March 6 Heroes Developer AMA Recap
Yesterday's developer AMA on reddit turned out to be all hands on deck, with 12 developers showing up to answer questions about Ranked Play, Balance, and Matchmaking for several hours. The AMA was attended by:

  • Brett Crawford (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)
  • Alex Neyman (/u/BlizzNeyman)
  • Adam Jackson (/u/BlizzAZJackson)
  • Juno Kwak (/u/Blizz_JunoK)
  • Zues Rawji (/u/Blizz_Zues)
  • David Gower (/u/Blizz_DGower)
  • Kaeo Milker (/u/KaeoMilker)
  • David Warner (/u/Blizz_DWarner)
  • Patrick Ewing (/u/Blizz_PEWing)
  • Ian McEwan (/u/Blizz_IanMcEwan)
  • Sergey Morozov (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)
  • Patrick Elia (/u/Blizz_PElia)

We have compiled a short recap for those without the time to read every single answer given. But for those who do have the time, all the answers are provided below as well. In addition, a couple of follow-ups were made late last night and early this morning regarding the upcoming Tassadar rework and the potential issues coming from merging Hero League and Team League. These have been provided in full below the AMA answers.

Ranked Play
  • Hero League and Team League are being combined later this month! Rollout will happen in two steps: First, a "pre-season" providing the first solid features of the combined ranked mode, and then a "full release" this summer with additional features.
  • MMR in the new Ranked mode will be seeded from players' highest MMR from HL/TL and normalizing to start off the season in an even way.
  • The ability to create teams was removed from the game many years ago, but the team has recently started to talk about bringing it back.New Ranked mode will be limited to players who own 16 or more heroes and are player level 50. Parties of 2-4 players need to be within 2 leagues of each other to queue up, in order to curb smurfing. Teams of 5 can queue freely, but players more than 2 leagues below the top player on the team will have their MMR disregarded for matchmaking.
  • The discussion of visible MMR is ongoing. No final decision has been made.
  • The Role Rework talked about at BlizzCon will be implemented alongside the new Ranked mode later this month.
  • Prefered Role icons for draft are coming.
  • Loss Forgiveness is being worked on but needs additional time to resolve edge-cases before it will be released.
  • Ranked rewards are changing to discourage placing at the start of the season and then going AFK for three months.
  • Changes to rank decay are coming, but not with the initial release of the overhaul.
  • The number of placement games needed is planned to being reduced this summer.

  • The closure of the HGC has allowed the team to be more bold with balance changes, and we'll see more in the near future.
  • Chen will get a rework! There's some hinting that the Stagger mechanic from World of Warcraft will be implemented.
  • The "weird" heroes (Cho'gall, Lost Vikings, Murky, Abathur) are hard to adjust, ensuring balance, fun to play, and fun to play against. They're more likely to see smaller changes to nudge them in the right direction, rather than do full overhaul that might fail anyway.
  • Tassadar is up for a rework, and it looks like he'll become an Assassin! Inspiration is being brought from the Legacy of the Void intro cinematic. The rework is still quite far away from release.
  • Deckard Cain is getting buffed in the near future.

  • The Call of the Nexus feature, which guaranteed healers and tanks in almost every Quick Match game for a little while back in December, is still being finetuned to avoid significant queue time increases when it is re-implemented in the future.
  • Performance-based Matchmaking is still seeing internal work.
  • There's work being done on a proper Party Finder feature.
  • While an Avoid Teammate feature might come in the future, it's not currently being worked on.

  • The broken AI is a high priority to get fixed.
  • Unranked may receive the First Come First Serve draft mode in the future if there's enough support from the community to make the change.
  • Automatic queue rejoin is on the radar, but no promises on a timeframe.
  • The developer team are still gathering data on the XP changes implemented at the end of 2018.
  • Some unspecified work is being done on ARAM.
  • Clans are still on the table.
  • Spectating is likewise still on the table, but "significant technical hurdles" need to be overcome.
  • Improvements have been made to Reconnect over the past year, and even more are in progress.

Ranked Play
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
What is the current timeline and plan to merge TL and HL and how do you plan on generating the new rank / MMR of the combined mode?
Hello Jarnis!

Our feature team has been working crazy-hard to get the new combined Ranked mode stood up and ready to launch. I am extremely excited to say that the framework for it will be coming in our next major patch. That said, we have a lot more work to do in order to polish and get all of the additional features complete, so the first glimpse of this new League will come in as a Preseason, followed closely by the full roll-out soon after.

As for generating a player’s MMR, we plan on taking the highest Ranked Mode (Hero or Team League) MMR from your profile, normalizing and then clamping it in order to seed the new league with a good initial distribution of skill levels for all players. From here, we should have an accurate starting place for players to begin competing in the new Ranked Experience. For players that have never played any Ranked mode before, we will be using a skill estimate based on information we have about those players from other modes (if we have it) but it will also be clamped to a specific maximum division equivalent.
Its been said "the framework" for the new ranked exeperience will come this next patch. Can you confirm after 2019 Season 2 finishes in a few weeks will we go ahead and enter the preseason for the new combined ranked experience later this month? or will HL/TL standard 2019 Season 3 standard begin later this month?
The new combined Ranked Mode will come with the season roll in a few weeks :) (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Hi and thank you for this AMA. Are you still planning to show mmr? Who would see it? What about merging mmr and rank? What are the pros and cons according to the team?
Hey there Neva_d!

Great question – in fact, it is so good I still don’t have a real answer for you! I am personally leaning towards showing MMR to players, but I have a very intelligent group of developers that are cautioning it and while we are very openly considering it, we still need time to discuss the pros and cons a bit more in-depth internally.

However, this is a major topic that I would love to hear the community’s thoughts on – should we show each individuals MMR and how would you want it to be exposed? What are your concerns about us potentially making this change? (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Ranked: Do you think it could be useful to have roles icon near our names in draft to show what we are willing to pick during draft?
Thank you for the question, Elitesparkle. This is a great idea and we're excited to share a good news with you. The team has been exploring some ideas to enhance the drafting experience. With first come first serve pick mode, pre-pick communication has become more important than ever. And yet, lots of players are still shy about expressing their preferred picks. With the upcoming ranked mode update, you'll be able to select your Primary and Secondary Preferred Roles on the Ranked screen, which will be visible to your team mates on the draft screen. I hope that this feature help the players initiate the conversation and pave the way for their great victory!
This sounds great! What roles did you make available for that, main tank, solo lane, assassin and support? Or the roles from the new role system?
You will be able to choose among new roles plus Flex. (/u/Blizz_JunoK)

Do you plan to implement a loss forgiveness mechanic for being matched with AFK/Disconnected players in ranked?
Hello Midnight7_7. Firstly I'd like to let you know that the The Loss Forgiveness feature has undergone significant development, and is something we still plan on delivering. However, there are quite a few edge cases that we need to consider when developing this feature in order to make sure it provides the best experience for you, the player. Let's break this question down into a few scenarios:

A game completes while a player is disconnected: A leaver penalty is already applied to the account and the user is no longer able to participate in ranked matches until they have played the required amount non ranked matches. This scenario is already handled.

