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by Published on 2018-11-03 10:52 PM

BlizzCon 2018 - Artist at Work: Bringing Heroes to Life

  • Malthael is being used as the subject for this panel to showcase the pipeline for creating a hero from scratch. Six artists are taking turns to show off the various disciplines employed while answering questions from the audience
  • The team starts building off of source material to determine what makes Malthael Malthael, in this case his Reaper of Souls cinematic model
  • That model is then recreated as a low-poly version that will eventually be put in the game
  • The team aims for 12k polygons for each hero usually, but they have an upper limit of 15k
  • The artists currently on stage use MODO, but it's "just a tool"
  • Designing heroes are usually limited in some way, possessing some attribute that has to be carried over when adapting a character to this game. Stitches and Butcher are two heroes that have some overlap in lore, so the team has to be aware of that. Some of that is solved by the color schemes of the heroes, with Stitches being very blue-ish and Butcher being red
  • Heroes that require transformation between two states, such as Alexstrasza going from humanoid form to dragon form often require collaboration between several departments
  • Fenix's unique movement pattern posed a challenge. This was the first time the animators had to solve a problem like this one
  • Malthael's very expressive wings pushed the limitations on joints on the hero. They solved this problem by making a separate set of wings that take over and supress the base model's wings when necessary, such as when his heroic is used
  • Early animation ignores clipping entirely. Clipping isn't looked at until late in development when the animations are more or less settled on
  • Every model needs two versions, one for when physics are turned on and one for when physics are turned off
  • Orphea went through a lot of iterations with the artists and animators to capture the correct feel of the character
  • The artists reiterate that people looking to get into animation and modeling should not tie themselves to one tool. The knowledge of how-to transcends the choice of program
  • Hitbox size is determined through thorough cooperation with the design team and iterated on as the hero goes through testing

by Published on 2018-11-03 04:54 PM

BlizzCon 2018 - Heroes of the Storm: Deep Dive

Where: Mythic Stage
Panel Description: Members of Heroes of the Storm development team discuss the latest content coming to the Nexus.

Time: 10am Pacific/1800 CET
Duration: 45 minutes

Panelists: Kevin Michael Johnson (Creative Content Lead), Lana Bachynski (Senior Animator), Kyle Dates (Senior Hero Designer), Alex Neyman (Senior Live Designer)

Orphea's Background
  • A Nexus hero has been a long time coming, and Orphea seemed like a good first fit
  • The game has always been a mix of non-traditional gameplay, mixed with the familiar Blizzard universes
  • For the team, the Raven Lord always stood out as a character among the others
  • While the specifics were very up in the air early on, the phrase "daughter of the raven Lord" stuck with the team early on
  • The narrative has been in the works for years now
  • 2018 has seen the world being built, rules being set
  • Cinematics such as the one we saw at the opening ceremony can take more than a calendar year to create
  • The Nexus is "a universe of universes", split into realms which can be controlled and "lorded over"
  • Each realm has a Singularity, which posseses the power of the realm
  • The Raven Lord's name is Oberon
  • Orphea's upbringing was lonely, but she found comfort and connection with ancestral magic
  • Orphea's mother left the family early in Orphea's life, fearing what would happen if the Raven Lord tapped into the Dark Nexus
  • The Raven Lord promised Orphea not to tap into this power, but he broke this promise, pushing Orphea away
  • Orphea met Deckard in the realm of King's Crest, where she witnesses her father's lust for power manifest
  • She has decided to fight back against her father and become a hero of the Nexus
  • This story will continue in the next issue of the comics

Orphea Visual Development
  • The team does not typically get to create a new hero from the ground up, so this was exciting for the team
  • The process was challenging. The hero had to be familar, yet unique, but also awesome to play
  • Structure needs to be established, rules are added, questions are asked
  • Design -> Lore -> Art
  • The dark magic is an extension of Orphea, not a separate entity as such. She and the monster come together to form a new whole
  • The Chomp ability was settled on by the team early on. If you have a shadow monster, it has to take a bite out of someone!
  • She is confident, powerful, and not quite aware of her own power potential. This shows in her animations
  • One early description of the her was "dancer-like". She's not quite that now, but her animations have kept some of that grace
  • She's the daughter of a realm lord. She effortlessly carries the weight of her ancerstors on her back, literally

