Stan

HotS: Free Hero Rotation: January 12-19, 2016

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With the release of Greymane this week, we have another new Free-to-Play Hero rotation carving its way into the Nexus.

 

Free-to-Play Hero Rotation: January 12-19, 2016

The following Heroes have been selected for this week's Free Hero Rotation

  • Malfurion
  • Valla
  • Diablo
  • Tychus
  • Artanis
  • Butcher
  • Kael'thas (Slot unlocked at Player Level 5)
  • Arthas (Slot unlocked at Player Level 7)
  • Sgt. Hammer (Slot unlocked at Player Level 12)
  • Brightwing (Slot unlocked at Player Level 15)

(Source)

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      Does the decay timer secretly affect players who are in placements? E.g. suppose I play 5 placement games, quit for 40 days, then come back and finish my placements.
      Hello minor_correction, thank you for your question!
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      The two big features on the horizon for Hero League are Loss Forgiveness and Performance Based Matchmaking. Of those, Loss Forgiveness is the first in line for development, while Performance Based Matchmaking will follow shortly after. I can't commit to an exact timeline for these just yet.
      I kind of find promotion and demotion games in the same league annoying. Going from Plat 2 to Plat 1 and vice versa, they don't make much of a difference to me.
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      Loss Forgiveness
      “Disconnecting” in game yields (-200) points and ‘x’ games of quick match.
      “Disconnecting”in draft yields (-600) points and same number of quick match games.
      The new trend is to load into a game and “disconnect” to avoid the additional (-400) points.
      Having an AI team mate is a significant disadvantage.
      what (if any) plans can you share about loss forgiveness for those 4 people who stuck it out?”
      We're working on a Loss Forgiveness feature right now that addresses these very concerns. In situations where a player deserts their team they will be punished appropriately, while their teammates will have no points deducted for that loss. If the undermanned team wins with an AI in-tow (it does happen occasionally!) they will still earn points for their grit.
      Every now and then we find complaints about matchmaking, mainly because the system rules aren’t clear or visible. Are you planning on making that information available somewhere handy such as in-game?
      We are currently iterating on our Hero League rules based on the feedback we are getting regarding match quality/wait times/game server as well as updating Quick Match with more concrete rules on team composition.
      Once we are in a place where we think (and hopefully you also think!) that these rules create suitable matches for everyone in a reasonable time, having a discussion on putting out something that explains how these rules work would be a great idea!
      What plans do you think will be implemented this season? Next season?
      The Season 3 patch included a ton of changes to Hero League, though not all of them are player-facing. We're still planning on making improvements to matchmaking rules, but right now, we're focused on fixing bugs, and improving our matchmaking data collection. For example, while investigating reports of rainbow matches in Hero League, we uncovered an issue where players will very rarely incorrectly ping lower to a region outside their own when they have "best site" selected in their options menu. When this issue occurs, a player will make matches on that server, which may have different matchmaking rules that allow for rainbow matches to occur. We're currently in the process of resolving this issue, which takes priority over feature development.
      For Season 4, 2018 we plan to continue examining the quality of matches as well as the end of season impact of Rank Decay. Our feature development efforts have primarily been focused on hardening the Quickmatch matchmaking experience. We're also deep into development on a Loss Forgiveness feature that will prevent point/MMR loss for players who were stuck with a leaver while also punishing frequent leavers.
      Here's a quick list of some of the changes we're considering for the future:
      Preventing returning ranked players from placing higher than Diamond 3 each season-roll after placements. Reducing the number of placement games required for returning ranked players. Separating out the regional GM ladders to allow players to rank up within their local playerbase and matchmaking rulesets. Adding draft swaps for Hero League. Further extending the Rank Point Decay to affect additional leagues. Creating more incentive for Team League a topic that U/BlizzCooper is posting about separately in a moment. It's been shown that people remember negatives over positives.
      That leaves videogames, like HOTS, in a tough spot.
      Statistically, if someone plays enough matches they should end up at their proper rank regardless of the "stubbed toe" matches (leaver, troll, etc).
      However, it's entirely possible that someone may play only a handful of matches a week. And if I play five games with two stubbed toes that looks awful.
      Given that the perception is so negative, is there anything that can be done (it might be impossible for all I know) to address the stubbed toe problem from a matchmaking perspective?
      This touches on a lot of the things we are currently working on to make the experience better for everyone:
