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2018 Gameplay Update Developer Q/A Roundup: Nov 29

21 posts in this topic

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The Heroes of the Storm dev team answered questions about the upcoming 2018 gameplay update in a Q/A on reddit earlier today.

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Will you ever rework Varian?

Yes.

As a pro player, having to switch between the old camera (Hero league) and the new one (PTR-scrims) is really confusing and not productive. Is the camera change going to go live soon ?

The camera changes are currently set to come out with Hanzo's release, which should be very soon ™

I really enjoy seeing the addition of active abilities to base kits since it adds mechanical depth and gives increased outlets for players to demonstrate skill with extra abilities. Is this something we can expect for future hero releases (so far I believe only Xul had an extra ability on release, whereas plenty of heroes get actives with reworks).

I think in general we want to stay away from this when possible. It's cleaner design to have abilities be in the same place whenever we can (QWER). However, we're definitely not against it when we feel it's necessary, as many heroes have active traits and sometimes get actives with reworks. I think you can expect it to happen in the future, but for it to be pretty rare.

I'm glad you enjoy them and I completely agree with you on it adding mechanical depth to certain Heroes. While we don't have a hard-pressed rule on giving (or not giving) them to new Heroes, it is much easier for us live designers to implement them into our reworks. A lot of the time a certain talent or playstyle becomes character-defining over time and if we feel like it makes the Hero more fun to play, we will always try to find a way to incorporate it into their base kit.

It seems we're getting Sgt. Hammer rework today, which is strange because other reworks came with big patches. Is it something we're gona see looking forward?

I'm actually really excited about this because we've been working on a good way to be more flexible with how and when we release our reworks by building a brand new pipeline dedicated to them. Sgt. Hammer is the first Hero to receive this treatment and over time we will look for opportunities to apply this new pipeline to other reworks as well!

Ultimately though, the entire team puts tons and tons of content into each release which means sometimes things can get overlooked so being able to separate them out allows us to give them their own spotlight.

I'm curious if you have any thoughts or ideas (PTR/Live hero level and xp sync, loot boxes, other rewards, etc) on what can be done to help incentivize use of the PTR for actual testing/higher population more consistently while it's up. As it is, a 3 week PTR seems wasted since, beyond the first day or so, finding games becomes an exercise in patience, and even then team comps are all across the board.

This does come up every now and then because the more folks we can get on to PTR, the more feedback we can collect before going live! At the end of the day though, this falls under the eternal question of "what do we deprioritize?" and we feel like right now our attention is better spent developing features for the live game rather than the PTR. Having said that, we would like to do more for special PTR events such as this one in the future.

I'm sure we'll keep discussing on our end and if we can find a good solve, it will end up on the PTR eventually.

In Overwatch the performance based ranked system has led to situations in which players could get less SR when they flexed compared to players who play only one hero during nearly all their matches. This amount is significant enough that people who flex end up with less rating after winning more than 50% and that the one trick players gain rating while having a winrate lower tan 50%. I would like to ask whether you did something about this in Heroes?

It's an oddly complex question and answer, and I can only speak to what we’re doing on Heroes of the Storm, but let’s start with this:

The most important thing from a rating standpoint is still winning the game.

From there, it’s important to note that Heroes is a very different game and the criteria that get you those wins aren’t necessary the same as in other games. We have 75 Heroes at this point with more coming every month and you can’t swap Heroes mid-game.

In ranked modes, drafting is important and being able to play multiple Heroes well so you can adapt to the draft is important to success. A “one-trick pony” player is likely to score higher from a performance standpoint when playing that particular Hero, but they’re also more likely to lose if they don’t adapt to the situation. They’ll reach an equilibrium point with the players around them where they’re gaining more rank points on a win due to their higher performance on that one Hero, but losing more games overall.

I'm curious as to the reasons for fast-tracking items like the support balance changes while leaving things like the stealth changes on the PTR.

There were a couple major reasons why we decided to push the Support changes this week:

We knew that this was potentially going to have large balance ramifications and we needed a window of time to collect data and react to those Support changes in isolation of the gameplay changes that are coming in shortly.

We did not want to throw a large scale rebalance like this into the game while HGC was going on.

When evaluating our release options for these changes, this week was our last golden opportunity that addressed the considerations above.

On the design side, we’ve been discussing double support for a while and looking for the right time to make these changes. For example, we almost removed Lightning Bond prior to BlizzCon, but the change would have hit only a little bit before all of the esports matches, so we wanted to wait till after BlizzCon. Part of this also allowed us to watch another major tournament and evaluate the changes a little further.

After BlizzCon, we discussed double Support more, and decided we wanted to go ahead and release these changes. We also felt that releasing all of the Support changes alongside the 2018 Gameplay Updates would be harder for everyone to evaluate as so many things would be changing all at the same time. By releasing these changes separate from each other we can better evaluate the outcome.

As with anything we do, we’ll be listening to your feedback, playing alongside you, and looking at data!

With the performance-based matchmaking, I'd love to know why I'm getting positive or negative extra points. It'd help me to understand my gameplay and how to improve. Are we going to get a feature to evaluate our playstyle further? API maybe?

Agreed and that’s something we’d like to add in the future. We felt the expected improvements to matchmaking from performance-based matchmaking were important enough that we wanted to get it out the door rather than wait to roll it out until we could add more player-facing feedback into why the system was giving the ratings it does.

Now that double support has been nerfed, what are your plans for the supports that couldn't solo support in the first place but are designed to do so (at a high level) like Brightwing, Auriel, Ana and Malfurion?

Some healers were pushed to become overly specialized, and while they "could" solo heal, it's true they weren't as optimal as some of the other well rounded healers. This is something that we'll be keeping in mind as we continue to make changes to these characters, and make sure they each feels unique and special, but isn't crippled when facing certain compositions.

