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Heroes of the Storm Post-BlizzCon 2018 Developer AMA Recap

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The Heroes of the Storm dev team answered your questions on Reddit today and here's a recap of the most interesting highlights.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

Greetings, Heroes!

BlizzCon 2018 has concluded and the team is back in the office and ready to talk to you about Orphea, upcoming gameplay changes, and what’s new in the Nexus! To answer any questions you might have about our announcements, we’re going to host a post-BlizzCon AMA right here on /r/heroesofthestorm Today!: Thursday, November 8! The Heroes devs will join the thread and answer your questions starting around 10:00 a.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. CEST) until 12:00 p.m. PDT (9:00 p.m. CEST).

Here's who will be joining us from the dev team:

When posting multiple AMA questions: Please make an effort to post one question per comment. This will make it easier for others to read through the thread, and will help the devs focus on one question at a time. However, please feel free comment as many times as you'd like in order to get your questions posted.

You might also see Blizzard Community Managers posting questions on behalf of players in our non-English speaking communities during the AMA. Feel free to upvote those questions if you’d like to see them answered.

Highlights

  • They plan to introduce something similar to Mega Bundles and other new player promotions.
  • Bruiser is a fairly tanky front-line character who can also solo lane effectively. This usually means these characters need good self-sustain, decent wave clear, and can be a threat when they engage the enemy team, especially if they can get onto the healer or squishier ranged assassins.
  • They enjoy creating PvE brawls, but there are currently no plans to add more.
  • Replacing an experience gain from destroying enemy structures with a Catapult for destroying Forts is a win. This creates a new unique mechanic that encourages strategic decision making instead of just propelling a team that’s already ahead to have an even larger stat lead.
  • No plans to add Hero swaps with the Hero/Team League merging.
  • Draft order will work on a First Come First Serve basis.
  • Rank points are going away, so placement and progress in the new ladder will depend entirely upon your MMR.
  • The Lost Vikings are on their radar, but they won't receive a major rework in the near future. They could give them some balance updates in a more timely manner though.
  • D.Va will receive some talent changes and they've started preliminary work on her kit to reinforce her role as a Bruiser. Implementing something like Micro Missiles is likely.
  • Party restrictions as well as hero ownership/level restrictions will return with the release of the new ranked mode, perhaps even sooner than that.
  • For the day/night cycle specifically on Garden of Terror, they had received a lot of feedback that the extended periods of darkness could be straining on player’s eyes and overall made the map not as pleasurable to play on.
  • You can get Boosts from Loot Chests.
  • They're currently looking at doing a small update to Abathur to address some pro player feedback surrounding Regenerative Microbes and Sustained Carapace.
  • Upcoming Orphea changes: They're looking to increase the base cooldown of Shadow Waltz and reduce the power of the Ravenous Hunger and Eldritch Conduit talents. The cooldown of Shadow Waltz will be increased by 1 second only if you miss.
  • There are no plans to let players know which battleground they're going to play in Quick Match.
  • They want to make Mal'thael's Tormented SoulsTormented Souls better.
  • They'll continue to evaluate the need of a fourth ban leading into 2020.
  • After the new ranked mode is in place they'll be making some adjustments to allow for decay to occur regardless of placement status.
  • Kevin announcer will not be available in other languages than English.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

With the shutdown of Paragon, there was a huge call for reenabling the Mega Bundles in order to get a few of those players trying this game. With the release of new heroes it can be quite frustrating for new players to try to get a decent hero pool. 

Are there any new player promotions planed?

The Mega bundles have been gone for quite some time and there wasn't a new player promotion since then.]

Thanks for the question, /u/Simsala91! We’ve definitely heard this feedback on the hero Mega Bundles and are actively discussing revisiting the New Player Experience (along with new player promotions) again. We’re still early in those talks, so I can’t commit to anything there yet…but it’s important for us to continue improving the ways new players discover and access our heroes. Mega Bundles were one of several ways we’ll be exploring to help this moving forward. Please keep your ideas coming on this front!

Ana's level 1 quests seem to have a lot of issues with encouraging bad gameplay, any plans to change Ana's level 1 tier up?

Shhhhh - I'm not actually in this AMA ?

Yes, it is on the to-do list!

In the most recent patch, you adjusted the spell inconsistencies listed in this post, but spell power is only one inconsistent multiplier.

So my question is - will multipliers get a general consistency pass? And will healing remain multiplicative with spell power as it is right now? Because right now, abilities like Ana's W and Gul'dan's W have multiplicative healing, and additive damage, simultaneously.

Just to give another example of the general inconsistency, I checked out AA multipliers today and found that on heroes with 2+ multipliers, most are additive, except for these;

Hero Multiplicative Interactions
Valla Trait(+100% with talent) with E(+140% with talent)
Orphea Trait(+150%) with Determination(+15%)
Greymane Trait(+40%) with any other multiplier
Fenix W(+25%) with any other multiplier

And I didn't check the interactions of heroes with no spellpower talent, who can still interact with stuff like Debilitating Dart, Aggressive Matrix, etc..

I can't give a timetable, but we'll likely expand the pass that we did on Spell Power to include all of these multiplicative modifiers in the future.

So you can expect anything that should be multiplicative to have its tooltip changed, and anything that should be additive to be fixed on the data side.

