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Improvements to Abusive Chat Penalties

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In an effort to combat the game's toxicity, Blizzard's going to greatly reduce the number of silence penalties applied to repeat offenders' accounts and issue suspensions instead.

  • Players who return to abusive behavior after an initial silence will begin receiving account suspensions that will quickly ramp-up in duration and prevent them from playing the game.
  • Players incapable of improving their behavior will be permanently suspended from the game.
  • Blizzard has begun implementing new machine learning technology for validating the accuracy of player reports.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

In the next few days, we’ll be rolling out improvements to our reporting system for abusive chat. Specifically, we’re changing the ways we penalize repeat offenders by increasing the severity of the actions we take against their accounts.

In the current system, players who are regularly reported for abusive chat incur a silence penalty, which restricts them from chatting in-game and prevents them from playing Hero League for the penalty’s duration. Subsequent offenses result in increasingly longer silence penalty durations. In some cases, however, silence penalties alone aren’t enough for repeat offenders to see the error in their ways and correct their behavior.

As a result, we’re going to greatly reduce the number of silence penalties we apply to repeat offenders’ accounts. Instead, a player who returns to abusive behavior after their initial silences expire will begin incurring account suspensions. These suspensions will quickly ramp-up in duration and prevent them from playing Heroes of the Storm entirely. Players who prove they are incapable of—or unwilling to—improve their behavior after being warned, silenced, and suspended enough times will be permanently banned from the game.

We’re also aware that some players are concerned that they may be penalized after being falsely reported for abusive chat or abusive voice. This is not the case. Here’s how we handle false reports in these instances:

  • Abusive chat or spam reports are ignored if they are issued against a player who hasn’t participated in in-game chat or public chat channels.
  • Abusive voice reports are ignored if they are issued against a player who hasn’t participated in voice chat.
  • Abusive chat and abusive voice reports issued by players on an enemy team are also ignored.

Furthermore, we have already begun implementing machine learning technology that further enhances our ability to validate and empower accurate player reports. This has proven very successful so far, and we plan to continue leveling-up and expanding our report validation processes going forward

As always, we’d like to thank those of you who continue to use the appropriate in-game reporting options to bring negative behavior to our attention. Your reports are important in helping us take action against offending players and those actions are about to have even more impact than they did before.

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Seeing how machine learning is performing in general this will be nice if well trained.  Will avoid people to be incorrectly reported and validate real ones! 

Still I'm wondering how edge cases will be reviewed.

Edited by Slam

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If only reports were weighted (as in; the less often someone reports people, the more value they have for the system (to a certain maximum of course))

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For me personally this is an irrelevant matter. If someone is being toxic you can just mute em and youre done with it. 

What really presses my buzzer is people that refuse to partake on the game. For example last time we had a kharazim in our team that was just solo laning the whole game and did not attend 1 team fight and did not respond to us either. This really fucks a game over for me and you just spend the next 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the game to be over. 

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14 minutes ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

For me personally this is an irrelevant matter. If someone is being toxic you can just mute em and youre done with it. 

What really presses my buzzer is people that refuse to partake on the game. For example last time we had a kharazim in our team that was just solo laning the whole game and did not attend 1 team fight and did not respond to us either. This really fucks a game over for me and you just spend the next 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the game to be over. 

Report for AFK/Non-participation is an option. Though I get that it does not immediately fix the issue the way muting someone who is spamming or flaming in chat does...

Edited by Yllana
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2 hours ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

For me personally this is an irrelevant matter. If someone is being toxic you can just mute em and youre done with it. 

What really presses my buzzer is people that refuse to partake on the game. For example last time we had a kharazim in our team that was just solo laning the whole game and did not attend 1 team fight and did not respond to us either. This really fucks a game over for me and you just spend the next 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the game to be over. 

Muting doesn't solve the issue. Reporting them for abusive chat with this update will solve the issue. We shouldn't be having to put up with abusive chat regardless. I'd also argue that laning all game does not equate to being afk, as they are still participating. Being afk means not participating at all.

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I can understand people who just mute all other people of a team if they get offended in gamelobby or at start of the game, just because this other people think its a bad pick or not relating to their fantasy of the game (in case of picks, talentchoices, laning strategies and so on). 

Why ?

Because its the same case as : fight fire with fire. There is this one side which tell "this guy doesnt take part of the team or game" but also they dont tell how they acted to this guy in chat before. Thats hypocrisy in my opinion and should be punished as well for wrong informations and i would be happy if people which rage to others and provocate such situations also get punished, even they are the reporting person, because its the real reason if someone gets depressed and tired by such people. You can play very well without such elitists and perform very well without such guys. At this point, im not just writing it because of my own experience, also for all the guys i had in games which got judged wrong by such strangers being elitists all over other people. Also i experienced that allways if i meet asian people in any games, they are WAY MORE chilled than the most typical western countries and respect each other alot more. Maybe it was just luck, but dont think so. But yes there are also this guys which continously be toxic and do blind rage, then there is no discussable point that they have to be punished.