The two newest maps released “Hanamura” and “Volskaya Foundry” have come out to less than warm welcomes from the competitive community, and thus, players heavily influenced by the competitive community. Any thoughts, specifically, on Volskaya? Do you believe the objective is weak and the map is difficult to finish on, or is there untapped potential the players haven’t discovered yet? Also Hanamura? How’s that going?

The team feels that the release of Volskaya Foundry was a successful one. We’re definitely looking at the power of the mech, and we’re currently testing a small adjustment to the mech internally. Once we’re happy with it, we’ll ship it. As for Hanamura, I’m really excited about the rework. We aren't announcing details today, but I do want to mention that we aren't planning a mild change to the map’s mechanic—it will be a major one. Hanamura plays very differently than it did before.

Has the Heroes design team considered shifting slightly away from having each and every hero be niche?Specifically, has the Heroes design team considered equipping more heroes with more generalist tools so that decisions are shifted from rock-paper-scissors draft skill to in-game tactical/mechanical skill?

As it currently stands nearly all heroes have some sort of easily identifiable niche strength, weakness, and counters, meaning they are best beaten at the draft screen. I and other would like to see ourselves beat other heroes with more in-game skill than drafting.

The short answer is yes. However, there are pros and cons to heroes being niche and being generalist. Here's a few from my perspective:

Niche Heroes

  • Pros - When these heroes are strong you won't see them in every game since they can be countered. Also, the situations where they are used usually end up being more awesome, memorable moments, especially in esports. These heroes are also able to be picked even though other heroes can fill similar roles due to how unique they are.
  • Cons - They can't be picked early in draft. They also tend to have stronger good and bad matchups, which can feel bad for them and people who engage with them. Too many niche heroes also makes drafting more important compared to gameplay, which makes games feel more pre-determined.

Generalist Heroes

  • Pros - The heroes are more well-rounded, so they can be drafted at any time, allowing for more flexibility. They also tend to have more even matchups, so countering them generally (not always) comes down to who out played the other player.
  • Cons - With too many generalist heroes, if one is slightly better than the rest, then they are picked all the time and crowd out all similar heroes. They are also not able to be reliably countered, so if a generalist hero is overpowered then there's very little that opposing teams can do about them when it comes to their hero choices. When a generalist hero is underpowered, they drop off in a huge way since other heroes can do what they do better. Also, designing unique, interesting generalist heroes is harder to do over time, and tends to be more bland than making niche heroes. Niche heroes can do something really unique and special, whereas generalist heroes just do a little bit of everything.

I believe there is value in both. Niche heroes and generalist heroes are both very important to have in a healthy game. I think we may have made too many heroes niche, and are now valuing more highly how healthy generalist heroes can make the wider meta game, however I think it's important to understand that both are important to have.

We've had the baseline quest system for a few months now, are there any plans to track Alarak's Sadism or Diablo's Souls using this system?

Yes, our plan is to communicate things like Diablo's soul count on the tab screen. I'm not sure where these are at currently but are hopefully coming soon(TM!). I will follow up with people in the office about this. Thanks! :)

Do you expect any major changes to Sylvanas with the removal of ammo? Potential buff/nerfs incoming?

We don't have any changes planned for Sylvanas right now. The changes to tower ammo are large enough that we didn't want to risk making a bunch of changes that could end up being unnecessary. We also don't want to risk making the wrong changes to the game based on our assumptions of how things will turn out, as they may end up not being true.

How will performance based matchmaking function between AI and team play? i.e if my MMR has dropped in QM, can I spend time in AI against Elite to regain MMR? How can we expect this to function?

Every queue has its own MMR.

Can you explain the initial reason of designing healers with very low self healing? I think supports with very low self healing make double support an inevitable choice, especially when they usually come with very high ally healing as compensation.

If supports should no longer clear wave, deal damage or tank damage as much as assassins or tanks should do, what utilities do you plan to give them other than healing/shielding/cleanse, and to encourage their "aggressive play"?

It was partially a gradual change due to exploring new mechanics we thought would be fun (Alexstrasza/Ana), and partially a conscientious decision to add more weaknesses to healers because they were overall incredibly powerful.

When we can, we've made sure that this weakness isn't so big that you feel like you have to draft a second support to keep you alive (like Morales new healing mechanic). We probably still have room to improve here.

What happened to the Target Info Panel? Is it still coming?

On a related note, could you please consider giving players the option of displaying health bars as numbers? There are currently a huge amount of different health bar conventions and they can be difficult to read in the fray of things. Some Objectives have numerical HP indicators, but many don't, and structures, summons, minions, non-boss mercs and the smaller monsters don't have any markings or indication of raw HP at all.

It would be quite helpful, (Some obvious examples are Garrosh in for the kill and Azmodan taste for blood, but it would be helpful for pretty much everyone), especially if we could also be able to view what our abilities' damage is after various quests and talents are taken into account, instead of before.

The Target Info panel we showed at BlizzCon is currently in development and expected to launch in the next few months.

We aren’t currently looking to add options to view core game information in different ways. We always have to strike a balance between usability and complexity, which includes avoiding unnecessary UI clutter and options—unless those options are a fundamental aspect of the interface (like key bindings, for example).

With the change to globes turning neutral past 4, are there concerns about the power of globe-talents like Mana Addict? Seems like they could end up becoming completely auto-pick since their potential power has been vastly improved.

Since the Globe change is so huge and allows the enemy team to also deny globes, it's hard to say how the change will influence globe talents. Because of this, we're going to wait and see how things pan out, and are prepared to make changes when necessary.

