BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: Heroes of the Storm: Battlegrounds

Heroes of the Storm

00:48: Question time!

Are we going to get a WoW map as a battleground? Absolutely, it’s just a matter of time. Intention to hit all of their franchises.

Oldschool Alterac Valley as a BG? Take that suggestion and discuss it!

Towers of Doom: There is a teleporter that arrives late into the game, what was thought process behind it? Gives a vehicle to use to contest altars in mid-late game.

Any additional maps that tie into the franchises, Starcraft to tie into LotV? Intend to… (How many questions are we going to have on the same topic?)

Lost Vikings, Abathur, Cho’gall in arena? Cho’gall is so far disabled.

Any major Warcraft characters soon? Khadgar? The hero team has a lot of ideas, doesn’t know when he’ll be coming.

More character interaction than “going to the healing well” or “I’ll fight you after this battle”? Nexus Lords are taunting each other during the battle itself, but they’d love to do it for heroes themselves as well.

Will you be able to do a Latin American theme on the Arenas? Love the suggestion, taking it back to the office!

Completely destructible maps? Really awesome idea where everything can blow up – art and development time would be phenomenal. But if the desire for it is high enough, they will do it.

More supports? (wrong panel buddy) More a question for the heroes team, but he will pass on the message.

00:46: The second map set is the Sky Temple set, with the desert bazaar with similar feelings in art of Sky Temple – there should be a lot of feeling of life within this map. The second map is a lot more jungle-like with a feeling of oases around the place. The final map is a more barren desolate sands where the only life is the spectators in the stands.

00:43: Night time Garden Arena map has a reduced amount of spectators in the stands, and NPCs will be sitting round campfires rounding down the night. It’s overall a lot more alive at night. The third map is an “underground” map that has a cavelike garden with crystals and incandescence littering the map. Stalactites and bats are in the ceiling to give players a claustrophobic feel.

00:38: Arena is best 2 out of 3. Artwise in the day Garden we have a renaissance theme with spectators, fighting pits and jousting competitions. The feel should be tournament grounds at a faire. Spectators in the stands will clap and cheer if you get a kill, multiple kills will bring bigger cheers from the crowd. If you get team wipes, everyone in the stands are jumping up and cheering you on. They even do a Mexican wave, linked to an Easter egg.

00:36: Hero respawn time is only 15 seconds, so deaths are less impactful – feels like an FPS in a MOBA. New Arena Battlegrounds are coming, new mechanics such as capture the flag or payload could come to it!

00:34: Arena mode will condense the main objectives of battlegrounds into a single objective in the middle of the map – Garden of Terror will have a single terror in the middle, for example. In Arena, talents are removed and people only have to pick their heroic. Players are also locked at level 10, so power levels will always be the same. Good for new players!

00:31: Teams are not guaranteed to have a Warrior or Support, but the MM will try to mirror match the archetypes against each other. Sometimes they’ll have a game mode to have 10 of the same hero – how do you build 5 Sgt. Hammers against another 5? 10 Johanna’s didn’t work very well as there wasn’t enough damage going out for over half an hour of Arena. Some heroes are removed from 10x mode. In the standard Arena mode, you can’t have more than 2 warriors or more than 2 supports.

00:28: They first tried with all random mode, where the game picks a hero for them. Players don’t know what they’ll play, but this was a problem. They found out that players need some control, and need room to make choices. Now players will be able to pick an archetype (assassin, warrior, etc) and the game will choose 3 random heroes for you to choose between. You can have multiples of the same hero if the random pickings is lucky enough for you.

00:27: This new game mode is something fun to exist out of QM and ranked. It focuses on fast-paced action around a single objective. It’s something quick and easy to jump into. They aim for more action, short games and creative strategies.

00:24: A short video of the Arena was just shown, and that looks absolutely awesome! Lots of different maps to go on, lots of craziness for different comps (all dem Murky’s!).