A player is disconnected for a significant portion of the match: This is the Loss Forgiveness feature that we would like to polish. (/u/Blizz_Zues)

New class roles, are they still in the works and planned to be released ?
Starting with the new ranked season, you'll be able to use the new roles in game. Furthermore, we have added Preferred Role UI on the ranked screen where you can express your preferred roles to pick in the Ranked draft lobby. (/u/Blizz_JunoK)

Will you rework your wording to allow less confusion of sub-roles?
Thanks for the feedback! I'll bring this up to the designers before we rollout the UI for expanded roles role in an upcoming patch. (/u/Blizz_JunoK)

What have you guys learned are the problems with competitive modes and why do you believe merging the two queues will create an improvement?
Good morning hybrid_remix! This is an incredible question and probably deserves a much longer and stronger answer than I have time for. The question is doubly-difficult as the modes have changed rules over time. Here is my best condensed answer:

These two modes were created due to looking at the game from a top-down perspective. Hero League was originally designed to allow one or two players to play together in a competitive atmosphere while Team League was made to be a ‘full-five-man-team’ group of friends to do the same. From the moment we decided to design the game around team-levels and not individual ones, we knew that the most fun way to play the game was going to be with a group of friends. However, the influx of other MOBA players had two major pieces of feedback we felt we needed to address:

  • Hero League should be about me and how I perform. Plus I don’t like trying to rank up by myself when I am facing duo-groups that often include ‘smurfs’.
  • Team League is too hard to find games because not enough five-man parties are queuing.

As we evolved, changes were made to address these pieces of feedback, which ended up with HL in an okay place but TL consistently suffered. This was disappointing to us because, again, the game offers the most engagement and fun when playing together with buddies. So the recent changes to TL were made to allow all party sizes to queue, and low and behold, after a few months the reverse had happened – TL was now thriving and HL was suffering.

At this point, we knew the dual-ranked-mode model for our game just wasn’t going to work. At the end of the day, most players just want a good match and to have some fun while competing to win. The new TL had created that for them and so our new combined mode is looking to embrace that philosophy while adding so much more! (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Will it be possible to have fixed teams per seasons (with a Team MMR instead of a personal MMR and special rewards) in the future?
Hello Balbero! It is definitely possible! In fact, the original launch of Team League was designed to do this exact thing. While we ultimately changed that design direction, we have very recently started early talks about potentially bringing it back in some form. We all know how incredible and rewarding the game is when played with a static group of friends and we are looking to prioritize the features that would most dramatically help players find and play with their buddies! (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Assuming the ranked modes will eventually be combined as previously discussed, how will group matchmaking work? Using the MMR of the highest player? Using a team average-based MMR?
Hello Brinded04! This is something we have talked about extensively during our work on combining the ranked queues. We want to make the queue welcoming and for everyone, but also make sure that smurfing is discouraged. With that in mind we are restricting the queue to people who have 16 or more heroes and are player account level 50. We are also enforcing restrictions on ranked spread in the queue. For parties of 2, 3, and 4, we are limiting the party to a 2 league spread between highest and lowest ranked player. For parties of 5 you can do what you like, but anyone that is more than 2 leagues lower than the highest ranked player will have their MMR and rank ignored for matchmaking purposes. This will also be true for anyone who is currently unplaced playing with anyone who is placed. We are hoping that this will mean that the matchmaking and game experience is the best that it can be. We will be closely monitoring the pre-season and will welcome any and all feedback for this as we head in to the first season.

As a question back to you (and anyone interested in this), what do you think other ways are that we could implement to both allow players to play without restrictions but also project players from facing smurfs and having a degraded matchmaking experience?
[....]TLDR : I won't be able to play with my heroes lounge team to an extent as we have quite different ranks..
Thank you for the quick feedback on this, /u/AuntieLiLi! Being unable to play with your masters friends when you're a party of 4 is a valid concern. This is also something we can definitely track: If the number of parties of 4 in our ranked queue goes down for example and is not filled back up with parties of 5, then we know that we're losing some players from the queue because of our change and we can very easily change this configuration. We're not about to say "Well just make more friends, el oh el", but we needed to start with a baseline of restrictions and we can use them as a basis for refining and getting to a point where everyone can play. (/u/Blizz_DGower)

These restrictions seem to lack a minimum hero level cap to play. I've noticed many players come to TL in a group of 2-3 and pick heroes under level 5. It seems they are using TL for its bonuses (XP/Gold/Draft/FastGames).
Thanks for the quick feedback, /u/az4th!

So, yes, we have currently shifted the idea of having specific hero levels required to play to having a total account level. This more closely mirrors Team League than Hero League. We need to have a 16 hero requirement as 6 bans + 10 heroes means that a player must be able to have every hero they own picked or banned and still be able to play. As player level is a sum of all of the hero levels, we feel that having player level 50 would mean that if you had those 16 heroes, you would on average have them all at level 3.

We will be looking at how this plays out during pre-season. If people find that this allows too many smurfs in or means people end up playing heroes they don't know how to play too often then this is definitely something we can change. Now (and when the league is released) will be the time to tell us these things, because we can do whatever we need to make this as enjoyable and rewarding an experience as possible! (/u/Blizz_DGower)

(Ranked Play) Would you consider giving ranked rewards for certain amounts of won games in a season as opposed to giving them for achieving ranks?
Hi Haetred! I can answer some of this!

With the new single ranked queue, we are looking to change the rewards structure for the first full ranked season, which will add an emphasis to continually playing/winning vs simply placing and going AFK for the rest of the season (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE). We are hoping that the single queue with rewards for continual engagement will improve the experience for everyone.

