Yesterday Blizzard took to the Heroes of the Storm Reddit to discuss everything and anything about the game. Griinty has kindly pulled together all the answers they provided, for anyone that doesn't want to slog through the whole AMA thread. Take a look below.
From user /u/ghostdunk :
There is some validity to what you are saying, but I don’t think “impossible” is the right word.
Heroes of the Storm uses a peer-to-peer networking architecture. This architecture offers a lot of benefits, but also makes certain things more difficult. Unfortunately, reconnect is one of those things. Having said that, it is not impossible to make improvements to the system. We’ve actually improved the system on a couple occasions since the original launch of the game. But we’re absolutely with you guys that the system is far from perfect, and could use more love.
This again comes down to prioritization. The same people who would work on improving the reconnect system are the same engineers working on matchmaking and ranked improvements. After looking at the reconnect stats, we decided that matchmaking and ranked system improvements would benefit far more players right now.
From user /u/Pwere :
Regarding the pause idea: We do have the ability to pause the game which we use for esports scenarios. So far we've decided that this would be too disruptive to use in normal games if a single player had a bad connection/computer.
From user /u/chaoticblessings
We tend to consider everything when looking at solutions and, yes, we’ve considered what an MMR reset would mean. Man…it’s UGLY. The utopian view is that a reset would be a short period of utter chaos where everyone starts out equal and is essentially tossed into a giant thunderdome where the weak are slaughtered by the strong until everyone is sorted properly.
More realistically, it would be an extended period of utter chaos long after placements as those placement games would be almost completely arbitrary. With no starting MMR to use to match players up, it would be entirely luck-of-the-draw for team comps and where you end up after placements would come down to chance more than anything.
From there, the ranks would have to slowly sort themselves out as the GMs who ended up in silver/gold due to being matched repeatedly with teams full of bronze/silver players dominate those games where the bronze players who found themselves in platinum due to being in games filled with masters end up throwing most of their games as they slowly work their way back down the ranks. In the process, the GMs are inflating the win rate of the low rank players they’re playing with and the bronze players are tanking the win rate of the ones they’re playing with making it more difficult for everyone to end up at their deserved rank.
In short, it would be expected to be an awful experience for everyone.
Quick Match is still our most popular game mode in Heroes of the Storm by far. We don’t think the right move is to shunt Quick Match aside, we would rather improve upon it. The problem that we see is that team compositions rarely feel balanced or competitive. In the blog post that we posted yesterday we discussed making a shift away focusing on getting players into matches quickly, and instead to focus more on getting players into better quality matches. That is absolutely applicable to Quickmatch and serves as the plan of action here.
The first improvement we’re going to make is to strictly enforce role compositions for the matchmaker. A team will not be constructed without a balanced team composition on its own. This means that assassins or specialists may potentially have longer queue times, while some tank-capable warriors and healers may have shorter ones.
In our current thinking we believe that it'd require 1 tank-warrior, 1 healer and 1 assassin, so 2 flex picks. Pending testing and the queues not erupting in molten lava, yes. I think it likely that initially this will be the new standard for the vast majority of QM compositions.
The plan then is to follow up on this change by adding more incentives for queuing as roles that are currently underrepresented in the matchmaking queue which will then make this a hard requirement for every team.
Releasing a public API has been something the dev team has also wanted for a long time. We have an initial version of this API working internally that is used by our HGC and Heroes Game websites. The problem is that it isn’t complete, and it isn’t setup in a way to support the needs of a public facing API (i.e. reliability).
Unfortunately, the same people who would work on finishing this public API are the same people that are working on features like improving matchmaking and the ranked game mode. Because of that, we simply haven’t been able to justify prioritizing it above those features. As of right now, we don’t have engineers working on this, and until we get through a lot of the player facing improvements (matchmaking, ranked, etc), we wouldn’t prioritize this.