00:23: The town structures are all varied among the 6 different towns to give people a sense of which town to go to for objectives. There are two distinct themes going on: the raven and the reaper. A return of the Raven Lord from Cursed Hollow?

00:22: Necromancer towers explode and become part of your team, they had a bit of trouble to define how to show that a destroyed tower was blue or red, so they had a ghost tower form in its place.

00:20: Feedback early on in design was that is was a depressing map to play on. They ended up adding a bit more of a whimsical design into the map itself, so trees and buildings are wonky and whimsical to give it a bit of charm. Trees and Jack-o-lanterns have exaggerated faces on them.

00:17: They wanted the emotion of a dark city, one of the main ways they do this is with the colour – purples, blues, damp colours in general, but the buildings themselves are lit by warm tones. With design, they wanted dark iron, spikes, a real gothic and evil feel. Finally textures are used heavily to try and make a sense of history to an area. They tried to make the iron rusted to make it feel old and full of story.

00:15: I will admit, I’m still a little confused about this concept, I’ll have to see how it plays first! Next they talked about the art in ToD. What makes the art different, the process of creating the world, and concept art and 3D sculptures.

00:13: There is a strong sense of progression when the core goes down to see how you or the other team are doing. Shrines were placed in neutral positions that could be captured to stop the towns from shooting your structures.

00:12: The grave golem boss had to be changed into the Headless Horseman so that he could do different stuff. Upon defeating him he will now unleash a volley of projectiles at the enemy team… And then they added the core back after all of this.

00:09: There was an unfair advantage to the winners of the towns. There are now 3 lanes again with a reintroduction of forts. There were mercs on the BG, but with no core the mercs just went round in circles. Sapper camps replaced siege and knight camps – charge at buildings and explode.

00:07: Merc camps, 2 or 3 lanes, forts and keeps are all parts of maps generally. One question asked was “Do maps need a core?” In ToD there are 5 forts in the BG and NO CORE. The aim of the BG is to destroy the town, and they’d join your side. This was a failed attempt however.

00:05: In Towers of Doom, two Nexus lords are fighting it out. There are towns dotted around that are the main mechanic, with shrines that need to be captured to shoot weapons. With Towers, they wanted to create something different. They ask themselves who the best heroes and comps are for the BG.

00:03: Sky Temple creates a lot of opportunities for skirmishes as it’s a large battleground with isolated and multiple points to contend. Tomb of the Spider Queen on the other hand is small with the objectives between the lanes, so teamfights are more prevalent.

00:01: Their Battleground philosophy is to have a clean design. They want to make sure there’s lots of opportunities for conflict – small skirmishes and big teamfights. There also needs to be finality. There needs to be objectives and rewards from these objectives, such as a pirate to shoot cannonballs.

00:00: For the final panel that I’ll be covering tonight, it’s back over to the Heroes of the Storm for a deeper look at the new battleground we got spoiled with yesterday: Towers of Doom! Maybe some more about the Arena – with the lack of depth going into it for the previous panel on State of the Game, I’m hoping so!

This final panel competes only with eSports for SC2 and WoW (or Heroes, depending on the timing here), so it’ll be my final panel of the evening!

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BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: Heroes of the Storm – State of the Game

Heroes of the Storm

20:26: Restrictions on Hero League to have minimum level for the hero you want to play? Browder agrees with this sentiment, but doesn’t want to increase barriers to entry to HL at the moment.

Melee assassins vs ranged assassins – doing anything to increase strength of melee? Nothing planned yet.

Tyrael’s Trait? No plans yet, they like how his death still makes everyone spread as that’s what Warriors are meant to do.

20:19: Question time! Totally didn’t miss the first questions due to technical issues, I know the second question had to do with player perception on changes and getting the community on board with trying things they hadn’t tried before.

Unranked Draft or 3s/4s in HL: Browder gets the same thing where he only gets a group or 3 or 4. Intention is to either reintroduce 3/4 to ranked if the new MMR system works, otherwise they may introduce unranked draft mode.

