give it up for them. I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge these fine people who are united by a love for Blizzard and for Heroes of the Storm. No matter their role on the team, everybody is truly making the game that we want to play, and it takes all of us. So, while the leadership team and I are overseeing the game, these are the people who are pouring their hearts into every little detail that we all love so much.

Now the Heroes team can be spotted staffing our demo area over in Hall B as well as enjoying BlizzCon with all of you. So if you see any of us with our Heroes gear, please stop us, say hello, we would love to meet you and talk about the game.


Alright! And speaking of all of you, we’ve talked a lot over the years about how we made this game together with our community; and we still make it together. Because of your feedback, and your ideas are what fuels our passions and our priorities for this game. Now, whether it’s here at BlizzCon, or on our forums, or via AMA’s on Reddit, we love to stay in touch and we really do strive to find better ways to tighten the communication with all of you.


Because that helps us stay focused on the most impactful things that we can be doing for this game at any moment. So keep giving us your feedback. Keep discussing the things that you’re passionate about, and keep telling us the things that you want us to do better. But at the same time, please bear with us as we work to balance the many things that we’re trying to accomplish for the game.



Kaeo: Alright! So, transparency. One of the challenges with being transparent about what we’re thinking about doing for this game is that we don’t always do everything that we are thinking about. And as I’m sure many of you know, there have been quite a few things that we’ve discussed over the years for the game that have not come to be just yet. Like, custom map editor that we talked about back in 2014. Now, this is something we are really excited about, we thought it’d be a really cool addition, kind of take us back full circle to where we started with Warcraft III and this whole genre.

But as we dug into it more we realized it was a ton of work. And that was work that would take away from our ability to iterate on core things of this game that we wanted to make better. So that’s something to kind of set aside, and we’re not actively working on it, nor think about it anymore. But then there’s other awesome things like: Party Finder and Clans. Now, these are social features that we’re actually super excited about. We even have designs for them. But these are things that we want to bring to the game still. So they’re not dead, there’s just large amounts of work on them.

And we’re continually competing with that work against the many things that we’re trying to do to keep leveling up core systems and core features of the game. So there’s another thing here: Performance-based Matchmaking. So I announced that right here at BlizzCon just last year. And that’s actually something that we fully implemented and brought into the game. But once we did so, we realized that it wasn’t doing everything that we wanted it to do. But the good news is that the learnings from Performance-based Matchmaking have informed a lot of the decisions that we’ve made about Ranked Play that Joe is going to be talking about here in a minute.

So we’re going to keep discussing the things that we’re thinking about with you. And we’re going to keep trying to bring the most impactful things we can to this game, the things that impact as many players as possible. And we asked you to keep giving us your feedback, keep telling us what you love, telling us what we should be fixing; and we’re going to keep trying everything we can to prioritize those things for you. Now, I do get a lot of questions about prioritization. And one of the common ones is: “Kaeo, why do you make a hero instead of going off and making Clans?” That’s a really good question.

And the reason is because we have different parts of our team focused on different things. The content team is a really important part of Heroes of the Storm. They’re focused exclusively on bringing you guys new heroes, new battlegrounds, reworking existing heroes and battlegrounds, they’re also doing our awesome events that we have in bringing skins to the game. And these things, this content is really the heartbeat of the game. These are the things that keep those of us who are playing it actively, really engaged with it; but they’re also the moments that we are able to create that bring people who maybe have checked out or who have never played. It brings them in to check us out.

So those are important things. And we’re going to keep prioritizing content. It’s a really important thing that we do. And I want to say, this has been a really great year for us for content, something that we’ve iterated on a lot and I think we’re really hitting our stride. On the hero front, awesome year for heroes starting with my personal favorite… Blaze coming out in January, going into. Yeah! It’s got some mana attention now, but I still love him, I still love him. We got, you know, going to Deckard Cain, coming in the back half of the year here, Yrel, Mephisto, most recently Mal’ganis coming in. Yeah! We like my Mal’ganis.