With the upcoming XP changes, particularly for camps, is there going to be a consistency pass so that the same camps function the same way on each map? Currently Volskaya and Hanamura Turret camp award XP differently and this is very unintuitive for players.

Hey CavalierGuest, great question. We will definitely take a look – that sounds like a bug and I’ll bring it up to our map team. I know that design group was revisiting how much experience mercenaries award and discussing where we wanted each camp to land with the gameplay update. I’ll double check that this didn’t get overlooked.

Thanks!

Do you still have in mind other Blizzard Franchises such as “Blackthorne” when designing upcoming heroes?

We still maintain a very exhaustive list of our favorite potential heroes from 25+ years of Blizzard games, and Kyle Vlaros is definitely on it!

What is the criteria you check to decide when a hero is a bruiser?

Over time, we’ve shifted our philosophy as we learn more about the game and making content for Heroes of the Storm. We currently view a Bruiser as a character who is a fairly tanky front-line character who can also solo lane effectively. This usually means these characters need good self-sustain, decent wave clear, and can be a threat when they engage the enemy team, especially if they can get onto the healer or squishier ranged assassins. At BlizzCon, during the What’s Next panel, we showed the role update which visualized all the current Bruisers. We definitely view characters like Thrall, Sonya, Artanis and Malthael in this bruiser space.

The PvE brawls were amazing! have you considered having these as a permanent feature?

You could even use them to tell the nexus story and expand the lore. a series of the brawls can tell stories that happen in the nexus - and they could even be used as tutorials to educate the playerbase.

We had so much fun making Escape from Braxis and Deadman’s Stand – those brawls took the team back to our StarCraft II and Warcraft III campaign roots and let us combine our favorite things from Heroes with those games that we all loved making and playing so much. All of your excitement and feedback on those brawls was super helpful to us, and while I don’t have any info on future PvE content to talk about now, those brawls will return at times – so please keep the feedback coming and we’ll see what the future holds for them.

About the xp changes, I am concerned about maps who are known to have weak objectives in the early game. The prime example is Infernal Shrines where it isn’t rare that people just ignore the first objective (at least in proplay) and soak instead.

With the upcoming xp changes it seems to me that on similar maps it becomes the standard strat to just ignore objectives and go to soak because even if you lose the fort and towers the enemy won’t gain a big advantage from it. The objective simply isn’t strong enough to be worth it.

How did the xp changes play out during your tests in that regard or do you even have plans to tweak some objectives to counteract that issue?

Our internal testing has been very positive with these changes. We’ve been testing with the experience and catapult updates for months and have iterated on the exact numbers for quite some time. As far as updating specific maps, this is something we will absolutely do where necessary. A couple major goals we have on our Battlegrounds are:

  • Keep match lengths right around 18-20 minutes. We have historical data for all of our Battlegrounds and if we see match length increase on any specific map such as Infernal Shrines, we can easily react to this.
  • Map objectives should always feel impactful to contest, and teams should want to strategize around how to best win these events. While we think it’s okay to have some one-off or specific strategies where a team may focus on other objectives on the battleground such as pushing lanes, this is not the norm. If this became the common way to play a specific Battleground, we’d take a second look. Basically, teams shouldn’t feel like it’s the wrong decision to focus on map objectives.

Overall we feel like replacing an experience gain from destroying enemy structures with a Catapult for destroying Forts is a win. This creates a new unique mechanic that encourages strategic decision making instead of just propelling a team that’s already ahead to have an even larger stat lead. We’re excited to see how the community and pro teams will play around this update and are of course looking to your feedback once you’ve had a chance to play with it!

The Janitor Leoric skin looks awesome, is there any plan to collect the skin design from community next year?

Janitor Leoric has been on the radar for so long and we were SO excited to have the chance to bring him to the Nexus. While we presently have no plans for sourcing skins from the community, the collaboration was so much fun that I think it's definitely possible in the future.

How will draft order work for 2019? Would the combined HL/TL be in order or First Come First Serve? Will we get hero swaps?

Hey ChaosOS, with the updates to ranked play in 2019 we will be using the First Come First Serve pick option. We’ve seen really positive feedback and results with this in Team League and think it’s the right direction forward for all ranked play. FCFS addresses much of the feedback we’ve seen including letting a team pick top meta heroes early on in the draft, or allowing a player with a smaller hero roster to pick earlier on in the draft. We won’t be adding hero swaps with this.

Will the combined TL/HL use our HL or TL ranks to start?

Another solid question! Rank points are going away, so placement and progress in the new ranked ladder will depend entirely upon your MMR. Let’s talk about reseeding. We’re still discussing some of the specifics for the process, but we’re considering taking the most recent average that we have for the player across both queues and to use that as the base MMR. Once we have this information we’ll perform a soft-reset of the ladder, which will normalize players into reasonable starting positions for the new ranked mode. We’ll be sure to have a blog post go out alongside these changes explaining the process in detail.

/u/Blizz_Joe how will this affect players who have very high mmr in Hero League but their Team League mmr is vastly lower? In an extreme case, you could have someone who is a Grandmaster in HL but gold in TL since they don't play it often. This means they could be seeded in diamond or platinum despite being a high performing player. It seems unfair to penalize players for exclusively playing one mode.

I think it’s fair to say that there will be some special cases and extra logic necessary to arrive at the final MMR that we will use for the soft reset into the new ranked mode. Number of games played, and recency of those games will play a role in the MMR we arrive at. A blog post will explain the entirety of the process at a later date.