Supporting of eSports, what are they doing for low numbers on Twitch? Working on it. More info at the finals

Any thought on putting in the dragon aspects? Humanoid forms with heroics to change them into dragons? An idea that they will take back to the office (aka I guess not).

20:18: Talent gating is now cut! No more levelling to 4 to find out how a hero actually plays, so that should be awesome. Also, free hero rotation is increasing to 10 heroes! No idea on the restriction for levels, but having a larger pool should be good for that new player pool.

20:17: Also to come in 2016 is bans in ranked mode, for those of us that want to feel more like we’re in tournament and can strategise a lot more! Will be interesting to see how that will go ahead in Hero League to decide on who SHOULD get banned, but it’s certainly a desired feature. Grandmaster’s league is also coming later on.

20:15: Death recaps are coming! You can see the last 10 damage sources (including heals!) so you can finally find out why you died other than the killing blow. This is a fantastic change in my opinion!

20:14: Ranked play was a mix of StarCraft and Hearthstone ladder, but they felt it is too harsh and there’s not enough transparency as to whether you’ll increase or go down in rank. There’s nothing to be announced as they want to fix MMR first, and there’s a similar story for Season 1 release.

20:12: In 2016, they’re aiming to increase mirror matchups of weird comps, such as 3 specialists against 3 specialists or whatever. Should bring more interesting and fun games this way. MMR will change depending on how YOU played in that game, not whether you won or lost. It looks like you could stand to gain more MMR if you lose than someone on the other team who played badly.

20:10: They intend to roll this out in the next couple weeks – no promises though! Definitely before the end of the year. Looks pretty interesting, even if I don’t fully understand it myself and need a moment or two to think about it, but it looks like it’s better than the old system!

20:08: The new system relies less on this swapping, and builds games to be good. It creates a queue of people so that they are made sure to be matched well as others are finishing and leaving their games. Time waited doesn’t affect match quality however, and so far the simulations look pretty good internally, according to Blizzard.

20:04: Rebuilding MM from the ground up. Originally it was based on the StarCraft MM, but this isn’t working out well within HotS. In the next few weeks however they’re looking to revamp it. In the old system, it built games quickly but matched 10 people with 10 others, and then swapped people around depending on what they system thought would be the best matchup. At high levels however, this became more challenging as matching people up with each other constantly ended up with no results. At 6 (now 10) minutes of queue, the system just puts you straight into a game.

20:02: They don’t however like this 80/20 split of people having good games, while 20% of people aren’t. New users have an inflated MMR when they first come into the game, but weren’t matched by how many games they had played. Newbies however only had a 38% win rate, so they changed this so that new players would be more likely to be matched with new players, and that percentage raised to 48%.

20:00: Matchmaking is a word on so many player’s lips right now, everyone’s talking about it! 80% of their games are even in matchmaking apparently (so stop having those mindgames of you going up against rank 1-5’s when you haven’t completed your placement matches!). 65% of games are close on levels however, but the changes explained earlier should increase this percentage.

19:59: For Tychus, they want to increase his winrate and make him more of a unique assassin. They want to make him an anti-warrior, to go against the double or triple warrior comps, or to go against Cho’gall. Giant Killer could be moved earlier, but they’re not sure where to go just yet.

19:57: They also want to improve Nova’s talent diversity and change how she feels in casual vs ranked and tournament play. One of the talents they want to do is to increase snipe’s damage every time you hit it, but if you miss one then your stacks will go. This is a great thing for skilled players to really master, while not making her seriously OP in casual play.

19:55: Gazlowe isn’t seen in tournament play at all, so they’re looking to change him. They want to enhance his role of being a good pick for zone control for maps like Sky Temple. They’re looking at a talent that will make his turrets use laser at the same time as him. Other talents include exploding with scrap in late game.

19:54: These changes are currently on the test maps, but they will be going live with the Cho’gall patch!

