Over on the official /r/HeroesoftheStorm, the moderators had a chance to chat to the Heroes of the Storm dev team about just everything. Full link here with comments, or interview below.


Reddit:

We just got back from the Heroes, What's Next Panel. We saw a new role system that's coming in: we've got tanks, bruisers, ranged assassins, melee assassins, healers and supports. Have you ever thought about rating the heroes based on other factors such as their wave clear, self-sustain or their ability to dive?

Jade Martin:

So it's definitely a work in progress. We're still actively working on this and seeing what's best for the game. As far as rating heroes on where they are, we try and give small descriptions on what they will be good at. I think it's a really good idea to do something like that because certain heroes, even though they might be a tank, they might excel at a specific time. Maybe you're really good CC tank. Maybe you're a really good tank at peeling, you know, which are kind of the same thing. Or maybe you have good self-sustain as a tank. So there are always different ways to do this. It's definitely a factor that we can take into account when we do split up these roles.

Reddit:

Any progress on clans or guilds?

Jade Martin:

Right. So, I mean, me personally, I really am excited for a feature like that. Currently we prioritize things and what's best for the game, what's going to be healthiest for the game, like quick match, Call of the Nexus, those types of things. So we try and funnel in those in when we can. It's still on the table and is still something that we're actively aware of, but no news on that right now. It's a huge system overhaul. There are a lot of things and factors to consider.

Reddit:

We learned the experience has been removed from destroying forts, replacing the experience with bonus catapults. Are you worried that this might change a lot of play styles that people enjoy, such as split pushing?

Jade Martin:

I think that's totally a valid concern. Just to touch upon that a little bit. So we did take it out of the forts and a little bit out of the towers but we redistributed it and it's not just into catapults, it's also minions, so minion XP increases as well and it's also going to scale into the game as well. So those roles are still very important. Being able to clear down those lanes, those are very valuable experience gains that you'd be missing out on if you don't have that. And you know, you do have your Murky game types, you have your Lost Vikings. We're not trying to kill that. Are we going to have to refactor maybe how some of those heroes work or maybe look back on their kits and see what we can do a little bit differently? Yeah, we might have to readdress some things, but we're not trying to kill it. We know there are some players that enjoy that and many of us enjoy that too, right? We're just trying to pull back on it a little

Oscar Vega:

That kind of gameplay style still gets benefits. It's just different.

Jade Martin:

Now you're getting a catapult every third wave, so you get a push with that and now you're being a nuisance in a different way. Right? Now the team has to think about, "oh, now we have catapult pressure before they even get a keep", which is where traditionally it would come from. So now you're really having to think about "am I responding to this lane, am I going to let them continue to push with the huge catapult push?" So there are a lot of factors night I still think it's about gameplay.

Reddit:

Are there any heroes you're worried about that might be drastically affected by these new changes?

Jade Martin:

I think the ones we named are definitely ones we might have to pay close attention to, but like Oscar said, I think you're still going to have that game play. Like for example, Murky, Abathur, The Lost Vikings, Sylvanas might be affected by it a little bit. But really what we're trying to do is, is make sure that they still have a valid gameplay loop and still feel good in those sidelines, when they are pushing down a lane. In fact, Sylvanas, she's also getting an update. So we're very aware that there are some things that we want to do to make sure that these characters still feel good and powerful.

Reddit:

So on the rework front, how do characters make it onto the rework? I know one that people have talked about for a while is Chen because he's hurting and mathematically down on the Hotslog rankings.

Jade Martin:

So, our live and balanced team is always looking at those numbers and who needs to be addressed. The win/pick rates, the popularity rates, all those things are very important to us. Generally, heroes that have existed for a while without one are on the top of those lists. It's just a matter of finding the right time to introduce them into the reworks, into the game. I Know Chen is one high on our list as well and he's seen some changes, but obviously none that really have picked up that win rate. So, he's definitely on that list and someone we're looking at.

Reddit:

What do you think is the best rework you have done recently? Which one do you feel the best about?