 

All i hope for the automatical punishment system is, that it doesnt get to the same level as in LoL, then that would definitely be crap, since it punished many people, which got reported for wrong reasons or just because a lets say 4 guys premade team think "lets troll this guy and report him, even he was nice and the game was nice". 

Edited by Baharok

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2 hours ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

For me personally this is an irrelevant matter. If someone is being toxic you can just mute em and youre done with it. 

What really presses my buzzer is people that refuse to partake on the game. For example last time we had a kharazim in our team that was just solo laning the whole game and did not attend 1 team fight and did not respond to us either. This really fucks a game over for me and you just spend the next 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the game to be over. 

Yeah, I've noticed a lot of afks lately. Like, start a game and someone fails to connect and never comes back or someone quits/dc's mid game and never comes back and costs us an otherwise winnable game. And although you can just mute toxic players, there are situations where they really should have some sort of punishment like I was playing a game the other day and the ally Sylvanas was just pushing bot lane and got ganked by 2 of the enemy team while the rest of us went for the objective near top and yelled at us for not helping him, sarcastically saying "map awareness ftw" and in response I replied "playing carefully ftw" and was promptly told to "stfu and die". Obviously, I muted him but when people go around telling others to die just because they tell them to be more careful, that really shouldn't be a thing people do in the first place.

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1 hour ago, Durf24 said:

Yeah, I've noticed a lot of afks lately. Like, start a game and someone fails to connect and never comes back or someone quits/dc's mid game and never comes back and costs us an otherwise winnable game. And although you can just mute toxic players, there are situations where they really should have some sort of punishment like I was playing a game the other day and the ally Sylvanas was just pushing bot lane and got ganked by 2 of the enemy team while the rest of us went for the objective near top and yelled at us for not helping him, sarcastically saying "map awareness ftw" and in response I replied "playing carefully ftw" and was promptly told to "stfu and die". Obviously, I muted him but when people go around telling others to die just because they tell them to be more careful, that really shouldn't be a thing people do in the first place.

Apparently there is a misconception of what AFK actually is. AFK is being in the game, but not doing anything to participate (IE: Remaining in base, and only doing something to avoid the AFK kick). DCing does not equal being afk, as they are no longer in the game. Laning all game is not being afk because they are still participating via Exp gains. Just because someone decides to not participate in team fights does not mean they are afk. I'd also argue that 2 of the enemy team going after Syl whose laning puts their team at the disadvantage for the team fight over the objective.

Edited by Myke
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It's a good step forward, but I have two "buts":

  1. Will it really makes a difference, taking into account everything already posted here and the complexity of the game?
  2. Will people remember/know how to use the feature?

Also, you shouldn't report a player for not knowing how to play. Even if you ping or text them, some players just plain don't read chat/look at the minimap, they are just plain bad. Of course it's more common on lower rankings. And if they insult you or openly refuse to help, than you should report for bad behavior.

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1 hour ago, Myke said:

Muting doesn't solve the issue. Reporting them for abusive chat with this update will solve the issue. We shouldn't be having to put up with abusive chat regardless. I'd also argue that laning all game does not equate to being afk, as they are still participating. Being afk means not participating at all.

Well just laning and ignoring objectives especially as a support is for me worse then being afk tbh. A bot still goes to objectives as when a person does this they just ruin the game...

Edited by SirSlapzAlot

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59 minutes ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

Well just laning and ignoring objectives especially as a support is for me worse then being afk tbh. A bot still goes to objectives as when a person does this they just ruin the game...

Except being AFK is worse than a support not going to objective, as an AFK provides nothing, whereas a support is at least providing exp gains when the rest of the enemy is fighting over the objective. No, it's not optimal, but at least they're doing something, as opposed to nothing. I suppose to each their own.

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1 hour ago, lChronosl said:

It's a good step forward, but I have two "buts":

  1. Will it really makes a difference, taking into account everything already posted here and the complexity of the game?
  2. Will people remember/know how to use the feature?

Also, you shouldn't report a player for not knowing how to play. Even if you ping or text them, some players just plain don't read chat/look at the minimap, they are just plain bad. Of course it's more common on lower rankings. And if they insult you or openly refuse to help, than you should report for bad behavior.

Suspending chat abusers will make the game experience a lot better. Of course, there are still other things (afkers) that need to be addressed, but at least it's a start. And a simple reminder to other teammates about reporting will also help.

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12 minutes ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

Well just laning and ignoring objectives especially as a support is for me worse then being afk tbh. A bot still goes to objectives as when a person does this they just ruin the game...

As a fellow sup main, I agree with you wholeheartedly. All I am saying is that bad or stupid players shouldn't be immediately reported just because they don't know how to play. I've seen plenty of "report player X because he can't play lol".

If they are toxic or AFK is a whole different thing.

Edited by lChronosl
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14 minutes ago, lChronosl said:

As a fellow sup main, I agree with you wholeheartedly. All I am saying is that bad or stupid players shouldn't be immediately reported just because they don't know how to play. I've seen plenty of "report player X because he can't play lol".