19:53: This change had a bad side effect of making the early game not matter as much, so they’re also looking to increase the death timers for the early game. I believe there was a blog about this a few weeks ago that it evens out again at level 10-12 so that it’s purely for the early game itself.

19:51: Benefits of scaling changes were that you can now fight while behind a lot easier – it’s not about trying to pick off overextending and overzealous heroes that think they’re invincible with a 2 level lead. It’s also sharpened roles a lot more, and winning games felt more meaningful instead of demolishing the enemies if you got an early game lead.

19:48: 65% of games are actually pretty close, but Blizzard wants more, so they’re looking to change not Cho’gall to balance him, but perhaps they need to balance the game overall: They’re looking to decrease the power of level bonuses to health so that power creep isn’t as big as it is on live.

19:45: Games with Cho’gall tend to snowball, either for or against him. Once he gets a couple levels lead on the other team, he has so much health that it becomes so difficult to kill him. Cho’gall would then begin to win 2v1 situations easily. On the flipside, when they’re a couple levels behind, it became easy to kill him and you’d effectively lose two heroes from play.

19:44: Cho’gall is a tough hero to balance, as he’s one hero controlled by two players. Cho controls movement and has his own set of abilities that a Warrior would have, whereas Gall is the powerhouse for spells that you’d see on a mage assassin. Cho’gall has 50% more health than any other hero to balance two heroes in one.

19:42: Divine Shield’s cooldown increased from 70 to 90 seconds, and his ghost trait is reduced from 10 to 8 seconds. This is just to change him in competitive play and hopefully doesn’t nerf him too hard in standard play.

19:41: Uther is bang on 50% and has an extremely stable winrate with other filters attached. Tournament games however, he was 100% pick/banned in NA and Korea, and in EU he slipped through one draft untouched at 97% pick/ban.

19:39: Kerrigan was at 47.3% winrate without a particularly diverse talent build (that also didn’t have high winrates either), so they changed 8 talents, cut 4 of them and created 3 new ones. Since the change, she’s got much more diversity in pick rates, so this was a successful change overall.

19:38: Their goal is to listen and react to feedback on twitter, the official forums and reddit. Those are the best avenues to provide feedback to them.

19:36: Talents is also another balance option on their radar: Gazlowe might be have 43% pick rate on Extra TNT, but it’s not the highest winrate talent for him, so they’re happy with talent picks being biased in that case. I guess it becomes a problem if a talent has high pick and winrate for a hero.

19:35: Their goal for winrates is between 45-55%, outliers are TLV, Butcher, Li Li, Leoric all over 55%, whereas heroes like Abathur and Stitches are down at 44%. This is actually not too bad in my opinion, though there are other factors that need to be considered, such as how new you are to the hero/game, QM vs Ranked, etc.

19:34: I like Cooper, he allows me to write while he slowly speaks! 4 new Battlegrounds have been added in the past year too.

19:32: It’s hard to believe that the game has only been live since June 2nd, it was even still in alpha at the start of the year! There’s been 11 new heroes in the past year too, with 3 more coming soon!

19:31: Li Li and Murky are classed as the most overpowered heroes within the Nexus, according to Blizzard statistics. Li Li matches with Hotslogs, but Murky is a surprising sight – it’s usually TLV with the little panda as highest winrates (if not seen in tournament play at all).

19:30: The second of three panels, we’re taking a look in this next hour of how the game’s evolved and where it’s going next, including upcoming changes for Heroes, Battleground, and talents. Although not mentioned in the brief, we’ll hopefully get a look at what’s happening with MMR and how Blizzard seeks to fix it. Maybe announcement of season 1 and Grandmaster’s League too? It’s a lot to fit into an hour, let’s see where it takes us.

On the main stage we’ll miss out on the World of Overwatch, which is the lore panel of Blizzard’s new IP. I can imagine it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and I know I’m more invested into Heroes now anyway, but I’ll be sure to check it out at a later time.

BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: Heroes of the Storm – Hero Deep Dive

Heroes of the Storm

23:11: Shotcallers: State of the Game panel will talk about this!