Why did Medivh survive the support witch hunt but Tyrande didn't? In your developer insights you even placed the two together only working in double support comps. It seems unfair that just because he was in a different category at the time he was spared. Had Tassadar come out more recently he would not have been classified as a support but as a specialist.

We discussed picking and choosing which Supports to change, how much to change them, etc. We decided to do a bit more of a blanket update, and then from there, we will likely make some individual buffs or nerfs to characters who need further changes. Obviously a character like Kharazim is going to feel the 5% damage reduction more then someone like Lt. Morales.

Specialist characters seem to have an incredibly bad reputation in this game, and only a small portion of them are considered viable options. With the changes to tower ammo becoming unlimited, will there be changes to make specialists more viable in competitive modes?

Abathur aside, we're not currently planning changes to specialists due to the unlimited ammunition changes.

Regardless of tower ammunition changes, I'd like to do a pass on most Specialists to see if we can make them both: -Feel less frustrating to play against -Be viable for more team compositions and more competitive modes.

How do you feel about Heroes having one of their basic abilities be a passive trait (e.g. Raynor's Adrenaline Rush (E))? Is this something that you're okay having in the game for new players or would you like to move away from this in the future?

I think we're okay having some passive abilities. We will be looking to do a Raynor update at some point, which will likely give him an active or a passive/active or something with that update.

What was the main reason for removing ammunition from structures?

Nintendroid is spot on. I'd like to add that it also makes a tower's impact in the game easy to understand. If it's up, it'll defend. If it's down, it won't. Ammo created an odd grey area.

Why did you make Unrevealable visible? This hampers a lot of heroes who rely on the few seconds for escape or juking like Samuro, Valeera and GM's Eyes in the Dark.

The Stealth changes in general were made to help even the playing field, as the mechanic was very punishing to newer players, while largely trivial for veterans to deal with. The “Unrevealable” state was originally created as a way to help out Samuro and Valeera as they entered Stealth—being instantly broken out of Stealth was a major pain-point while playing them. When we were revisiting the Stealth mechanic, we decided that we could get the same gameplay we wanted in a way that was more friendly to play against.

Do you have any changes planned for Abathur if his win rate plummets after the gameplay update? I've read that it takes him approximately 4 minutes longer to push down a fort/keep. That's pretty huge, if you ask me. The change to towers so that they have infinite ammunition, I believe, will hit this hero hardest.

This collection of changes is pretty significant to the game as a whole and we're aware that some Heroes like Abathur may be more impacted than others. We already gave him some buffs on the PTR to compensate for the changes but we will continue to monitor and adjust further if needed not just for Abathur, but all Heroes. Exciting times are arriving to the Nexus!

How big of a change (especially in a negative way) of the balance do you expect to see in the first few months of the gameplay update? How long do you expect it will take to rebalance them?

We're hopeful that when the 2018 Gameplay Updates goes live, we will only have to do a few reactionary tweaks here and there but as with all balance changes, once we identify a problem we always try to make the changes sooner rather than later based on the severity of the issue.

Specifically for this update, we already have a reactionary patch scheduled to address things that come up just to be on the safe side.

There are many people who aren’t big fans of how in recent talent trees, many tiers are themed in function, IE: Pick your defensive talent, pick your damage talent, etc. Compared to older talent trees, where you could often find defensive talents mixed in with offensive/utility ones. For example: One level 20 Lucio is not going to play very differently at all compared to another level 20 Lucio who chose completely different talents (barring ultimate choice). Nothing you pick on him really gives a feeling of dictating your personal playstyle. Certain reworks have had a similar effect (I used to really enjoy the flexible ters on Rexxar, now he much more limited).

I am certain part of the reason behind this is because it makes balancing easier, but are there reasons beyond this? I understand some heroes are more limited in design, but do you try to keep in mind how flexible a hero is in his given role (bruisers in particular come to mind)? Do you feel that the loss of diversity is worth the ease of balancing? Is it a deliberate move to keep heroes in smaller niches now that we have a larger roster?

On the flipside: I do really like talent tiers that are themed in the ability they are for, as long as they have different functions. For example: Varians lvl 16, Probius’ lvl 13, Thrall’s lvl 1, so I hope we see more of those!

Great question. The answer is pretty complicated, so I'll try to keep it short and to the point (re-reading my response I think I failed. Oh well!).

First, I want to give you a history lesson of how our talent philosophy has evolved, and then show the pros and cons of each one.

When we first started making talents, our philosophy was to basically make cool stuff that changed our heroes in interesting ways. We would put damage, sustain, burst prevention, CC, and many other effects against each other because hey, choosing how to change your character throughout the game is cool!

Over time, we learned that this caused a lot of issues. Talent pick rates ended up being extremely narrow on many heroes, as they would just pick all the talents that were of the same category that let their character do what they did best based on their base kit. Illidan pre-rework is a great example of this.

In response, we started to consolidate tiers more. The idea wasn't so much that "all damage or healing buffs have to be on the same tier" so much as "anything that makes a character good at something related to the core reason why you take them" needs to be consolidated. This is why, for example, Illidan's defensive talents have to be on the same tier. If they aren't, then any tier that has one will have that talent picked and blow everything else out of the water unless we tune things to unreasonable levels. For Illidan, living in a fight is everything since he rides that thin line between barely living and killing the entire enemy team.

Another philosophy we've had over time is creating "builds" for heroes, and this can fall into either of the above talent designs. We like builds because they make players feel smart, and it feels good to buff one ability or playstyle to ridiculous levels of power if you really like playing that way. The downside is that if any build is even 1-2% stronger than the others, then it leads to most people basically checking out of the talent system as a whole and selecting every talent with the same icon in every game. Ragnaros Q build is a pretty good example of this before his talent changes (and to a lesser degree still has this issue).