TLV hasn't seen any love in a long time for a lot of reasons. Now that the team has been working through so many reworks when can we expect some changes to them?

The Lost Vikings are on our radar, but they won’t be receiving a major rework in the near future. We could easily look to give them some balance updates in a more timely manner though. TLV remains a hero that a small but very passionate group of players plays, and we definitely want to make sure that any major rework we do embraces what players love about this character while providing new ways to think about them.

Can Mecha Tassadar get an updated mounting animation?

Right now he just uses the generic "rub my hands together till I mount up" animations, but he's got this really cool unique mount that'd be awesome to have an accompanying longer animation switching to.

"rub my hands together till I mount up" THAT'S THE MAGIC OF THE NEXUS.

For real, though, this is definitely his general 'Channel' animation. We have a list of heroes and animations that need some animlove that we try to go back to and update whenever we have a spare minute. Valla recently got a new hearth animation. Jimmy finally stabby-stabs with that giant bayonet. The balancing act between creating new content and revisiting the old is a tough one, but it's definitely on our radar.

Are consistency passes and formats for tooltips planned?

i.e List the AA damage, duration and health of any summoned unit.
Any ability that can target all units except for structures should specify "Non-Structure target", like the new Hunter's Mark does
Change tooltips with wording like "recently" (like ETC's Pinball Wizard) to specify numbers
Standardize 'X damage every Y seconds up to Z seconds' instead of 'X damage over Z seconds'
Come up with a format for quests with incremental rewards / infinite rewards / passive benefits and apply it globally
Stick to saying "increase from X% to Y%" instead of "Z% more" when the original ability is described with percentages (i.e Alexstrasza's Verdant Flourish, D.va's Bring It On)

I guess another part to this question is - where should I post tooltip suggestions for specific instances?
Like how Lunara's Leaping Strike mentions the brief 80% slow but Illidan's Dive doesn't,
Orphea's Determination doesn't mention that it's against the next received spell,
D.va's Pro Moves doesn't mention the decaying stacks unlike Baelog the Fierce, etc etc etc

Thanks for the question, Zanzure. If you ever have feedback or suggestions, the Blizzard forums are the best place to post them, but we also read Reddit to pick up on community topics too.

The short answer is: We're always trying to update our tooltips, and work as a team to try and keep them consistent. We take note of irregularities that make a significant impact on player understanding when we see them, and typically fix the bugs in a batch.

In terms of specific responses, I'll do my best to tackle our perspective on them. Broadly, I know that players like knowing a ton of information (I'm one of them), but too much can feel overwhelming for people learning, and make the game feel cluttered.

  • "Recently" versus specific numbers
    • We've decided to be vague for any delay or cast time less than .5 seconds. The idea is that often times these cast times aren't a huge part of the ability, and most humans won't make a distinction between .1875 seconds and .3125 seconds. Even then, you'll typically use that ability once or twice and figure out the timing (and giving that information rarely speeds up the process from the get go).
    • We've heard the community feedback that they'd like some way to toggle more or less information in these tootlips, and it's something that we've been discussing internally. There are pros and cons to maintaining a system like this, but it's something that we think is worth considering.
  • Standardization of format
    • Overall, you're right that formats should be standardized between like-minded Talents. When we're making new Talents or Abilities, we try and maintain a similar format, though occasionally we decide that it reads better in a different format (or we make a mistake . . . it happens).

D.Va's talent tree feels like it comes from another era, and she's seen a rework in Overwatch since her release in heroes. If D.Va were to get a rework, would she get Micro Missiles?

D.Va is due for a few updates to her Talent tree. We've started preliminary work on her kit to reinforce her role as a Bruiser. We're off to an exciting start, but it's likely that she won't be ready for release until maybe the middle of the next year.

She's not planned for a full fledged "rework" at this point, but incorporating something like Micro Missiles into her kit alongside some Talent updates is likely.

When Overwatch updates their Heroes, we're exciting to see what they've done and we draw inspiration from it if they've made changes to a Hero that already exists in Heroes of the Storm. But once a Hero has been released in Heroes we never feel required to mirror any changes the Overwatch team makes, as they've taken on a life of their own in the Nexus.

I think your solutions is a very elegant decision that will make ranked mode experience more straightforward while actually still keeping it the way it is being used: solo queue against solo players or normal queue without restrictions. With that in mind, I'd like to ask a few things related to this merging:

At the moment we’re considering using a single, unified MMR that works for the new ranked mode. Players who have reached the leaderboard will be able to view their performance in solo-only queues separate from the standard queue. We understand the concern over smurfs in team league and how that might impact the integrity of the ladder.

[PARTY RESTRICTIONS?] With the previous issue in mind, have you considered adding restrictions between ranks/MMR-ranges that can team up together for ranked play? For example, a GM MMR player being unable to team up with a fabricated bronze account due to the huge MMR discrepancy.

Party restrictions as well as hero ownership/level restrictions will return with the release of the new ranked mode, perhaps even sooner than that. The one big change we’re planning on making here is that if you queue as a group of five we will remove these party restrictions, but set the party MMR to match the most skilled player in the party. In this way a GM can play with their bronze friends… but they’re going to get matched up against other GM teams.