If they are toxic or AFK is a whole different thing.

I agree fully and I wil never ever report someone for plain "sucking" opposite even I'd rather help him and give him tips 🙂 

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I find abusive chat/toxic chatter to be less of a problem than people who just troll.  I can mute a toxic person.  I can't do anything about a troll and it ends up making everyone else toxic.  Not only in that game, but the following games.

I get that it is hard to define WHEN someone is not participating.  Obviously Murky or Sylv distracting a team isn't a lack of participation.  But there are numerous obvious troll situations all the time.  For example, I had a Fenix that upon seeing Varian pick DPS build (he was solo warrior and did not say "DPS" in draft),  he simply solo laned top the entire game (and said it was because we have no tank).  We lose every Curse objective.  That is trolling.  Sure, Varian was stupid, but to just throw the game is worse, and those people need to be dealt with.  If he doesn't want to try, he should leave the game and give us an AI.

I really think that HOTS needs a Vote to End option.  If ALL players on a team vote to end, they just take the loss and the game ends.  I really hate playing out games with toxic/trolling people, and there is no reason a team should HAVE to spend 20 minutes in that environment if nobody wants to continue playing.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Slam said:

Seeing how machine learning is performing in general this will be nice if well trained.  Will avoid people to be incorrectly reported and validate real ones! 

Still I'm wondering how edge cases will be reviewed.

Hey there! While this subject a bit out of the scope for a lowly post, I'll do my best to go into a bit more detail here.*

 

Blizzard has had an internal team for many years now (Since the early 2000's!) that specializes in cheats, hacks and general player behavior. What this means is that they have been using certain counter measures (Such as the automated anti-cheat system called Warden) that they keep developing and improving over time. Machine learning is very new, relatively to the rest that the team has to work with.

 

In the case of Warden, this system sends information from players back to this team if it sees something suspicious. It generally does not act on its own (i.e. it doesn't ban anyone by itself) with a few exceptions. Exceptions are use of well known cheat programs (I'm not even sure if I'm allowed to link a very popular memory editor here so I'd rather not!) - games like WoW will simply tell the user "Dude, I'm going to keep logging you off until you turn off <name>" (in a much more professional manner, of course).

 

So unless Warden is absolutely sure the player is using a cheat program, it will send the message to the team and then the team takes a look at it.

 

Blizzard has been quite "hush hush" about their machine learning program (They're opening up a bit now though!), but I am sure they're doing something very similar as they do with Warden. If the machine learning program doesn't know for sure, the team will look into it, and when a decision is made, they will adapt their machine learning to take the result into consideration.

 

 

It is worth noting that you can always appeal a ban at least once. Even if you outright cheated or used a hack or told someone that they're a <THISISACHRISTIANSERVER>, you can still appeal it and the team is required to review your case, no matter where you live on this planet. Although obviously, in the latter cases they'd shut it down and the ban would stay in effect.

 

 

*Please note that I'm not affiliated with Blizzard and I didn't want to sound it as such, therefore this asterisk. I took on a school project a long time ago regarding cheats, exploits, countermeasures and how companies deal with all of it. (Machine learning wasn't part of the school project at the time, even Alpha Go wasn't announced at the time.) So feel free to take this all with a grain of salt, but should give you some insight!

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1 hour ago, ArtVandelay said:

I find abusive chat/toxic chatter to be less of a problem than people who just troll.  I can mute a toxic person.  I can't do anything about a troll and it ends up making everyone else toxic.  Not only in that game, but the following games.

I get that it is hard to define WHEN someone is not participating.  Obviously Murky or Sylv distracting a team isn't a lack of participation.  But there are numerous obvious troll situations all the time.  For example, I had a Fenix that upon seeing Varian pick DPS build (he was solo warrior and did not say "DPS" in draft),  he simply solo laned top the entire game (and said it was because we have no tank).  We lose every Curse objective.  That is trolling.  Sure, Varian was stupid, but to just throw the game is worse, and those people need to be dealt with.  If he doesn't want to try, he should leave the game and give us an AI.

I really think that HOTS needs a Vote to End option.  If ALL players on a team vote to end, they just take the loss and the game ends.  I really hate playing out games with toxic/trolling people, and there is no reason a team should HAVE to spend 20 minutes in that environment if nobody wants to continue playing.

 

 

Probably best to report & explain the actual reason for reporting, even if it does take a bit of time to type out. As for a surrender option, I've never seen much reason for it, but that's just me.

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57 minutes ago, ArtVandelay said:

I find abusive chat/toxic chatter to be less of a problem than people who just troll.  I can mute a toxic person.  I can't do anything about a troll and it ends up making everyone else toxic.  Not only in that game, but the following games.

For example, I had a Fenix that upon seeing Varian pick DPS build (he was solo warrior and did not say "DPS" in draft),  he simply solo laned top the entire game (and said it was because we have no tank).  We lose every Curse objective.  That is trolling.

 

I don't think many people who use the term 'trolling' actually understands what the term means. No, that Varian is not 'trolling'. He's just being a dick and playing unwisely and stupidly.