Oscar Vega:

Personally? I really enjoyed the James Raynor. I need me some pepper.

Jade Martin:

I think Raynor is probably one of the more solid ones. I'd probably just fall back on that one.

Reddit:

Speaking of Raynor, can you talk to us a little bit about how his trait's name got changed?

Jade Martin:

So that was the reddit thing actually, 100 percent. We saw the reddit thread, I think the day we announced all the changes and they're like, "how did you guys not do this? Like, hello, this is super obvious." And so Brett Crawford, he's the one who actually did the rework for him. He's one of our senior balance designers and he went to our writers and said, "Hey, can we change his name? I don't know how I missed it, like I should have done that." And so we're thinking, it's kind of last minute, but we've got to do it though. So we absolutely did. We're always listening to our community. I mean that's how Janitor Leoric came to be.

Reddit:

I was just about to ask about that.

Jade Martin:

We're always listening to community feedback. That is something that I think we've had artists thinking about for a while now, wanting to do that. We're always listening to reddit. It's just a matter of time in the Nexus. Right. It's just a matter of time before we get things into the game. We're always constantly looking at what we can do, but there's only so much time we have to get into game, but we were as a team, super excited to see Janitor Leoric come in.

Sara Zaidi (PR):

You should tell them about the thing on his shoulder.

Oscar Vega:

So you guys know that Janitor Leoric, it was actually a fan made concept that was done by Hunman360. We actually got in touch with them and we put it on the nameplate on his shoulder. It has their username!

Reddit:

There was some discussion of the panel about using performance based matchmaking (PBMM) and using it to educate players. Is there any more detail you can tell us about that? Is it going to be something like "You should have used "W" more in that last match?"

Jade Martin:

So I think we're always looking at ways we can kind of evaluate those things. Like we obviously introduced performance based matchmaking last year and it didn't quite work out the way we were wanting to. They're just a lot of factors that go into it. So, I think we like it, but we need to figure out a way to best do it and what's going to actually improve players' ability to play a character and get better. I think a lot of that starts actually with our Call of the Nexus, just giving you a better quick match experience. Having the tank, having your healer and having a ranged assassin; that ends up creating a better overall match in a game. It's more what we see on the HGC level. It's really how I feel Heroes should be played, right? Just creates a fun experience and games tend to be more evenly matched when we see both teams have those core roles.

Reddit:

On that note, we've heard you're going to get bonus experience for queuing with a role when it's needed. Is that also going to apply to auto select hero?

Jade Martin:

So we tend to do that more when a new hero is released, so I'm not entirely sure. I think the goal there is still auto select would be for when there are high queue times because a new hero was introduced, but it's not going to be 100 percent on all the time.

Reddit:

Speaking of new heroes, our first hero from inside the Nexus, tell us a little bit about that development process and what's her backstory?

Oscar Vega:

So, we were definitely very excited to explore this space. After having brought Alterac Pass into the Nexus, we felt like we had to come full circle. Like we have something from every universe, so let's go back to our roots and explore our own universe and so wanting to go back to our very first battleground, Cursed Hollow. We were like, let's do something with this. And so, my art director actually came to me and he was like, "let's start spitballing ideas. What could be good, what would be like a cool thing to bring in. What's the, something different." We explored a lot of different weapons and things where there is nothing else like it in the blizzard universe, all kinds of crazy stuff. I had wing, tutu things going on at one point. For Orphea, I kept landing in this idea of like a monster in the closet. initially she had a wardrobe attached her back with the monster in it and then that just evolved into like a relic with a monster in it. And then it was a relic, more of like a battery, that powers this monster. That it is a reflection or a projection of her inner emotions. Yeah, it was a ton of fun. We just wanted to do something new because we wanted to explore this space because we love our blizzard heroes. But when we do blizzard heroes, there is a process where there's a preconceived notion of what this hero does. If we're bringing Malthael, we know he is the Angel of Death, he'll have these themes that have to be tied in. So Orphea was a blank slate. It was a challenge and it was super fun and I think we're all super proud of and really excited.