[SWAPS / DRAFT ORDER?] In the past you guys mentioned being hesitant of adding swaps into HL draft as it could lead to toxicity and implementing it in an elegant way as a challenge. After the success in the new Team League draft mode where pick order is not pre-established, have you considered adding it to Solo League as well as a subtle way of letting people "swap"? I know that many "heavy" HL players and pros have been sad this feature is still not implemented or talked about.

First Come First Serve pick type has been quite successful so far. We’ve discussed adding it into Hero League in the interim before the new ranked mode is released.

In What's Next panel this year, the battleground updates are less mentioned. Any plans for new battlegrounds next year? In additional, We really like the map features and variety, by any chance the day/night change of Garden of Terror will return?

Continuing to update Battlegrounds remains a focus for our team. In 2018 we had the pleasure of finally bringing a WarCraft battleground to the Nexus through Alterac Pass and this was a really great moment for the game and community. It’s also important for us to continue to revisit existing Battlegrounds and our team was passionate to rework both Hanamura Temple and Garden of Terror. We learn so much more about content after it’s been live, and we want to use that player feedback and new knowledge to make our existing Battlegrounds even better.

For the day/night cycle specifically on Garden of Terror: We had received a lot of feedback that the extended periods of darkness could be straining on player’s eyes and overall made the map not as pleasurable to play on. Alongside the gameplay updates, this was a major focus for us when reworking this Battleground. We wanted to keep the theme and thematic feel of a darkened period while softening how bleak the Battleground could feel. Overall, we’re pretty happy with where Garden of Terror ended up but will continue to look at player feedback and we can absolutely make changes in the future ?

How did the team decide whether or not to include heroes in multiple roles, eg Zarya in Support and Bruiser, or Greymane in Ranged and Melee Assassin?

We’ve gone through some iteration on the design side for the role update. Early on we had discussed placing specific characters into multiple categories, so Zarya could be considered both a Support and a Bruiser, or Varian could be a Bruiser, Melee Assassin, and Tank. As we got further into development on the role system, we made the decision to place characters into a single category that would best represent their role on a team. Part of this decision is because we’re still planning to add a “Tag” system in the future. Basically, tags would coexist alongside the role system and provide further, more granular information about a character and their strengths.

Will we be able to obtain boosts from loot chests?

Yes indeed!

Abathur's talent tree has consistently led new eras of design, but he hasn't received a rework since he gained Monstrosity as a second heroic. Does the team believe Abathur needs a rework?

We’re currently looking at doing a small update to Abathur to address some pro player feedback surrounding Regenerative Microbes and Sustained Carapace. Basically, Abathur is probably providing too much healing so early in the match and this is incredibly powerful at higher levels of play. This will most likely take place in a smaller balance patch but as we dive into Abathur we may look for other ways that we can improve his talent tree and overall gameplay in the future. We don’t currently have a rework planned for Abathur though.

Hey guys, so much loveeeee this game, thanks for all hard work and your passion. When I heard latest gameplay changes at Blizzcon, it HYPEd me a lot, so excited keep it up good work.

also Janitor Leoric and Kevin Johnson announcer is amazing this little things that you guys create request from community things showing how you guys listening and care us. Thanks

My Question is when we get Khaldor and Carbot Announcer plus Carbot stick horse mount?

Kaeo hope we can see you as a Game Director you deserved, love your passion for this game.

Matt our content progress awsome thank you

Kevin you are doing amazing job and your announcer will be one of my best

Kyle one of your latest baby orphea is so awsome nice work

Lana love your animations they are soooooo great

and I didn't see Kent Erik Hagman at Blizzcon hope he is doin well.

Aww, /u/malkijan, thanks so much for your support!!

I'm a game producer and team leader though-and-through, so while my responsibilities overlap and intersect with those of a Game Director at times, I'm staying focused on my current role as Production Director and will continue to rely on our talented, experienced Lead Designers like Matt Cooper and Joe Piepiora to drive the design vision for Heroes' content and systems while we search for the perfect Game Director to join our leadership team.

As for announcers…we've been having more and more fun with these - from in-game characters to out-of-game personas - and I'd love to see us get more of our community and esports personalities in the mix!

And Jon from Carbot has been providing us with so many awesome portraits and sprays. We would LOVE to get the stick horse mount in time…stay tuned!!

Will you change the hero release schedule this year? In one of the interviews I read that with new director(Kaeo Milker) you are going to release multiple heroes in one update. There was also said that the time between these releases will be increased.

Hi, /u/matrix123mko! I’m not sure which interview you’re referring to, but there may have been a misunderstanding as I don’t recall speaking to any planned changes to our hero cadence. I do keep talking about how much we’re enjoying our current cadence of alternating between a new hero and a pair of meaningfully-reworked heroes (all with awesome themed events popping up along the way!)…perhaps that was where the confusion came from? That cadence is feeling really good to me as both a developer and a player, so my current desire is to stick with that for the foreseeable future. Thanks!!

Orphea is live in PTR, it seems that her sustain and burst are very powerful. Her abilities cooldown are short and even can be reduced by talents. Will she be nerf when the live servers updated? We don't want she always be banned in rank mode.

We have a couple of balance changes lined up for Orphea when she hits live servers that didn't quite make it into the PTR build. Specifically, we're looking to increase the base cooldown of Shadow Waltz and reduce the power of the Ravenous Hunger and Eldritch Conduit talents. While it was fun to see how much damage players were able to build Chomp up to, we felt those talents were overperforming, and we're excited to see what other builds and playstyles players will come up with when she is finally released in the Nexus. ?