Unstoppable, why is Muradin still Unstoppable as opposed to others? Technical reasons mainly, some weren’t meant to be unstoppable to begin with.

Are multiple talent builds something they strive for, or something that they hope just ends up happening? Largely just hopes that they fit into roles that players put them in to.

Cho’gall: What happens when Cho disconnects? AI takes over for now, but they’re trying to get Cho to listen to Gall’s pings for movement. It’s not too bad the other way around as Gall’s AI is good at hitting skillshots!

Warlocks? Gul’dan is being worked on right now!

And that’s all for the Hero Deep Dive!

23:06: Arena Mode – Could it have 5x Aba’s or 5xTLV’s as a team? Tested, 5 warriors against 5 warriors last forever, but it will be case by case.

Cho’gall, who picks talents? Both have their own talents and own heroics to pick from, both unique from each other!

Specialists, where are they? Just a stretch where other roles had to be added at the time, no plans (Cho’gall started off as specialist)

Gender-bender skins? Talked about it, implementation can be tricky and it’s down to resources. Great suggestion.

Gnomes and smaller sprites? Asks audience if they want Gnomes? Lots of cheering!

Where the trolls at? Couple that they’re itching to get in, depending on when the roster sees fit – Trolls and Draenei!

Mounts/Skins for Cho’gall? Cho and Gall can both select the skin and the mount, the RNG will choose one to get their mount, the other will get their skin.

22:59: Death animations: Does Blizzard have any plans to not ragdoll all heroes on death and instead bring up some new death animations for Diablo/Protoss? Good feedback, may come in later on!

Legendary skin: Infested Nova? Can’t talk about that!

Old IPs – Blackthorne? Not working on him but he’s on the radar!

Some… ridiculous merging of some guy as a hero, typical Q&A questions

Justice League Task Force skins? We’ll look into that.

Cho’gall: How is he going to be in the competitive scene (even in HL) with pick/bans? Can’t be first pick or last pick: banning one head will ban the other. Open to feedback!

Carbot has a horsehead on a stick, can we get it? It will likely come along!

22:58: Cho’gall is a big guy, and it seems his mount is CARRYING it at increased speed, haha! Finally, a short teaser of what sprites Tracer has as the first Overwatch hero to enter the Nexus! Now onto questions!

22:57: 2,200 gold for winning for games as Cho’gall with partners who have not unlocked the hero! Wow, I’m definitely being baited into that! Who wants to be the Gall to my Cho? I promise I won’t run into the enemy core with you!

22:54: It looks like that they’ll share a healthpool too, so getting a ranged assassin with an insane health pool seems like a strong concept… I guess you don’t get to control where you go as Gall (not that it’s a bad thing in HotS), but if you take out Cho’gall, you’ve effectively gotten rid of 40% of the team! I wonder what happens if Cho disconnects and becomes a bot…

22:51: Cho controls the movement, and is the warrior of the combo, though Gall is the ranged caster riding shotgun with low cooldown spammable abilities. Abilities will synergise well together where their E will have Cho throw out a ball, and Gall will explode it at the best time.

22:50: Riding shotgun in testing was a fun experience – I can imagine this is going to be like hatting someone as Abathur, just you only get to ride Illidan all game… Not too different to how most games go then! There’s no problem if one team has only 4 heroes too, they can tune him up!

22:47: Over the past year or so we’ve been seeing some very unique MOBA heroes that would only work in HotS: Murky, TLV and Leoric. So now they looked at TLV, and wanted to instead of have one player control three characters, it’s now two players control one character. So how does this work?

22:46: Discussion of which type of Cho’gall to use. Previously he’d been a low polygon sprite in Warcraft II, and over time he jacked up on Old God juice to make him more monstrous – it was only in WoD where we got to see him as a “normal” ogre. And it seems that this is what we get as our version in Heroes!