What would you like to see as rewards for this? We have an idea of what we will be rewarding for, but we're also interested in what you would think on this as well! (/u/Blizz_DGower)

What are your thoughts about a role queue for ranked play?
Queuing as a role in Heroes of the Storm is something we have thought about for a number of reasons:

- Potentially better matchmaking experience
- Potentially less work for the matchmaker
- More chance for players to specialise

In MOBAs where lanes/roles matter, it is much easier to get away with doing this. Heroes doesn't always have that luxury: Some compositions are map specific, some teams/heroes work better with certain combinations, and we have the ability with talents to nudge how a hero down a different path. By allowing queuing as role, we can restrict some of these freedoms and the matchmaker must decide how many of each role is allowed into a game (this is then similar to our Call of the Nexus situation in Quick Match, see Zues' answer on the matter). We then have the question of:

- Do we only allow people to pick from heroes they have selected as their roles? (This effectively sets the meta and I don't think it's up to us to set the meta! - See Call of the Nexus again)
- Do we allow people to select from any hero? As this is not really a "preferred role" thing, but a statement "I will totally play as this kind of hero, honest guvnor". If we do, does this reduce the impact of doing this?

In the end, our current feeling is that we don't want to get in the way of you making up your own strategies, metas, and play styles. If that means you all decide that 3 healers and 2 specialists is your jam then you can do that. I'm not your Dad.

What we are looking to do is a "preferred role" system (Juno has commented on this here: This will allow you to set some roles that you would prefer to play, which we hope will go some way to allowing people to more easily specialise when they play ranked.

We are very much interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter for this one, though. What do you think? (/u/Blizz_DGower)

Will the next update finally let us not lose ranked points in games where someone disconnected at the beginning of the game?
Hi haunted_tree:)
The Loss Forgiveness feature is not slated to come out in the next update, however it has undergone significant development and still requires a bit more polish before it's ready for our players. (/u/Blizz_Zues)

Are there are plans to change how rank decay functions?
Hey double0nothing! In the new ranked league, we are actually considering applying decay to all players regardless of whether or not they play. There would likely be some measures taken to avoid causing undue stress to players such as a grace period at the beginning of every season. That said, there are some technical challenges we still need to solve so we don't expect these changes to be ready for the initial launch of the new ranked mode. (/u/Blizz_PEWing)

When you do placements it is now only possible to place in gold for new players. Do you cap MMR also? Or does MMR start at 0 and just increase or decrease over time independent of league/placements
There is no hard cap on the rank that is possible for new players the first time they place; however, there is a limit to the MMR that a player can start with. When a player first queues up for a ranked mode, the system attempts to give them a fair rating based on what it knows from their history in unranked modes. This translation will never be completely accurate due to the many differences between game modes, thus there is a limit on how high of an MMR they will be assigned. The limit placed on MMR does mean that in reality, there is a limit on what rank someone can achieve after completing their first placements.

So, to directly answer your question, the only hard cap that is applied is when the player is first assigned an MMR. (/u/Blizz_PEWing)

Matchmaking: Will you ever stop taking Rank into account when creating a match? MMR is what matters.
Hi Elitesparkle! This is an area where we have been discussing changes. Using two different parameters that can potentially conflict to create matches can be problematic. These conversations are still early though and we don't have anything to share quite yet. (/u/Blizz_PEWing)

Could you communicate on your feelings towards TL powerleveling with smurfs, and do you plan on taking action against players that by abusing the system completely flawed the matchmaking .
Hey 5kad000sh! In the new ranked mode, we are taking a much more aggressive stance against smurfing. We want the new league to be competitive and we believe the changes we are making will help address the issues we are currently seeing in Team League. (/u/Blizz_PEWing)

Last Saturday night I sat in a Hero League queue from 9 pm - 3 am on the North American server and went to bed without being offered a game. Are you telling me that there was less than 10 people simultaneously queueing for that 6 hour span of time? If yes, how are the lights still on?
Hi Doctor_Sauce, This seems very suspicious and I'd like to look into this further. Can you post on our Blizzard Forums about this and post the link here when you have please? Please give as much information as possible. Thanks! (/u/Blizz_Zues)

What happened to to reduction of needed placement games?
We currently plan to reduce the number of placement games required to be placed in a ranked queue this summer. (/u/Blizz_DGower)

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Has the suspension of HGC influenced the development team on the hero/map balancing?
Hello! I answered a similar question from Simsala91, so feel free to reference that as well for additional insight.

The short answer is that the change is still relatively new, though we are currently experimenting with being more liberal with our balance changes, and have been making more changes that in the past we would have seen as being too risky with a constant competitive league running. Our focus with our changes is still to make the most fun game possible, and while we will always look at high level play, we are looking to be more bold with our balance changes in the near future.

Please feel encouraged to give us feedback on whether or not you like this shift in our balance patches, as this is not something that we always have to do, even if it is what we want to experiment with for now. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

The current version has too many ranged mage heroes. A large proportion of the total damage output is of ability damage. Now the DPS contest is more like an exchange of abilities. Valla, Tracer, Greymane and other heroes become less playable, and they require much resources from the supports. Is there any plan to adjust this in the future?
Hello! This is a fantastic question. Honestly we haven’t discussed the parity between Basic Attack heroes vs. ability based heroes at length recently, and I think it is a discussion worth having. I cannot promise any changes right now, but I will bring this up to the team and see where we stand in this regard. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Is there any plan to rework Kharazim's Transcendence and Insight builds?
We don't have any plans to drastically rework Transcendence or Insight. While we think there's some small changes we can make to his Talents to allow him to be a little more consistent with his ability to Basic Attack in general, statistically Insight and Transcendence have comparable winrates, and while Iron Fists is the most picked at high level, the other two are still close.

We try to walk the line with Kharazim between making Transcendence and Insight a meaningful portion of his power pie, without making the healer feel like he can't heal unless he can manage to punch people an entire fight. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

With HGC ending, did the focus of the balance team change drastically? Are non official competitive games something you consider when you are balancing a hero?
Greetings Simsala91! I wouldn’t say that the focus of the balance team has changed drastically, and we’re still a bit fresh with this change so I don’t want to speak for the entire team, but this is my perspective:

Personally, my main objective now and going forward is primarily to maintain the best balance possible while also making the game the most fun for the most amount of people. As you have probably seen with our recent balance patches, there has been a focus on having more viable builds, more fun talents, more viable heroes, and more cool hero interactions. I don’t think there will ever be a world where we aren’t looking at the top level of play, including competitive games, but right now my focus has been on making cool stuff, which I’ve been taking a lot of joy from in the last few months. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

How do you feel about the state of weirdest heroes Chogall, Murky, Lost Vikings, and Abathur? It looks to me like one of them is too popular and the others are too unfavored.
We meet again Senshado! This is somewhat of a difficult question to answer, as I believe it is a complicated issue.