      Loss Forgiveness
      It sucks when you lose a game because someone disconnected and never came back and you had to play with the AI and the AI did things that aren’t becoming of a Diamond 3 player and now your Core is on fire and your team is sad and that player who left is sitting on a beach somewhere and you wish all their books became the Twilight series (or whatever kinds of books you don't like).
      Our aim with this is to make those games not count against you anymore, so you are not punished for having to complete a game in that situation, which should lessen the negativity felt for it (you still had to play it, which is a tough situation, but the result of that has been negated, and the leaver suitably punished).
      Hero League
      This kind of perception also extends to the matchmaker, when players ask, “Why am I playing a game in high GM with this low Master’s player?” This usually happens when their MMR has diverged from their rank. As we work towards switching to showing MMR for some or all our leagues, this should remove that negative perception, too.
      Quick Match
      When people are given quick match games which are 5v5 assassins, or games that feel like the balance of the players or heroes is off, this can reduce enjoyment as well, so we are working towards hardening the criteria for team composition to make the mode feel both more enjoyable and more like our other queues.
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      Currently we observe there are a small percentage of players whose MMR and Rank Points have diverged. As a result, these players end up in matches like the one you described. However, it is important to note that both MMR and Ranked Points are used when determining which players get placed into a game. Because of the divergence previously mentioned, GM players may see a lower ranked master player in their game when, in reality, that player has a higher MMR than his current rank. We are investigating potential solutions for how to reduce this divergence. In regards to displaying MMR to the player, please refer to the following reply that has more details: 
      I play in high diamond / low masters mmr in HL. My queue times are hitting 10+ minutes some nights (usually playing 9pm-12AM EST). The game quality seems worse this season then any other season. Are the matchmaking changes this season being reviewed as an improvement on your end? I'm used to 2-5 minute queue's max in previous seasons.
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      Would it be possible to steal the ear-destroying Dota2 ready sound? I get tired of losing 600 points and having to play low-priority. ?
      I’m not sure Valve would be too happy with that, but we are in discussions about a form of ready check. Personally, I would go with Murky’s March of the Murlocs horn or Whitemane’s laugh as a ready sound!
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      This has led to all kinds of abuse over the years with people purposefully cheesing QM for a higher HL rank, as well as being basically the sole reason for the common complaints of a feeling of inconsistency in the "game knowledge" of teammates at any given rank in HL.
      QM is a fundamentally randomized and unpredictable environment. As such, it gives players a warped sense of what balance is, how to form a team comp, and the meta. What makes that a good seed for HL?
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      For one, it doesn't kick in until you've finished your placements, so people can just wait and do their 10 matches at the end of the season to avoid decay entirely.
      And two, It's not aggressive enough for how short our seasons are. Playing one extra match every 20 days is nothing when the seasons are only a few months long to begin with.
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      Hello! We are always looking to iterate on changes we make to Rating and Ranked Decay. We are monitoring the impact Ranked Decay is having on Hero League. The decay timers may be adjusted as a result. However, we won't be making any changes to the decay timers in the middle of a season as we want to ensure all players are aware of such changes before they play their placement matches (which is when the decay timers get initialized).
      Are there any plans to add a an AFK check to the start of drafts like many other MOBAs? Losing a game because one player is AFK and gets randomly assigned a hero that’s bad in the map/team comp is incredibly frustrating and honestly it feels like it could be easily avoidable.
      Hello Ankoria! This suggestion is actually something we have been considering for some time now. You can find an answer to a similar question here: 
      Have You guys considered to cover the AMA online in the future? Like Ion & Josh from WoW?
      Hi, ErothTV! We’ve approached answering questions about Heroes development many different ways over the years – from livestream or video Q&A’s with our team leaders, to reddit, forum, and social media posts by individual team members - and we will continue to try different things moving forward. We’re currently focusing our reddit AMAs on this format where we pick a specific area of the game and bring in the developers who work on that area to answer questions directly. I’ve been enjoying the way these have been going and think the individual developers being involved leads to more in-depth discussion, but please let us know if you have feedback on it or ideas on other ways we can continue improving our communication with the Heroes community. Thanks!!
