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    May 16th Developer Reddit AMA Recap

    Reddit Developer AMA Recap
    The Heroes development team conduced a reddit AMA this week with 6 members of the team taking part in answering questions from the community. We've included a shorter list of highlighted points for those who may not have time to read through every answer.

    Upcoming Hero Changes
    • Kerrigan is on the list of heroes looking at an update
    • Azmodan will be getting a talent rework in coming months
    • Chromie will receive changes at some point in the future
    • The Lost Vikings are being discussed internally, with the aim of making them more accessible
    • An update to Stukov is currently being worked on, with a similar scope as the recent Kael'thas update
    • Varian should receive a small health buff for Colossus Smash and Twin Blades soon
    • Tyrande may be made a full healer, or a full assassin, at some point, but the team isn't sure whether this is the right way to go about her. They want more player feedback
    • Stitches is scheduled for a look in the near future
    • Brightwing may receive small tweaks to bring her back into the meta a bit
    • Cho's Surging Dash talent is a concern and will likely be toned down
    • Raynor will be getting an actual trait!

    Hero Tidbits
    • Mobility creep is always a concern, but the team feels it's been improved with the recent nerfs to Tracer, Genji, and Hanzo. The possibility of a "grounding" ability against mobile heroes is being explored
    • We should expect more hero price reductions in the future
    • 70% of the hero roster is sitting between 48%-52% winrate currently

    Role Rework
    • A role rework is actively being worked on: Tanks, Bruisers, Melee Assassins, Ranged Assassins, Supports, Healers
    • Tags will be assigned to each hero, such as Wave Clear or Burst Damage. Currently 15 major tags in development
    • Multi-class will be removed with the role rework. A few heroes might land in multiple categories, such as Kharazim and Zarya

    • The team is making good progress on Hanamura
    • The team is looking at the Braxis Holdout objective to reduce snowballing

    • Performance-based matchmaking will enter a test phase with showing players how they did in various areas after a match, but won't affect your actual MMR until a later update
    • A map editor is not actively being worked on

    AMA Archive
    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    Are there any plans to redesign Kerrigan's Ultralisk heroic?
    We’d like to make the Ultralisk more of a moment and have more interesting gameplay for sure. Having the Ultralisk spawn/appear on the battlefield in a more interesting way is probably part of this. Maybe when you summon the Ultralisk, it charges towards the targeted direction, for example. We may also explore an active ability on the Ultralisk to enhance its unique gameplay moment. Kerrigan is on our list of characters we would like to update. (u/BlizzCooper)

    Would it be possible to push the 3rd ban to the tournament draft mode sooner rather than later so it is in effect for the first week of HGCO and HGC.
    So our dev work has 3rd Ban dropping with the release that comes out with the next season roll. We outlined the timing in this recent blog post: https://news.blizzard.com/en-us/hero...-2018-season-3

    However, we'll be discussing the exact ban process with HGC teams leading up to that so that they can develop their strategies. We'll also have that patch up on the PTR before it goes live for some testing in the client. (u/BlizzAlan)

    PvE Brawls : I loved the PvE style brawls you did in the past. Are there plans to do more of those, perhaps even a game mode that offers some approximation of 'a dungeon run' with boss stages and a chance for loot to drop?
    We loved working on those Brawls, so we're glad you guys enjoyed playing them.

    We don't have anything new to announce in this area, but we always love trying new things with the game.
    That deflection is sooo smooth. Must be a requirement to work a blizzard.
    :) (u/BlizzAlan)

    Are there any plans to redistribute the power in Azmodan's kit?
    We agree, Azmodan's Globe of Annihilation vastly overshadows the rest of his kit. We actually have him slated for a Talent Rework in the coming months to address this, as well as give him more Talents that can actually change the way that he plays. We don't like that the proper way to play the Lord of Sin is to rarely use All Shall Burn or Summon Demon Warrior, and we feel that the base power of the character isn't all that strong (Azmodan is one of the weakest characters in the game without Talents).

    A few tidbits from the upcoming update:
    • Taste for Blood is becoming Azmodan's baseline quest.
    • All Azmodan's level 1 Talents are going to alter the baseline quest, allowing you to add an additional bonus or way to get stacks.
    • Summon Demon Warriors are getting a baseline damage aura, similar to Burning Rage.
    • All Shall Burn won't last indefinitely, but instead does more DPS over a shorter period.

