Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

hearthstone Hearthstone Developer Interview at gamescom 2015 with Mike Donais

2 posts in this topic



Icy Veins sat down with Mike Donais at gamescom 2015 to ask some of your burning questions about Hearthstone - TGT design concerns, game features, the new player experience, and more. Some big surprises in this particular interview!


We got some phenomenal information from Mike:


Many of the cards that have been shown so far seem to slow the game down. Was this a deliberate design decision, or simply a byproduct of the nature of the Inspire and Joust mechanics?

  • We wanted to give people answers to things they were uncomfortable with or complaining about. Joust helps counter cheap Hunter or Warlock decks.


For the Joust mechanic, will there be a better animation eventually?

  • There is an animation for the Joust mechanic, but it's not "jousting". For a while, we had a jousting animation, but it wasn't working visually, so we decided to change it.

Joust animation.


Why isn't Joust a keyword?

  • You still needed other words. It didn't make sense. It ended up reading like Battlecry; Joust; If you win the Joust, gain +1/+1. We've tried to put Joust in a lot of the names of minions that have Joust to make it obvious.


Hearthstone has developed into a big eSport - do you have any plans to improve Spectator Mode for that?

  • We're happy to keep improving on Spectator Mode. We think there's still a lot of room to do that and add new features, but we don't have anything immediately on our schedule for that.


Spectator Mode preview.


Will Hearthstone ever get an in-game tournament mode?

  • Tournament mode is another thing that people have been asking for. We almost did it before Tavern Brawl, but we decided that Tavern Brawl was something more people would enjoy, and let more people have more fun each week.


When making balance decisions, do you consider top-level play, newer players, or a combination of both?

  • For each card, we have to make sure it reads simply, has a cool design, matches the flavour, is good for new players, and we also want cards that are good for tournament play and expert players.


What do you view as the perfect length of a Hearthstone game? Are you worried about a slow meta affecting the playability on mobile?

  • Complaints about rush decks have driven recent decisions, but rush decks could go away and leave only slow decks. Presumably, the cards that are good against rush decks would get removed, and then rush decks would come back, but it's definitely a concern (e.g. Antique Healbot).


Hearthstone mobile UI.


We've seen a content release pattern of Adventure Mode sets into full card set - will this continue?

  • We don't know that we have one solution that's good forever. Our next update could be a third expansion, or something we've never done before. Maybe we'll do multiple adventures in a row.


Is the introduction of free packs from Tavern Brawl and end-of-season rewards to lower the barrier to entry for new players?

  • The new player experience is important to us. Free packs from Tavern Brawl are a nice bonus, but by itself that doesn't solve anything, so we make sure they face similar opponents in every play mode and release powerful common cards, too. We're still looking to see if the problem gets bigger when we get to 1,000 cards, for example. 


Several high-level players were recruited to join the team. What effect has this had on your game design?

  • The balance team makes sure cards are clear, well-designed, and well-balanced. We recently hired people from the tournament circuit to make sure things are more balanced, but we also try to make risky cards that push the limits and scare us. Lock and Load is a good example of a card that is risky and could be unbalanced.


New Lock and Load card in The Grand Tournament.


What is your philosophy on making unique cards for specific mana costs? How do you make more viable options for each mana slot without simply introducing power creep?

  • We do a lot of 'sideways' design. If one option were inherently better or worse, that would be a problem, so we try to provide options that fit different styles of decks - dragons vs. murlocs vs. spells, for example. Lots of options.


Are there any plans to introduce a 'disable animation' option? The length of animations can become a problem with Patron Warrior, for example.

  • There is no work being put into removing animations. We don't want the game to feel less physical, or to take the sounds/art/effects away. If it's a problem, we'll solve it other ways.


Sounds like Tournament Mode is on the way! Any other new details in here you're excited for?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still excited for Tournament Mode! The rest of the interview was interesting also. I especially find it interesting that the Inspire and Joust mechanics were created deliberately to slow down the meta, to "counter cheap Hunter or Warlock decks." It's neat to me that Blizzard is listening to their fan base and responding to suggestions and complaints. The meta can never be slowed down permanently, however. As Mike alluded to in another answer, the decline of aggressive decks will lead to the removal of aggressive counters, thus opening the door for aggressive decks to return. It's good for the game, though, as the swing of the meta keeps things entertaining. 


