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HotS: Free Hero Rotation: May 17, Chromie Goes Live Today

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Excited yet? Chromie joins the timeline today! The Free-to-Play Hero rotation has been updated with a new set of Heroes.

 

Free-to-Play Hero Rotation: May 17 - 24, 2016:

The following Heroes have been selected for this week's rotation. Clicking on the Hero name will take you to the respective Hero guide.

(Source)

 

Chromie Goes Live Today!

Chromie joins the Nexus today in Americas, the same patch will arrive in Europe on Wednesday.

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      Hey CavalierGuest, that’s a good question. It’s something we’ve discussed internally but we don’t have any plans to make changes as of yet. We love that Quick Match is a casually competitive experience where players can select a hero they want to play and quickly hop into a match. At the same time, we understand that more specialized characters may have a harder time on specific Battlegrounds, for example, Abathur plays very different on Battlefield of Eternity then he does on Cursed Hollow. 
      We’re not sure this needs to be addressed but I am curious how you would expect this to function? We’ve discussed allowing players to queue as a specific role in QM and then view the map before locking in their hero. We’ve also discussed things like having a single map available for a small window of time and you queue knowing which Battleground it is ahead of time. Both of these require a significant amount of work though, so we’re cautious of spending a large amount of development time on this.
      It’s important to remember that there are a variety game modes available that each offer a different experience. Players who are looking for a more competitive experience already have multiple draft modes to choose from. I 100% agree that having multiple Battlegrounds is a key part of the Heroes experience which is awesome. We do want to make sure that this is not adding an additional barrier for new users to approach though, so it’s something we’re always discussing and exploring across the entire experience.
      Can you explain some of the decision making that went into making Orphea float rather than walk?
      It lends a better effect to her animations as it almost always prevents accidental animation cancellation by moving, and I was wondering why this decision was specifically made for her. 
      Bonus question: what's the best hue of red?
      A few reasons:
      Most notably, the first concept I ever saw of Orphea she was floating, much as she is in game. 
      I can't explain to you how excited I was to work on this hero. Seeing her for the first time -- the posing, the attitude, the crazy monster... everything about it felt RIGHT to me! It was such a special moment for me, and it was a feeling I wanted to share with all of you.
      While I went to put her in motion, it also allowed me to be very graceful with her movement. Early concepts for the RavenLord's daughter depicted her as a dancer, and while we didn't keep that motif visually, we were very drawn to elegant movement. Running/walking is naturally a higher-impact motion. That means there has to be a lot more jangling and jostling of the relic, which I think could be very distracting -- especially because it is so large.
      Giving her the capacity to float allowed us to have her motion to be smoother and more vibrant than if she were walking around.
      That said -- she definitely CAN walk around! She just chooses to float (because if you were that powerful, who WOULDN'T choose to float) If you leave combat for a while/float on the spot for a bit, she will actually descend back to her feet and then take a running start to get back up in the air again. ?
      Bonus: Crimson.
      Will you buff Malthaels ultimate "Tormented Souls"? Right now it's a 80 sec cd AOE applier. Maybe give him physical armor during the ultimate to excel vs. physical attackers? He could become "ethereal" like during the ultimate with +30 physical armor? Or maybe a Passive that does more dmg to his Reaper's Mark?
      We're still discussing ways to make Tormented Souls better. Both of your ideas are things that have been thrown around, and align with the way that we're thinking about the Heroic. The team has been busy preparing for BlizzCon, but I'd expect to see some changes in the coming months to reduce the Heroic effectiveness disparity.
      Can we get a proper age for Orphea? And will the next comic explain what her magic is besides 'ancestral/dead'? I'm wanting to write things involving her and would like to know as much as possible!
      Orphea is a teenager; with the main value there being the acknowledgement of this being a time in her life where she's defining her beliefs as she steps into adulthood (and now, hero-hood!)
