Heroes of the Storm Developer Q&A Part 2 (Jan 22, 2014) – Transcript

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Kevin: I think right now the running winner is Haunted Mines by pretty significant margin. If you want something other than that please go down there and vote. Let us know what you think. Let’s take our questions here. I am going to do my best with these twitter names, people.

Kevin: By StarCraft-esp.com asks — Are you testing new maps with different PvE objectives than the current battlegrounds?

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Dustin: No, but we are taking a little break from battlegrounds right now. We have gotten enough battlegrounds — if we are going to beta with these, and see how these goes.

These battlegrounds did very well for us at BlizzCon. Everybody seems pretty excited about the stuff that were are doing and we tested them further in the alpha. Dragon Shire was an example from that. It’s got a bunch of fixes and we are not quite ready to show it again because its back in the pipe getting cleaned up based on those fixes. This is why it’s not up in the poll.

But we feel this isn’t enough to go out to the world with and most of our maps guys are focused on new user experience right now they are going to come off with that and they are going to go back to maps and we will be developing more maps going forth.

We are not also quite sure yet how many maps we need for the game to feel that you got enough variation. Obviously if we put out 37 maps you might go like: “I don’t even know what this game is about. Like … it’s just insane.”

So there is an upper number as well that is just too big. And then there is a lower number that we feel for our game is just too small. So right now we have got four. We are going to try that, I think, initially and see how it goes.

I can imagine that maybe 6 or 7 might be better; but it might not. I don’t know for sure.

With StarCraft, we had so much experience coming from StarCraft and then Brood War; and then– in Warcraft too.

So this team has so much experience on what felt right for a map count for the game to feel fresh. Instead of just chaotic and uncertain.

In this case, this is so much more intense. We don’t want to have that experience. We don’t really know, in this case, exactly. So we are guessing right now that before we have a probably, it’s probably enough at least as an initial offering.

And we need to focus more on heroes. We need to focus on this new user experience — and then in a couple of weeks to a month, I think when we are done with that new user experience, I think we will start experimenting with more maps.

Even if I don’t know if we are going to add, we might just have one map for swapping out if we go out with a beta — and the alpha, and the community goes: “Huh? Your fixes on Dragon Shire was garbage. This is still terrible.”

Ok. We can drop it. Or it might take on.

Kevin: People don’t talk like that, Dustin.

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Dustin: Well, sometimes they do. If it is bad, they can be mean.

We will see what happens; but right now we are not really focused on more battlegrounds. It was a really great question.

Kevin: Awesome. Thank you. Alright let’s take some more. This one is @BrillaanCTR and asks: “How many Specialist Heroes is it feasible to have on your team?” That’s an interesting question.

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Dustin: That’s a great question. We don’t usually run more than one or two. Right? And it depends on that one, or two.

You could run Abathur with maybe someone like Tinker on the team — I would say, and still be pretty effective.

Sometimes you could run double-siege — like if you run Sergeant Hammer (or Siege Tank) with Witch Doctor … that’s probably ok.

I think that if you went three, it would be a little thin. These guys they don’t have the firepower to really drop enemy heroes very rapidly; and they don’t have the endurance to stand up in a big team fight. So, I think you will start to get into a little trouble with three. But it might depend on the three we don’t really know.

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Kaeo: Kind of interesting in seeing as we get deeper into alphas and betas. What kind of combinations are viable and we will kind of watch that and see.

Dustin: I think we haven’t tested some of the insanity, like what happens if we go all five specialists, and siege all middle-lane. what happens? We haven’t tried some of that whackiest stuff yet. We are just trying to see how the basic stuff works, but I think we are going to try that now. See what happens.

I think generally speaking to answer your question is: About one or two is the most practical.

Kevin: Cool. Alright, this one from @mikemetcalf. He says: “Can you explain the talent system in more detail? How many ways can each hero be played?”

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Dustin: It’s a really good question. We are currently redoing the content for the 910th time on the talent system.

We are very happy with this structure. As we go up levels we get access to tiers. In those tiers, they are meant to be played off against one another.

So we can offer you two things that are affecting the same power. If you double-stacked them, they would be so broken we couldn’t allow it.

But we offer them as discrete choices. Right? We have this or that. Which version of snipe for Nova do you prefer? You can make those options. That feels really good to us.