I really enjoy the weird, unique heroes that our game has to offer. I play the heroes that you listed a lot and enjoy them immensely (just ask any of the other Balance guys who are in this AMA). That being said, in my experience it’s extremely rare that these kinds of fringe characters exist in a space where they enjoy a lot of popularity while also being enjoyable to play with and against. I’ve found this to be true not only in our game, but in just about any game. While I’d love to live in a world where these characters are fun, balanced, feel good to play with and against, while also retaining their full flavor and unique space in the game, I think that it would require an unreasonable amount of work and would have a very high chance of failure. I also believe that, inevitably, most attempts to make these characters more mainstream would result in stripping away more and more of what makes them unique, as their special traits are directly at odds with what makes them unfun to play with or against in the first place.

My perspective now with these kinds of heroes is that am not eager to overhaul them, but I would instead massage and tweak them to be better versions of themselves over time. The recent changes to Cho’gall are an example of this, where I was looking to just make the hero more fun to play and have more interesting and competitive choices in their talents. I think we can make these heroes a little more mainstream and fun to use, but it’s important to me to keep their uniqueness as much as possible while doing so, unless they are a large problem at some level of play. If they are creating a huge amount of disruption for many players, then I think it’s more warranted to remove some of their uniqueness in the name of a better play experience for everyone.

I hope this adequately answers your question!
but how can you massage Abathur? where are its shoulders?
Crap. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Is there any plan to rework malthael tormented souls and/or buffing "passive" build? Or maybe even reworking him again?
Good morning Tomo00! We don’t have any plans to rework Malthael. However, while Tormented Souls is performing appropriately compared to Last Rites, I agree that it is a little simple and could use some love functionally to make it more interesting. I’ve made a note to see what we can do to spruce it up sometime soon ™. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Is there any chance for a Tassadar rework? I hate being flamed for playing my favorite hero on QM.
Absolutely! While we're not ready to share specific details yet, I can say that we're steering him towards the spell caster fantasy and play-style you would expect of a High Templar.
Man this is the most exciting thing I’ve read in here. I love tassadar but I wish you’d just remove the shield ability, it doesn’t fit his fantasy whatsoever. Also his trait is just weird and isn’t a high Templar ability. Put power into his damage and make him the mage he should have been for years now.
I will say that we've drawn a lot of inspiration from the Legacy of the Void opening cinematic and hope to capture the fantasy it invokes. (/u/Blizz_DWarner)

Do you think this will go live by April 21 (Tespa spring finals)? This could have a major impact on the competition.
We don't have a final release date yet, but it won't be that soon. :( (/u/Blizz_DWarner)

Now that there's no competitive scene to worry about, does the balance team have more creative freedom than they used to? Are we going to see reworks or even new heroes that push the meta boundaries again like Abathur and Cho'Gall?
Hey Darkshark9! It’s still a bit early to say, as there are people out there who are playing Heroes of the Storm competitively.

What I can say that right now we have been exploring being more liberal and less scared to make bolder changes in our balance patches, which you’ve seen over the last couple of months. I personally feel that these changes make the game feel more fresh and fun, and would love to continue doing more of these kinds of changes going forward.

I would like to pose the question you all since you own the game just as much as us. Do you like the direction that we have been going recently with larger balance patches that include more functionality changes and influence more heroes compared to what we have in the past?
In the last balance update it was joked that "we're going to make you want to pick Aether Walker". Why not make it so that the mana reduction part of it is always active and only the CD reduction is based on when you last took damage?
I like the way you think. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Are there any balance changes coming for valeera? As a long time valeera main I love her to pieces but I feel forced to pick a similar build every game (sinister strike + ambush build), and she feels like she could use some tweaking.
Hey ridleyfire, thanks for your question! I think we've mentioned this in past AMAs, which unfortunately reminds me that we haven't been able to get changes for Valeera out to you all in a timely manor. I'll try to give you what our current opinion of Valeera is (at least right now):
  • Having a bunch of Talents that focus on only 1 opener isn't ideal, since it discourages you from ever using the other openers
  • She's always towed the line between viable and frustrating, mainly due to having burst and CC on the same kit.
  • One of our original goals for the Hero was to be the "anti-carry", being able to really shut down the throughput of 1 particular character. Obviously there are challenges to make this dream come true without being frustrating if you're the chosen prey of Valeera, so we'll have to see how that goes as we refine her place in the Nexus. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

Why is block based on the number of times attacked instead of a timed amount such as a magic defense buff.
Thanks for your question YeojSeyah.

We've traditionally made Block and similar Talents use charge based effects so that they were especially useful when trading. The idea behind them originally was that you could feel free to go in when your Block charges were available, and then back away when they were gone. There's also something visceral about getting a high block value on a few attacks, as opposed to spreading it out over a duration. And if we were to try and create a really short duration high value Physical Armor, it would be noodley since it's much more difficult to anticipate exactly when your opponent is going to Basic Attack you.

It's true that it's less powerful against fast Basic Attacks like Tracer or Tychus, but in general we think there are already plenty of counters to Basic Attacks so having Block only be effective sometimes is a positive. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

In most redesigns and recent heroes, you've gone for the "apples to apples" philosophy which basically means that we no longer get to pick the direction of our heroes. Will that be changed?
Hey Paladia, thanks for your question. Short answer: One of the core tenets of design is that by creating limitations, you gain greater freedom in all the areas where you don't limit yourself, and can focus on making these areas awesome. We think the "apples to apples" actually allows us to make more interesting Talents and push the limits of what Talents provide as a whole.

Now the long answer:

Let's start with the major goals of the Talent system, just so we have a common language.
  • To give a sense of growth to your Hero over the course of the game
  • To add replayability to a Hero by giving you multiple interesting choices that changes the way you play them from game to game
  • To add customization and ownership to your Hero that fits your preferred playstyle

Now, over time, we've played with a lot different styles of Talent trees all trying to fulfill these goals, and we've learned a few things.
  • 95% of the time, if a large majority of the Talent tiers offer vastly different choices (aka apples to oranges), one of them becomes dominant. Healers want healing. Damage dealers want damage. While in a perfect world these would all be really compelling and awesome choices, it rarely works out that way even after considerable efforts at tuning post ship. In order for tanky Talents on Valla to be attractive one-off choices, we need to make them really powerful. And if those choices are on almost every tier, then there's the option of Valla building almost exclusively tanky options, which would deviate from how we think the Hero should play.
  • Offering this much variance typically means we need to dilute the effective power of the Talents or remove synergies within them, because if Jaina could choose 6 Talent tiers that all augmented her damage in a synergistic way, there is a huge jump in the power that a Jaina can deal by the end game. So instead we try to concentrate the coolness of the Talents into less choices that can be really synergistic and awesome and BIG COOL WOW MOMENTS.
  • There are a few cases where "apples to oranges" does work, though we usually only do it on a few tiers. Continuing the Jaina example, at level 13 she can choose to take Ice Barrier (survivability), Icy Veins (damage), or Storm Front (something in-between). Now, we can make Ice Barrier a really powerful defensive Talent for Jaina that you can splash into your regular build, and have it feel like a meaningful change to the way you play your character. The most common place you'll see these hybrid tiers are on our Bruisers, as they are hybrid characters to begin with, and often survivabilty = damage for melee characters (staying in the fight means more damage). But we try to only do these 1 or 2 times on a Hero, for the reasons stated prior.