So to summarize, the systems that we've had are:

  • 1. Make cool stuff and let the chips fall where they may.

Pros to this are that you have more interesting possible talents and talent combinations that players can do. You can also have more potential flexibility in the kinds of heroes that you want to build.

Cons to this are that it often results in horrendous pick rates, and over time people find the best build and that becomes the only "real" way to play.

  • 2. (two, not sure why Reddit want to rename this as 1). Consolidate talent tiers so that anything super important to a hero, say Healing throughput on Rehgar, is on the same tier.

Pros to this are you get better talent pick rates, and the hero overall is also much more easy to balance since we can control the total output that a hero can have in any one direction.

Cons to this are that talent trees that go too far into this become boring, and the tiers that are super important to that hero can often end up with one talent that's just a tiny bit better than the others, so it becomes the go-to pick.

As of right now, we are a bit in the middle. While it's much harder to design and balance, we agree with the community that whenever we can, mixing talent themes should happen since it makes for more interesting heroes. If you look at Muradin's rework as an example, we purposefully kept Perfect Storm at Level 1 and Healing Static at Level 13 for this reason, even though the other talents on those tiers are themed differently. While we'd like to create more talent builds, we are now more wary of having too many talents that directly synergize with one another. We also still see a lot of value in consolidating tiers when we think it should happen, as there are some heroes where we feel it's necessary to do so.

Why the changes for the walls ? You gave any reason for that. the community didn't whine about the recent changes in general but we (community) show a big disagree with the automatic destruction of walls(it deletes an awesome mechanic for much heroes and for the the skill playing )(There was lot of post in Reddit with 800+votes saying that they disagree that new feature) Why you did that change and will u get back to your decision with listening the community ?

  1. We feel that the removal of footprints is better for the game as evidenced by the removal of standalone towers, they eat up space and in an isometric environment with indirect controls they often eat attack clicks.
  2. It’s unintuitive to have structures with footprints that minions will never clean up.
  3. Walls provide vision and we have no way of communicating this. I understand this is easily solved by other solutions.
  4. It promotes degenerative gameplay for Heroes like Illidan, Kel’Thuzad, Chen, etc. who are able to abuse walls when the opposing team has no recourse.
  5. On top of this there are situations where these Heroes “need” these structures to be up in order to perform escapes, combos, etc. and if an ally of these Heroes does the right thing and kills them it becomes a point of contention amongst team members. I don’t believe it should ever be a wrong decision to kill enemy structures.
  6. The design intent behind walls is to provide an initial “safe area” for the base region—once the base is no longer safe there’s no reason for them to exist.

Why did you to choose to remove lightning bond entirely, rather than making lightning shield only castable on heroes?

This would have accomplished a lot of our goals too. We ultimately decided to go with removing the Talent because we were trying to reduce the damage dealt by Supports, and felt that the increase of damage available in a team fight is still more than we're comfortable with him having with this new goal in mind.

We'll continue to evaluate the Talent's place though. We know that it was a fan favorite for a lot of players.

Do we have an update on the clan functionalities?

It’s still on our list for the future. It’s a sizable feature and we felt it was important to get some of these other features we’ve recently announced out first.

John DeShazer has been quoted at blizzcon saying Chen is in a "good spot." However I'd like to know what they're basing this data on. While not spot on accurate, hotslogs has him as one of the lowest picked heroes in the game right now and one of the worst win rates a few weeks ago at 42%. Because of the low number of games he gets played this number can fluctuate wildly as he's at 46.4 % currently. (edit: updated with the few games that he got played today boosting his winrate)

His talents are horribly outdated. His level 1 tree is a trap with elusive brawler. The only "meta" build on Chen that really saw any traction was the keg build which detracted from his strengths which were being a big body that could gap close, deal slows and dots at a consistent rate. The only other decent build was the kick build which could put out decent damage but was later nerfed for some reason. Brew Balance is still the standard pick and always will be. The pressure point rework is one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen and Stormstout Secret Recipe may be one of the best intentioned but worst performing storm talents in the game despite its "high winrate."

Even with the 2018 Gameplay Update, Chen's usefulness has dropped even further now that towers have infinite ammo. Chen excelled in draining tower and taking little damage in the process thanks to his chug. This is now much more dangerous as one simple stun can cost him roughly a 1/3 of his life if performed at the right time. Even the sidewalls being automatically destroyed on a Fort or Keep going down is a huge nerf to him in the long run by removing mobility options. On the other hand, heroes like Sylvanas are going to see their overall value increase with being able to disable those towers and even remove True Sight from Forts and Keeps with her trait.

Many heroes have had commonly picked talents baselined into their kit. Johanna had Knight Takes Pawn baselined, Muradin recieved Piercing Bolt and a form of Battle Momentum for Storm Bolt baselined into a trait quest that really isn't that hard to finish. Even Sand Clone on Chromie was baselined. Why the reluctance to baseline some of Chen's most commonly picked talents into his kit?

With as many new heroes that the Nexus have interrupts Chen's trait is useless at this point. Roughtly half the cast can do something to Chen that will ruin his ability to chug. Stukov alone can just ruin the poor panda's day. I love the fact that you moved Purifying Brew from 20 but hate the fact that you moved it to 7. Purifying Brew is essentally a slightly under performing version of the old Relentless talent at 13. The same with Refreshing Elixer, which got nixed in a later patch. I loved the concept of that talent, but again, it was at 7, if it had been at 13 or even 16, I would have picked that talent a great deal than trying to experement with it. But it instead has to compete with two of his much better performing talents at that tier in Brewmasters Balance and Bolder Flavor.