Great interview!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Damien
      This thread is for comments about our N'Zoth Resurrect Priest Wild deck.
    • By Damien
      This thread is for comments about our Velen OTK Priest Wild deck.
    • By Stan
      Ben Brode confirmed the 2 game win streak to be unintentional and explained why he's not satisfied with the Ranked Ladder System.
      The developer team listened to the community and they will be making adjustments based on simulation systems that help predict changes that would do to the population curve. Here's what Brode had to say.
      Ben Brode
      Seeing some comments here about how people are enjoying easier laddering due to this bug, and hoping we leave it unfixed. I thought I might chime in and talk about the ladder a bit, and hopefully get some feedback! We have been discussing the ladder system a lot recently - we're not 100% happy with it.
      Here are some things we are currently discussing:
      Rank 18 players are higher ranked than 50% of HS players. That number doesn't make you feel like you are in the top 50%, and that's a missed opportunity. We try and counter this by telling you all over the place what the mapping is to the rest of the population, but it'd be better if expectations and reality matched here.
      We've received feedback that the last-minute jostling for high Legend ranks at the end of a season doesn't feel all that great.
      We've received feedback that the ladder can feel like a grind.
      We are reanalyzing the number of ranks, the number of stars per rank, the number of bonus stars given out at the start of the season, and other parts of the system.
      We are developing simulation systems that let us predict what changes to the ladder would do to the population curve. If we inflate too many stars, the whole population ends up in the Legend bucket and while that might feel great for a single month, the entire system falls apart eventually. People who played waaaay back may remember when "3-star master" was the pinnacle of achievement, and it meant nothing because so many people ended up in that bucket. With better simulation tools, we are planning on trying a lot of crazy things. Iteration is important in design, and getting the tools to iterate quickly is very important.
      Something I want to emphasize is that while I think we can improve the ladder, the metric for that improvement isn't necessarily any one player's individual rank increasing. Players want the better rewards (and prestige) associated with high ranks, or the Legend card back, so any change we make that increases the chances of those are likely to be perceived as "good", at least for the short term. But part of what makes the ranked ladder compelling is that exists to rank players. If you want to see how you stack up, ranked is the place to do it. So while some inflation might improve the experience, we need to be careful and make sure we end up with a system that makes people feel rewarded for increases in personal skill or for finding a new deck that breaks the meta.
      Have you considered not making the fall in rank so severe in the start of the new season? When I was a new player at rank 21 it didn't feel good to lose against a wicked good deck all the time with my inferior cards.
      Yes, that's what I meant by this: We are reanalyzing [...] the number of bonus stars given out at the start of the season.
      We think it's a reasonable direction to explore in, but in general it's hard to predict the results on the population distribution among the ranks. Hoping to do some simulation there and make sure there aren't other, better options, too.
      Is this really that bad considering legend has its own internal ranking system?
      Yes, I think so. Imagine just one bucket and we sort by MMR. There aren't breakpoints with rewards as you increase in skill. There isn't an obvious way to communicate with others about how good you are. It's also difficult to know if you are bad or good. (Is Legend 135003 good? What about Legend 27809?)
      The way we communicate our skill or progress is important. Ever heard a friend say "dude! I got to rank 5 this month!"? What is that achievement in a world where everyone is in the same bucket? Watching discreet rank buckets go by (and feeling that progression) and feeling the thrill of reaching a new rank that you've never hit before... those are pretty important, I think.
    • By Zadina
      The four groups for the group stage of the Hearthstone Championship Tour Finals have been announced. You can also win free The Grand Tournament packs by cheering on your favourite contestant.
      The HCT regional and last call champions were split evenly into four groups of four, with each region being represented in each group. Out of all the groups, Group A looks like it's going to be the most interestings. The BlizzCon opening week will begin on October 26 with the Group Stage.
      Meanwhile, you can vote for who you think is going to be the 2016 Hearthstone champion and win free TGT packs. The first voting period has already begun and it will last until October 25 at 11:59 p.m. PDT. You will win a single TGT pack just for participating in each voting period. Afterwards, you will receive one additional card pack from The Grand Tournament for every best-of-seven match your champion wins once chosen. You can earn up to 6 free packs if you participate from the first voting period and up to 4 packs, if you participate in the second voting period (beginning after the group stage and ending on November 3).
      It’s time to crown a World Champion, as well as time for you to choose your champion and reap some rewards! The culmination of the 2016 Hearthstone Championship Tour is nearly upon us! One player will emerge as the 2016 Hearthstone World Champion at BlizzCon and walk away with the quarter-million USD first place prize from the million-dollar prize pool. Now you can join in on the fun by choosing one of the sixteen competitors to root for, watching as they compete in the Hearthstone World Championship, and receiving in-game rewards for every best-of-seven match they win! Everyone will get a pack just for picking their champion, so don’t miss out!
      Click the button below to choose a champion, or read on for additional details. Just remember that you can’t change your champion after you’ve chosen!