      When we talk about her magic as being ancestral or familial . . . we're describing the magic of her heritage -- the practices of her people. When the Raven Lord refers to it as "dead magic," he's actually being judgmental about a practice of power he believes is inferior, antiquated, and presently beneath him. In his mind, he has moved far beyond the familiar magic of his lineage and deeper into power uniquely accessible to him as a Realm Lord.
      Orphea's ability to use this magic was not something the Raven Lord fostered in her, but something she stumbled/emerged into naturally. If anything, Orphea's open embrace of this magic is something she knows her father will disapprove of; she's had a trial/error approach to the growth of her power (and likely some under-the-table help from family fixtures like Neeve, who we introduced in the Orphea comic). Interestingly enough, we had to cut a line in the trailer where Oberon mocked Orphea for carrying the relic on her back, going so far as to say she was being "ridiculous." This is not how one would typically draw power from a relic under traditional family rules. However, this is how Orphea makes it work for herself, and it's the best way she knows. I just love that! It feels right to her, so she's willing to make a "fool" of herself and carries herself -- and her relic -- in the best way she knows how. ❤️
      Could you tell us a bit some of the major steps in making Orphea and the big changes you made of her design?
      Early in Orphea's design, we had some concept art that portrayed her as a dancer, so her initial base kit design had elements of dancing in it. We loved the idea of dancing in and out of combat, so initially, her Q ability (Shadow Waltz) forced her to dash forward, and her W ability (Chomp) caused Orphea to be knocked back baseline (similar to her level 4 talent Backbiter). We really loved this gameplay style, but one of our goals for Orphea was for her to be approachable by players of all skill levels. Having an ability that forced you to dash forward was causing some players to constantly overextend or miss their Shadow Waltz entirely, since there was a deadzone between the dash and damage areas.
      So we took a step back and decided to let the player control the dash direction by moving it to the end of the ability instead of the front. We added a delay before the damage to match the timing the ability had when the dash was at the beginning. This felt great and the team really loved it, but now that she could control her dash direction it felt like she had a bit too much mobility with the knockback on Chomp being baseline. There were also situations where you would be chasing down a low health enemy but your highest damage ability (Chomp) would force you backwards, causing you to miss out on the kill. So we decided to remove the knockback from the ability, but we had so much fun with it that we wanted to keep it in the form of a talent, which is what you see today!
      What was the hardest part about animating a brand new hero with no backstory like other Heroes from Warcraft,SC,Diablo? Making brand new abilities and animations must be tough when this is the very first time anybody has seen her. Chomp is my favorite looking animation from Orphea and I think you all did a very great job!
      Thank you so much for your kind words. Chomp is my favourite, too. 
      The hardest part of animating the hero with no backstory was understanding the connection between her, her own magic, and the relic magic. 
      I think magic in a lot of fantasy genres is taken for granted -- or rather, folks are more keen to suspend their disbelief -- simply because it's been seen so many times. i.e. "Of course he can control lightning, he's a lighting mage." Or, in the case of Blizzard History: "Of course he controls lightning, he's Thrall."
      For Orphea, these questions aren't answered yet. We see a concept of a young woman with some sort of armoire on her back and a giant purple monster. With teeth. What does this mean? Is it going to eat her? Is she controlling it? Is it controlling her? HOW does she control it? WHAT is it?
      At the beginning, the list of questions was daunting and seemingly endless. Even when we started answering some of them, the team was, for a time, stuck in a little bit of choice paralysis. The excitement of working on an entirely new hero had the team wanting to make not just something, but the best thing. In the end, piecing together the lore helped to inform us of what the best thing was for Orphea. We answered all our questions and could finally get to making badass artwork. When you know a character inside an out, the animation comes easy.
      If you want to see a little bit more about this process, you should scope out the Heroes Deep Dive panel on the virtual ticket! Thank you for your question!
      What would you say is the biggest misstep? Or, what was your biggest learning experience? What are you most proud of?
      I don't really have any big missteps (insert sunglasses emoji, here), but my personal biggest learning experience as a dev has been two things: 
      1 - If you think you are communicating enough, you aren't 
      2 - Kindness is integral to success 
