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by Published on 2017-11-04 03:18 AM

Heroes of the Storm What's Next - Live Panel Recap

Alexstrasza - Ranged Support - Warcraft Hero



This panel was hosted by Matthew Cooper (Lead Live Designer), Alan Dabiri (Game Director), and Travis McGeathy (Lead Game Designer)!

2017 Recap
  • The release of Heroes 2.0 was the single-biggest moment in Heroes history
  • Hanamura brought a lot of new things, but some didn't quite work out as planned. They're still working on a rework for the map
  • 15 new heroes were added in 2017! Hanzo will be the 75th hero in the game, more than double the 30 on release
  • 16 hero reworks for existing heroes were carried out just in 2017 alone.
  • 59 heroes had balance updates made to them.

Looking Ahead
  • Previously the team has focused on very big updates. It feels cool but it can also become cluttered, individual pieces of content often feel overshadowed.
  • Massive amounts of concurrent changes can also disrupt the meta.
  • They're planning on spreading out individual content/releases/changes to several updates. New hero in one patch, hero rework in the next one, and so on.

UI Updates
  • Target frame being added to the game. You can select units and see their stats. Includes armor, attack, etc.
  • Heroes in Hiding: New way of showing heroes inside vehicles, Stitches Gorge, Zagara Maw, etc.

Voice Chat
  • Blizzard Voice being integrated directly into the game client.
  • The system is opt-in.
  • Ingame voice chat indicators for easy overview to see who has opted in.

Performance-based Matchmaking
  • Goal is to improve matchmaking accuracy by taking personal ingame performance into account
  • Matchmaker tries to match players together by MMR. The higher the accuracy of your MMR, the better the game.
  • MMR is hard to pin down though. Current system is solely decided by win/loss.
  • They've been adding data hooks to the game for a while (MVP, on-fire system) to pinpoint personalized stats and help with the new MMR system.
  • Illidan example: Damage, xp soak, few deaths, camp captures.
  • Kerrigan example: Damage, xp, few deaths, but focus on Crowd Control instead of camps.
  • These hero/role-specific stats can be incorporated into the matchmaker for it to more accurately figure out how well you actually do in a game.
  • The new matchmaker has quietly been running on Live servers in parallel to current systems for a while, for statistics gathering
  • MMR example: Master tier player took control of a Bronze player's account under the current matchmaker.
  • The data gathered from both old and new MMR systems showed that the Master player would reach his intended rank (Master) in only half the time under the new system.
  • This sytem can also help detect feeding to help with punishing bad behaviour. The system isn't currently automated, but it could be with time
  • This is releasing in mid-December with the new ranked season!

2018 Gameplay Update - Camera
  • Can currently be claustrophobic.
  • Over time they've added heroes with long range or crazy mobility (Chromie, Genji), so they want to pull the camera out a little bit.
  • How far out can they go? Question of performance vs visibility.
  • They want to reach the right balance. Too far can impact performance significantly, and it can be hard to see details

Gameplay - Stealth
  • Stealth heroes are typically powerful heroes in quick match, but weak in competitive.
  • They want to even out the playing field
  • The stealth visual can be hard to see for the untrained eye.
  • Goal is to make stealth easier to see for moving heroes.
  • In internal testing, stealth is being changed so that heroes standing still will disappear completely after a few seconds
  • Stealth should still be a strategic advantage. You're still invisible on the minimap, and you cannot be directly targeted.
  • Stealth heroes are being updated and buffed in response to being easier to see
  • Nova: New active ability to insta-stealth. Baseline +15% movement speed in stealth. Base Snipe damage reduced, but Snipe Master is baseline.
  • Full stealth changes will be covered on tomorrow's panel.

Gameplay - Laning
  • The laning phase currently carries to small of an impact.
  • Towers now have infinite shots.
  • Currently too easy to just clear a lane and go elsewhere while the minions push the towers and drain shots.
  • The change will make pushing require more active measures and less passivity
  • Minions have been buffed to compensate.
  • New Regeneration Globes: Team-specific for 4 seconds, and then it turns Neutral for another 4 seconds before timing out.

Gameplay - Fortifications
  • The standalone tower in towns is being removed.
  • It's not really that important, and sometimes even hinders defender movement.
  • Remaining town structures have had health buffed to compensate
  • Like the core, forts and keeps are getting Truesight. Any stealth heroes in range are revealed.
  • This will help heroes like Abathur and Murky.