Regarding our philosophy of what we’re ok with having in an API, I would say that we’re ok with having almost everything you can see in your own in-game profile. On the match history side, we’d like to include basically every game stat that we track for a match. Everything you see on the scorescreen, and probably a bunch of stuff that we track but don't show on the score screen. We’ve also ok with even adding “aggregate” stats across the whole player base like hero pick/win rates, talent pick/win rates, etc. Again, this is the philosophy of what we’d like to get in, now it’s just a matter of when we can dedicate resources to it.
There are some big improvements we can make in the realm of educating our players and preparing them for competitive play. One thing we’re working on currently is a revised Hero Selection system that provides far more detail on things like their playstyle and main mechanics behind different heroes. This is something that is still a little ways out, but it will help players identify weaknesses in their draft composition and potential for synergies and counters.
As we bring the Player-based Matchmaking system back for ranked play we’re considering new ways to contextualize player performance based upon the stats we currently examine. It’s important that we celebrate areas where players have been successful, but even more important to identify opportunities for improvement.
Beyond these things we’re looking for more opportunities to provide actionable feedback to players through the end of match sequence. Right now we’re considering an “XP Missed” stat that tracks missed team opportunities for experience generation. This should help reinforce the importance of laning. There are places here for improvement, and if you have suggestions we’re happy to consider them.
We’ve also been creating additional educational content on places like the Heroes of the Storm esports website for some time now to help expose players to things like pro player insight. Every time a new hero is released now, for instance, we work with an HGC player to create a first impressions build guide that you can find on our HGC website. Here’s the latest one for Fenix, or example: https://esports.heroesofthestorm.com/en-us/news/21659396/fenix-tips-from-yoda. We’re also starting to do more things like Hero update spotlights to keep all our players better informed of incoming changes to heroes’ balance or playstyle.
Unlike a lot of the things we’re discussing here today, hero swaps aren’t a clear win for the majority of the community so while it is something we’re investigating, it’s a lower priority item.
To be effective, swaps would need their own phase, extending the time it takes for drafts to complete. They also open the door to additional toxicity and, although the core of the feature is available in custom games, it’s reliant on the players on the teams trusting each other. For it to come to other draft modes, there’s a significant development effort involved to add a lot of validation between players. You wouldn’t want someone grabbing your first-pick treasure without your permission, for example, which you can do with the implementation in custom games.
On top of that, for swaps to be effective, they require significant upfront communication by the players. That’s certainly something we want to encourage, but that also means the feature wouldn’t be used by a lot of players beyond the top end of ranked play.
So, right now, we’d rather focus our development efforts on features that will more clearly be beneficial to all players.
For the alternatives, such as trying out first-come first-served (FCFS) drafting which provides a similar benefit, we can do that relatively quickly. There’s some skepticism about whether FCFS can work outside of a team environment, though. We had the same concerns when we allowed 2s and 3s in team league and were pleasantly surprised by the results. It’s an area where we want to gauge community interest and if the feeling is that players would prefer FCFS over nothing, we’d try it out in Unranked Draft first.
This is a particularly difficult question to answer. Ultimately the population for this mode is lower than others due in part to it being difficult to organize a team to play regularly. Many of the ranked improvements we’re making will improve Team League without resolving this underlying concern. We believe that Team League needs some of the upcoming major social features, such as clans and group finder, to truly flourish. Since adding these social features would result in a significant update not only to Team League but to many other areas of the game as well, they’re still a ways out in terms of when we believe we can successfully deliver them. More on social features here: https://www.reddit.com/r/heroesofthestorm/comments/8bzsup/ama_with_heroes_developers_april_13_2018/dxb9duv/
We originally reduced division requirements for Team construction as a means of increasing Team League participation, which had a small effect on the population of the mode. I don’t believe reintroducing harsher requirements will alleviate the issue, but I’ll take it back to the team to discuss at more length. In the interim if there are other suggestions for Team League I’d like to hear them.