Now, if you haven't noticed, we're always working on Talent trees. We can basically tinker with them forever to try and get them right, and we've learned so much over time from iterating on them. Some of the examples you bring up of Zagara and Rexxar have traditionally been difficult trees to get right, and I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see some more work done on them as we continue (you could say that about any Talent tree to be honest).

We are trying to add interesting ways to play that are different. We just don't want to take the easy way out and say that simply because Valla can get tanky, it's a fun way to be different. We instead try to focus on more nuanced gameplay, like Hungering Arrow or Hatred Builds, and making sure that there are reasons to take each of these.
Has there been any consideration for talents designed to 'soften' a hard counter?
We've talked about it in the past, but it's an area we tread lightly. We like the cleanliness of having Physical Armor or Blind be the counter to Basic Attackers. Then saying you could take Talents that say "oh but wait it's not", creates a sort of arms race that isn't something we're excited to pursue. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

Balance: How do you feel about Deckard Cain right now?
Good Morning Elitesparkle! Deckard Cain is an interesting hero. He was a monster at the higher levels of play not too long ago, and then we nerfed him fairly significantly and have slowly been bringing him back up since. He is still a bit weak, so you can expect him to get some more buffs in the future. We are taking an incremental approach to bringing him back up in his win rate as he can quickly dominate the Healers in the game when he is too strong. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Are there any situations where you would consider large nerfs in a single patch instead of several small nerfs across several patches?
Hey Beg_For_Mercy! The scale of the changes we do to a hero are almost always to scale with the challenges that they are posing at any particular time. I am however fairly comfortable in saying that in most cases small incremental changes are the preferred way to do things. The biggest reason is that, like you pointed out, there is much less risk of overshooting and creating a new problem. There have been some times in the past that we have done larger changes when we felt they were warranted, with some examples being changing Garrosh’s Q or Zarya’s trait tuning when she released. However, generally we feel it’s much healthier for the game to do small changes over time and saving the large, dramatic changes only for times when they are absolutely necessary. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Thrall: Recently, development has deliberately walked back the “Quests everywhere!” philosophy they first rolled out on Thrall. The hero is in a good spot, but his tree suffers from over-emphasis on quests (and some that are just too punishing/inferior). Do you intend to go back and brush up his tree to match the departure from over-saturation of quests, or is he in a good enough spot that you’d rather leave him alone?
Hey rogue_LOVE, thanks for your question!

One of the cool things about Talent trees is that they can have their own unique flavor on each Hero. In Thrall's case, he has quite a few quests, but we think that's something that makes his Talents different and for the most part work on the character. I wouldn't expect us to do this type of thing very often however.

And let's be honest, Thunderstorm isn't exactly a quest Talent, we just use the quest pings for it. In fact (keep this between you and me), we're planning on removing the quest classification of the Talent, which will reduce Thrall from 3 to 2 Tiers of Talents that are quests. (/u/BlizzNeyman)

What do you think about the Li Ming threads that are asking for the Calamity damage to become baseline and to give her waveclear back?

Are you still ok with her 3% scaling for basic abilities and 5% scaling for heroics? (Personally I'm not a huge fan of this)

Since Ming is such a mana hungry hero, should all her lvl 1 talents provide more mana efficiency? Maybe Astral Presence increased to 35% (50% was indeed too strong, but 25% feels too late), Aether Walker could remove the mana cost for Teleport unconditionally and only keep the condition for the cd reduction. And also Force Armor could return some mana per Missile that hits an enemy Hero.

Hey -Duality, thanks for the questions!

I would say that as a whole we are fairly happy with where Li Ming stands. She is still an incredibly popular hero who is performing adequately for how often she is picked. Her talents could use some improvement, but honestly for how long they have existed compared to how often we have changed them, they have also been doing fairly well. Regarding her talent diversity, I’ve made some strides in this regard recently, and I think you can expect a similar style of changes going forward.

In regards to Calamity, I don’t think we’ll see a world where we make it baseline. From her inception, Li-Ming was intended to not have the greatest wave clear in exchange for her powerful poke and ability to dramatically turn a team fight when she scores takedowns. Giving her great wave clear would be a gigantic buff which would inevitably cause us to nerf other parts of her kit that better relate to her core identity.

In regards to her scaling, it is something we could look at but it hasn’t caused any issues, so I’m hesitant to change it when she is performing so well already.

Her Mana costs are intended to be significant, particularly in moments where she’s getting resets on the enemy team. I can see a world where we make her Level 1 talents a little more potent in this regard, but we definitely still want to see her run out of Mana in long fights or when she gets resets. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Balance: How do you choose which underperforming Talents to buff and/or to buff first?
There are quite a few factors we consider when doing minor talent tweaks like the ones you’ve seen over the past few balance patches. This isn't a complete list, but I’ll try and touch on a few with some personal examples:

Is the talent fun?
I would be hard pressed to precisely define what makes a talent ‘fun’, but, generally, it’s creating interesting choices that have meaningful impacts on the way the hero interacts with other heroes and their overall environment. Sometimes talents are overly focused to the point where they become binary (and thus unfun) choices. For example Lt. Morales’ Vanadium Plating talent (Level 7 Safeguard) used to only provide its bonus against Stun effects. While the bonus it provided was great (55 armor!), it was so situational that you hardly ever saw its effects and that made it not very fun. Now, with Root effects granting the bonus as well, you can reasonably expect to see a fat 55 next to your allies’ nameplate several times during a game and feel good about the choice you made.

Is the talent under-performing numerically, or does it have a structural problem keeping it from being valued?
Talents that provide very linear bonuses to the things the hero *should* be doing already are very easy to analyze and change while talents that have more intangible or circumstantial benefits are harder to address. A great example would be the recent changes to Li-Ming’s Aether Walker (Level 1 Teleport). While the fantasy and mechanics of zippin’ and zoopin’ around the battlefield is really cool and satisfying, it’s hard to pin down exactly how much value you’re getting from it over the course of the game. Compare that to Power Hungry which very obviously makes your blue bar fill up faster and your purple pew pews make bigger numbers. Adding Magic Missile damage to the talent was a good way of injecting guaranteed value to an otherwise circumstantial pick.