      'Work,' (as in the standard definition of a full-time job) is kind of nuts, when you think about it. No matter what your gig is, seeing the same folks every day, for 40 hours a week -- that's insane! Humans are naturally selfish creatures. It's easy to assume that everyone is on the same page as you (somehow), and that could easily result in not properly communicating your ideas, wants, or needs. This makes more work for other people, or things slip through the cracks, or just generally puts unnecessary stress onto your team as a whole, which sucks. Tension like that can lead to a team forgetting that we're making games - and you gotta have fun to make fun. Being transparent and kind to those around you makes life easier for everyone, and happier people create better, more beautiful work.
      Fortunately, this has not been my experience on the Heroes team!
      As such, I think my greatest success (aside from working on Orphea, herself) is the privilege of working with and getting to know the folks on the Orphea team (and the Heroes development team as a whole). I know it sounds real sappy, but I've wanted to work at Blizzard since I was 12 years old! I've been here just about 5 years now, and I still can't possibly express the honor I feel in being able to stand up in front of the BlizzCon audience as a representative of such a loving and passionate team of people.
      GETTIN' MISTY EYED JUST TYPING ABOUT IT. 
      I love this game.
      Will we see a fourth ban come in 2019? Does the team think it should be in the initial or middle phase?
      We're not investigating adding a fourth ban in 2019. We'll continue to evaluate the need for a fourth ban leading into 2020.
      In the Fall of King's Crest event, the Raven Lord killed the gosh-dang Dragon Knight.
      Are we going to a new battle ground, maybe a variant of Dragon Shire, to reflect the current state of the place?
      There are no plans to change how Dragon Shire plays or to present a new version of the Battleground, but you may have seen that we're pushing forward some visual updates and an announcer update on DS that will tie together some of these story elements. Fun stuff!
      Whose idea was it to put such a classic stylized S on Orphea's locker in her RCHS skin ? (By the way, RCHS stands for Raven Court High School, right ?)
      Raven *Crest, actually.
      While the whole team had a lot of fun with our favourite absurdities from highschool, I think it must have been Oscar was the one who put the classic 's' on there.
      The Raven Crest High theme is possibly my favourite thing in the game. I drew probably the ugliest piece of concept art to pitch the skin to one of our concept artists, Oscar Vega, on a whim. Oscar - angel on earth and a superstar talent - saw the potential in the skin and fleshed it out into what it is today. Our amazing character artist Vadim tolerated our various adolescent whims as we relived highschool developing the skin, and now many of the silly inside jokes and shoutouts to our teenage years appear in the various decals on her different lockers.
      This year every game except Starcraft 2 and Heroes of the Storm had a game director/member of the leadership team on stage at the Opening Ceremony to make announcements about their game. In past years Kaeo (and Dustin Browder in the years before him) had done a great job of being enthusiastic and informative about new content and changes coming to the game, and really trying to “sell” the game to general Blizzard fans in the audience. That felt lacking this year as the 2 videos were introduced and then the HotS section was quickly done. In short, why didn’t HotS have anyone from the team representing it on stage this year?
      Hi, /u/Ryzor99! This was largely an effort to help with the timing of the show, but we were also honored to have JAB speak to the game. He’s a huge fan of Heroes and has been a constant presence at our esports events since the early days. While I would have loved to be up there again sharing my own passion for the game with everyone, Overwatch did something similar with Mike announcing Sombra two years ago and the team and I were still very excited to have J introduce Orphea and our two videos in front of that amazing BlizzCon audience. The reaction to our content in the halls was still fantastic, so ultimately, the content needs to speak for itself. Thanks for the question!
      What are the plans regarding ranked decay? Will it be enabled for possibly both MMRs? Will there be MMR decay for players in placements?
      So the MMR Decay system has been doing its work quietly and well for some time. We understand the community’s desire to see us get far more aggressive with the application of decay. After the new ranked mode is in place we’ll be making some adjustments to allow for decay to occur regardless of placement status.
      I'm excited that HotS gets its first hero to bring to the Blizzard universe, but I feel like there was a bit of a missed opportunity to introduce her through a mini PvE chapter in-game. Is this something that you guys considered, or something we might see in the future?