Orphea Hero Fantasy
  • Usually heroes are rooted in fantasy from whichever universe they come from. Orphea had no such limitations
  • Early efforts were to nail down who she is as a character, which is what gameplay fantasy is based on
  • Orphea's trait was one of the last aspects to be decided. Sustain ability, fun, and yet passive
  • Shadow Waltz (Q) incorporates the earlier dancer designs in terms of both the mobility and the grace with which she moves
  • The ability uses conditional mobility. This was very important to the team. You need to actually hit something to be able to hop around
  • Chomp (W) feels extremely satisfying. Huge shadow monster chomping on your enemies
  • Dread (E) was heavily iterated on. The delay on the explosion was originally at the beginning of the cast, but it felt better once the team moved it to the end
  • Eternal Feast (R1)Feels like you're truly unleashing the monster. It keeps going as long as it hits a hero
  • Crushing Jaws (R2) likewise uses the monster. Early testing, before doing the squash effect, felt too much like Eternal Feast. The final version truly helps set up combos and feels just as awesome

Orphea Gameplay
  • One of her playstyles is that of a ranged dancer, using your abilities to dance around and dodge enemies
  • Another is the aggressive monster playstyle. Going in deep and unleashing horrors. This is great when you can't kite enemies
  • en Pointe and Allegresimo talents improve her dancing style by improving her Q
  • Backbiter for Chomp is great for the dancing style as well, dashing you backwards after chomping
  • Lurking Terror for E helps you to chomp at range
  • Insatiable for Chomp lowers the cooldown of Chomp every time you hit a hero, really helping the aggressive diving play style
  • Abyssal Sympbiosis for W allows you to get full stacks of Overflowing Chaos for maximum sustain in a close fight
  • Invasive Miasma allows you to activate your trait and "explode". This damage also grants chaos stacks
  • Orphea will be on the PTR next week

  • The team may do more Nexus-original heroes in the future, but they'll focus on established heroes for now. Orphea was a great way for the team to flex their creative muscles but they know people want to see heroes they know
  • Older characters such as Arthas and Uther have old models. The animators know they could use an update, but it's all about prioritizing new versus old content
  • Illidan may be somewhat out of the meta right now, but the team feels he could be close to get to see action again. They may tune him a bit, but they're not quite sure that it won't make him OP
  • Creating a Nexus hero versus creating a Nexus "character", such as the characters acting as announcers on battlegrounds, fills very different design spaces. We may see more in the future

by Published on 2018-11-03 03:12 PM

BlizzCon 2018 - Day 1 Recap

Day 1 of BlizzCon 2018 is behind us, and what a day it was! We're getting the first Nexus-original hero added to the game, the long-awaited Janitor Leoric skin, and a whole slew of gameplay updates rolling out over the coming months. We've collected the information we know so far and put it together below for easy (re-)reading.

New Hero: Orphea
Description: Rejecting the dark power her father had begun to consort with, Orphea tried to run away from the Raven Lord's influence. But after witnessing King's Crest fall to his machinations, she was convinced she needed to stand and fight. She now vows to protect the innocent--as a Hero of the Nexus.
Release Date: November 14th

Launch Skin: Slacker Orphea
Description: Raven Crest students still gossip about the time Orphea unleashed Kerrigan's Ultralisk in the boy's locker room--because why not? Plus, I heard someone tried revenge-pranking her locker and was never seen again.

Check out our Orphea hero page for full details on skills and talents!

2019 Gameplay Updates
  • Role Rework
    • Tanks, Bruisers, Healers, Supports, Melee Assassins, Ranged Assassins
  • Quick Match Updates
    • Random compositions will always have a tank, a healer, and a ranged assassin
  • Boosts
    • Upgraded stimpacks, with the potential for additional XP gained
  • Ranked Play
    • Hero League and Team League queues combined
    • Loss Forgiveness for games with leavers
    • Fewer placement games
    • No promotion or demotion games
    • Visible MMR
    • Upgraded Performance-based Matchmaking
  • Upcoming Hero Reworks
    • Stitches
    • Sylvanas
  • XP Changes
    • XP gains removed from Forts and Keeps
    • -50% XP from destroying towers
    • +15% XP from passive trickle
    • +100% XP from Mercenaries
  • Armor Update
    • Multiple armor buffs/debuffs no longer stack, only the strongest is active at any given time

Check out our recap from yesterday's What's Next panel for more information on these changes.