Gameplay - Map Mechanics
  • Some maps keep you in the lane (Tomb, Dragon Shire), while others pull you out of the lane (Sky Temple, Cursed Hollow).
  • Certain map objectives will be pushed back to allow for longer laning phases.
  • Simplified objective timers. Two rulesets: Objectives spawn at 1:30, or 3:00. 30 second warnings are being added so people are aware of objectives coming up.
  • Upcoming objectives will be telegraphed, such as the next active shrine on Infernal Shrines being highlighted beforehand
  • They still want variation on maps, such as random Tribute spawns, but they want to make the randomness more visible.
  • The goal is to make the game more interesting without increasing game length.

Gameplay - Mercenaries
  • Currently many are working as tower ammo fodder. Won't work with the new tower system
  • Knight Camp caster will emit a spell armor aura, to encourage pushing with the camp.
  • Hellbat will decrease armor on the targets.
  • Siege Giants will now always telegraph their attacks at all times, even when capturing the camp
  • They're still looking at the other camps too, to ensure they're all interesting.

Upcoming Timeline
  • Community summit was held back in October, to collect feedback from prominent community members and pro players
  • 3-week PTR will be coming up later in November, with release in December alongside new ranked season.


Q: Are you considering moving duo-queue back into Hero League?
A: Not currently. Always looking to evaulate, but they currently like Hero League solo-queue. They'd rather work to improve the Team League experience for grouped players

Q: It's difficult to see things like sprays and emojis on 4K monitors. Improvements, like up-scaling, coming?
A: Known issue, the team will work on it

Q: Will you do personal commendations and the like?
A: Want to do it, team has been thinking about it for a while. Want to call out good players in various ways. Nothing specific to announce right now.

Q: Will you expand interactive environment, like conveyor belts, to more maps?
A: The battleground team is always looking to push boundaries. Crazy ideas are always being tried, so who knows what will happen

Q: Have you considered repositioning fountains to make them less vulnerable?
A: Battleground team has been looking at this and want to improve. Not a huge concern, but they're keeping an eye on it.

Q: QM team comps. Sometimes you get actual comps, sometimes you get the exact opposite Will you look at improving this?
A: QM is an interesting beast. Meant to be the Wild West. Constrained compositions runs contrary to the goal of the gamemode. They've run simulations with trying to find good comps every time, and the queue times "explode". They continue to tweak the matchmaking rules, but no sweeping changes
by Published on 2017-11-04 12:56 AM

BlizzCon 2017 - Junkertown: The Plan - Creating a New Kind of Overwatch Animation
This is a brief summary of the second Overwatch panel!

In-Game Cinematic Panel
  • Teamwork: Cinematics are created as a collaboration of the IGC and the Overwatch Engine Team
  • A whole new engine had to be built to allow creation of cinematics
  • The team has about 25 members
  • The team incorporates multiple Blizzard game engines

Story Development
  • Planning started early 2017, when the map didn't exist yet
  • Characters: Junkrat and Roadhog
  • Concept art, and the Queen's Decree was given to the team
  • During their exile, they [Junkrat, and Roadhog] stole everything they could
  • Choosing the place: the gate of the town
  • The Hook: Junkrat just wants to light the fuse to blow stuff up
  • Overwatch cinematics up to this point were very empotional
  • The title sequence was made to feel like a fun adventure

The Pitch
  • The cinematic was pitched without a script or a storyboard
  • The whole pitch was acted out
  • Greenlight to continue
  • The storyboard was very close to the final cinematic

Nuts and Bolts of the Overwatch Engine
  • Needed to be able to capture images and insert assets to the engine
  • Buffers: images that represent data
  • Set the Scene: TED is a light Overwatch engine used to set scenes, use the camera, add animations
  • The effects system drove the capture
  • The Play of the Game system and Capture system was very useful
  • New Camera system: had to make a free movement camera
  • Make the game engine not optimize engine by forcing quality 11
  • Break apart the scene into assets so they can be manipulated
  • Inserting the images to the engine
  • The Graphics cards were not able to support Quality 11
  • Slowed frames down to 1 FPS
  • The cinematic took up 5 TB of space

  • The game team helps the IGC team understand the character
  • Play of the Games give a really good insight into the character
  • Reference is used to discover ideas, facial expressions and nuances
  • Brad passed out during one of the takes when acting for the reference
  • Smear Frames: makes the animation more realistic by smearing the character
  • Makes it easier for the eye to follow, only visible in slow motion
  • Jokes are added by animators sometimes