Currently, we have a lot of stats in the list of things you can choose; and one of the things we have found is that every time — it’s so obvious that everybody might be laughing at me about this; but — every time you offer up something like stats — so plus +400 health or something kind of clever that alters your core abilities. Well, guess which one you are going to choose?

+400 health … thank you very much. That’s what I need in order to fight that team fight in 9 minutes. There is a tribute spawn. I need to live. Right?

So, a lot of the stat choices that we are offering kind of alter the way you play. Also interfere with some of our interesting choices. The other thing we do is — in many cases, that was the right answer.

It wasn’t really like you can play demon hunter, invincibility power demon hunter; but Attack damage is just the right answer.

So we like the idea to recreate some builds out there; but it wasn’t really creating the flexible system we wanted.

We could play the heroes in a number of different ways. That is kind of going back into formula in the sense that we like the structure; but the actual content, we are going to leave you with … a little bit longer.

Well, I don’t know if this experiment is going to work out, and this is literally … We talked about this 3 or 4 days ago. So what I’m saying now may not be true in a couple of weeks; but we definitely felt like what we had was not as flexible.

It didn’t create what this person is asking for. I think what they are asking for is: is there going to be flexibility in the system that I can really get into a hero, that I can play it one day for 5 or 6 games; then I can play it in another way for 5 or 6 games; then 10 games later, I can discover a third way?

Is there a combination of something else that they didn’t even think of before, and add it?

The other thing I will say too is: We probably are going to come out when we go out for a beta — whenever that is — with a limited set of talents, so that we can really focus and test these; but the system is designed to add. The system is designed to grow.

We can add as many of these as makes sense for the game for as long as we want to, and the whole thing is set up as everything is in this game — as we talked earlier.

Everything … all the system is designed so that we can keep adding to it without feeling kind of janky and awful. We keep adding to it and it keeps feeling more interesting as we go. So all of these start with a smaller set just to make it kind of clean so that we can understand what we are doing; and then as we learn more and more about the game we will add more and more talents; but the system is definitely under construction and we definitely working pretty hard right now.

You can play it right now as toy play and when you get to see it played today — it might work! But we feel the choices could be more intense.

Kevin: Fair enough. Thanks. This one is from @heyblupor and he says: How do you view the support role in Heroes with shared team experience? Will we be seeing more offensive support play?

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Dustin: We can. Tassadar is almost purely DPS. We even joke, like, can we even support any more? You can totally expect them more offensive or defensive role. There is often different ways you can support, as well, for example: Uther has the ability where he can heal people based on attack damage, so he is hurting people and he is kind of healing his allies around and there is different ways you can expect these guys. So we will definitely have heroes — I think — that are more optimally played to be the support.

And I think, heroes like Tyrande as well who has got some range. There are definitely offensive-oriented build here that you can take if that’s what you feel that your team needs or makes sense.

Kevin: Kaeo what heroes do you like to play?

Kaeo: I have been playing across everything right now because I am trying to get exposure to it all. My kind of standard player or heroes that I am playing a lot are Gazlowe the Tinker. I play a lot of Kerrigan.

Kevin: Do you own me up with Kerrigan.

Kaeo: Mmm… Sorry!

(Dustin breaks into laughter)

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Kevin: This guy just crushes with Kerrigan. He is got this combo abilities. It’s like …

Kaeo: I think I like to get riding into the roles and try different builds offensively right now.

Kevin: Cool. Awesome. Alright, let’s do this. @HotScast — he asks: Which is /are your favorite hero/heroes to play? (Meant for the specific developments on the live Q&A, not teamwide).

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Dustin: I asked you what you have been playing, but would you say those are your favorites, I am assuming…

Kaeo: I have kind of fallen in love with one and I play it really extensively; and then right now in the meta game there are little carrots that makes me want to try other heroes so I switch over and what I keep finding is that I fall in love with the next hero I go to, and then I stay with them for a while until the next time.

I’m actually really enjoying the diversity of them right now. I also want to be able to understand them all especially with what I am trying to do in the game.

Right now, I absolutely love Gazlowe — like he is just wicked on the map mechanics and stuffs. He drops his turret. I love to just kind of set traps and get board control on large areas of the map using Gazlowe and I’m really enjoying that at the moment.

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Kevin: That’s awesome. Very cool. What about you Dustin?