When is there going to be a Chen rework? He is one of the few heroes who need it a terrible amount. He sees almost no play in regular play and sees zero play in the pro scene. He is rarely picked and even more rarely banned simply because he isn't a threat in any team comp across all skill levels. Blizzard is clearly proud of the reworks they've done in the past or it would have never been a talking point on the What's Next panel at Blizzcon. Playing him now feels like an exercise in extreme self loathing. This needs to change. Think of the brewmasters. Please.

https://vimeo.com/244923877

Reference: John DeShazer "quote": https://youtu.be/B8_lWzuzIpg?t=1213

When looking at the balance of all Heroes, we try to take snapshots of different MMR bands. We will frequently try to make balance changes that target one band or another but at the end of the day, we are balancing the game around the highest levels of play. At this range, Chen is currently sitting at a 49.3% win rate which is right in the middle of the pack for Warriors right now. That said, he does have a very low pick-rate and I think we can make some changes to help increase that.

Looking at his talents as a whole, he shows as having one of the healthiest talent trees in the game. Your feedback is very valid, however, and I think we can make some adjustments in order to make your choices at each tier feel more impactful. We currently have paper-designed changes for him that are ready to get implemented and tested - unfortunately, I cannot give a release timeline but we have been watching and reading your feedback and I have a pretty good feeling that they will be happily received.

We realize how loyal and passionate of a following Chen has, and we have not forgotten about him.

Will the new stealth continue to operate with shimmer on at full range, or will the shimmer activate when in critical range like, for example, Sombra in Overwatch. Why/Why Not?

Unless the Hero has gone invisible, the shader is always active when the Hero is stealthed.

With the increasing complexity of battlegrounds and the level of finesse in tuning they require; like ensuring the objective is worth enough for time invested (Haunted Mines), or ensuring the objective doesn’t push to the side other enjoyable aspects of the game (Hanamura), have you considered a much longer trial release similar to Rocket League where concept maps will have a chance to random into quick match before making it to competitive?

We have considered releasing maps in different modes to start but decided against it the long run. The best way for us to get the most balanced map possible is to get it into the hands of our players. Players find very different strategies and styles of play in all modes of play.

How often do you make balance changes in order to open up design space for future heroes and hero mechanics that are being planned?

We rarely, if ever, make balance changes to open up design space for future heroes. Making a change in this way would imply that we're taking something unique away from an existing hero in order to make room for a new one. Generally when we make balance changes, we try hard to keep whatever is core and unique to a hero as part of their kit. If it's unique enough to be a mechanic on a new hero, it's likely that it's also unique enough on an existing hero to be worth keeping.

That being said, we do often talk to our Hero Designers and are in the loop about upcoming mechanics that they want to add to the game. When we're doing reworks or balance changes we ensure that we don't infringe on their design space.

Any plans to rework Kerrigan's fairly bland talents?

Kerrigan is reasonably high on our list of characters we want to do a talent update for. I'd love to give a timeline but its not something we're currently working on, so it will be a little ways off.

Now all the supports have been nerfed by 4%-6%. Do you have any plan on semi-support like Aba/Zarya/Medivh? Also, any plan to update some talents of Medivh? His talent diversity is probably one of the worst in the game, some of his weaker talents clearly need some love.

Yes, we want to look at Medivh's talents. For now, we don't have balance changes planned for Aba/Zarya/Medivh as part of the support changes at this point. With these changes, we're mostly trying to shift away from double healer.

Why did you buff li li in a mass support nerf patch? If you found her weaker than the rest, why did you also nerf alexstrasza as hard as you did rather than keep her the same or even buffing her since shes also weak?

Li Li's win rate was far lower than we thought it should be, even after a rework. While Alexstrasza was a little low, it was more in line with what we expected from a new Hero release (they always trend up aggressively).

There's probably more tuning to be done to Alexstrasza (just like all our supports now that we've made so many changes), so I wouldn't be surprised if we received some changes in the future.

Why do you think Thrall has such a low pick rate? Are the players missing something? Or is there an adjustment to be made?

We think there likely a number of factors affecting Thrall's reduction in play rate in high level Hero League:

  • Sonya's dominance is crowding out a lot of the variety in the solo lane. In Hero League right now, most players are either picking Sonya or someone that is good against Sonya. Thrall doesn't fare great against her.

  • The double support meta really slows down team fights, and Thrall has typically been at his best when Sundering + Feral Spirit is powerful enough to secure a kill.

  • When running two supports, a lot of teams still like having two tanky front-line characters and one ranged assassin. Thrall + Main Tank doesn't secure the front-line nearly as well as Leoric/Sonya/Arthas/and soon on. We think with an additional flex spot opening up on team compositions with less double healer being played, we'll see more Thrall as well.

What changed in the game, or your priorities for the game, to zoom out the camera? Obviously, years of work have been put into the game and a lot of UI and art decisions have all been made centered around that one initial decision. Do you regret the initial scale of the camera? Do you feel like the camera change is more or less impactful than people may think?

This has been a big topic of discussion in our team for a long time. We like giving players as much information as possible, and allowing them to use that information to be successful. Pulling out the camera supports that.

2018 gameplay update includes apart from the new camera, voice chat, mercenaries etc ... includes new changes that have not yet been shown? Thank you.

Everything that is a part of the 2018 Gameplay Updates is currently on the PTR. We may iterate on what is already there but you shouldn't see any surprise additions.

Can you share your thoughts on "healing reduction" and "armor negating" mechanics as a possible counters against double support/crasy sustain meta? Do you guys planning to implement this mechanics to more heroes in the future?

This is something we've discussed and thought about. While more Mortal Strike talents and such could potentially help address this, there's probably not a single solve. Shifting the meta through new talents and talent reworks is something that can be done, but its not very fast. It can take months (or longer) to revisit a bunch of talent trees and look for ways to incorporate these mechanics.