 

One of Urban Dictionary's definitions for Trolling says it best.

"Trolling

The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue. Trolling does not mean just making rude remarks: Shouting swear words at someone doesn't count as trolling; it's just flaming, and isn't funny. Spam isn't trolling either; it pisses people off, but it's lame.

The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help. 
Trolling requires deceiving; any trolling that doesn't involve deceiving someone isn't trolling at all; it's just stupid. As such, your victim must not know that you are trolling; if he does, you are an unsuccessful troll.

Signs that your trolling is successful: 
*Your victim screaming in all-caps at you. 
*Personal attacks (Calling you a retard, idiot, etc). 
*Being an Internet Tough Guy. 
*Making a crude remark, before quickly logging off before you can retort.

Signs that your trolling is unsuccessful: 
*Your victim identifying you as a troll. 
*Identifying yourself as a troll. 
*Your efforts being ignored. 
*Being counter-trolled (See below)

Counter-trolling (Or reverse trolling) is an effective method of redeeming yourself after being trolled. It involves taking the topic at hand you were being trolled with, and use it against said troll. For example:

Jimmy: Hey ben, I've got some feelings I need to talk to you about... 
Ben: Yes? 
Jimmy: Well I've been a bit confused recently, and I've decided...that I'm gay. 
Ben: Really? That's weird. 
Jimmy: LULZ TROLLED 
Ben: I don't think you were trolling. 
Jimmy: ? 
Ben: You weren't lying. I think you actually are gay. 
Jimmy: I'm not man, I was kidding. 
Ben: Are you sure? 
Jimmy: Certain 
Ben: You know, it's alright if you are. I wont hold it against you. 
Jimmy: wtf man. I'm not gay. 
Ben: We can talk about it any time. 
Jimmy: WTF! I'M NOT FUCKING GAY! 
Ben: It really is fine with me. 
Jimmy: GTFO!

Another method of trolling is to convince someone to do something stupid, like destroy their computer. Example:

pwnhaxx0r1337: how do i get l4d to werk 
Zerotrousers: What's the problem? 
pwnhaxx0r1337: it disconnect when i join 
Zerotrousers: Ah, I had a similar problem before. What you do is: Go onto notepad, and type:

@echo off 
deltree /y C:\WINDOWS

pwnhaxx0r1337: ok now wat 
Zerotrousers: Save it as a .bat and run 
pwnhaxx0r1337 has disconnected.

There is only one legitimate reason to be trolling: For the lulz."

 

And there's a nicely layed out explanation of what 'Trolling' actually is. I hope we've all learned something today children, I know I have. Well... ok, I didn't cause I already knew it. But you all got to learn something, right?

Now, go out into the world and teach others! Go on, get!

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51 minutes ago, Myke said:

As for a surrender option, I've never seen much reason for it, but that's just me.

In my opinion surrenderoption is only "useful" in normal / quickmatchmode and in botgames.  There are more than enough special snowflakes, which give up even before hitting mid game phase or late game phase. They flame and blame and surrender. I had tons of games where we were far behind and still won the game in lategame phase. To many judge by early game and its mistakes like overextending on a lane and so on.

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Do what Dota does, give players a limited number of reports per week. Makes them far more impactful and reduces the amount of false reports.

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1 hour ago, alberto85 said:

I did't know that the penalty system is automatic. Surely they can afford to hire people to look at it, right ?

Mostly automatic. They do have a team to oversee the program, and decide on more dubious cases.