      The sixteen players that are competing in the World Championship have qualified from one of the Season Championships or Last Call Invitationals and will be representing the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and China. They travelled a long road and faced some of the best players in the world along the way, but now they’ve arrived at the pinnacle of Hearthstone competition. The players have been divided into four groups and will play out the group stage during BlizzCon Opening Week. From there, two players from each group will advance to participate in the single-elimination bracket at BlizzCon. 
      Cydonia, ThijsNL, Handsomeguy, Jasonzhou
      Bbgungun, Naiman, Che0nsu, Hamster
      Amnesiac, DrHippi, Yulsic, Breath
      HotMEOWTH, Pavel, DDaHyoNi, OmegaZero
      Full Groups and Bracket
      How to Participate
      To participate in Choose Your Champion, simply click on the “Choose Now!” button above and select the champion of your choice. Then, during Opening Week and BlizzCon, you can cheer your champion on and be rewarded with card packs based on how well they perform! Just for participating, you will receive one card pack from The Grand Tournament. Additionally, you will receive one additional card pack from The Grand Tournament for every best-of-seven match your champion wins once chosen. All card packs will be delivered to you in-game the week after BlizzCon.*
      Be very careful when making your choice, as once you choose your champion, you will not be able to change your selection.
      *Gnomish Homing Chickens used to deliver card packs may take a few days to arrive.
      Where to Watch
      You can catch all of the exciting action on the official Hearthstone Twitch channel! The Opening Week and BlizzCon schedules can be found below.
      Opening Week (Group Stage):
      Day 1 (October 26) – Match 1 Day 2 (October 27) – Match 2 Day 3 (October 28) – Winner’s Match Day 4 (October 29) – Elimination Match Day 5 (October 30) – Decider Match BlizzCon (Bracket Stage):
      Day 1 (November 4) – Quarterfinals Day 2 (November 5) – Semifinals and Grand Finals
      Voting Periods
      You may cast your vote starting now until October 25 at 11:59 p.m. PDT, when Opening Week begins. Voting will then be closed during Opening Week. If you happen to miss the first voting period, don’t fret! We’ll re-open voting after Opening Week has concluded and let anyone that missed out vote for a champion before BlizzCon begins. The second voting period will close at 11:59 p.m. on November 3, prior to the start of the BlizzCon bracket stage.
      If you have already voted during the first voting period, you will not be able to vote again during the second voting period as your vote will have already been locked in. You are only eligible to receive additional packs for any matches your champion wins after you have chosen them. If you vote during the first voting period, you can earn up to 6 total packs (including your participation pack) depending on how well your champion performs. If you vote during the second voting period, you can earn up to 4 total packs (including your participation pack).
      Choose your champion carefully!
      Once you’ve selected your champion, be sure to tune in to all of the action on our official Hearthstone Twitch channel, and discuss the tournament using the #HCT hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.
      (source) Cast your vote here and let us know in the comment section who you think is going to win this year! If you need any "scholarly" advice, this year's casters (including Sottle) have shared their predictions here.
    • By Zadina
      The new build adds 35 new dailies, buffs to Murlocs, bug fixes and preparations for future content!
      A new patch has hit the Hearthstone servers, preparing the ground for the upcoming Heroic Tavern Brawl and bringing new dailies, changes to Murloc cards, achievements and more!
      As we've already said, this build added some textures for the Heroic Tavern Brawl (which were datamined by Hearthpwn) and it also adds  the BlizzCon 2016 card back. Moreover, Murloc cards that affected ALL Murlocs now only affect friendly ones. There are also several bug fixes. Here are the patch notes:
      Blizzard Entertainment
      In this Hearthstone update, we're making balance changes to several cards and fixing several bugs. Read on for details!
      Ethereal Peddler now reads “Battlecry: If you’re holding any non-Rogue class cards, reduce their Cost by (2).” This was done to make it more clear, especially with upcoming releases. The following Murlocs that affected ALL Murlocs now only affect friendly ones, to improve the Murloc mirror-match. These cards are not eligible for a full dust refund. Grimscale Oracle now reads “Your other Murlocs have +1 Attack.” Coldlight Seer now reads “Battlecry: Give your other Murlocs +2 Health.” Murloc Tidecaller now reads “Whenever you summon a Murloc, gain +1 Attack.” Murloc Warleader now reads “Your other Murlocs have +2/+1.” One Night in Karazhan cards will now show up with the same frequency as other card sets in the Arena The following bugs have been squashed: Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End now properly applies the Overload effect when it casts a spell with Overload. Sir Finley Mrrgglton no longer offers Lesser Heal as an option of Hero Powers to Discover when played by Tyrande. Casting Entomb on a transformed minion will no longer reveal the minion’s identity if it gets drawn again. Gladiator’s Longbow now properly prevents damage caused by Explosive Trap. The following card back has been added: Welcome Inn – Acquired by attending BlizzCon 2016 or purchasing a Virtual Ticket for BlizzCon 2016. Many new daily quests have been added. For more information, including a more comprehensive list of bug fixes, please visit our Forums.
      (source) What are these new daily quests? Well, they were datamined (along with a lot of other stuff) by Hearthpwn. In total, the new dailies are around 35 in number! The 40 Gold ones involve playing 30 class cards for each class. There is a variety of new 50 Gold quests;  their concept involves around playing a specific amount of a particular archetype or kind of cards, like Play 20 Beasts, Play 10 Weapons or Play 15 Overload Minions. The 60 Gold quests require you to play 50 class cards. Lastly, there are two new 100 Gold quests: Murlocalypse - Play 75 Murlocs and Cry Havoc - Play 75 Battlecry minions.
      Other datamined data include three new achievements that award three Classic card packs each:
      Return of the Hero - Defeat the 3 challengers! Ready for Action - Play 30 cards in Play mode Back in the Game! - Deal 100 damage to enemy heroes There are also six achievements, awarding The Grand Tournament packs, that are tied to the BlizzCon promotion - we will discuss this in another article!
      Ultimately, a returning player challenge with three missions has appeared, as well as a possible Innkeeper challenge.