Upcoming Themed Event: High School
New Skin: Janitor Leoric
Description: After centuries of dying, being reborn, and dying again, Leoric has finally achieved career stability as the school janitor at Raven Crest High.

New Skin Variant: RCHS Cheerleader Kerrigan
New Mount: Soap Bar

Release Date: November 28th

Upcoming Collection Items

  • Raven Runner





  • Kevin "cloaken" Johnson
    • Creative Content Lead on the Heroes development team, also known as the voice behind the hero spotlight videos!

BlizzCon 2018 - Day 2 Preview
Day 2 is fast approaching, with even more Heroes stuff coming up. We start out early with the Heroes Deep Dive panel, going into more details about upcoming features. And then later today we're treated to a live creation panel from the artists on the development team.

In addition to this, the HGC Finals will also conclude today! We won't be bringing yesterday's results quite yet, in case people still need to catch up and don't want to get spoiled. But rest assured, the remaining 4 teams will deliver the fireworks. Today's games are all Best-of-5, which should provide plenty of opportunity for all teams to have a shot to go to the Grand Final!

Heroes of the Storm: Deep Dive
Where: Mythic Stage
Panel Description: Members of Heroes of the Storm development team discuss the latest content coming to the Nexus.

Time: 10am Pacific/1800 CET
Duration: 45 minutes
Virtual Ticket required

MMO-Champion Coverage: Live recap!

Artist at Work: Bringing Heroes to Life
Where: Epic Stage
Panel Description: What goes into making a Hero in the Nexus? Join artists from the Heroes of the Storm team for an interactive live demonstration of their process.

Time: 245pm Pacific/2245 CET
Duration: 45 minutes
Virtual Ticket required

MMO-Champion Coverage: Post-panel recap

HGC Finals
Semi-Final 1 Start Time: 930am Pacific/1730 CET
Semi-Final 2 Start Time: 1245pm Pacific/2045 CET

Grand Final Start Time: 415pm Pacific/November 4th, 0015 CEST

Where: https://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes
Twitch Drops: Active

Road To BlizzCon
A couple of extra last-minute videos going behind the teams qualified for BlizzCon have been uploaded, this time focusing on Gen.G and Tempest.

by Published on 2018-11-02 11:21 PM

BlizzCon 2018 - Heroes of the Storm: What's Next

Where: Mythic Stage
Panel Description: Join a team of Heroes of the Storm developers as they recap the biggest and best moments from the past year and explore exciting changes that are coming soon to the Nexus.

Time: November 2nd, 430pm Pacific/November 3rd, 0030 CET
Duration: 45 minutes

Panelists: Kaeo Milker (Production Director), Joe Piepiora (Lead Systems Designer), and Matt Cooper (Lead Content Designer)

2018 Retrospective
  • The team keeps going because of the fans. Feedback is always welcome!
  • On the topic of Transparency, there are a lot of features that haven't come to fruition yet, such as the custom map editor
  • Party Finder and Social Features are not dead, there's just a lot more work to be done on them
  • Performance-based Matchmaking didn't do everything they wanted, but they've still been gathering data for it. More work to be done, keep giving feedback!
  • Content will continue being prioritized, so the game won't feel stale
  • 8 heroes have been released this year, starting with Blaze and culminating in Mal'Ganis. Orphea will be discussed during tomorrow's panel
  • Alterac Pass got added. Hanamura Temple and Garden of Terror got reworks. Been a busy year for battlegrounds
  • 2018 brought themed events as well! Starting out with MechaStorm and most recently adding King's Crest
  • 4th Heroes comic will release later this month and focus entirely on Orphea
  • We also saw Voice Chat and Third Bans implemented
  • Live events this year have been more "versus" oriented (Nexomania, Echoes of Alterac, Fall of King's Crest)
  • Lunara was picked by 53% of players in Nexomania
  • Horde was picked by 58% of players in Echoes of Alterac
  • Defiled Tombstone mount was picked by 64% of players in King's Crest
  • More events of this type to come!