We will probably continue to sprinkle these into talent trees going forward, but again, it wont be our main tool for addressing meta concerns.

In terms of stealth update, we need additional explanation on how this will impact heroes with stealth talents (ex. Medivh’s lvl 20 invisibility). Will you adjust these heroes’ talents?

All Stealth (and consequently the Talents) will behave the same way.

  • They will all use the new visuals that are much easier to see.
  • If you remain still for 1.5 seconds you will go fully Invisible, unless you're on a Map Capture Point.

Obviously, some characters will get different mileage out of this Stealth due to the way their Stealth Talent/Ability works, but they'll still follow these same rules.

When will MMR decay arrive?

We don’t have plans for full MMR decay as we’ve found that players quickly bounce back to a 50% win rate after returning from even extended absences. But, the new matchmaking system that’s rolling out soon factors in how long it’s been since you last played as part of its rating. The effect is similar, but it’s not a permanent reduction in MMR like decay would be.

What was the thought process when you decided to remove side towers next to forts/keeps. I noticed that they weren't on Volskaya and it made it rather easy to push into forts on that map. Why do you think this is a better design?

The number of footprints (models with collision) in your base impact gameplay considerably. Too many footprints and your movements are more predictable, you have a higher chance of allies body blocking you, and they result in an overall reduction in strategic placement. We didn't believe it was appropriate to pull power out of the defensive structures directly, so we incorporated the towers’ health and damage into the gate towers and fort/keeps. We also give the forts and keeps Truesight. As a side note, this is the longest-tested of all our upcoming gameplay changes.

Certain heroes have seen very little to no play at competitive levels. (Murky, Butcher, Nova, etc) Is this something we are generally cool with? Do you consider these heroes more meant for ladder and low level play, or is there a major drive on the team to make every hero competitively viable?

We don't feel like every Hero has to be seen at a competitive level. We're really happy when unique strategies show up every once in a while, but the needs of Esports and Quick Match can be vastly different. Beyond just balance, for Esports we also want to be sure that watching the Hero is fun and that they showcase player skill.

The bottom-line is that we would love to have every Hero in the Nexus show up at competitive levels occasionally. Of course, we haven't quite been able to get there yet, but every time we start a rework on a Hero that is not seeing play at certain levels, we discuss making targeted changes to fix that. Obviously, some kits and mechanics offer us a greater challenge, but it doesn't dissuade us from trying our best!

There's quite a few heroes that don't get updated all that often but have a relatively fixed talent build, the big ones that come to mind are Medivh, Diablo and The Lost Vikings, with Medivh having had 2 changes since his launch last year, and The Lost Vikings not having received any updates actually exclusive to them since 2015. Is this something the development team wants to work on improving?

One of the Heroes listed above is currently in the process of getting a rework! http://www.reactiongifs.com/r/2013/11/creeper.gif

New Nova can press 1E to get 2 Decoys at once, doubling the damage from the Lethal Decoy talent. Is it intentional that Lethal Decoy is not only the safest and easiest talent choice, but also the most damaging?

Like any talent update, we hope that there are multiple fun and viable builds. If it turns out that Lethal Decoy is not only the most damaging but also the safest and easiest, then we will definitely reevaluate. We wanted to make sure that Nova had some fun new tools and tricks to play with, and having Clones do some baseline damage is part of that. This also of course changes a ton of different talent interactions and even how Nova can approach different situations.

What plans does Blizzard have to make Support a more desirable choice, particularly at lower ranks? It was definitely a problem that Supports were overpowered, but a far bigger problem is that it takes Supports being overpowered for the role to be desirable.

There is a real perception that Support has by far the least ability to influence a match. This is especially true at lower ranks where the easiest path to victory is handling the routinely neglected task of clearing/soaking waves.

While I fully agree that Support waveclear potential needs to be capped, many Supports just had their poor waveclear further nerfed. I think HotS might benefit from Support heroes each meeting at least some minimum amount of waveclear. If not, then I would really like to see clearer incentives for non-Support players to soak/waveclear (at least early game) instead of focusing solely on PvP.

Good question. I think you can really apply this answer to all levels of play though:

We’ve found that characters benefit from having a fun and skillful minigame to play, it makes them more engaging and allows for more mastery growth. For someone like Ana, this is clearly present in the fact that her heal is a skillshot. It’s very obvious when you played well, or when you messed up, and she is a Support who can have a huge impact on most situations.

We are planning to rework some of our Support characters in the future, and are looking for ways to make their healing mechanics more interactive. This doesn’t necessarily mean more skillshot healing – but ideally your heals are not always a simple point and click for maximum value. Providing more avenues for mastery growth will help players have a larger impact on a match!

Wave clear is something that we have undervalued on most heroes for a long time, but over the last year or so have thought about this as part of a characters total strength much more. As part of this, we wanted to make this one of the obvious weaknesses to running a double healer composition. It’s possible we can reintroduce better wave clear to Supports in the future, but we want to go down this path first and see where this leads.

With performance-based matchmaking changes, now seems a great time to show players their MMR. When can we expect to see our MMR displayed (privately or publicly)?

Showing MMR comes with downsides as players tend to chase it once it's more visible, but MMR isn’t a reward mechanism, so that rarely ends well.

MMR has one purpose: to be an accurate representation of skill so the matchmaker can utilize it to make great matches. When players chase MMR, you usually end up with one of two results:

  • 1) Players get disappointed when MMR doesn’t go up quickly…which it shouldn’t, because skill doesn’t go up quickly.
  • 2) Players find a way to manipulate things to increase MMR, which leads to worse matchmaking overall for both that player and everyone around them.