Nooo please don't nerf her cooldowns I love to spam abilites ! T.T
I would argue to make her more vulnerable, this way the opposing team can do something about her but she still can do tons of damage if left unchecked and if her abilites land.

To be more specific, we're only increasing the cooldown by 1 second, and it will only affect Shadow Waltz if you miss. So, if you continue to hit heroes with Shadow Waltz, the cooldown will still set it to 2 seconds. ?

How does the team feel about enemy player names during draft? There's been a lot of discussion about the "proliferation of 1tricks in GM", and the reality of size of the GM ladder is that it's still incredibly easy to stream snipe drafts if someone wanted to.

So this is a great question. Originally this change was made alongside another one that prevented players from inspecting the profile of members of the opposing team. This was done, in part, to prevent lower-ranked players from having their one or two characters banned out from beneath them while they’re still improving. With that change in place we definitely have seen a slow rise in one trick players reaching high diamond and even masters. We agree that it’s a problem and plan to once again allow you to see the names of the players on the opposing team, but we still won’t allow profile inspection. We think this protects the lower-ranked players, who have far larger pools of competitors to play with, while allowing high ranked players to ability to eventually identify that one guy who picks Artanis in every single draft.

The upcoming QM changes will help with learning the standard game with always having a tank/support/ranged, but HotS as a game has one defining element over other MOBAs: Maps. Not knowing the map you are going to be on in advance is still a huge detriment, particularly for non-generalist heroes. Are there any plans to let people know which map they'll be queuing onto in some way? 

Hey CavalierGuest, that’s a good question. It’s something we’ve discussed internally but we don’t have any plans to make changes as of yet. We love that Quick Match is a casually competitive experience where players can select a hero they want to play and quickly hop into a match. At the same time, we understand that more specialized characters may have a harder time on specific Battlegrounds, for example, Abathur plays very different on Battlefield of Eternity then he does on Cursed Hollow. 

We’re not sure this needs to be addressed but I am curious how you would expect this to function? We’ve discussed allowing players to queue as a specific role in QM and then view the map before locking in their hero. We’ve also discussed things like having a single map available for a small window of time and you queue knowing which Battleground it is ahead of time. Both of these require a significant amount of work though, so we’re cautious of spending a large amount of development time on this.

It’s important to remember that there are a variety game modes available that each offer a different experience. Players who are looking for a more competitive experience already have multiple draft modes to choose from. I 100% agree that having multiple Battlegrounds is a key part of the Heroes experience which is awesome. We do want to make sure that this is not adding an additional barrier for new users to approach though, so it’s something we’re always discussing and exploring across the entire experience.

Can you explain some of the decision making that went into making Orphea float rather than walk?

It lends a better effect to her animations as it almost always prevents accidental animation cancellation by moving, and I was wondering why this decision was specifically made for her. 

Bonus question: what's the best hue of red?

A few reasons:

Most notably, the first concept I ever saw of Orphea she was floating, much as she is in game. 

I can't explain to you how excited I was to work on this hero. Seeing her for the first time -- the posing, the attitude, the crazy monster... everything about it felt RIGHT to me! It was such a special moment for me, and it was a feeling I wanted to share with all of you.

While I went to put her in motion, it also allowed me to be very graceful with her movement. Early concepts for the RavenLord's daughter depicted her as a dancer, and while we didn't keep that motif visually, we were very drawn to elegant movement. Running/walking is naturally a higher-impact motion. That means there has to be a lot more jangling and jostling of the relic, which I think could be very distracting -- especially because it is so large.

Giving her the capacity to float allowed us to have her motion to be smoother and more vibrant than if she were walking around.

That said -- she definitely CAN walk around! She just chooses to float (because if you were that powerful, who WOULDN'T choose to float) If you leave combat for a while/float on the spot for a bit, she will actually descend back to her feet and then take a running start to get back up in the air again. ?

Bonus: Crimson.

Will you buff Malthaels ultimate "Tormented Souls"? Right now it's a 80 sec cd AOE applier. Maybe give him physical armor during the ultimate to excel vs. physical attackers? He could become "ethereal" like during the ultimate with +30 physical armor? Or maybe a Passive that does more dmg to his Reaper's Mark?

We're still discussing ways to make Tormented Souls better. Both of your ideas are things that have been thrown around, and align with the way that we're thinking about the Heroic. The team has been busy preparing for BlizzCon, but I'd expect to see some changes in the coming months to reduce the Heroic effectiveness disparity.

Can we get a proper age for Orphea? And will the next comic explain what her magic is besides 'ancestral/dead'? I'm wanting to write things involving her and would like to know as much as possible!

Orphea is a teenager; with the main value there being the acknowledgement of this being a time in her life where she's defining her beliefs as she steps into adulthood (and now, hero-hood!)

When we talk about her magic as being ancestral or familial . . . we're describing the magic of her heritage -- the practices of her people. When the Raven Lord refers to it as "dead magic," he's actually being judgmental about a practice of power he believes is inferior, antiquated, and presently beneath him. In his mind, he has moved far beyond the familiar magic of his lineage and deeper into power uniquely accessible to him as a Realm Lord.