    Obviously, lots of new Talents to go alongside these changes, and hopefully spice up the way Azmodans play from game to game. (u/BlizzNeyman)

    Can you supply us with any details about the new roles and specifically the tags that will be used in the new system and how they complement each other?
    We are hard at work on both systems. I've been tanking a lot of the design work, and here's a sneak peek at what you can expect (keep in mind that this is still a work in progress and nothing is set in stone):

    • We are currently looking at six different roles: Tanks, Bruisers, Melee Assassins, Ranged Assassins, Supports, and Healers. This gives us enough bandwidth to classify the vast majority of our Heroes. That said, in Heroes we have several characters who bring something unique to the genre and as a result they don't easily fit within these conventions. Lost Vikings are a good example. We'll need to make some concessions in those cases.

    • I have personally been working on the tag system and although it is still very much a work in progress, we can share a few things. We want the system to be easy to understand, but also robust enough to give quality details about how each Hero plays. We currently have about 15 major tags (things like Wave Clear, Burst Damage, Crowd Control, etc.) that can be attached to a Hero. These should help players understand the focus of each Hero while also allowing them to find similar Heroes in their comfort zone or specific qualities they might need in a given draft/match.(u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    PBMM [Performance-Based Matchmaking]: In the past I believe you said that before you implement it in game you might consider showing it to us in the UI before actually making the effect of PBMM go live, perhaps as a sanity check to catch any crazy outliers where the system was not working as intended. Is this, or something like this still the plan?
    Yes, this is still the plan!

    In a future update (not for a few more patches), we're going to add a tooltip to the end-of-game screen which will let you see how the system thinks you did in the various criteria that it is using to judge your performance. This will help you understand what areas you are doing well in, and what areas you may want to consider focusing on to improve your performance.

    We will have the PBMM rank point adjustments turned off for this initial release. We're just going to provide the information that the system would have used. During this "beta" period we'll gather feedback from you guys and monitor how the stats are looking internally. Then we'll turn on the point adjustments in a subsequent season. (u/BlizzAlan)

    How do you feel about the lane mechanics patch of December 12, that was supposed to make "early game more meaningful"? Did you collect statistics on what it did to game outcomes?
    We had a few design goals with the gameplay updates that were released in December. One of those goals was to make the laning phase more meaningful. Laning is a great opportunity to showcase a player’s individual skill, especially on 3 lane maps. With the increased time before the first map objective, we also extended this part of the match and kept players laning for a little bit longer.

    Snowballs are always a potential concern for us. We tend to look at snowballs from an overall health of the game but also on a map-by-map basis. Braxis Holdout, for example, tends to be one of our more snowbally maps. As a result, we’re looking to explore some changes to the Zerg Wave mechanic on Braxis to address this individual map.

    The other side of things is that we want the early game to matter, but there is a balancing act in how much. A team’s decisions and execution at the start of a match should have some impact on the rest of the game, but not to the level where comebacks don’t exist or feel unlikely. This is a tight line we try and walk. I think in the past we’ve treaded on the side of “Early game doesn’t matter at all, both teams will hit 20 and the next team fight decides things.” It’s possible we’re too far the other direction now though.

    Thanks for the data on the 2017/2018 Western Clash stuff, we will take a closer look at that. Obviously HGC is very important to us, but it’s also important to remember that this is a very small sample size and a couple of very strong teams could easily sway this data significantly. We want to make sure that our changes are pushing the game in a positive direction for the highest level of play, but also for as many players as possible. (u/BlizzCooper)

    Have you considered using the PBM algorithm to determine the MVP or other recognitions for the victory screen?
    Regarding using the PBMM algorithm/data in other places like MVP: Yes, this is something we've talked about doing! After we get the system out live, we're going to look at a lot of other places where we can use this algorithm/data to improve the game. MVP is definitely one of those. Catching AFK/feeders/griefers is another area. (u/BlizzAlan)

    What is the future of multiclass heroes?
    Multiclass was really an exploration for us in talent design. How far can we let a player alter the direction of their hero through the talent system?