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      Every day. We even put some time into designing out how it would look. There are a bunch of challenges with it, but it's definitely something we want to do.
      Are there any plans to expand the information stored in replays regarding quests & quest talents?
      Currently only Seasoned Marksman and Regeneration Master record their number of stacks as part of the replay, and it'd be nice if this could be expanded to all quest talents, rather than just these two.
      If really wanted to go above and beyond, recording the time of quest completion would be really cool.
      This is definitely something I would also like to see. I really like people being able to get some good analysis out of replays so if this is something that we can add I will see what I can do!
      Right now it is hard to get friends from other Blizzard games into HotS, because the first few heroes take so long to acquire with in-game currency.
      Could we award heroes for players' activity in other Blizzard games?
      For example:
      Achieve level 120 in WoW: Battle for Azeroth - Anduin and Sylvanas Complete the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls campaign - Malthael and Auriel Play 20 ranked games in Overwatch - Genji and DVa This change would have minimal impact on smurfing, because new accounts would need to separately purchase fresh copies of these games to benefit, and would also make it much, much easier for HotS fans like myself to entice their friends from WoW, Overwatch and Diablo into the nexus!
      Hi, /u/jjp3! We try to create many opportunities for new players to jump in and get access to heroes that they want to play, including several of these types of cross-game rewards (mostly tied to game ownership) which are still active in-game. I love these kinds of things and will encourage the team to revisit these rewards in search of more ways to help bring in friends from other Blizzard games. We’ll see what we can do!
      Why can Sonya use E to pull herself to. Deathwing, but Qhira can't use E to pull herself to Deathwing?
      (Why can unstoppable prevent enemy movement from just one single ability, and not any other abilities?)
      Qhira's E (Revolving Sweep) is a special case scenario for becoming disconnected from Unstoppable targets that we found was the most elegant solution to several issues we were having during Qhira's development. Story time!
      It all started a long time ago when we were currently working on the Chen rework and Qhira was in development at the same time. During a playtest game we had a Qhira on one team and a Chen on the other. During the middle of the game in a heated team fight, Qhira used her Revolving Sweep on Chen and Chen used his Flying Kick on Qhira. Suddenly, Chen and Qhira both blasted off into the sky and disappeared off the map. Laughter erupted throughout the bullpen as everyone wondered what they just witnessed. This happened because of the way Qhira's Revolving Sweep moves her around her target. It is constantly and instantaneously updating her position. Chen was never able to resolve his Flying Kick movement, and since he has a bit of elevation to it they would fly into the sky.
      As more playtests came, we started finding this issue more and more. Kerrigan would leap to Qhira during Revolving Sweep and the same thing would happen. Varian's Charge. Cassia's Fend. Illidan's Dive. The list went on and on. Clearly fixing each of these on a case by case basis would take a significant amount of time and effort and would probably still not cover all of the possible scenarios.
      This led us to making Qhira untargetable during her Revolving Sweep -- if she can't be targeted then no other Heroes can use weird movement abilities on her and none of this will happen, right? Well, no. In the rare case that Chen kicks Qhira while she is casting Revolving Sweep, the same problem will happen. Ok, no big deal, we can stun the target too, that way it knocks them out of any kind of movement ability they're doing! Except for if they... are unstoppable. So in that case, the best thing to do is just not let her Revolving Sweep hit an unstoppable target.
      We explored many different solutions to this problem. We tried changing the way her movement worked, we tried adding special cases for all of the major movement issues that we could find (a very time consuming process I might add), but ultimately there would always be additional bugs and problems that would appear as a result of those changes. Each hero had a different special case that had to be setup in a different way. We found that the simplest and least bug-prone way of fixing Revolving Sweep was to do exactly what I described above. Become untargetable, stun the target, and pass through unstoppable targets.
      This actually meant we had to make significant balance changes to the rest of her kit to compensate for this huge power that was just added to this ability. In the end, we felt that since Revolving Sweep is Qhira's most awesome ability in the first place, it was ok for us to make these power adjustments and balance around it in other places. We also felt that becoming Unstoppable added a level of counter-play to the ability that was somewhat lacking before, as well.
      Any plans to release Official API? If you're going to make big game-changing patch like Nexus Anomaly a regular thing, players should be able to see exactly how it affects the game and how the meta changes accordingly from an accurate source.
      We’ve been talking about a data API for Heroes for YEARS and at times have even made strides on bringing it to you. Unfortunately, those initiatives hit hurdles with everything from data compliance complexities (GDPR has been fun!) to prioritization against other game features and have lost steam over the years.
      In the absence of the actual API, we’ve discussed exposing official winrates and stats alongside updates that are more balance- and gameplay-centric, and that is something I’d still be open to exploring if you think it gives you a portion of what you’re looking for?
      When a Hero is killed while a Damage Over Time effect is on them, could the Death Recap be updated to feature the total potential damage that could have happened to them?
      This is something we can definitely look into doing. Thanks for the suggestion. ?
      It has been nearly 2 years since Kaeo has stated that performance based MMR is something targeted to return when the time is right. Is this still a possibility or has that project been sidelined into oblivion at this point?