      We actually did consider this and look into implementation - anything to get the story (however small...) more directly into the game. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get it done alongside everything else we were committed to.
      Any plan to bring other Blizzard Classic (Blackthorne, R&R Racing,...) heroes? The Lost Vikings were released years ago.
      There is an astoundingly long list of heroes that we want to bring to life in Heroes, and in the end there are a few determining factors:
      1 - Gameplay needs. What roles do we have that we want to fill at the time and what heroes would successfully fit into that fantasy.
      2 - What the community is excited about! (duh) Everyone seems to have their favorite hero that has yet to arrive. The idea is that eventually, everyone is going to have their most favorite thing to play accessible to them in the Nexus.
      3 - What we, as developers, are excited about, which is really just driven by the two points above! In the end, when we're hype about what we're working on, it ultimately creates better content for you to enjoy!
      What do you think about giving incentives for player to do Unranked draft instead of QM? The current state of game modes is that Unranked draft gives players less benefits compared to any other mode, you get more XP in ranked modes and you can get more games for the time played in QM as it doesn't have draft phase. I think a thing that looks fair is to give a flat XP bonus for players of all draft modes (e.g. 25k xp, half a win bonus).
      Hey, great question. At the moment we’re fairly satisfied with the state of Unranked Draft and don’t believe we need to be adding incentives to get players into URD matches. URD has the benefit of advancing daily quests, without the added anxiety of ranked play. We’ll continue to look at URD after Call of the Nexus goes live later this month and consider changes based upon the reaction.
      Do you consider to create some PVE brawl like game modes to introduce more of HOTS lore ? So far the lore of HOTS seem to be quite dull. More adventures and interactions between the current roster of Heroes would be more appealing to some of us.
      We'd love to tackle more brawls for sure, but as with everything it just comes down to priorities.
      Totally understand the critique of the story elements put forward this year. As game-makers, it was a unique challenge telling stories outside of the gameplay experience. That being said, we're gluttons for punishment...and we knew we wanted to do whatever we could on two fronts this year (one actually in service to the other):
      Publicly reaffirm and solidify a narrative framework for the Nexus Give Orphea a narrative foundation to stand on The team was so excited to dive into the lore of the Nexus, but to make it more feasible, the scope of the story this year had to be pretty tightly focused.
      First I want to say that I can feel lots of effort have been made to animate Orphea's abilities. They're really unique. That said, while I have yet to actually test Orphea (or even face her), judging from the spotlight video I am slightly concerned whether her animations being that spectacular and thick black might hinder the fight readibility in cluttered space (or simply when there are more than a couple of heroes and they actually fight back - unlike the hero spotlight video).
      So, my question will be : did you have reports about Orphea's animations bringing particular issues either in PTR or internal testing ? What are the complications/limitations there might be working on VFX/ability design with a color scheme and thematic such as hers ?
      While designing new heroes, visual clarity and team fight readability is always super important to us. When we add new abilities to the game, it's important to ensure that enemies and allies can understand what is happening around them. It's always tricky to balance FX and animations between looking amazing and reading well. 
      Each of Orphea's abilities have delays which allow them to have a moment to draw attention and stand out from the other FX going on. Since we do have a lot of purple/black FX in the game (Zagara Creep, Cho'Gall, Sylvanas, Gul'dan), it was important for us to distinguish Orphea's FX from them, and we felt like Orphea's "magenta-heat" magic that controls the "purple-black chaos" helps her abilities stand out from those even more. 
      As of now, we feel like Orphea is in a good place but we're always listening to feedback and keeping our eye on overall readability of the game!
      Is Orphea's toothy appearance to her magic simply how she chooses to portray it? If she was of the mind could it be something simple like arcane appearing? Or is the eldritch aesthetic simply part of her bloodline's magic?
      It's a subconscious manifestation of her deepest feelings. Perhaps if Orphea were to feel less internally conflicted the magic might appear differently, but as it is it's not necessarily a choice!