That said, we still want to make MMR visible in the future for different reasons. Right now, for ranked modes, the only visible indication of skill is rank. Even though rank IS a reward mechanism (and expected to float away from MMR, because it’s the only visible indication of skill), players believe rank directly relates to skill and get understandably upset when people of different ranks are in the game with them, even if they are actually at the same MMR.

As such, our matchmaker currently tries to match people of similar rank AND MMR together, which isn’t ideal. If MMR were visible, matchmaking could be based entirely on MMR and let players of different ranks play together.

But, no, I don’t have a time frame for when it will happen. It’s not a high priority item due to the downsides that come with it.

How do you think the Gameplay Update will affect match duration?

The goal was to have no net adjustment to game duration. If there turns out to be some (which is possible), we'll be ready to make some changes to get it back to where we want.

Is there a "problem" that always pops up on reddit that is just flat out not supported by your data? The one that comes to mind to me is the leaver issue. It happens maybe once or twice a season, and though it is painful, I wouldn't say it impacts me in a meaningful way.

D.Va being weak. She has the same winrate as Muradin, who is still regarded as one of the more powerful Warriors in the game. A lot of her problem is that she doesn't quite fit the Bruiser or Main Tank role so she isn't able to be drafted very often.

Chen is another example. That doesn't mean that we don't have plans for changes to these characters, but we do think that they aren't in nearly as bad a spot as the community feels.

Have you guys thought on reworking Sylvanas’ trait? There’s been some open discussion on design space issues it creates for maps, other heroes, and certain tactics involving heavy siege comps.

Yes, yes we have. We are always cautious with abilities and talents that can 'break the game' and have conversations surrounding them frequently.

On supports, can we expect to see more "cleanse-like" abilities that reward timing and precision ?

Yes.

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1 hour ago, Stan said:

One of the Heroes listed above is currently in the process of getting a rework!

GOD I hope it's TLV.

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1 hour ago, Valhalen said:

GOD I hope it's TLV.

I'll say it again: TLV as a group are only a good skill or two away from being really solid.

A few other points:

1: I understand Butcher can be handled, but he's so OP once his quest finishes I'm surprised he isn't played at top tier at least a little.  That being said, he is a "winmore" hero.

2: Am I the only one who thinks HotS would be better served by getting rid of a talent tier and just going with talents at 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20?  I've had too many games where one team gets that talent tier edge and never gives it up.  It feels like teams will either attack too aggressively into the hole and games run out of control, or they go into a passive shell until level 20. I think the midgame (levels 10-20) will be a LOT more competitive if you have longer periods where teams are on equal talent tiers.

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4 hours ago, gamerk2 said:

I'll say it again: TLV as a group are only a good skill or two away from being really solid.

I highly disagree here. They are extremely easy to handle if you are opposing them and are so hard to control. And when they are easily countered, there is a very small amount of benefit there. You ask me, TLV are in need of a rework more than twice as much as the next rework-needing hero is.

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10 hours ago, Stan said:

Chen is currently sitting at a 49.3% win rate which is right in the middle of the pack for Warriors right now.

Of course he is, only those dedicated to him pick him in VERY specific situations. Only use for him I have is on Braxis Holdout, and always same talents, regardless of enemy choices.

Also, I still don't get changes to lanes, every single one. Walls had skill decision behind them, ammo too.

Why fix something that's not broken?

Edited by SleepySheepy
Addition

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He forgot to ask about Tyrael. Otherwise I was surprised that the questions were on the point and that there were reflecting the game reality(like the Thrall problem).

I think the interviewer would make an excellent game developer.

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15 hours ago, Stan said:

D.Va being weak.

This is just stupid. Shes one of the best peelers in the game, if not the best. Her waveclear is actually pretty good just need to make sure youre shooting the whole wave and in pilot mode she turns into a ranged assassin that deal a very good dmg and has incredible finishing power because of her Bigshot. 

What i noticed in general is that majority of the playerbase are actually very bad at the game and very bad at playing their heroes. 
D.Va needs a lot of decision making like: Should i stay in pilot mode and deal some dmg or should i go mech? Which of the 2 my team needs right now? What i noticed is that with the right talent choices she can be a hard carry hero but this requires the player to be actually good with her.

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8 hours ago, xevex said:

... Should i stay in pilot mode and deal some dmg or should i go mech? Which of the 2 my team needs right now? What i noticed is that with the right talent choices she can be a hard carry hero but this requires the player to be actually good with her.

This would be correct, if you actually had a constant choice of choosing. If you ever get forced to drop out of mech and then forced back to it right away, you won't have that choice for quite some time. Your major way of getting charge is Defense Matrix, which is highly dependant on enemy doing a lot of damage and not interrupting you. She sure has place, but I wouldn't place her above Viable.

Also, since big part of getting charge was with damaging Mech, going away from Double Support which had easier time keeping it up will certainly affect her.

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20 hours ago, Maxkitty said:

I highly disagree here. They are extremely easy to handle if you are opposing them and are so hard to control. And when they are easily countered, there is a very small amount of benefit there. You ask me, TLV are in need of a rework more than twice as much as the next rework-needing hero is.

The key with grouped TLV is Nordic Attack Squad paired with either Large and in Charge (Olaf stun necessary to get Vikings in to range) or Executioner (if you have CC).  This pair of talents allows TLV to outduel most assassins (AOE assassins nonwithstanding) because of the insane amount of damage they can put out in a relatively short timeframe (remember Nordic Attack Squad applies to each Viking individually, and Eric especially gets a ton of auto-attacks out and is really hard to kite).  Once your target is nuked, drop Play Again.

Yes, there are plenty of heroes that outright counter this start.  Any blinds.  And form of AOE or mass CC.  But most of the heroes that this applies to are currently out of the meta.  You don't see Jaina or KT, Malfurian isn't around, and LiLi and Johanna aren't prime tier heroes you expect to see much of.  Against certain comps, TLV can switch to being grouped post 13, run in during fights, and nuke any one assassin at the cost of two-thirds Vikings.