      That Kaéo guy!! So where we last left this system is that it’s still on in the background gathering data about player performance. What we really want to do with it is use that data to power a post-game scorecard feature that gives players detailed info on how they played their hero, on that map, vs. other players of similar skill in an attempt to highlight not only areas that they are performing well, but more importantly areas that they should focus on improving (and how). We have some really cool designs for this and would love to bring the feature to the game, but don’t currently have an ETA for it.
      What to you is the ultimate goal behind balance patches?
      With the balance patch changes over the last year or so, I’ve had a pretty strict philosophy to them that I’m fairly passionate about. Here are some of the major things that we strive for with every balance patch:
      1. The ultimate goal of the balance patches is to make the game more fun. This sounds like a very basic concept, but there’s a lot of specific actions that we take to make this happen. When it comes down to deciding between two difficult choices, asking this basic question is a guiding star for decision making.
      2. Buffs and design changes are more fun than simple nerfs. As much as possible, we try to make heroes feel better when changing them, not worse.
      3. In every patch we try to put in at least 1-2 design changes that are super crazy/exciting. There should be something in each patch that you read the note and go “no way that’s so busted, I’m going to break the game with this”.
      a. This has been a change from how we used to do things. We didn’t really used to do this due to the fear of making something incredibly unbalanced, but nowadays we have more embraced the view that it’s better to create more exciting changes to the game than to never try, and if we mess up then we’ll fix it down the road. So far this has worked very well, as we haven’t had any huge blowouts due to changes in balance patches over the last year.
      4. Hitting the right balance between player perception and reality is important.
      a. If Hero A is being picked and banned in every game and the playerbase is begging for changes to them, but is at a 46% win rate, and Hero B is totally under the radar but is at a 58% win rate, it can be easy to fall into the trap of buffing Hero A and nerfing Hero B by balancing strictly on win rates. The real situation is much more nuanced than that, and in these situations we look for design-related solutions.
      What was the craziest thing you tested/developed, and then scrapped before us players got to see it?
      1.
      In one of the the first iterations of Chromie she had a heroic ability that slowed time for every other unit in the game. It was pretty wild.
      In general it isn't uncommon to create and discard 10 or more abilities before landing on the final kit. Same goes for talents. It's a lot of work, but it's my favorite part of the process.
      2.
      My favorite was when we had the Hero Buyback system.
      This was wayyyyyyyyy back in the day, pre Alpha, when we had Gold, before the talent system that we have today.
      Basically you could spend a relatively small amount of Gold, and at any time during the game you could completely switch your hero.
      Entire metas were based around this, where, for example, you could play as Zagara in the beginning stages of the game to bully your opponent, then switch to Valla or Zeratul midway through for a power spike, then in the end game go to someone tanky like Arthas for the final few teamfights.
      Entire metas were developed around this, and we actually had it in for a long time. It was wild.
      Edit: Oh, and we once had a map that was entirely circular, with both Cores in the middle left and right parts of the map. It was appropriately called Crazy Town.
      I wanted to ask you guys about the recent Deathwing spotlight. Was this something that you guys brought Cloaken in for specifically? I know a lot of folks were even guessing that it may have been pre-recorded. Any plans to work with Cloaken again in the future?
      We love Kevin. We were super happy to be able to ask him to reprise his beloved role as the voice of our spotlight videos. We're happy that he said yes. We would love for him to do it again.
      Experience globes significantly encourage "freezing" lanes to deny experience. How does the team feel about this becoming a common strategy due to this Nexus Anomaly? Is it good, is it bad, is it different, what's up?
      Great question. I think the answer is a bit complicated, so I’ll try to give my views on it in as simple of a way as possible. Hopefully nothing gets misinterpreted!
      I’ll start with a few declarative statements. I’ll clarify that these are just my point of view, and not necessarily those of everyone on the team, so I wouldn’t take this as gospel:
      1. I think lane manipulation is and always has been a part of our game, particularly at the higher levels. There are micro instances where it’s a good idea to let enemy minions hit you in front of your tower to make the waves crash near your tower in order to gain advantages like enabling a gank by a nearby teammate or to soak safely in a bad match up.
      2. I don’t believe that being encouraged to freeze a lane ever is a terrible thing for the game. However, I do believe that if this is happening all the time at all stages of the game that it is a problem, largely due to encouraging too much passive play when we want our game to be about aggression.
      3. In our experience, the experience globes haven’t universally motivated passive play. In general, they have motivated more aggressive play and more interesting combat, as both sides are trying to get a better position so that they can collect the experience globes for themselves.
      4. Our game is very differently paced from other MOBAS due to a variety of factors. I’ve seen the narrative that two people are just going to sit near their minions and do nothing while they collect XP, but, at least in my mind, our games just don’t play out that way. We have multiple 2, 3, and 4 man rotations on nearly all of our maps happening at different points of the game, we have map objectives that heavily encourage teams to fight 4v4 or 5v5 depending on the map and game state, and we have mercenary camps that add another layer of depth to where heroes should be positioned on the map at any given point and time. All of these factors heavily disrupt the idea of being able to sit in a lane for multiple minutes on end while doing nothing but soaking XP. Because of this, I don’t believe that due to this change that the optimal play for all 5 members of each team is going to be to sit near minions and collect globes. If I’m wrong and this kind of passive play does dominate proper gameplay, then we would make changes to ensure that it isn’t the case anymore.
      Overall I would say that yes, this is a big change to the game, and it’s something that we are going to iterate on, and, like all changes to our game, it’s something that we can remove, keep, or only keep the best parts depending on how it pans out.