Role update!
  • The game has outgrown the original four roles
  • Tanks, Bruisers, Healers, Supports, Melee Assassins, Ranged Assassins

Call of the Nexus
  • Quick Match is the most popular gamemode. Quick to get into, quick to play
  • Compositions are typically less than optimal
  • Enforced QM compositions are coming. Forced tank, healer, ranged assassin, and 2 fillers
  • XP bonus will be given for roles that are needed in the queue

  • Works like current stimpacks, AND stacks 5% XP bonus per player in a game who also have a boost active

Ranked Play
  • Feedback was given
    • "Team league queues are too long"
    • "Add duo queue back to hero league"
    • "Never add duo queue back to hero league"
  • Recent team league changes were to help all of these cases
  • Massive spike in team league games played. It didn't just take people from other game modes, it brought in a lot of new/returning players as well
  • Hero league and team league queues will be combined, with HL players having an option to force solo-only queues
  • Loss forgiveness is being implemented for games where someone disconnects and is replaced by AIs. Leavers will be punished! Others will not lose MMR or ranked points for those games
  • Less placement matches needed, from 10 to around 3
  • Seasonal ranked quest line for the seasonal rewards. Will be given after placement games, and will require a certain amount of ranked games in the season. Additional rewards wil be given out along the way
  • Promotion and demotion games are being removed
  • Performance-based matchmaking will be used to educate players, giving players a guideline on where and how to improve
  • PBMM has been running in the background since last December, collecting data
  • Visible MMR!
  • Ranked points are being removed
  • MMR changes will instead be directly affecting your rank

Rework Philosophy
  • The developer team is constantly learning when heroes are put into the game. Over time heroes may fall out of favor when new ones are released. The team uses all this collected information when working on reworks
  • Next reworks coming in December: Stitches and Sylvanas
  • The team sees Stitches as a tank. He takes a lot of damage, sets up kills with Epic Hooks(TM)
  • The rework won't touch Hook, since it's awesome. Slam does need some love however
  • Talents will of course also be leveled up
  • Sylvanas is somewhat unique in having a strong identity in Warcraft, but being a specialist in Heroes that shuts down buildings
  • Sylvanas is becoming an "epic ranged assassin", since Specialist is going away
  • Black Arrow is a unique ability that the team likes, but they want to make it more of an active decision
  • More information on the reworks coming in the near future

Gameplay Updates
  • Last year had the camera updated, stealth revamp, regen globes going neutral, and tower ammo being removed
  • The team hears the feedback on tower ammo being gone. They won't go back on the decision but are looking at alternative ways to address the concerns
  • "The game feels better when the teams are more evenly matched"

XP Changes
  • These are to combat the often snowballing matches
  • Forts and keeps give no XP. Towers give 50% less XP
  • Mercenaries give +100% XP
  • Passive trickle going up by 15% XP
  • Internal testing revealed that it didn't feel rewarding to take down forts. Keeps were still rewarding since it spawns catapults in the lanes
  • Taking down a fort now spawns a catapult in every third minion wave
  • The goal is to smoothen out the advantage that could otherwise snowball

Armor Update
  • Pro players have been expressing concerns about armor-stacking drafts
  • UI armor visibility has not been good
  • All armor types will now be shown at all times
  • Armor stacking is being removed. Biggest armor buff, or largest armor debuff, will take priority
  • This should make each armor (de)buff feel stronger individually

Q&A Session
  • Post-game stat tracking is something they want to look at in 2019, possibly as an extension of PBMM
  • Tyrande spell armor talent will still stack. The team went through all similar talents on a case-by-case basis
  • The team is experimenting with reducing clutter, such as smaller health bars and selection circles
  • Hero Select is getting a new feature at some point next year
  • The ranked changes will be releasing a few parts at a time
  • Dark Nexus Dehaka? "Noted."
  • Towers of Doom and Alterac Pass don't have catapults. ToD may still have the current XP gains from destroying buildings. Alterac Pass has the tanky minions but those have been tuned down significantly to not get out of hand.

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