Lots of plans. As you’ll likely hear a lot today, it’s a matter of priorities and how we spend our resources. The plan is to start with an updated party finder which significantly improves that system. The major changes would be to decouple the party finder from chat channels, which would significantly expand the pool of available players, and allow players to look for others based on the game mode and role they want to play.
We feel that’s the important first step. From there, we can build upon that with clans, which would be a great addition to the game as well.
But, again, you can see the list of things we’re working on currently and we feel those items are higher priority than the social features right now. So, while we’d love to get to them, and they’re coming, they’re further out.
From user /u/Nyroku_Hots :
[in terms of new roles, this is something we want to do. Our current design leaning is to keep it to your first 6 (Tank, Bruiser, Healer, Support, Melee & Ranged Assassins). We’ve always felt that the Specialist category is a little weird. In the best cases, a lot of characters like Nazeebo and Zagaras fit nicely into the Assassin categories. That does leave some oddities, such as Lost Vikings potentially fitting into the “Support” category (they do provide a lot of indirect benefit for your team). Curious what your thoughts are on this, and the rest of the communities thoughts, surrounding placing these odd heroes into more defined categories
In terms of timeline for this: it is absolutely something we want to do. We think it’s correct for the game moving forward. Currently our priority is around improving the matchmaking and ranked experiences though, so this will be on hold for a little while longer.
For Quests: Many years back, we had a design very similar to this (most likely internal only?). We ultimately moved away from this as it encouraged players to farm out matches they had already won: “I need another 10k healing to finish my quest, don’t end the match!”. We also tried some quests such as “Land X Hooks” but that also encouraged weird player behavior. Ultimately, we stuck with a few simple quests of essentially “Play The Game” but with different requirements. We would love to update the quest system in the future and maybe we can explore some ideas here that could help teach players, as you suggest.
For updated data on bosses, scaling, etc. This is something the balance team has internally. I’ll make a note for us to send out the current numbers either here or somewhere else visible to the community. I will say things like Bosses and other mercenary camps rarely change unless we have a specific design or balance reason that we’re trying to address.
From user /u/haunted_tree :
As part of the role update we will be introducing a tag system similar to what you're suggesting. This definitely helps provide more context and information beyond what a higher-level role category can provide.
From user /u/JK_roll :
The short answer is yes. For a more detailed explanation:
In the past the design team went through a phase where we wanted to make sure every hero had a really sharp role. Internally we discussed this a lot, but we wanted to make sure that there was a unique gameplay reason to pick every hero at some point. As an example, we wanted there to be a unique decision point of why to pick Tychus over Valla, or vice versa, without players simply choosing whichever character has a higher win rate. This is ultimately what led to Tychus’ updated design that he deals bonus % damage on his base kit. We designed his role to be strong against lots of high health targets. We also did a lot of this on our Healers: Malfurion wasn’t supposed to have burst healing as he was designed as a sustained healer, Uther was intended to be a weak sustained healer but strong with burst, and so on. For the healers, we looked at not just their healing mechanics but everything on their kit.
Ultimately we ended up backing off from this. We found that it made the game feel like there was a lot more hard counters and you could win or lose in draft. We still want to have good design and gameplay reasons for drafting each hero in a game, but we’re letting those be a lot softer.
From user /u/CriticKitten :
We’ve been discussing adding third bans since around the middle of last year. The idea to place the third ban in the mid-ban phase came from feedback from both the community and the pros. The initial requests for the third ban started coming up because there were now enough heroes in the pool that could fill similar roles that a counter-ban in the mid-ban phase was losing effectiveness. Adding an additional ban at that point would bring teeth back to mid-draft bans.
Taking a step back, the core idea is that the mid-ban is a strategic ban based on how the draft is unfolding, while the first ban is primarily a meta ban. At the highest levels of play, some strategy comes into play during the first ban phase, as HGC teams have done significant research into their opponents, but for most players, the first ban gets used to remove whatever hero tends to be on top of the meta at that moment. In higher ranks, it gets a bit more variety as it will sometimes be the hero that is on top of the meta for that battleground, but that’s not the typical situation.