      The biggest problems that occur with matchmaking seem the be around the "failure mode"s, where the matchmaker fails to find an appropriate match in the required time, and makes a wildly inappropriate match right now. Is there work on the way in degrading that more gracefully?
      Previously, the matchmaker search criteria would degrade gracefully to a cutoff point (for the party/player with the longest wait time), and then make the best match it can at that cutoff point. This would result in sometimes you being pulled into these matches being made at another players cutoff point. That is probably what you were experiencing, and we agree that this wasn't the best experience for the player. As a result we have made some improvements to it this season for Hero League. Each player now has their own search criteria. The players search criteria will degrade gracefully and only when players fit each others search criteria will they be placed together into a game—whereas previously it was based purely on the party/player search criteria who had the longest wait time. However, there is still a maximum cutoff of 15 minutes before the matchmaker makes the best possible match it can. This is currently live in Hero League and we are monitoring the experience.
      1. Replay system is so uncomfortable. Advance of replay system will make Ranked players more skillful. I heard in past interviews that the system is being improved, how long has it been?
      2.And the reconnecting system so! The reconnecting time so boring. ? 
      Hi 6igbear, thank you for your question. We think improving actual gameplay experience is higher priority than upgrading replay system. We have talked about these issues before: 
      Since then, we’ve been doing research in how networking model implementation affects player experience. While some of the improvements stemming from this research are still in progress, we have made a few fixes which are already live. Most recently, with the Whitemane patch, we were able to improve efficiency of how the game is sending user input over the network. This resulted in ~2x-3x reduction of bandwidth consumption, improving gameplay experience for players with challenging network conditions as well as speeding up ‘rejoin in progress’ for cases when network was a limiting factor. A nice by-product of that is that replay files are smaller in size as well.
      With voice comms it feels like the main disadvantage of duo queue has been eliminated. Have you considered adding duo queue back to HL?
      This is something we've discussed internally. We think there is value in ensuring players can play with friends and make new ones in Hero League. There are complications, and many differing opinions, but it's something we're considering for next year.
      Why are new heroes allowed in ranked as soon as they come out? When Alterac Pass was introduced it was delayed from rank for a week or two so people could get used to it. Shouldn't heroes be treated the same?
      Allowing new heroes in day of forces people to misuse bans because they might think someone is OP or they are afraid they're UP and a teammate with instalock them. Theres also people who go straight into ranked and mandate they have to play a hero regardless of skill/team comp. Seems like waiting a little bit is a good fix.
      Hi AlexRain1, There’s two main reasons that we allow new heroes into ranked modes immediately.
      1. It’s actually really critical for our team to collect lots of data and make meaningful balance decisions quickly. We believe that our balance patches that come two weeks following a new hero release provides a really good update cadence for the game. For those balance patches, we are able to use about a week of data from live matches to inform our decisions internally, implement and validate our changes, etc. While we absolutely do look at QM and all data available, being able to utilize data from higher level HL matches is much more meaningful. Even the fact that ranked matches require a player to be level 5 on a character first helps to validate this data further, and of course seeing pick and ban rates, is useful data in itself.
      2. The other angle is from a perspective that new and updated content is the lifeblood of this game. From reworks and significant balance changes, to of course new heroes – these are all opportunities to shake up the meta and create new strategies. The game is constantly evolving, and this can help to even resurface older heroes that may now present new synergies or counters.
      For Alterac Pass specifically, we discussed it quite a bit, but felt that having this new battleground enter ranked modes right at the end of the ranked season wasn’t the best experience. We instead wanted to create an interesting moment where the next ladder season would utilize this battleground for its entirety.
      Why Matchmaking changes are taking forever to be done ? We see new events and skins very often, are you investing more resources to make the game "prettier" instead of better ?
      We do have separate, dedicated teams focusing on each area of the game, so releasing a new Hero or a new skin does not take away attention from matchmaking or other feature work. It's critical that we continue making content while also making the game better - these things are equally important to us, and our team structure reflects that. The sensation that we move faster on content is really speaking to a different thing - content changes are more visible and tangible.