      Orphea looks like a great deal of fun, and I've enjoyed trying her on PTR, but I’m curious about the decision to make her the sole Blizzcon hero this year. Among the general Blizzard community in the main stage audience the reaction was very muted compared to years past with announcements of heroes they knew like Alexstraza or Ragnaros (a lot of “who is that?”). I have no objection to Nexus original heroes in general, but what went into the decision to make Orphea the Blizzcon hero? Was it felt she needed a "bigger stage" to legitimize her to people who don't want Nexus originals in the game?
      To me it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to not announce an iconic Blizzard hero to that specific audience of general Blizzard fans who may not play HotS and need to be “sold” on it. Last year I felt Hanzo and Alex struck a great balance between appealing to newer Blizzard fans who were brought onboard by Overwatch and older fans who have been immersed in Warcraft lore for decades. Even with the slower hero release schedule meaning there would be a long wait between them, was there any consideration of announcing or teasing a 2nd hero along with Orphea this year to achieve that balance in exciting all parts of the Blizzard/HotS fandom?
      Hey Ryzor99ETC! Glad you had a good time playing Orphea!
      The decision to make her the sole BlizzCon hero was based on several factors. This year, we knew we would be bringing our final Blizzard universe (Warcraft) into the Nexus with the Alterac Pass Battleground and we had a huge lineup of highly requested heroes that were being added to the game as well, so it felt like this was the best time for us to go back to our roots and introduce a Nexus-born hero. This gave us the opportunity to really dig into Orphea's character at our Deep Dive panel and explain our thought processes and reasoning for why we chose to make her, where normally that focus is split between two heroes. This year was a celebration of Heroes, so we thought it'd be cool to introduce the first ever Nexus-born Hero at Blizzcon to cap off such a cool year!
      Another factor is that a large portion of our playerbase isn't necessarily familiar with all of Blizzard's universes. Some players, for example, only play World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm. They may get really excited when we release a hero like Mal'Ganis or Whitemane, but aren't really sure who Mephisto is or why he's special. With Orphea, we all finally have a hero that, collectively, we can call "ours" -- as she is born from the Nexus. This is a hero that Heroes of the Storm players can put their passion behind and be excited about, similar to when a hero from your favorite Blizzard game comes to the Nexus!
      Finally, we will continue to bring iconic Blizzard heroes to the Nexus throughout 2019 and beyond. Heroes of the Storm is a game where Blizzard universes clash and we will continue to embrace that as we move forward!
      How will the cloaken/Kevin announcer be treated for other languages, whose Spotlights are not dubbed? Will the announcer be dubbed, or will it stay in English?
      Hey there! Our current plan is to just keep this announcer as the single English version at the moment. We did spend some time trying to figure out how localization should be approached here, but in the end we felt that it made the most sense to follow the trail forged by El Guapo.
    • By Stan
      Tempo Storm interviewed Senior Producer Alex Kontzas and Lead Systems Designer John Piepiora at BlizzCon and here are the highlights.
      Interview Highlights
      Reason behind 2019 gameplay changes? They've been keeping an eye on snowballing for a long time. They want to keep games more competitive and levels within a reasonable range. They don't want the losing team to feel like they have no options to come back. Armor stacking compositions were powerful especially in pro play. They decided to polish the system more and make it more clear and intuitive. An Armor talent pass was made across a lot of Heroes. On the readability front, they've updated the UI to display Armor type. Catapults have better icons on the map, the UI team did a great job. Earlier in the year, they stripped out XP from the front towers to combat snowballing in early game. Towers the Doom will not be affected by the XP changes. The defending team will now get XP. If there are issues with systems, they try to find solutions to make the game more dynamic. The main goal of the role rework is to give new players a better idea at what they're looking for. People started playing Blaze in the offlane, so they focused on shifting his role to main tank with the latest changes. Pro play always has its own meta, for example, Xul as a main tank. It affects only a fraction of players and the vast majority will still play Xul the way he was intended, so there are no plans to change him. Call of the Nexus and Janitor Leoric will be released two weeks after Orphea goes live.