That being said, sentiment shifts over time, and we’re open to revisiting this and adding the third ban as a first-ban instead. The feeling is that doing so would be mainly addressing a more short-term concern, the release of overpowered heroes, where an additional mid-ban is more interesting long-term. We’ve been watching the community response and are interested to see if folks still feel strongly about adding it as a first-ban after seeing the reasoning behind the mid-ban.
From user /u/Beg_For_Mercy (love you fellow Lunara main!):
Vision is an interesting part of the game that we don’t really augment too often. We do some bonuses to vision that you mention, and have some heroes (Dehaka) who can also limit enemy vision. Overall, I think it’s a super interesting mechanic that can add fun and strategic depth when designed correctly.
In terms of power level, we typically start internally as a ‘feel’ thing, and then eventually we can use player data to validate those decisions. Many of the talents players are choosing from can offer a lot of sheer power. It’s hard to make a vision talent compelling to choose over 25% more damage, without at the same time making that vision talent feel unfair or unfun to play against. This is typically why we will add secondary bonuses to these abilities or talents. Vision can also be considered situational, so by adding damage as an example, we’re guaranteeing some baseline power on the ability/talent.
In general, I think we want vision abilities to alert the enemy that they have been spotted in some way. As an example, you can visually see Zagara’s creep, so there is likely to be a Creep Tumor near by. For Lunara’s Wisp, this is an interesting one. I think we could alert you that a Wisp has spotted you, but it does lose some of its power as a result. We are working on a Lunara update that has some changes to her Wisp and related talents, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out. We can revisit any of these rules though!
From user /u/CrazyIke47 :
Just to touch on this quickly: We absolutely involve a lot of the design team as early into the process as we can. The live/balance designers are paired with a hero designer from the beginning. One thing the balance designers will try to surface early on in the hero design process is if they feel they have tuning knobs for each talent and ability. In the past we might design a talent that simply increases charges from 2->3 on an ability. If this is too strong, we don't have a lot of tuning knobs without adding a kiss/curse mechanic or something else.
From user /u/lerhond :
Yeah, we agree that our current observer UI is long in the tooth. As you mentioned we’ve wanted to bring stuff like the current in-game party panel into the observer UI. As we’ve gone on, our observer UI has diverged from the normal UI a bit, and it’s part of the reason why you’ve seen some bugs in the observer UI lately. That’s no excuse and we need to fix it, but I just wanted to provide some context.
The current plan is to better unify the in-game UI and the observer UI. We’re going to be using the same party panel UI that appears at the top of an actual game. Once we have that unification, we can start to consider more functionality that would benefit esports viewers.
From user /u/LuckyLightning :
Support Viability: I would say that we want every healer to be viable in at least some situations as a solo healer. Some healers will of course be better at preventing sustained damage, burst damage, or even keeping themselves safe. But overall, yes, ideally there isn’t a healer that you feel like you could never pick without another full-on healer.
Map Update: The map team is currently working on revising a number of our existing maps. The big focuses right now include large updates to Hanamura and Gardens of Terror. We also have some smaller updates planned for a few maps but these are more akin to balance changes. Braxis Holdout, as an example, we’re planning some small changes to address how snowbally that map can feel. We would love to make larger changes to Haunted Mines & Blackheart’s Bay, but those are both further off ☹
Ana: The rework was intending to help address the idea that she couldn’t solo heal because she had no easy way to heal herself back up. I know internally we played with a wide range of values on this, and even had a playtest or two where she could outduel everyone in the game because her self-healing was way too high. Ana’s overall win rate is a little on the low side so we have room to bring her up a little bit. I’m hoping we can accomplish what you’re looking for via tuning though, or potentially some slight mechanic tweaks. I will say we love Ana as a healer because of how much skill there goes into doing her healing well.
