GamesCom 2017 Heroes of the Storm Kel’Thuzad Interview

At GamesCom 2017, Blizzplanet interviewed game director Alan Dabiri and game designer Kyle Dates to talk about the new hero Kel’Thuzad and his abilities.


Interview Transcript

Danny: Hi, my name is Danny. I am with Blizzplanet. I am here with Kyle Dates and Alan Dabiri. We are going to talk about Kel’Thuzad, and Heroes of the Storm. So Kel’Thuzad is the most requested hero from Heroes and the Storm and the Blizzard universes ever. So talk about what it is like to design such a high profile hero.

Kyle: Sure. So Kel’Thuzad was obviously the most requested hero. He has all these different forms of himself that he has appeared in throughout World of Warcraft, Warcraft III, and Hearthstone; and so when we approached Kel’Thuzad, when we wanted to add him to the game, it was– we gotta get this right. It was a monumental task, and so we started off by looking what kind of hero do you want to bring into Heroes of the Storm?

So we knew right off the bat that because how high-profile Kel’Thuzad is, we definitely wanted to bring in a hero that could make big plays, and would be super exciting to watch, and something we wanted to see like at an eSport level.

So we started off looking at what kind of ### that could be like, and so we ended up settling on this combo crowd-control mage that can do high amounts of burst damage, and really just make crazy plays.



Danny: How long has Kel’Thuzad being actually in development?

Kyle: We started on Kel’Thuzad in January, and here he is at GamesCom.



Danny: How long have you been thinking about Kel’Thuzad? I know that he kinda has a special place in your hearts. So can you tell me about that, and how did you pitch it, and where did that come from?

Kyle: So Kel’Thuzad is a hero that, for me personally, I have always wanted. It is my most wanted hero in Heroes of the Storm, and I have been wanting to see him in the Nexus since literally when we first started working on the game.

So throughout all these years, I have thought what kind of various kits he could potentially have (at the various stages of the game); and so I feel super privileged that I was able to actually end up bringing him into the game.



Danny: I know you have worked on other heroes such as Genji, Valeera, and Zul’jin. How is the design for Kel’Thuzad different than the design of your previous assassin heroes?

Kyle: So all those heroes are more like ganking assassins. Well, Zul’jin is a ranged-like sustain-damage assassin. Kel’Thuzad is actually the first hero that I have done that is more of a combo assassin.

So he is more like a Kerrigan, or an Alarak. So it was a completely different design philosophy with him. Whereas Zul’jin is kinda wanting to keep his health low, and keep doing damage at a steady rate.

Valeera is kinda this backline infiltrator, and Genji is this diving hero. Kel’Thuzad is ultimately a completely different and fresh hero for me to work on.



Danny: How do you decide on his kit and theme? Like… there is a lot of ways you can go with Kel’Thuzad in general. He could be a summoner, or more like plague-type stuff. So obviously, you went with a more of a cold-theme. So how did that come to be, and were there multiple iterations? How did you finalize this kit?

Kyle: In Heroes, visual clarity is super important. We have a lot of heroes that are throwing out all kinds of abilities, and summons, and things like that. So whenever we are looking at adding summoning heroes to the game, we make sure that it is really very important for that.

With Kel’Thuzad, he is a Lich at his core. So a Lich is like the ultimate form of frost and shadow magic. We wanted to really play that up in kinda have him be representative of that, rather than his necromantic past.

So taking a closer look at the Naxxramas raid fight, after you do the beginning of the first phase where you are fighting the invaders from Icecrown, he goes into a full-on caster mode, and he is just nuking heroes down, creating these void zones that if you stand under you will die instantly.

So we kinda decided that that was more of the iconic character that we wanted to capture.



Danny: Tell me about his titles. Obviously, you got a lot of titles. I mean– it was super funny to hear that in the video. How was that? Talk about that.

Kyle: So his titles came– I mean, he has all those titles. That is who he is. The titles were kind of a funny little thing that the players kinda made up over since the game has basically being out.

There is people who have wanted Kel’Thuzad forever, and so it kinda just grew into this funny thing where people just kept adding titles, and titles, and titles, and finally it ended up being this insanely long thing that… just funny.



Danny: It kept going in the video. It’s pretty funny. Basically, this is like Danaerys, but Kel’Thuzad. Tell me about the Master of the Cold Dark trait. Explain to me how that works, and what’s the best way to maximize its utility.

Kyle: So Master of the Cold Dark is his trait, and it is a baseline quest. So Kel’Thuzad is the first hero that we have added into the game that has a baseline quest. Previously, we have done reworks that have added quests, and some even baseline, but we never actually added a new hero that has one.

So Kel’Thuzad’s trait is when using his crowd-control abilities: Frost Nova and Chains of Kel’Thuzad, he gains Blight; and as he gets Blight, he gets more and more powerful.

So once he hits 15 Blight, all his base cooldowns are reduced by 2 seconds; and then when he has 30 Blight, he gets a massive spell power boost, and it is a 70% spell power which is huge. It is one of the most powerful spell power boosts in the game.

So this really allows him to go from starting the game off as this crowd-control focused manipulator, where he is setting up combos for himself and his team, and locking down enemies, to finally finishing that trait and becoming this scary burst damage assassin.



GamesCom 2017 Kel'Thuzad Interview


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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