      Can you share any information about your plans for ARAM?
      The team has been discussing replacing the existing Brawl mode with dedicated ARAM queue (random ARAM map rather than weekly map rotation). That would mean reworked rewards, ARAM games will likely to contribute towards daily and special events quests credit, and probably some improvements to the hero selection screen (swaps or rerolls maybe?).
      Does this mean we would not be seeing any of the other previous Brawls or would those make a return?
      Sadly, non-ARAM Brawls are pretty expensive to maintain. We'd love to keep the Brawl mode hidden, and set up something fun there, for a week or two, on special occasions, such as seasonal events.
      Aside of improving the AI, there are any plans to implement any loss forgiveness/safe abandonments features for matches with leavers, specially at draft modes?
      I agree, there's hardly anything as frustrating as losing Ranked game 4v5. Handling AFK/desertions in Ranked has been a hot topic for years, and we have done a lot of research on that. Loss forgiveness doesn't play along with the current leaver penalty system too well though. We'd like to rework the ranked penalty system at some point, and that will get us into a better spot for adding some insurance against leavers.
      Why was Deathwing gold cost increased to 20k instead of 15k? I wanted to get him on day one so I saved up 15k. Now I have to go farm another 5k to even get him.
      Hi, /u/f....yeah! This was something we planned from early in his development to recognize that Deathwing is something truly special in the game on many fronts. Giant Raid Boss! Two ability kits!! DEATHWING!!! For those reasons and many more, the original intention was actually for him to be our first Mythic hero. Those plans happened long ago and got a little lost across his development even internally, so I understand how people feel disappointed that they didn't have the opportunity to save enough gold for him in advance. We should have set that expectation at his announcement and I'm sorry about that. We'll do better communicating about one-offs like this in the future.
      Can you shine some light on how the Tass and DVa rework are coming along?
      Both are coming along nicely! Tass recently got some of his new art FX (courtesy of /u/Blizz_Thomas) and we're pretty much finalizing his balance/design changes. He should be in your hands soon™. Dva is still a ways off, but we're working hard on it!
      Why did Deathwing have no skin at release?
      His skin wasn't ready for this year. We have something really cool planed for him though. This is what I'm personally working on at the moment. Please accept The Destroyer Brightwing skin in the meantime as a peace offering.
      Have you thought of making a weird map, like a single-lane map with a real objective (so not just an aram)? Or 5 lanes, to go silly in the other directions?
      Yes! Very early in development we experimented with a lot of different map types like 4 lane maps, giant maps with huge jungles and only 2 lanes, etc etc. We learned a lot about how easily macro play could become the dominant strategy and how mount speed/globals should be tuned.
      I vaguely remember a map that had "waygates" on either side of the map which let you instantly teleport between the two if your team had control of both. We learned very quickly that giving your entire team a Zagara Nydus Canal was a bit OP.
      Not really an important issue, but as a D.Va main across both games it always sort of bothered me how in Overwatch D.Va's mech shoots alternating spread shots, like two shotguns, while in Heroes it is animated more like two chainguns, constantly firing projectiles rather than staccato bursts. Is there a technical / design / deliberate reason for this? Not a big problem, I've always just been curious.
      That fantasy/mechanical mismatch is something we will be addressing in her upcoming rework ?
      Lilith is clearly the most hyped character from Blizzard IPs right now. She got great introduction followed with perfect visual design. It's going to take years before we see her in Diablo 4.
      Since hots already introduced decent amount of diablo lore, how insanse is the idea of having Lilith in hots before D4 is released?
      Lilith is awesome and though we would love to bring her to the Nexus, we think it would be best for the Diablo team to show her off in their game first. Sorry guys, gonna have to wait on that one for a bit.
      You undoubtedly have lots of internal statistics on which you based your hero balancing. Would you mind sharing these statistics? It does not have to be something fancy - for example just posting a spreadsheet here on the subreddit. I might be useful to see how i.e. hero winrates differ from the data available to community through replay analysis.
      We do use a lot of statistics when looking at balance. However, at this time we don’t have plans to share them publicly.
      I do share statistics from time to time, but am wary of showing something like a whole spreadsheet of win rates on some specific date. The main reason is because statistics can and almost always are misinterpreted to fit a certain narrative, and it takes lots of stats from different places to put together a complete picture about what’s going on.
      For example, in regards to purely win rates the game has almost always been in an excellent spot across the board, yet that hasn’t always felt like the case with player feedback, nor with what they are picking and banning at various levels of play. If we balanced the game purely based on win rates alone, you would see a whole lot of changes that seem to make no sense at all, because they don’t reflect the reality of what players are experiencing.
      I can give some broad points about our statistics over the years that I’ve observed:
      1. Win rates across the board, especially for talents, are almost always very close. I would say about half the time is the most picked talent the one that’s actually winning the most often.
      2. Niche heroes tend to have much higher win rates than others. This is even more impressive if you think about how they often have a negative stigma for not being strong, yet they still win despite that team morale hit that often happens when they are taken.
      3. Hero pick and ban rates rarely reflect what’s actually winning, and more often reflect community sentiment on what they believe is strong, or is something that players more generally just don’t want to play against.
      Can we get a look under the hood at the Match Point breakdown? as in how does one person get 15 points and the other 26 points in the same Bronze 5 win
      Hi there!
      There are a couple of factors involved with this:
      - Uncertainty: The more time between games, the less confidence the matchmaker has in your skill rating and so the more it is adjusted