Could they use more talents that benefit grouped TLV?  Certainly.  But in certain specific situations, grouped TLV is viable.

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5 hours ago, gamerk2 said:

Could they use more talents that benefit grouped TLV?  Certainly.  But in certain specific situations, grouped TLV is viable.

Exactly the point. I keep repeating this, but Blizzard once stated they planned on reworking TLV to allow more diverse builds, such as one where they get strengthed when grouped together; that way we'd see them having more impact in teamfights and move from their typical split-push tactics, that don't work always.

If they made Spin To Win!Spin To Win!Jump!Jump! and Viking BriberyViking Bribery (or Norse Force!Norse Force!) were made baseline, the Vikings viability would be much more viable.

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Rework Varian? Why? That's dumb. There are many other heroes that desperately need a rework much more than Varian does.

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17 hours ago, Leadblast said:

Rework Varian? Why? That's dumb. There are many other heroes that desperately need a rework much more than Varian does.

Well, Tank Varian is fine.  His other builds...not so much.  I guess that's why he needs a re-work.

The problem with Varian is Blizzard has to balance three separate builds out, without making any too strong or too weak.  While I like the idea of multi-class heroes (and I think certain heroes, like Uther and Tyrande could gain a lot of utility if they were re-designed with multi-class in mind), they're literally twice as hard to balance properly.

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4 minutes ago, gamerk2 said:

Well, Tank Varian is fine.  His other builds...not so much.  I guess that's why he needs a re-work.

"fine" would be an understatement. Varian is always one of those heroes near overpowered. And this applies also to his twin blades build.

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1 minute ago, XeaKon said:

"fine" would be an understatement. Varian is always one of those heroes near overpowered. And this applies also to his twin blades build.

Twin Blades is like Butcher: either OP or easily handled.  Pretty much comes down to team composition and team skill.

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6 hours ago, gamerk2 said:

Twin Blades is like Butcher: either OP or easily handled.  Pretty much comes down to team composition and team skill.

That would mean he's fine then. i.e. not needing a rework.

Edited by Leadblast

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6 hours ago, gamerk2 said:

Well, Tank Varian is fine.  His other builds...not so much.  I guess that's why he needs a re-work.

The problem with Varian is Blizzard has to balance three separate builds out, without making any too strong or too weak.  While I like the idea of multi-class heroes (and I think certain heroes, like Uther and Tyrande could gain a lot of utility if they were re-designed with multi-class in mind), they're literally twice as hard to balance properly.

That, but also his level 4 clown fiesta. If they reworked so that at 4 you gain and shield and depending on criteria you fulfill, you gain reward. You chose talent if they brake it, gain 50 armor, or talent if you still have it, reduce CDR and restore mana.

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7 hours ago, gamerk2 said:

Well, Tank Varian is fine.  His other builds...not so much.  I guess that's why he needs a re-work.

The problem with Varian is Blizzard has to balance three separate builds out, without making any too strong or too weak.  While I like the idea of multi-class heroes (and I think certain heroes, like Uther and Tyrande could gain a lot of utility if they were re-designed with multi-class in mind), they're literally twice as hard to balance properly.

His other builds are fine as they are. They're just more situational. Arms can deal a shitload of damage under the right circumstances (specially if paired with other Heroes that can reduce armor, such as Tyrande), while Fury makes him a duelist as strong as Sonya and Illidan (and he can solo bosses better than any other Hero).

I still consider Varian one of the strongest Heroes in the game, regardless of build. Shield WallShield Wall alone makes him absurdly resilient.

Edited by Valhalen

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Varian with fury build plays like Sonya and if Sonya is meta then Varian is meta too(this is what I assume from their playstyles).

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3 hours ago, XeaKon said:

Varian with fury build plays like Sonya and if Sonya is meta then Varian is meta too(this is what I assume from their playstyles).

The problem with comparing Varian with Sonya is that Sonya has a access to two powerful stuns (Ancient SpearAncient Spear and LeapLeap), which Fury Varian lacks. While they play similarly, this is a key factor to take in account during teamfights.

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6 hours ago, Valhalen said:

The problem with comparing Varian with Sonya is that Sonya has a access to two powerful stuns (Ancient SpearAncient Spear and LeapLeap), which Fury Varian lacks. While they play similarly, this is a key factor to take in account during teamfights.

True, but I've found Twin Blades Varian has more sustain then Sonya; he simply gains HP significantly faster when he has something to hit.  I think that's what needs to be toned down, possibly in exchange for a slight damage boost.  Because I've seen games where teams simply don't have a way to kill him, and I've seen games where he can't do enough damage before getting nuked down.

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Fury Varian is more similar to Wrath Sonya, but that's the least used of Sonya's heroics. Unlike Sonya however, Varian has no ways to escape a fight, so he has to be sure he will win a fight before actively engaging the enemy. He is a decent chaser but can't retreat easily so any teamfight is a major commitment with him. He feels more like a Butcher in that sense. Also, the Fury build in general is countered by heroes who can blind him like Li Li or Cassia. Regardless of that, it's still a great build to do in maps like Warhead Junction or Cursed Hollow (where successfully capturing the objectives will give you more regen globes for High King's Quest and you can put your dps to good use by recruiting Bosses and destroying structures).

Whatever. The point is, Varian is fine right now, he's a late game hero, he's very resilient but cannot flee or escape easily, which is kind of critical early. He's also very annoyed by blinding heroes. His weaknesses balance out his strengths fairly well. So there's no reason to rework him at all imho. Not compared to the likes of Raynor or Chen at least.

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