    When we update our new role system, we’re planning to remove multiclass as a category. Varian would likely fit into a couple of the new roles, most likely Tank and Bruiser. There would be a handful of other characters who fit into multiple categories, Kharazim or Zarya are other strong candidates for this. (u/BlizzCooper)

    How concerned are you about mobility creep?
    We talk about mobility creep (and power creep in general) a lot as a design team. Here's our take on it:
    • We always want to push the envelope of what our new characters can do. We think we can do that and still make these characters feel balanced and fair.
    • Some Heroes probably pushed this envelope too far. We recently made balance changes to Genji, Hanzo and Tracer to reduce their mobility and force them to be a little more exposed when they try to do their thing. We're still tuning them, but overall we think they're in a much healthier state now than immediately after their respective releases.
    • You can look forward to more Chromie changes in the future. I can't give a date, but we've started to experiment with various ideas, like pulling in her range further but reducing her cast time, and making her W visible to enemies. All of this is still early in development, but the idea is to make her feel more interactive with enemies, and not create such a binary experience for Chromie herself (if enemies reach her, she dies and can't do damage, otherwise she's untouched).
    • We've discussed coming up with creative abilities that can combat mobility, but haven't really found one we liked that met all of our criteria so far. It would have to punish mobile characters without also hurting non-mobile ones, have clear implications of what it would stop and wouldn't stop, and make sense from a fantasy and clarity standpoint. (u/BlizzNeyman)

    Is a publicly available editor something we still might see down the line?
    It's something that we've definitely discussed in the past. Of course we've seen a lot of awesome content created by the communities in War3 and SC2 (I personally worked on parts of the custom map support for both games), but it's not something we are actively working on for Heroes right now. Maybe we can revisit in the future. (u/BlizzAlan)

    What alternatives for self-sustain were examined for Ana?
    We explored a few alternatives for self-sustain for Ana. We thought about grenade-centric ideas, however we shied away from it for a couple reasons:
    • Ana's Grenade already does a whole lot of stuff, and we really didn't want to add more mechanics to it. It already Deals damage, heals, negates enemy healing, and gives allies an Ana-specific healing buff. We didn't want to tack on even more functionality to this.
    • We didn't want to add more use cases for her Grenade if we can help it. She already wants to use it to secure kills on enemies when they are put under pressure, as well as to save allies with her healing buff. If we added the third use case of using it on herself as her primary method of self-healing, then there's a high chance that players wouldn't have it for the other use cases when they needed it. There's an argument that this adds mastery to the hero, to know how and when to use the ability, but I think there's also a high chance that, since it's a high-cooldown ability, that players will often just end up frustrated when they use it for one of the above use cases and then the situation of the fight changes drastically and they have large missed opportunities to use it for its other cases. (u/BlizzAZJackson)

    When can we expect a Vikings update?
    We love The Lost Vikings, and think they're important to the game as a whole as they exemplify how Heroes of the Storm is unique among MOBAs. I can't give you any specifics on a date or scope of a rework since we haven't decided on anything yet, but here's what I can share:
    • We don't like that the Vikings' primary function is to be in all lanes to soak experience.
    • We love when the Vikings work together, and think that the coolest part of the Hero is having 3 units that combined are stronger than their individual pieces.
    • We would like to see the Vikings be more accessible. There's a small section of the player base that loves the Vikings, but by and large they are not a very popular Hero due to their power feeling hidden and their high micro demands.
    • We would love to see more interactivity and plays made with their kit. We have to balance that out with making them approachable.

    Again, keep in mind that these are just our thoughts, and it might be that we may drastically change their kit... or just make small tweaks over time. We honestly don't have any concrete plans yet, but I wanted to be very transparent and share what we think about the Hero at the moment. We would love to get them into a more prominent role in the Nexus at some point, though. (u/BlizzNeyman)

    The community has increasingly called for more balance patches that give small "tweaks" to heroes that are falling out of favor, and in that light, larger balance patches like last week's have been mostly well-received. Has the team given any serious thought to making these larger balance patches more of a regularly scheduled thing, so as to help provide continual smaller "tweaks" to heroes that don't need reworks, but are still dipping somewhat in popularity or success?
    Hey CriticKitten!