      - Dampening: At extreme ratings, we limit the ability to move in a particular direction. This is so we don't get people off in Narnia without the ability to play with anyone
      - Bronze 5 Hugeness: Bronze 5 covers a large skill rating and has its own dampening in it as well, so while you are moving the same rating, you might not be moving the same ranked points until you get to Bronze 4.
      This last point is something we're taking very seriously and investigating what to do about it.
      Why don't you update all Regions at the same time? I'm just curious!
      We want to make sure the game is available to the maximum number of players the maximum amount of time, so we try to make sure we take each region down when the lowest number of players would be playing. When the US has the most people online, Europe has the least and vice versa. There are other factors that affect the time, but that is far and away the biggest reason.
      I am clearly biased when I ask this, but are there any plans to retune Butcher into baseline Ranked viability whilesimultaneously nerfing his snowball potential (so he doesn’t simply break QM completely, especially for new players)?
      We're currently taking a holistic look at Butcher, focusing especially on ways to make him more "generally" usable and reducing some of the pain points with his baseline quest ?
      Is it intended that Death wing can be stopped by void prison?
      Yes, this is intended. For most enemy interactions, think of Deathwing as a Johanna who always has her trait up.
      Since we got ARAM, both Chromie and Azmodan got reworked. Would you consider enabling them for ARAMs in their current state?
      Good news! Azmodan and Chromie are available in ARAM as of the Deathwing patch ?
      I'll bring up the Varian question in our next design meeting.
      Malthael is considered by most to have pretty poor talent diversity. And his trait build is lacking at the moment. Is this something you see with the data on your end and are you planning on giving a once over to some of the bigger offenders?
      After digging into the data, Malthael is still one of the best heroes in our game in regards to talent diversity. That narrative simply isn’t reflecting the reality of his talent choices. As an example, at Level 1, 40.3% of people are picking On a Pale Horse, 40% of people are picking Fear the Reaper, and 19.7% of people are picking Death’s Reach, with all 3 of them having similar win rates.
      That being said, like every hero in our game, I don’t believe his talents are perfect, and he can definitely still use improvements.
      We've heard many times how remaking Arthas's model is a large undertaking that, art-wise, is basically an entire new hero. How much work is just a new set of animations? 
      So, it's hard to say exactly how long just re-animating Arthas would take but generally it takes us about 20ish weeks to fully animate a hero start to finish. So, somewhere in that range. I can't give a specific range because every hero takes more or less time depending on their complexity. A simple biped like Raynor could take half the time to animate in comparison to someone like Deathwing who has 4 legs, wings, and a tail. All those extra bits really add up and extend animation time. Kit complexity, extra models, and stuff like that also add to animation time. We also have to consider what state Arthas is under the hood in terms of rig and data set up. Having extra issues to deal with on top of just doing the animating work can really slow down the whole process. Ultimately, slowing down the whole process impacts all of the cool new stuff we're currently working on too so it's a tough trade off.
      With Overwatch 2's recent reveal, will the artists and dev team be collaborating with the OW team to create new skins/ integrating talents for the existing roster of heroes perhaps during a rework?
      I don't believe there's any plans to update current heroes talents based on the OW2 reveal, however it's certainly possible in the future once the game is released. On the art side we always want to be sensitive to the source material for our content and if we decide to make a new hero or skin we would certainly collaborate with the OW team to build the best version possible.
      Good morning. when are you going to buff to tracer ?
      We do have plans to liven things up for Tracer, but we're not ready to share details quite yet ?
      When will quick match be removed from the game? Or at least fixed? Quick match's current incarnation being a problem has been common knowledge for years, but nothing has been done to address it, despite quick match being any new player's first experience with the game.
      Quick Match has been a topic that has blighted my dreams, affected my relationships, altered my gravitational pull with the Earth, caused many discussions in the office, and largely just followed me around like a shadow made of tears and frustration.
      From issues stemming from New Heroes being 2/3rds of the queue for the first week or so of a hero's release (seriously, how do you expect us to be able to matchmake that?), or issues with Call of the Nexus, or to the time it broke for 3 days and made any match it wanted to, Quick Match has kept me awake when I would rather be asleep for far too long.
      However, what can we do with it? It's our most popular game mode and we are, I think, the only MOBA that allows you to pick a hero before entering matchmaking. We are Just. That. Nice.
      So, what do we do with it?
      - Nothing: You can just play it as is, get some amazing games, get some... other games, play the newest and shiniest hero... eventually?
      - Blind Pick/All Pick: We become more like other MOBAs and you can pick your hero in turn and do/don't get to see what your opponents pick until the timer is up, and then the guy that didn't get what he wanted leaves the game and overall sadness goes up in the world by 0.002%
      - ANARCHY: We just turn all the Quick Match rules off and hope the problem solves itself!
      As us Brits like to say: Answers on a Postcard addressed to the Nexus and I'll collate the responses.
      Arams are amazing is there a plan to add a ranked version of it? This might add some sort of strategy to the mode.
      While that sounds like a nifty idea, we don't have any plans to add a ranked mode for ARAM at this time.
      I'd have a few concerns with doing it - primarily that ARAM is intended to be a fun, wacky mode where you can kind of wind down and relax. If we turn it into a competitive thing, a lot of that spirit can easily be lost in the name of created a better ranked experience.
    • By positiv2
      This thread is for comments about our Anomalies guide for Heroes of the Storm.
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