Orphea's ability to use this magic was not something the Raven Lord fostered in her, but something she stumbled/emerged into naturally. If anything, Orphea's open embrace of this magic is something she knows her father will disapprove of; she's had a trial/error approach to the growth of her power (and likely some under-the-table help from family fixtures like Neeve, who we introduced in the Orphea comic). Interestingly enough, we had to cut a line in the trailer where Oberon mocked Orphea for carrying the relic on her back, going so far as to say she was being "ridiculous." This is not how one would typically draw power from a relic under traditional family rules. However, this is how Orphea makes it work for herself, and it's the best way she knows. I just love that! It feels right to her, so she's willing to make a "fool" of herself and carries herself -- and her relic -- in the best way she knows how. ❤️

Could you tell us a bit some of the major steps in making Orphea and the big changes you made of her design?

Early in Orphea's design, we had some concept art that portrayed her as a dancer, so her initial base kit design had elements of dancing in it. We loved the idea of dancing in and out of combat, so initially, her Q ability (Shadow Waltz) forced her to dash forward, and her W ability (Chomp) caused Orphea to be knocked back baseline (similar to her level 4 talent Backbiter). We really loved this gameplay style, but one of our goals for Orphea was for her to be approachable by players of all skill levels. Having an ability that forced you to dash forward was causing some players to constantly overextend or miss their Shadow Waltz entirely, since there was a deadzone between the dash and damage areas.

So we took a step back and decided to let the player control the dash direction by moving it to the end of the ability instead of the front. We added a delay before the damage to match the timing the ability had when the dash was at the beginning. This felt great and the team really loved it, but now that she could control her dash direction it felt like she had a bit too much mobility with the knockback on Chomp being baseline. There were also situations where you would be chasing down a low health enemy but your highest damage ability (Chomp) would force you backwards, causing you to miss out on the kill. So we decided to remove the knockback from the ability, but we had so much fun with it that we wanted to keep it in the form of a talent, which is what you see today!

What was the hardest part about animating a brand new hero with no backstory like other Heroes from Warcraft,SC,Diablo? Making brand new abilities and animations must be tough when this is the very first time anybody has seen her. Chomp is my favorite looking animation from Orphea and I think you all did a very great job!

Thank you so much for your kind words. Chomp is my favourite, too. 

The hardest part of animating the hero with no backstory was understanding the connection between her, her own magic, and the relic magic. 

I think magic in a lot of fantasy genres is taken for granted -- or rather, folks are more keen to suspend their disbelief -- simply because it's been seen so many times. i.e. "Of course he can control lightning, he's a lighting mage." Or, in the case of Blizzard History: "Of course he controls lightning, he's Thrall."

For Orphea, these questions aren't answered yet. We see a concept of a young woman with some sort of armoire on her back and a giant purple monster. With teeth. What does this mean? Is it going to eat her? Is she controlling it? Is it controlling her? HOW does she control it? WHAT is it?

At the beginning, the list of questions was daunting and seemingly endless. Even when we started answering some of them, the team was, for a time, stuck in a little bit of choice paralysis. The excitement of working on an entirely new hero had the team wanting to make not just something, but the best thing. In the end, piecing together the lore helped to inform us of what the best thing was for Orphea. We answered all our questions and could finally get to making badass artwork. When you know a character inside an out, the animation comes easy.

If you want to see a little bit more about this process, you should scope out the Heroes Deep Dive panel on the virtual ticket! Thank you for your question!

What would you say is the biggest misstep? Or, what was your biggest learning experience? What are you most proud of?

I don't really have any big missteps (insert sunglasses emoji, here), but my personal biggest learning experience as a dev has been two things: 

1 - If you think you are communicating enough, you aren't 

2 - Kindness is integral to success 

'Work,' (as in the standard definition of a full-time job) is kind of nuts, when you think about it. No matter what your gig is, seeing the same folks every day, for 40 hours a week -- that's insane! Humans are naturally selfish creatures. It's easy to assume that everyone is on the same page as you (somehow), and that could easily result in not properly communicating your ideas, wants, or needs. This makes more work for other people, or things slip through the cracks, or just generally puts unnecessary stress onto your team as a whole, which sucks. Tension like that can lead to a team forgetting that we're making games - and you gotta have fun to make fun. Being transparent and kind to those around you makes life easier for everyone, and happier people create better, more beautiful work.

Fortunately, this has not been my experience on the Heroes team!

As such, I think my greatest success (aside from working on Orphea, herself) is the privilege of working with and getting to know the folks on the Orphea team (and the Heroes development team as a whole). I know it sounds real sappy, but I've wanted to work at Blizzard since I was 12 years old! I've been here just about 5 years now, and I still can't possibly express the honor I feel in being able to stand up in front of the BlizzCon audience as a representative of such a loving and passionate team of people.

GETTIN' MISTY EYED JUST TYPING ABOUT IT. 

I love this game.

Will we see a fourth ban come in 2019? Does the team think it should be in the initial or middle phase?

We're not investigating adding a fourth ban in 2019. We'll continue to evaluate the need for a fourth ban leading into 2020.

In the Fall of King's Crest event, the Raven Lord killed the gosh-dang Dragon Knight.

Are we going to a new battle ground, maybe a variant of Dragon Shire, to reflect the current state of the place?

There are no plans to change how Dragon Shire plays or to present a new version of the Battleground, but you may have seen that we're pushing forward some visual updates and an announcer update on DS that will tie together some of these story elements. Fun stuff!