Reddit:

I love the schoolgirl skin that goes with Janitor Leoric.

Oscar Vega:

It's crazy how concepts work because I was working on Janitor Leoric at the same time I was working on Orphea launch skin and Lana (animator) was like, "what if we do like a school one?" And I'm like, oh my God, "what if the Leoric is the janitor? And then, what if Kerrigan and Li Ming are her best friends at school?" And so we gave them like matching tints too. Chomp (the monster), he has braces.

Reddit:

Since you've added a universe and you've changed the roles, I assume you're going to rework all the quests as well?

Jade Martin:

So quests are definitely high on our list of things that we need to look at when the role changes come in. Because obviously, supports warriors and assassins are going to be changing so we'll have to expand it a little bit or even change that functionality. That's still all very much a work in progress.

Reddit:

Because you don't have a lot of support. So if you have like a support request, it's like Oh man, I'm stuck to playing these Ada.

Jade Martin:

Exactly. We always want to find ways to expand that so it doesn't feel like, "Oh man, I have to play this hero." So we're definitely looking at it and it's on our radar.

Reddit:

When the heroes are all split out, you could see visually that they were just a lot of ranged assassins. Does that sort of impact the timetable in terms of future heroes?

Jade Martin:

Yeah, there are a lot of assassins just in general, looking at even the Call of the Nexus, right? You really only need one warrior or one healer, so just because of that fact naturally you're going to have more assassins in the game because they have to fill in more roles. And so that's kind of a lot of what you see and, and assassins are a little bit easier to pick up and play than a warrior or a tank or a healer, right? Because a tank or a healer, everything kind of hinges on you, right? As a tank, you're initiating fights and you're dictating the pace of the fight and as a healer, your job's to keep everyone up. Right? So that's really a hard thing to do. There are a lot of assassins; that doesn't mean we're only going to be bringing assassins in the game. We always want to find new warriors, new healers, and we like bringing in those because we know we have a dedicated fan base to those and I've done quite a few warriors and I actually enjoyed creating those. The disparity is on our list, but it's a hard problem to solve.

Reddit:

It's been a about a year since you've slowed down hero releases. You've gone into a pattern of hero releases and reworks. How's that schedule been like behind the scenes?

Jade Martin:

It's great actually. I think it does it really well. For me as a designer, it's kind of nice because it gives our new heroes a little bit more time to shine, a little bit more time in the spotlight because on a four week cadence, It's like, "oh, I played them, now I'm onto the new one. Oh, I played them, now onto the new one, etc.". So it's really nice to see it break up a little bit. The new heroes get a little more time in the sun, the new ones announced, and then also we really get to highlight a lot of these reworks. A lot goes into these reworks. Those are very difficult things to do and our live team does a great job of handling them. You're taking a here with that someone's super familiar with and trying to change it to be better for the game and maybe see a little bit more play. But anytime you do that, you're going to probably upset someone because "Hey, that's my hero. I really liked that." So it's really about trying to keep that hero feeling the same but give them a face lift. And so it gives them the opportunity to shine and people to get used to seeing these reworked heroes again.

Oscar Vega:

From the content creation side, It's been really awesome in the sense that we've creatively also gotten to play with reworks because now every time we have a rework we're like, "oh, we get to revisit these people and maybe give them like a skin or tie them into this event"

Jade Martin:

Or even content drops. Nexomania is a huge example of that. We get to do these fun little things.

Oscar Vega:

We give the community a little more time to savor it and also ourselves a little more time to savor it and give it time to settle so that we can analyze it and figure out "Does this need tuning? What kind of tuning does it need?" Because when you have such a fast cadence, things can get out of control.

Reddit:

So that's kind of the plan going forward?

Jade Martin:

Yeah. So far, I think we're very happy with the past year and how things have been going and the direction of the pacing has felt good us. So I think that's still the goal.

Reddit:

Any update on Blackheart's Bay?