      Matchmaking is an area of game development that is incredibly challenging and perpetually evolving, not just for Heroes of the Storm, but for all games. There is no perfect matchmaking; it's always a series of trade-offs where we're striving to get the highest quality matches for the largest percentage of players in the most reasonable timeframes, all while attempting to balance an ever-increasing number of extremely impactful variables.
      Over the past 5 years, we've invested heavily in the ongoing quest to improve the Heroes matchmaking experience across the game and have made great strides along the way with changes that have been behind the scenes as well as public-facing. We've also developed tools that strengthen our ability to predict and understand the far-reaching implications of the changes that we want to make. Through all of this, we've been able to consistently improve the matchmaking experience for the vast majority of Heroes players. And while we've had setbacks, bugs, and fringe cases negatively impact some players as we've evolved the system, we believe matchmaking is one of the cornerstones of our game and will continue to dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to improving it forevermore. Speaking of which - we're always looking to hire talented Server Engineers to join the Heroes team and help support matchmaking as well as other feature development. Please apply!
      Hi, when can we expect some “balance” changes for Tassadar? He has been dangling at the bottom for months, and he is in a really akward and near unplayable spot. In Quickmatch you get matched against Global healing and splitpushing Slugs 99% of the time (why is this seen as a fair match up?). In draft you get reported for even hovering him, or if you are luckily you are not reported.. but solo supporting. I would love to play some Tassadar without trolling my team or getting split push stomped ❤️ Thanks for your time
      Hi IAreNoMonkey,
      Tassadar is someone the balance team has talked about. He could likely use some balance changes to address some of your concerns, but he may also need a larger update to better position him into a definitive role for the team. We do find that his role as an enabler for specific characters is pretty unique and can have a significant impact when paired with someone like Tracer. Whether he stays in this ‘enabler’ role or shifts to a more pure Assassin or Support is still up for debate.
      As far as matching Tassadar in QM games, we do have some changes to QM coming this fall that will help ensure games have a Tank, Healer & Ranged Assassin. This means you may still run into Tassadar vs. Abathur scenarios, but each team should also have a healer to minimize any disadvantage Tassadar may have in this specific matchup.
    • By Stan
      Twitch drops are back! Blizzard's giving away a Rare Loot Chest to all viewers who watch one of the clashes for a total of three or more hours. They're also randomly awarding 500 Common Loot Chests per hour and Heroic Account Unlock codes, which unlock every Hero exluding Whitemane on each broadcast day! Don't forget to link your Battle.net & Twitch accounts!
      Blizzard (Source)
      After your outpouring of enthusiasm during the Mid-Season Brawl for the ability to earn loot in Heroes of the Storm by watching HGC, we're bringing it back for the upcoming Western and Eastern Clashes!
      Guaranteed Drops
      All viewers who watch the Western Clash from Aug. 10 through 12 and/or the Eastern Clash from Aug. 16 through 19 on Twitch for a total of three or more hours will receive one Rare Loot Chest in Heroes of the Storm.
      Random Drops
      While the broadcast is live for both events, we’ll be randomly awarding 500 Common Loot Chests per hour. On top of that, three Heroic Account Unlock codes—which unlock every Hero excluding Whitemane—will be given away on each broadcast day. Tune in for at least one hour of the Western or Eastern Clash competition every day on any of the following channels to be entered to win one of these Heroic Account Unlocks at the end of each day.
      Eligible Channels:
      http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesfr http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesde http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroesru http://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroeskr Eligible Broadcast Times (PDT):
      Aug. 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Aug. 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Aug. 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 16 to 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 17 From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 17 to 3:00 a.m. on Aug. 18 From 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 18 to 4:00 a.m. on Aug. 19 For more details, read the official rules here.
      Link Your Account
      To receive these legendary rewards, you must link your Twitch.tv and Blizzard accounts. Here’s how:
      Log in or create an account on Twitch.tv. Navigate to the Settings menu by clicking your account name in the top-right corner of the home screen. Navigate to the Connections tab of the Settings menu. Find the Battle.net section, then follow the given instructions after selecting a region and clicking Connect. When connecting accounts, be sure that you’re currently logged into the Blizzard account on which you’d like to receive your rewards. Click here to go straight to the Twitch settings page