Whose idea was it to put such a classic stylized S on Orphea's locker in her RCHS skin ? (By the way, RCHS stands for Raven Court High School, right ?)

Raven *Crest, actually.

While the whole team had a lot of fun with our favourite absurdities from highschool, I think it must have been Oscar was the one who put the classic 's' on there.

The Raven Crest High theme is possibly my favourite thing in the game. I drew probably the ugliest piece of concept art to pitch the skin to one of our concept artists, Oscar Vega, on a whim. Oscar - angel on earth and a superstar talent - saw the potential in the skin and fleshed it out into what it is today. Our amazing character artist Vadim tolerated our various adolescent whims as we relived highschool developing the skin, and now many of the silly inside jokes and shoutouts to our teenage years appear in the various decals on her different lockers.

This year every game except Starcraft 2 and Heroes of the Storm had a game director/member of the leadership team on stage at the Opening Ceremony to make announcements about their game. In past years Kaeo (and Dustin Browder in the years before him) had done a great job of being enthusiastic and informative about new content and changes coming to the game, and really trying to “sell” the game to general Blizzard fans in the audience. That felt lacking this year as the 2 videos were introduced and then the HotS section was quickly done. In short, why didn’t HotS have anyone from the team representing it on stage this year?

Hi, /u/Ryzor99! This was largely an effort to help with the timing of the show, but we were also honored to have JAB speak to the game. He’s a huge fan of Heroes and has been a constant presence at our esports events since the early days. While I would have loved to be up there again sharing my own passion for the game with everyone, Overwatch did something similar with Mike announcing Sombra two years ago and the team and I were still very excited to have J introduce Orphea and our two videos in front of that amazing BlizzCon audience. The reaction to our content in the halls was still fantastic, so ultimately, the content needs to speak for itself. Thanks for the question!

What are the plans regarding ranked decay? Will it be enabled for possibly both MMRs? Will there be MMR decay for players in placements?

So the MMR Decay system has been doing its work quietly and well for some time. We understand the community’s desire to see us get far more aggressive with the application of decay. After the new ranked mode is in place we’ll be making some adjustments to allow for decay to occur regardless of placement status.

I'm excited that HotS gets its first hero to bring to the Blizzard universe, but I feel like there was a bit of a missed opportunity to introduce her through a mini PvE chapter in-game. Is this something that you guys considered, or something we might see in the future?

We actually did consider this and look into implementation - anything to get the story (however small...) more directly into the game. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get it done alongside everything else we were committed to.

Any plan to bring other Blizzard Classic (Blackthorne, R&R Racing,...) heroes? The Lost Vikings were released years ago.

There is an astoundingly long list of heroes that we want to bring to life in Heroes, and in the end there are a few determining factors:

1 - Gameplay needs. What roles do we have that we want to fill at the time and what heroes would successfully fit into that fantasy.

2 - What the community is excited about! (duh) Everyone seems to have their favorite hero that has yet to arrive. The idea is that eventually, everyone is going to have their most favorite thing to play accessible to them in the Nexus.

3 - What we, as developers, are excited about, which is really just driven by the two points above! In the end, when we're hype about what we're working on, it ultimately creates better content for you to enjoy!

What do you think about giving incentives for player to do Unranked draft instead of QM? The current state of game modes is that Unranked draft gives players less benefits compared to any other mode, you get more XP in ranked modes and you can get more games for the time played in QM as it doesn't have draft phase. I think a thing that looks fair is to give a flat XP bonus for players of all draft modes (e.g. 25k xp, half a win bonus).

Hey, great question. At the moment we’re fairly satisfied with the state of Unranked Draft and don’t believe we need to be adding incentives to get players into URD matches. URD has the benefit of advancing daily quests, without the added anxiety of ranked play. We’ll continue to look at URD after Call of the Nexus goes live later this month and consider changes based upon the reaction.

Do you consider to create some PVE brawl like game modes to introduce more of HOTS lore ? So far the lore of HOTS seem to be quite dull. More adventures and interactions between the current roster of Heroes would be more appealing to some of us.

We'd love to tackle more brawls for sure, but as with everything it just comes down to priorities.

Totally understand the critique of the story elements put forward this year. As game-makers, it was a unique challenge telling stories outside of the gameplay experience. That being said, we're gluttons for punishment...and we knew we wanted to do whatever we could on two fronts this year (one actually in service to the other):

  • Publicly reaffirm and solidify a narrative framework for the Nexus
  • Give Orphea a narrative foundation to stand on

The team was so excited to dive into the lore of the Nexus, but to make it more feasible, the scope of the story this year had to be pretty tightly focused.

First I want to say that I can feel lots of effort have been made to animate Orphea's abilities. They're really unique. That said, while I have yet to actually test Orphea (or even face her), judging from the spotlight video I am slightly concerned whether her animations being that spectacular and thick black might hinder the fight readibility in cluttered space (or simply when there are more than a couple of heroes and they actually fight back - unlike the hero spotlight video).

So, my question will be : did you have reports about Orphea's animations bringing particular issues either in PTR or internal testing ? What are the complications/limitations there might be working on VFX/ability design with a color scheme and thematic such as hers ?

While designing new heroes, visual clarity and team fight readability is always super important to us. When we add new abilities to the game, it's important to ensure that enemies and allies can understand what is happening around them. It's always tricky to balance FX and animations between looking amazing and reading well. 