Medivh: Overall we consider the rework a success. It is interesting to see how much more popular he is now (which is a great thing!) but it does mean that players who feel he is frustrating to play against will see him more often now. With our rework, we did attempt to reduce some of the frustrating aspects of his kit: There is more downtime between using Portals & Force of Will, which ideally gives the enemy team more options for counterplay. This is an area we could easily explore and try to do more with.
Frustrating Heroes: Chromie and Genji are both being looked at internally. Genji has some small stuff that will be coming out really soon (similar to Tracer). Chromie is something we’re evaluating a lot more internally. We’ve done a number of changes such as reducing the range of her Q & W abilities so she would have to be within enemy vision range (you could see it coming and try to dodge), showing the splat for her W ability, and so on. Honestly, it feels a little bit better internally but we might need to do more to really succeed here. Chromie is further off as a result. I don’t think we view Diablo or Garrosh as that frustrating to play against. The recent change to Garrosh where his Q no longer pulls enemies in has helped a lot. In general, every character is going to have some level of bullshit they can bring, but it’s important that you feel like you have counterplay options and ways to outplay your opponent.
From user /u/hailcrest :
I agree that a lot of those recent examples have very strong AOE. In general, we try and look at the design of the kit and balance of the hero kit overall. Every hero will have some obvious strengths and weaknesses, but are hopefully balanced within the larger overall picture. For the Junkrat example specifically, I agree that his wave clear is insanely strong! Hopefully however his overall power is about in line with what makes sense. We of course have the ability to tune this down in a number of ways including the splash size, and the fallout of the damage (i.e. less damage further from the center).
I will say we will absolutely revisit old heroes and even these newer ones and make adjustments where needed. Nova has never been intended to have strong wave clear, so I’m not sure we will make changes there. It may be possible that we need to tone down some of the newer heroes wave clear, bring some of the older heroes up (Kael’thas in this example), or meet somewhere in the middle.
From user /u/GiraffaGonfiabile :
For Specialists: Most of them actually tend to have higher win rates, so in terms of that, they're not currently struggling. As part of the pass we're working on to reduce frustrating moments with various heroes, there are a number of Specialists who are on that list. Usually its surrounding when they're split pushing and it feels like the enemy team has to constantly respond to them.
From user /u/Nicky-Santoro :
So we definitely want to communicate with you more about what we’re currently working on, and what our view of upcoming priorities are. The blog post and this AMA are some steps in that direction. We're also discussing lots of ideas about how best to communicate with the community going forward.
That being said, here’s some info for you in terms of timing/order of stuff:
New toxicity report validation system: We should be turning this on within the next couple weeks. This will increase the amount of reports we action by a significant amount. We’re going to put out a dedicated post on this soon.
Matchmaking improvements: Since the majority of these are on the server side, we’re going to be rolling these out independently of our normal client patches. Some will come quicker than others. For example, we’re going to try and get the hardening of rules to favor match quality more over queue time in the near term.
Loss Forgiveness / Improved Leaver Punishments: This is deep into implementation and is currently lined up to come out in a patch in the next couple months.
Ranked improvements: Several of these improvements make the most sense to release with a new season roll. So, we’re trying to get some of these changes into the next season roll (~June). 3rd Ban is high on the list.
Performance Based Matchmaking: We’re wrapping up the improvements we discussed in the blog post, and are planning to re-introduce this system also with the next season roll. We may initially introduce this as a purely informational system, and then turn on the actual point adjustments after the community has had time to provide feedback. If we do that, it technically doesn’t need to align exactly with a season roll.
From players in France:
Regarding season length: We've discussed season length quite a bit on the team. We've actually considered everything from once a month to one season for the whole year. We think the current system is a balance between those, but I would say that we're still open to discussion on this topic.
Regarding named teams: We actually had this in Heroes originally! :) Team league worked this way when it was initially launched. The issue was that problems we currently face with Team League (which I think one of the other guys answered a question on that already), are actually worse with the fixed named teams. The tl;dr is that it's tough for players to align schedules with their teammates. As a result, we saw even less participation in that system than we see with the current system.