Does the talent work against the prevailing ‘meta’ of the hero?
I won’t speak for all our designers, but from my experience, once your designs are in the hands of countless players of all skill levels all over the world, your understanding of individual pieces of the design will change. It’s exciting to see how heroes are played when they’re out in the wild because players have a wide variety of playstyles, aptitudes, and opinions as to how a hero should be used. When this sort of case arises, we go back to the drawing board and try to retool the talent to align more with player expectations. A personal example for me is the Azmodan rework and his level 1 Q talents. While he was intentionally being pointed more towards PvP teamfighting, I wanted to keep a PvE option available in the form of the Greed talent. Unfortunately for me, the efficacy of his PvP potential was seized upon by players and Azmodan’s meta role as a lane controlling soak machine fell to the wayside in favor of pure artillery poke. No matter how much PvE power we could pump into this talent, it was not going to be picked against the other talents that helped Azmodan get big beefy dunks. (/u/Blizz_DWarner)

The most recent balance patch has buffed lots of weak talents, rather than nerfing the strong ones like before. Is this related to the cancellation of professional matches? Or just to try a new approach? In addition, almost every hero’s modification has a developer's comment now. Why? Will it continue in the future?
Hi! Since the new year we have been trying a new approach where we make more changes to more heroes. This is something that I have been passionate about for some time, and we feel like it’s a good time to try to be more experimental with our balance patches. We also have been wanting to increase developer communication, and our last balance patch was an experiment with having every change come with a developer comment.

This is still something new for us, so please let us know if you want to have larger balance patches like we have had, and if you want to have every change come with a developer comment. This is not something that we have to do and we can change this, but right now we feel like it has been good for the game. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
How about remove new players matchmaking pool? I heard that new player Quick Match queue time is so long.
Hello Narucy! We are tracking queue times and match quality spread for our quick match queue and we have also noticed that newer players face longer wait times for their games due to our current game count rule. It is something we are looking to rectify and we have looked into ways of relaxing these restrictions. We want to make sure that new players have an easy and fast queuing experience, but we also are aware that there will be players with thousands of levels who would prefer to play with other players that have thousands of levels. (/u/Blizz_DGower)

So, a couple months ago you introdouced a new quickmatch matchmaking, guaranteeing a tank, a healer and at least one ranged assassin in every match. Before christmas you (seemingly) reverted this, since it cause long long queue times for anything that wasn't a tank or healer. What are your thought about these changes in hindsight? Were they mistakes? What would you change about them, if you wanted to reintroduce them?
Hello! Great question! When we released the Call of the Nexus feature, we knew that queue times would increase as our simulations demonstrated this. However, match quality went up for almost the entire Quick Match population. It's also important to note that majority of our players did not experience a large increase in queue times, however those that did, experienced a very significant increase. Since the community was asking for the Matchmaker to ensure Quick Match had better team compositions, we felt this was a good trade off. I wouldn't say these changes were a mistake as it addressed what the community was currently reaching out to developers for. We are still planning to bring this back and are considering some additional changes.

A prioritization system for team compositions: While the matchmaker is determining a fair match up, it will try to enforce the team composition that launched with Call of The Nexus for a certain period of time. After a duration of time has passed, it will then allow the existing Quick Match Team Compositions.
Putting the control in the players hand: Another idea we are considering is allowing the player to determine if they are willing to prioritize meta composition over queue times. (/u/Blizz_Zues)

Will Chen ever get to see a rework of some sort or balance?
Can we have some spoilers?
I don't want to give away any specifics, but so far the results have been... Staggering. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

Do you plan on improving the party finder (specifically for TL)?
Hi 5kad000sh! We've actually done some development on a Party Finder feature, and it is something I am personally very passionate about. While I cannot give you a date on when this will be delivered, I can share with you that the team is looking to see where we can fit this in! Our goal is to provide our players the ability to find other players of similar skill level, desired game mode, while communicating what role they wish to play. (/u/Blizz_Zues)

Avoid Teammate? A button you can click when you dislike a guy but not enough to get him banned. A soft avoid that doesn't make matchmaking harder.
Hello Senshado! We don’t have any plans at this time to implement an Avoid Teammate feature. There are a host of potential issues with this kind of functionality, and no matter what kind of implementation is used, it will impact matchmaking in some capacity, particularly at the highest and lowest MMR's. I don’t think such a feature is completely off the table forever, but it’s not one of our priorities at this time. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)

We haven't heard about PBMM in a long time. Is the team still running it in the background for data collection?
Hey hybrid_remix! The underlying system does continue to run in the background; however, we currently have no plans on using the resulting data to inform MMR or Rank. We do still want to use that information to help inform players on areas where they are performing well or what they can focus on to improve.

Our designers have jammed on a design for this but we don't have an ETA on when it would land. (/u/Blizz_PEWing)

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
What are the highest priorities for the game right now?
We have some immediate things that we want to do to get the game stabilized, including fixing the AI that we broke recently and delivering the Ranked Play improvements being outlined by the team here today. From there, our ongoing focus will continue to be around making improvements, changes, and additions to the game (design/balance/content/technology) that keep it feeling fresh and fun, as often as we can. As the team settles and we get through some of these urgent endeavors, everyone on the team is empowered to be asking themselves what the most impactful thing they can do for the game and for our players is each day. And we'll do as many of those things as we can, as quickly as we can. Your input continues to be critical in our plans, so thank you for being a part of this, /u/czechonesauce!
It looks horrible that you have left the AI broken for so long. It makes it seem like HOTS is just not a priority for Blizzard - since clearly a bug that hurts gameplay so much would be fixed immediately in Overwatch. Actions speak a lot louder than words. Or, lack of action in fixing this bug tell us more than carefully-written words in an AMA. Please fix this soon, as it ruins so many games.
We agree that the way the AI broke is unacceptable and have been working very hard on a series of fixes that are in test. It's really important to us to fix this without introducing new issues or exacerbating the current issues, so the testing process is more involved than other changes that we make to the game. As you've probably seen from our past missteps, rollbacks and fixes are usually much faster and easier to turn around than this one, and we're really disappointed that things got to this state and are taking this long to rectify. We're eager to get this fixed - thanks for sharing your thoughts, /u/nonosam9. (/u/KaeoMilker)