22:43: Talking about Cho’gall as he was one of the first heroes that was going to be in HotS before there was even a talent system, and I see Mekkatorque in the top right corner! Regardless, let’s talk about this unique mechanic that Cho’gall has.

22:41: Marked for the Kill is the first heroic in his human form, allowing him to shoot a target and making them vulnerable. As a worgen, Go for the Throat is a rapid attack that will attack a target that, if it kills the target, allows you to use it again within 10 seconds. Triple Tap level 20 upgrade at level 10? Ok I’ll take that. Inner Beast and Curse of the Worgen weren’t discussed in detail unfortunately.

22:38: His shapeshifting allows him to use his E ability to use Darkflight to lunge forward and leaps in as a Worgen to deal extra damage, or to Disengage to roll away and shoot from afar. His Q is Gilnean Cocktail as a human that deals more damage to others behind the primary target, but in worgen form this Q turns into Razor Swipe on a low cooldown to AoE in front of him.

22:34: Greymane is going to be a ranged assassin alongside Lunara, interestingly enough for a Worgen with claws. However with these two forms he starts off as a ranged character as a Human, then can finish you off after shapeshifting in his Worgen form.

22:32: Greymane is the second hero we’re getting a look at from BlizzCon, and once again we’re looking at the silhouette he portrays – in both Human and Worgen forms! With the enhanced look he’s getting in Legion, it’ll be good to see how the new look transfers over to Heroes.

22:30: A wisp is her E ability. This looks like a good way to scout out bushes and the fog of war. She gets Greater Spellshield to reduce incoming magic damage by 75% and at level 20 she can Abolish Magic, which will remove CC effects from herself and her target, and reduces damage over time abilities. This is a good way to carry over the fantasy of the Dryads from previous games.

22:28: Thornwood Vine is her first heroic that has 3 charges that is a line attack. Her other heroic is Leaping Strike, where she leaps over the enemy and throws her spear on the target, with 2 charges. It’s quite a nice amount of movement you get from the second heroic, so it can get you out of sticky situations well.

22:26: Nature’s Toxin is her trait, where she poisons enemies she hits. Noxious Blossom is her Q that’s a ground target AoE and applies her trait. On W she uses Crippling Spores, that will slow down any enemies affected by her trait.

22:24: The Dryad model has certainly seen improvements since the Warcraft III days! She looks stunning! Now we get to see her kit: her mount is replaced by Dryad’s Swiftness, where her movement is a bouncing animation. Overall it’s around 25% faster, but it’s quick/slow/quick/slow movement.

22:22: 17 weeks in total for testing new heroes, and lots of emails being sent around looking at the vision sync of what the heroes actually look like. Lunara is half night elf, half deer, so the silhouette there is very diverse from the current hero pool.

22:20: Paper Design is 2 weeks long, where they look at the core of the hero, strengths/weaknesses etc, then they go into Tech Design for 2 weeks where they design their abilities. AI Playtests last for 1 week to see how they play, before going into 8 weeks of design playtest before finally having the design team playtest for 4 weeks.

22:17: Blizzard are explaining what their thought process is on introducing new heroes. They look at what franchise they’re from, what roles are being played, and what silhouettes are currently being used. With the three new heroes announced they’re different enough each time. Varian, Kel’Thuzad, some Goblin, Firebat, the Innkeeper from Hearthstone, and a bunch more heroes were suddenly teased on a splash image on the presentation as heroes in development – along nearly 200 more ideas!

22:16: Lunara, that’s her name.

22:15: Quick on the tail of the WoW panel, here is our Hero Deep Dive for Heroes of the Storm where we will join the development team to take a closer look at all of the new Heroes coming to the Nexus! This panel conflicts with the WoW Cinematics – The Road to Legion over at the panel stage that I’ll likely be covering later. Remember, we did get the Arena announced, but that’s likely going to be for tomorrow’s Battleground panel. We’ll likely see more to do with Cho’gall and his two player interaction, alongside Greymane and the Dryad lady!