The Engine
  • The characters, costumes, and variations are taken from the game engine
  • Everything that doesn't already exists in the game has to be manually made
  • The mesh of the characters has to be improved, because cinematics have more detail
  • A rig has to be built, which is the skeleton. This gives points of articulation
  • Limbs: these are added separately as controls for the animatior
  • Junkrat alone has 78 limbs and 524 controls
  • There are multiple automated control that move controls together
  • The face has multiple animated controls to create facial expressions
  • Effects are hand drawn frame-by-frame
  • All these are then added to TED for capture

Art and Lighting
  • The map was in development during the cinematic development
  • The final map was used as a base
  • Ambient light: simulates sunlight in the cinematic
  • The characters could not be seen while the light was added
  • Multiple point lights are added to make characters and items pop
  • After lights are added, it is ran through compositing
  • Because the payload was not used in game, which allowed to make it much more exaggerated
  • A surprised Pachimari was added to the cinematic as an Easter egg

by Published on 2017-11-04 12:42 AM

BlizzCon 2017 - Overwatch - What's Next
A quick outline of what to expect in the future of Overwatch!

New Hero: Development of Moira
  • Moira is the new Support Healer
  • The geneticist of the team
  • Moira doesn't allow morals to come in the way of science
  • Recruited by Reyes to join Blackwatch
  • Allied herself with Talon, after Overwatch was gone

The Art of Moira
  • Concept art weapons included syringes, and a two handed cannon, and tentacles
  • Her duality between doing damage and healing indicated by the liquid in the tubes
  • Drains energy from her enemies
  • Ultimate Ability: Coalescence, which is a frontal beam

  • Oasis: She was invited to be the minister of Genetics in Oasis
  • Glam: A tribute to Glam Rock in from the 70s

  • Biotic Grasp: Primary fire is Regeneration, which is a healing throughput. Controlled by a meter
  • Secondary fire is Decay, which does damage and fills the meter back up. Small amount of Leech
  • Fade (Shift): A small dash, making her invisible, which also grants movement speed
  • Biotic Orb (E): Pulls out two orbs, then the healing one can be activated by Primary fire, or damage orb by Secondary fire
  • This orb does AOE healing, bounces around, slows down when it is close to a friendly target
  • Coalescence (Q): Long range frontal beam that heals allies and damages enemies affected by it
  • This ultimate pierces barriers

New Map: Blizzard World
  • The idea has been around since before last BlizzCon
  • BlizzardWorld is an amusement park, celebrating the worlds and places of Blizzard Ent.
  • There is no Overwatch part of the Park
  • Hybrid Map
  • First is a Control Point
  • Two main paths to the first point
  • The first choke is a mini-arena, with multiple routes
  • Several Healthpacks to gain a foothold
  • After capturing the first point, it is time to move the payload
  • Circular arena, with abundance of high-ground
  • Multiple flanking routes, Mega healthpacks and corridors
  • Push the payload to the Throne of the Skeleton King, in Leoric's Manor
  • Hidden lore in the area
  • The park was designed by artists from all Blizzard Games
  • Lots of easter eggs, including special voicelines
  • Coming to the PTR soon, and will go live early next year

New Skins: Blizzard Themed
  • Immortal Orisa
  • Magni Bronzebeard Torbjorn
  • Nova Widowmaker
  • Blackhand Doomfist
  • Barbarian Zarya
  • Butcher Roadhog
  • Crusader Reinhardt
  • Ecopoint Mei
  • All the skins will be available in the Base Lootbox
  • More info early next year


Q: Will BlizzardWorld come to real life?
A: Not currently planned.

Q: Can the siege tank be used?
A: Possibly in an Arcade Version.

Q: How does Moiras healing connect to Zenyata?
A: Her healing has a connection to Mercy, there is a hint on one of the maps.

Q: Will Pharah's rockets or damage be updated like Junkrat?
A: With Junkrat it made sense to make the changes, but Pharah's kit allows her to stay at range.

Q: Will next year be an Eichenwalde PVE event?
A: Can't answer, but they really love the map.

Q: Are there changes planned to Symmetra?
A: Not likely to have healing abilities added, but the categories might be changed. Always looking at heroes to make changes.

Q: Was Moira a scrap class from Titan, and what other features are planned from that game?
A: Moira was not inspired by Titan, but there are guns from Titan which influence weapons.

Q: How is mobility being looked at when designing new heroes, and balancing the game?
A: Mobility is a big topic, and a main theme to watch out for when designing new heroes.

Q: Can we expect more LGBT identified heroes?
A: Representation is definitely important, but characters personalities need to be revealed through story.