Alright! And then out here at BlizzCon today, we’re just introducing Orphea, too. So, yeah!


We’re excited about her. You know, to hear more about Orphea, definitely check out our Deep Dive panel that’s happening tomorrow morning. 10:00 am.

It’s not just about new heroes. Reworks are a really important part of the game. It’s something that we’re really starting to do consistently alternating between brand-new heroes and pairs of Hero Reworks. We’ve gone back to some of the most iconic and earliest heroes of the game in the past year from Kerrigan, to Diablo, to Raynor himself. These reworks have really reinvigorated characters that some of us may have lost interest in. It really helps us mix up the meta and keep things fresh as well.


And then there is Battlegrounds. It has been a fun year for Battlegrounds. We’ve finally brought Warcraft into the Nexus with Alterac Pass; but we also went back to some previous ones. Yeah! Thanks for Alterac Pass. Hanamura Temple was a battleground that we put in, we got a lot of feedback out, and we took it out. And we reworked it and brought it back as Hanamura Temple, and I think it’s in a really great place now, Garden of Terror… another battleground that really needed a second look. We’ve done a bunch of iteration on it, changed pretty dramatically; and we think it’s in a much better spot. But it’s not just the heroes that are iterating and evolving. It’s also the battlegrounds.


Of course, then Themed Events. You guys maybe if you’ve playing with us for a while, you might remember in the early days of Heroes of the Storm, a skin would come into the game very randomly, and it’s because we made it very randomly. We have one cool idea, Sammy would draw a picture, we go off and make it, and it would drop into the game as soon as we could get it in.


Now we’re really focusing the team on really cohesive Themed Events that let us explore really interesting visual and thematic elements that you can’t really see anywhere else in any other Blizzard game. So from Mechastorm at the beginning of the year to the Dark Nexus. Yeah! Mechastorm was rad, I love Mechastorm… Let me go back there again someday. Nexomania this summer, bringing Luchadores into the game. Yeah!


And most recently with our Fall of King’s Crest, you know, events have been not just a place that skins come into the game; but it’s also been a place where we have these quests events that come in, and you’ve seen us evolve those over the year. I’ll have Joe talk about that a little bit more in a minute here. But this is our celebration of the game, and the magic of Heroes of the Storm that lets us play in all these awesome worlds that we can’t do anywhere else. This year, we did something new as well. We dug into the story of the Nexus itself for the first time, starting with a comic book that came out alongside Deckard Cain in the beginning of the year.


We really explored the Raven Lord and dug into this idea of King’s Crest, and what’s going on there; and as you guys have seen now that have paved the way for Orphea here. I’m pleased to announce that the fourth comic book in this series will be coming out later on this month. It’s all about Orphea. So if you want to know more about her, her backstory, her personality, that’s going to be the spot to check it out.


So as you can see, content is incredibly important for the game, but it’s not the only thing that we have Teams focused on. Like our Content, our Feature team is focused on making many additions, and improvements to features and technology, patch over patch; because the game as an entirety needs to keep evolving for us.


So while as I said, we didn’t hit all of the things that we’ve talked about, it’s still been an amazing year so far for our features as well. From voice chat, which was a long time coming — and I think it’s been an excellent addition to the game; to third bans — which again is something we’ve been asking for, for a really long time; and our continual never-ending effort for matchmaking, which we’ve actually made giant strides on this year, and we will continue to focus a lot of effort on.


And then, most recently, we made some big changes to Team league; and Joe has some really cool information about that as well. But these are things that, core parts of the game, new additions, we’re going to keep working on them; but it’s been an awesome year for features as well. We’re here to talk about what’s next. So I wanted to set the stage for that stuff, and let’s get Joe up here now; and let’s start talking about features coming soon for Heroes.


BlizzCon 2018 Heroes of the Storm: What's Next panel transcript
1. Year Recap2. What's Next3. Gameplay Update4. Q&A

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts


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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