My question: are you looking at altering the XP changes at all? Would you ever consider reverting the XP changes, or even reverting the game back to 2017?
Hey there ghostdunk! Firstly, thank you so much for the analysis! We greatly appreciate the work that went into it. We've got some additional thoughts on it that we'd like to share with everyone shortly!
Real quick: Is Stas still on the team? He was really fun to talk to at the Blizzcon dinner and I bet he'd really be interested in the research I did.
He is, and he was very excited to look into your analysis! (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Are there any plans to give Unranked the same draft format as Team League?
We can certainly discuss it. I believe providing similar experience in Unranked draft is important so that players can practice in the same way as Ranked draft. On the other hand, I know some people prefer to pick in order. What do you think? Would there be any downsides of using first come first serve mode in Unranked mode? (/u/Blizz_JunoK)

When the initial matchmaking fails, it would be nice to automatically rejoin the queue, and not having to manually do it. This is especially important with longer queue times for matchmaking. Is this QoL feature in the works?
Hey Konokrad, thanks for addressing one of the bugs we also find frustrating!

The engineering group has a large list of tech improvements we would like to make and this issue is on there. While I can't give you a date, it is on our radar and we hope to get it fixed. (/u/Blizz_PEWing)

Seriously though, how can we help?
Fitting name, /u/Altruism7! There's a lot you can do to help.

Play the game. Bring a friend or four. Try some healers and tanks more often, if you aren’t maining them already. Keep telling us what you love and, more importantly, what we need to do better. When we make something you think is awesome, spend your Gold or Shards or Gems on it. Be kind to each other and have fun together, because that’s what this is all about.

Thanks for your support! (/u/KaeoMilker)

Does the HotS team have any intention to support the 3rd parties that are trying to carry on HotS esports?
Hi, /u/pineconefire! Our team is closely watching the esports scene that’s been growing and we’re interested in finding ways we can help promote and nurture it. We also recognize that we don’t have all the answers or even visibility into the challenges and opportunities, so I encourage the organizers and community to be vocal about ways our team might be able to help. I can’t make any promises as to what that our support will entail at this point, but the desire to help this scene is very strong. (/u/KaeoMilker)

Any plans to expose player MMR?
We are discussing the pros and cons of exposing MMR and have asked for the communities thoughts about it :)
Any plans to add all of the ARAM maps to the custom games map list?
There are no current plans to add the ARAM maps to custom games, but we do have some plans for ARAM in general that are under development.
Is in-game clan support still a possibility?
Clans are still a very real possibility. It's all a matter of passion and prioritizing, and I know this is very high for both the community and us as developers.
Any hope for an in-game tournament mode?
Tournament Mode is something we have always wanted and we have discussed finding a way to make it a reality. The infrastructure for creating teams (what Team League originally was) is still around, and could be the starting point to automating tournaments. That said, there are so many questions to answer and development time costs to examine.
Will I ever be able to spectate a friend's match?
The ability to spectate has been explored and is not impossible, although there are some significant technical hurdles that would have to be solved. Pat talks about that a bit more in depth in another post.
Is the public API still in the works? Will we ever be able to read 'official' stats instead of relying on incomplete data collected by fan sites like Hotslogs?
A public API is something I would love to get to the players but I don't have any current information on it to share. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Education seems like a major bottle neck. We have a steep learning curve between QM and draft modes, with teams conditioned to playing in QM comps not understanding the more strategic elements of maps and comps. I am curious if there are other ideas for addressing this education gap.
Hello! You're right, the education is a very complex problem that cannot be solved just by enforcing some rules. Still, having a balanced match would be very beneficial in understanding how the roles, team comps, and map strategies work.

Speaking about the Quick Match (QM); in ideal world, players pre-pick whatever they want, and the matchmaker finds a perfect match for them in terms of skill and team composition. Everybody would enjoy playing the game the way they want, or exploring new heroes without worrying about counterpicking or team synergy. All the team compatibility heavylifting is done by the matchmaker. In the real world, there's just too many things in the way of that, such as a limited player pool, and the fact that the tanks/healers/others ratio is far from 20%/20%/60%. Increased wait time is the cost of having proper comps in QM.

Giving people a choice of matchmaking speed (with role mirroring) vs match quality (with enforced team comp) in QM, like you mentioned, sounds like a good idea. We're exploring some options there, but there are some questions that need answering, such as:

Do we want to segregate QM population into two separate queues, one with enforced comps, the other would keep the current role mirroring rules? Should we move people from enforced-comp queue to role-mirroring queue if their wait time is too high?

We see the Draft lobby as a preferred way of starting a match. The downside is, even Unranked Draft puts a lot of pressure on new players, forcing them out of the comfort zone of QM's pre-picked heroes. One potential solution could be some kind of Light Draft mode, such as Blind Pick, which will allow players to customize their own team knowing the map they got and whatever their teammates choose to play. This could be an easier ramp-up between QM and Draft mode, and would allow players to get better at building compositions and learning how to play correctly.

Performance-based Matchmaking is probably not something that will return in the near future. There's definitely a nice educational aspect there though! We're exploring some other related ideas, such as a "Personal scorecard", a kind of post-match report summarizing your in-game performance, emphasizing your key stats and giving out a total numerical score, and maybe some advice on how to improve it. (/u/Blizz_SMorozov)

Do you guys have any plans to convert Brawl Mode into a fix Aram mode?
Hi Listar! For the foreseeable future, our Brawl maps will cycle the ARAM map pool. A full ARAM queue is being discussed, but no concrete plans on what we will do with that as yet. We are aware that some of our Brawl maps were very well received and some missed the mark. What are your thoughts on this? If we made Brawl into an ARAM queue, would you miss some of the other brawl maps? (/u/Blizz_DGower)

One of the primary criticisms of HotS that's existed since the game's inception (and the primary reason I now believe HotS never took off against primary competitors) is reduced player agency vs other Mobas, i.e. reduced individual impact (or the perception thereof). My question is: Are there any plans to make core adjustments to increase player agency?
Good morning captxploder!

This exact concern is probably the largest and longest running in our bullpen. We love the team-experience that Heroes has brought the genre, but have always been looking for ways to also allow individuals to show off their skill. If you look at the history of the game, a lot of design decisions and changes have been pointed towards this direction. Quest talents were directly evolved from trying to find ways to create skill-based asymmetrical power spikes throughout the game. You will also notice that a lot of our reworks and newer Heroes have dramatically higher skill-ceilings, allowing talented players to really showcase the power potential behind the Hero.

As for the future, I don't think we will ever stop trying to find new and creative ways to allow individuals a chance to show-off how good they are and make huge plays. All this said, the heart of the game is based on winning or losing together as a team.