Jade Martin:

Steve Holmes, one of our map designers is well aware of Blackheart's Bay. It's always on our radar. We realize that there are some maps that perform better than others. I don't have anything to announce on it right now, unfortunately.

Reddit:

Are you worried at all about Warcraft 3 Reforged, and what happens if people remake Dota and start competing with Heroes?

Jade Martin:

I think we offer just a completely different game. We love to see what our fans do and the content that they create. So if that's the content they want to make, I look forward to seeing it

Oscar Vega:

I think that would be awesome. I would love to see more stuff in this space and even get inspired from the stuff that they do. That's the kind of stuff I'm looking forward to with this release.

Reddit:

Yeah, you can pull in that new Arthas model...

Jade Martin:

Yeah, Arthas model. [laughs]

Sara Zaidi (PR):

It's definitely a reddit interview.

Reddit:

Another reddit meme: When is the Blaze's Bunker hit points getting nerfed or buffed again?

Jade Martin:

You know, we haven't done that in a while. So I actually worked on Blaze. He was one of the heroes that I designed with balance designer, Adam Jackson. That was kind of our goal with every patch, to change it because it was definitely a meme in the reddit and, of course, from StarCraft, so you might see one here and there thrown in. I don't think we want to commit to doing it every time. Bunker in general is definitely one of those abilities that's really powerful. So I think we do see changes from time to time on it because it is a really strong ability.

Reddit:

Art Wise, what do you think was the strongest skin set that's come out in the last year or so?

Oscar Vega:

I think they've all been strong, but personally I think I can only speak to what my favorite was and I think for me that was Nexomania. That's my absolute favorite event to work on.

Sara Zaidi (PR):

Tell them what you listened to when you were designing and the research you did.

Oscar Vega:

Oh yeah. Well, I'm Hispanic myself. So I grew up watching a lot of Lucha wrestling and all that stuff. So it was awesome to be able to bring this back. I have so many concepts. I would draw Garrosh's head and do a bunch of different masks on it, studying how the stitches were done and everything and it was just a blast to work on that event.

Jade Martin:

Definitely. I love the Garrosh "El Jefe" skin. Although, he was another hero I worked on so a little bias there, but he was fun. Although Spooky Zarya is definitely a close second.

Reddit:

Speaking of reddit requests. Was that the motivation behind the Kevin announcer?

Jade Martin:

Again, going back to Janitor Leoric, we try our best to list our fans and what the community is asking for. The cloaken announcer is definitely one of those situations. We're like, "Can we do this? Should we do this?" Yes.

Oscar Vega:

It was not only reddit; we wanted to do it! Kevin sits right behind me So when we were play testing and he had his announcer on and he was like, "Oh man, this is weird..."

Reddit:

What was the process for convincing Kevin to do it?

Jade Martin:

I think he was excited to do it, but he was a little worried, "Will people even want it?" Everyone else was saying, "Don't worry. They'll love it! Just go."

Reddit:

On that note, Is this a sign that maybe we'll see some other announcers come in besides Kevin?

Sara Zaidi (PR):

A Jade Martin announcer?

Jade Martin:

I don't have that distinct voice unfortunately, like Kevin does. I think we're always looking for little fun things that we can do. So different announcers are definitely always on the table.

Reddit:

Mike Morhaime's got a lot of free time now. Or maybe Jeff Kaplan.

Jade Martin:

Yeah, we might be able to hit them up. But yeah, anything is really possible. I don't think we ever fully say no to an idea.

Reddit:

Are there any ideas you've said "no" to?

Jade Martin:

Not that I'm going to admit to. Well, actually one. One idea, that at least for this particular hero we didn't do, but it's still a possibility is with Ragnaros. He started off as a core replacement hero and we moved away from that. We definitely said no at that time, but even still, I'm not saying no now. I think there's a possibility for it.


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Last Updated: Nov 09, 2018

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Lewis currently splits his time between Heroes of the Storm, Battlerite, and Artifact, having covered MOBAs, MMOs and TCG for many years.

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