Dustin: I was playing a lot of Sonya the barbarian, and a lot of Nova; and now I have switched over to Sergeant Hammer quite a bit (the siege tank hero).

We go back and forth with Sergeant Hammer — which is very technical hero. You really got to get your position just right and know what you are doing. But if it’s kind of late in the night, and I am a little sleepy, I will kind of switch to Raynor who is a little bit more flexible.

He is a little bit more forgiving in how he plays. He is sort of designed that way. We built him as a more forgiving hero. There is a lot of strategy still to him; but if I am a little bit sloppier, if it is 11:30pm at night and you know, the kids are going to be up by 6am, I just play some Raynor and that works for me at that moment.

I started enjoying both of those characters. But Sergeant Hammer is really the “Go-to”. I really want to get into it and really experience the game, because you really want to position just right to set up that siege-mode.

You really need to know where you are sitting and Gazlowe the tinker you can set up some ferocious traps for people. Really set up your position. Put out your mine, and get yourself into the shrubs. Set up the position and just annihilate, like a soft DPS character.

You know, a demon hunter comes running in and the just (explosion sound effect) — he doesn’t really know what hit him. That’s really fun.

Kevin: What about you Kevin? I’m glad you asked. Thank you.

(Kaeo and Dustin laugh)

Kevin: I also like to play Sergeant Hammer, as well. For the same reason Dustin just mentioned. Alright let’s do another one. This one is from @Squishei out there. What’s up dude? He asks: How do stealth mechanics work? Are there both stealth and invisibility effects? (E.g. Zeratul and Nova). Is there a difference between those two?

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Dustin: Right now we are only using stealth and the reason we are doing that is again for clarity and simplicity so that you see that some of the stuff in the game you understand how the rules work.

So the way they work right now — this has been very successful for us for a long time so I expect it will continue this way going forward — the stealth character can move around freely. There is a little shimmer on the characters. You can spot them if you tag them with an ability which usually requires an AOE or skill shot that will end the cloak and the stealth effect; and then you are free to auto-attack and do whatever else you want to do on them.

If they shoot or do anything else, they come out as well; so it kind of like (### 27:13) from the old StarCraft.

If you do anything, you are out. You can be seen. It’s really funny. When we first put that in, I think everyone in the design staff, we were interested — we like the simplicity and clarity; but there was a lot of doubts. Myself-included. Like: “I am going to see the shimmer?” and “this is dumb” like you know “Is this really cloak? Like what does it matter?”; and the more we play the more we found that you really are not as good as you think you are; and even the best players in the team will miss Zeratul — especially in a team fight.

There is so much going on. So when you are in a lane 1v1, I mean this cost no energy and there is no cost to being cloaked. Nova is just cloaked. Zeratul is just cloaked. So that’s what it is, and it’s that way all the time. So there is got to be that trade off but in a team fight any kind of confusing situation we find that even the best players will miss that cloaked character coming up behind them and they will suddenly just get a knife in the back or bullet in the head and they are just down.

So it’s been pretty cool for us. It’s kind of some nice simple mechanics that make it really clean and fun to play.

Kevin: Very cool. Alright guys a couple more questions here then we will go into our live gameplay session. This question is from @jkkennedytv. He asks: “How extensive of a spectator mode could we look forward to?”

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Kaeo: We have started with, there is spectator mode you guys will see today. It’s very early, obviously. It’s rough. It’s kind of like the beginnings; but we need to make it functional.

It’s something that we will continue to build upon. This game is built on the same technology that StarCraft II is built on. So there is a lot of flexibility actually with customizing that, but for us and ultimately for players to be able to customize it themselves, and make really cool custom observer modes, and things like that on it

Dustin: We have one of the best success stories from the Heart of the Swarm that I love is about watching eSports is having the fans or the players being able to create their own custom observer mode. They decide what is been shown whether they show a little kind of different thing and there seems to be some kind of consensus on how it should be; but it’s so nice that they do such an amazing work. These guys are really experts.

These guys are the ones that will have to broadcast this stuff constantly and they know how they want it laid out for them, viewers want to see it laid out. So that was a huge success for us.

I think we are definitely trying to do the same thing for Heroes.

We will do our best to make it a Fall as good as we can make it. But I expect to see some pretty cool innovations coming out of the community when the get ahold of the observer replay editor.

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com 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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