For some fun insight - we have done quite a bit of experimenting around ripping out team levels completely but every time we do it, the game starts to unravel and loses a lot of the magic that makes it so incredible. However, I doubt that we will ever stop trying these things because even when they ultimately fail, it helps us understand and reinforce the largest core pillar of our game! (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)

Is there any possibility for a spectate option?
We've been exploring this idea, though it is not currently in development. I'll share some details of our very early investigations.

Twice a year, the Heroes team has a hackathon week where we are free to explore any idea. In our last few hackathons we've built small prototypes working towards spectating live games. This is a technical challenge due to our architecture but it seems to be a solvable challenge with enough time and clever engineering.

One technical restriction we have found is that if we do support live spectate, transferring the initial data will have a high-speed bandwidth requirement for the spectating player and for at least one player in the game. Certain prototypes work great on our internal network but need significant additional work and testing to support players on the internet with slower connections.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of just one of the challenges we face and insight into our progress on solving them. (/u/Blizz_PElia)

Are you currently working on better reconnect system?
Last year the engineering team made multiple improvements to reconnect. We were able to reduce the required bandwidth for the game overall from 5kb/s to 2.5kb/s which significantly helps rejoin speed. We also reduced rejoin time necessary after intentionally exiting the game by forcing a rejoin save on exit.

For the future, we've been testing an improvement that transfers game state between players to improve cases like loss of power or internet. This requires the rejoining player and one player in the game to have high speed internet but will further improve the rejoin experience for many players.

Improving reconnect and fixing other issues that prevent playing the game are an ongoing priority for the Heroes engineers. (/u/Blizz_PElia)

Since ranked modes are being merged, has there been any discussion on Unranked Draft and Quick Match seeing similar treatment?
We currently have no plans to merge Unranked Draft and Quick Match. (/u/Blizz_Zues)

Tassadar Rework Follow-up
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
En Taro Heroes,

A major Tassadar rework is indeed in active development right now. David Warner has a pretty incredible vision for him but due to the scope and complexity of the rework, the targeted release is still a good ways out.

While that may seem like a bummer, in actuality it's quite a boon for the community, as your ideas and feedback can potentially make extremely impactful changes as we continue to iterate on his path to High Templar glory!

Please continue to share your thoughts!
Out of curiosity, would you consider this the most drastic rework we've gotten? We've gotten extreme ones, like replacing most of Sylvanas' kit with new things of the same name, but will this go a step further, into the role change category?
This is currently being developed to a point where we would shift his role from Support to Assassin.

Talking about this stuff while it is in development is always a bit difficult for us because things can change and written words on the internet are forever. So, although we can always hide under the umbrella of 'Anything Can Happen In The Nexus', please know that this is subject to change; but, as for now, that is most definitely our current agenda!
Blizzard and the hots team are truly the greatest. Thanks for the AMA today, and thanks for keeping me fascinated with your universes since I sent my first peon to chop wood all those years ago.
Thank you for your constant support!

Those beautiful wood-chopping peons are the catalyst to having my dream-job today!

Do you intend to use the older Tassadar-design for a Sentry-Hero?
Not currently as the current testing is showcasing how fun of an ability that Force Wall can be when given to an Assassin ;)

Combined Ranked Mode Follow-up
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Good evening friends,

Thank you for taking the time to write up this feedback. We are very aware of the Team League smurfing/boosting and what it has done to the credibility of the rankings of that mode. I believe that we have measures in place that should nullify the vast majority of the concerns you have brought up but I will follow-up with our feature team tomorrow and double-check everything.

Our goal with the new Ranked Mode is to create a healthy and fair place for players to compete. We are doing our best to make sure that the mode is free from exploitation on release and have the ability to act quickly if someone finds a way to do so.

Thanks again for your passion and concern, it means the world to us!

I should also add that we are doing all of this with a parallel passion of making sure that friends of all skill levels have an opportunity to play together in a competitive environment. I believe David Gower answered it a couple of times in the earlier AMA, but we are doing our best to make targeted design-decisions towards (although cautious ones at first) allowing groups of varying skill levels to play together in this mode.

this is the one thing where I can't just agree with the team, everything else is peachy.
I'd love to keep allowing this for obvious reasons, but this isn't what happens on other competitive games.

Dota 2: Parties with members whose MMRs are 3000 or more apart are unable to queue for ranked matches.
Overwatch: The SR of each group member must be within 1000 (positive or negative) of all other group members ranked at Diamond or below, within 500 of all members ranked at Master or above and within 350 of all members ranked at Grandmaster.

While this caters to the high demographic of Dota 2 and Overwatch, this is what makes their Ranked virtually invulnerable to criticism. And that lack of criticism is stronger than the possibility of playing with your friends on Draft, specially if we already have Unranked for that.

Following that solid integrity is what I suggest for HOTS... because time and time and time again the high ranked players find something to complain about the ranked challenge quality, and they will always cite the integrity of the system.

So give them what they want, and don't allow Grandmasters to play with Bronzes anymore (this is an example, but basically, keep the system on a tight leash). If not, this will keep encouraging Grandmasters to create smurfs, and won't completely remove boosting or exploiting the system (if I understood it correctly).

These following months will be make or do for Ranked, it's the last stand for many players, as you can read from the other comments. It's a hard decision to make and I trust you guys, but I cannot defend you on a decision that won't fully protect the credibility of the system.

I don't disagree with you at all.

Unfortunately this hard-line concept has and will always be difficult. There are so many different variables in play when it comes to friends playing together that we unfortunately cant solve for all of them.

The current design is trying to be as friendly as possible to all groups of friends while also denying the exploitation of the system in order to improve their own individual ranks.

As stated in my comment earlier, if some group of hooligans find a way to exploit this league, we plan to make quick and concise changes to stop it.
This article was originally published in forum thread: March 6 Heroes Developer AMA Recap started by Nerraw View original post
Comments 4 Comments
  1. skorpio's Avatar
    I will take it all! (maybe except Deckard buff)
  1. ophion1990's Avatar
    Sounds great! Now to see it come into fruition, rather than just getting ye olde "soon™".
  1. DesoPL's Avatar
    Yeah cool, but people like me who are not intrested playing rankeds, still have two options.

    Play in ruined QM matchmaking, or just quiting the game. This circus is never ending.
  1. Twen's Avatar
    Well unranked and random brawl are also options (excluding vs AI as pve mode).

    OT, this sounds quite promising. I'm just mildly concerned about what happens to your rank with combining TL and HL, but sounds like it shouldn't screw you too badly.

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