Each of Orphea's abilities have delays which allow them to have a moment to draw attention and stand out from the other FX going on. Since we do have a lot of purple/black FX in the game (Zagara Creep, Cho'Gall, Sylvanas, Gul'dan), it was important for us to distinguish Orphea's FX from them, and we felt like Orphea's "magenta-heat" magic that controls the "purple-black chaos" helps her abilities stand out from those even more. 

As of now, we feel like Orphea is in a good place but we're always listening to feedback and keeping our eye on overall readability of the game!

Is Orphea's toothy appearance to her magic simply how she chooses to portray it? If she was of the mind could it be something simple like arcane appearing? Or is the eldritch aesthetic simply part of her bloodline's magic?

It's a subconscious manifestation of her deepest feelings. Perhaps if Orphea were to feel less internally conflicted the magic might appear differently, but as it is it's not necessarily a choice!

Orphea looks like a great deal of fun, and I've enjoyed trying her on PTR, but I’m curious about the decision to make her the sole Blizzcon hero this year. Among the general Blizzard community in the main stage audience the reaction was very muted compared to years past with announcements of heroes they knew like Alexstraza or Ragnaros (a lot of “who is that?”). I have no objection to Nexus original heroes in general, but what went into the decision to make Orphea the Blizzcon hero? Was it felt she needed a "bigger stage" to legitimize her to people who don't want Nexus originals in the game?

To me it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to not announce an iconic Blizzard hero to that specific audience of general Blizzard fans who may not play HotS and need to be “sold” on it. Last year I felt Hanzo and Alex struck a great balance between appealing to newer Blizzard fans who were brought onboard by Overwatch and older fans who have been immersed in Warcraft lore for decades. Even with the slower hero release schedule meaning there would be a long wait between them, was there any consideration of announcing or teasing a 2nd hero along with Orphea this year to achieve that balance in exciting all parts of the Blizzard/HotS fandom?

Hey Ryzor99ETC! Glad you had a good time playing Orphea!

The decision to make her the sole BlizzCon hero was based on several factors. This year, we knew we would be bringing our final Blizzard universe (Warcraft) into the Nexus with the Alterac Pass Battleground and we had a huge lineup of highly requested heroes that were being added to the game as well, so it felt like this was the best time for us to go back to our roots and introduce a Nexus-born hero. This gave us the opportunity to really dig into Orphea's character at our Deep Dive panel and explain our thought processes and reasoning for why we chose to make her, where normally that focus is split between two heroes. This year was a celebration of Heroes, so we thought it'd be cool to introduce the first ever Nexus-born Hero at Blizzcon to cap off such a cool year!

Another factor is that a large portion of our playerbase isn't necessarily familiar with all of Blizzard's universes. Some players, for example, only play World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm. They may get really excited when we release a hero like Mal'Ganis or Whitemane, but aren't really sure who Mephisto is or why he's special. With Orphea, we all finally have a hero that, collectively, we can call "ours" -- as she is born from the Nexus. This is a hero that Heroes of the Storm players can put their passion behind and be excited about, similar to when a hero from your favorite Blizzard game comes to the Nexus!

Finally, we will continue to bring iconic Blizzard heroes to the Nexus throughout 2019 and beyond. Heroes of the Storm is a game where Blizzard universes clash and we will continue to embrace that as we move forward!

How will the cloaken/Kevin announcer be treated for other languages, whose Spotlights are not dubbed? Will the announcer be dubbed, or will it stay in English?

Hey there! Our current plan is to just keep this announcer as the single English version at the moment. We did spend some time trying to figure out how localization should be approached here, but in the end we felt that it made the most sense to follow the trail forged by El Guapo.

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Vikings are fine...

 

i also see no need of a rework, i still rock a 100% winrate in ranked with them, they are just situationl...

 

but blizz need to take action againat toxic players even more...

 

i love to play tassadar now in hero league and i get insulted all the time before the game even started ...

  • Haha 1

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32 minutes ago, Sombra said:

Vikings are fine...

 

i also see no need of a rework, i still rock a 100% winrate in ranked with them, they are just situationl...

 

but blizz need to take action againat toxic players even more...

 

i love to play tassadar now in hero league and i get insulted all the time before the game even started ...

It doesn't matter that you have a perfect winrate on Vikings, it doesn't change the fact they only work on 2 maps. If pickrate is low, blizz wants to change that and vikings are the apotheosis of low pickrates. And the Tass argument is simply because Tass is a bit of everything and people would rather take more of one thing. Need shields? pick Zarya. Need healing? pick an actual healer. Need Tassadar but already have damage? Pick Medivh. It's just he's an awkward character because he's a jack of trades great at nothing. 

 

Finally, yeah, people in this game are constantly at each other throats. Still, Dota, Overwatch, and League are worse in that category. 

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      Mounts
      Fel Razorgrin and Great Razorgrin mounts can be purchased for 10K Gold. The Seraph Wing Bundle can be purchased for 1,260 Gems.
    • By Stan
      Free Hero rotation has been updated for the week of July 9.
      Free-to-Play Hero Rotation: July 9, 2019
      Raynor Muradin Sonya Nazeebo Uther Jaina Blaze Malthael Tychus Alexstrasza Nova (Slot unlocked at Player Level 5) Anub’arak (Slot unlocked at Player Level 10) Mephisto (Slot unlocked at Player Level 15) Tracer (Slot unlocked at Player Level 20) (Source)
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