Q: Quickplay has some issues with it not being competitive enough, is this being looked at?
A: Quickplay is always being looked at, and some more restrictions might be included in the future to find more like players.

Q: Will there be any interest in using old assets or locations for new map modes?
A: Yes, this has been done in the past with maps such as Chateou. In the future this can be expected to continue.

Q: Could a new competitive scorecard be added with more detail?
A: This is definitely something being looked at. Currently this is done by third party websites, but it is an idea they are interested in.

Q: There is so much lore potential, can there be more added in single player mode?
A: More frequent lore bits can be expected in the future.

Q: Is there plans to bring a more social aspect to Overwatch, such as a general lobby before or LFG system?
A: This has been discussed, but there are a lot of challenges implementing it.

Q: Are there voiceline interactions between Magni Bronzebeard skin and Moira?
A: Haven't though of this yet, but Moira definitely inspired by Wizzard and Mage .

Q: What is being though of when it comes to diversity in the game?
A: Ovewatch is a very diverse team, and it is important to have diverse characters.

by Published on 2017-11-04 12:20 AM

CodeCraft – Under the Hood with Blizzard Engineering, Part 1

Mythic Plus Systems
  • Record a watermark of mythic + level when determining keystone level
  • Design team determines what combinations of keystone affixes are possible
  • Dungeon reads keystone when it's placed and allows design team to modify dungeon based on what the key turns on.
  • Design team also is responsible for implementing the chest and rewards at end of keystone dungeon

Overwatch Patch Days
  • Patch cycle starts days to weeks before patch.
  • Red and blue deployment cycle for patches. Testing happens on one cycle to prepare for launch day

Technology Challenges
  • Team had to deal with the growing pains of being a multiple platform system
  • Integrating all games through one platform helps immensely

Learning from Warcraft Patch Days
  • Try to avoid surprises and downtime
  • Went from over 8 hour deployments to much faster with red/blue deployment

Getting into Design Industry
  • Look at team culture and your fit within it
  • Try to do side projects and consider the scope
  • Finished projects are much better than larger scope projects
  • Don't forget a cover letter!

Mythic Plus Affixes
  • Wasn't necessarily an engineering challenge
  • Content creators design the affixes, designers just see code and implement it
  • Designers run scripts to add additional functionality based on affixes (such as conditional upon enemy death)

Lag in Blizzard Matchmaking
  • New technology also involves infrastructure
  • Data centers all over the world
  • Evaluate where players are coming from
  • Understanding where to put servers
  • Always trying to reduce ping
  • Data collection helps the speed at which network team can respond to concerns

Dealing with Bugs
  • Look at what caused it and how to immediately solve it
  • Go back and look at everything that led up to bug
  • Incident management
  • Bugs are inevitable with the amount of data in games

Working with the World of Warcraft Code over the Years
  • Adding code on top of the existing systems sometimes causes problems for the older systems
  • Matter of experience and looking at what the feature does to the existing systems
  • Most important thing is that the game keeps running
by Published on 2017-11-03 11:57 PM

Battle for Azeroth - Allied Races
Subraces are finally here, officially called Allied Races. Two of them were playable at BlizzCon. Keep in mind this is a demo, not final.

In addition to the races listed below, Zandalari Trolls, Nightborne, Void Elves, and Dark Iron Dwarves are planned.

Highmountain Tauren
  • In addition to the regular options, customize facial hair / hair, horn style, horn color.
  • Racials:
    • Rugged Tenacity - Reduces damage taken by 330
    • Pride of Ironhorn - Mining skill increased by 15 and allows you to mine faster
    • Mountaineer - Increases your Versatility by 1%.
    • Bull Rush - Charges forward for 1 sec, knocking enemies down for 1.5 sec. 2 minute cooldown.
    • Waste Not, Want Not - You have a chance to loot additional meat and fish

Lightforged Draenei
  • In addition to the regular options, customize facial hair, tattoo style, and runes.
  • In the demo, only has access to Warrior, Paladin, Hunter, Priest, Mage.
  • Racials:
    • Light's Judgement - Call down a strike of Holy energy dealing 5,150 Holy damage to enemies within 5 yards after 3 sec. 40 yd range, 2.5 min cooldown.
    • Forge of Light - Summon a forge of light, enabling Blacksmithing. Blacksmithing skill increased by 10.
    • Demonbane - Experience gains from killing beasts increased by 20%.
    • Holy Resistance - Reduce Holy damage taken by 1%.
    • Final Verdict - When you die the Light avenges you, dealing 1,162 Holy damage to enemies within 8 yards and healing allies for 1,383.

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