    First off, thanks for the work that you do. Your insightful posts on our balance patches are a great help to our community, and we all read your posts when you put them out.

    Secondly, great question! This is something that I'm personally very passionate about.

    The short answer is "yes," we like putting out smaller balance tweaks, and want to do it more often. However, there are many levels of balance changes, and each come with their own risks and rewards.

    Some examples of these, and their associated risks and rewards are:

    Small, numeric balance changes.
    These are changes like those made to Maiev in our last balance update, where we lowered her Health and increased the cooldown on Vault of the Wardens.

    These are usually used to influence pick and/or win rates. Simply put, in making these changes we want to move a hero or talent in a direction of being picked more or less often, so we buff or nerf them.

    • These are simple changes. The risk of unintentionally changing other parts of the game is relatively low. • As you mentioned, we can push out many of these changes in a short period of time, which can make the meta feel fresh and new.
    • There is little Development and QA validation. We can make these changes in a relatively short amount of time, and the risk of bugs is much lower than other changes. This is a bigger deal than I think most people give credit for. More complicated changes just take longer to do to make sure that they come out in a polished state, and even then, the more complicated the changes, the more inherent risk that things will be missed.

    • They can't fix design-related problems.
      • To give an example, for Kael'thas's recent changes, I had a strong desire to help his Level 16 Talent tier, which has been dominated by Fury of the Sunwell for a long time. From a pure win-rate perspective, his other talents on the tier were close. I could buff them, but I was pretty confident that the numeric buffs would have to be so high to offset the "cool" factor of Fury of the Sunwell, that they would have to be absurd to get people to pick them. This is partly why we eventually settled on Ignite as a competing talent on the tier.
    • Pick rate and Win rate are two very different things, and it's hard to make small, numeric balance changes without directly changing the win-rate of a hero.
      • A common problem we run into is that community perception simply doesn't match what's actually winning in the game right now, and if we tune up heroes who are "not performing well," they would start to have unreasonably high win rates pretty quickly.
      • As an example, over the last year Probius, The Lost Vikings, Rexxar, Sgt. Hammer, and Samuro have pretty much been dominating in regards to win rate at high rank Hero League. I think it's pretty fair to say that these heroes haven't been considered overpowered over the last year. If we wanted to give them the Thrall small number buff treatment, as in your example, then these heroes would be pushing 60% and beyond pretty quickly.

    These are the large, dramatic changes to heroes, where we change a large part of their talent tree, and sometimes their base abilities as well. Our upcoming changes to Diablo and Lunara are examples of this.

    • We can fix complicated design-related problems.
    • We can take lessons that we've learned from playing with/against these heroes over time and apply current design philosophies to them.
    • We can remove or mitigate frustrating aspects of these heroes and give them more healthy gameplay.

    • We can alienate existing lovers of the hero. If we change them too much, inevitably some people are going to be upset that they play differently.
    • These are a lot of work, and take a lot of time to validate and for QA to test. We can't just push them out quickly to solve immediate cries for change.
    • There's a higher chance that reworks will result in unintended consequences for the meta due to the hero changing drastically—or because the hero is not being picked anymore due to the changes pushing them out of the current meta during their release, which results in a negative reception.

    Smaller Talent Updates
    These are changes where we change, remove, or add a small number of new talents to a hero. We do these less often, but we want to do more of them in the future. A recent example of this are changes to Kael'thas, where we changed a few talents but didn't fundamentally change how he plays. I'm a huge fan of these, as we can have the flexibility of fixing smaller design problems without having to wait to do a full rework of a hero (say 1-2 talent tiers on a hero that we really want to fix).

    • We have more flexibility. We can fix design-related problems that have plagued a hero for a long time without having to do a full rework.
    • We can make a hero feel fresh and new without the risk of drastically changing them. We get a lot of the benefits of reworks with less of the downsides.

    • They're in that sweet spot where we can push these changes out much quicker than a normal rework, but that also means there are design changes that have less time for QA to validate. As an example, I'll totally take the blame for Kael'thas's Level 20 Pyroblast talent coming online at Level 10 when he came out. I made a simple mistake when implementing the new talent that we didn't have enough time to properly test.
    • It's easy to go down the rabbit hole and turn a small talent update into a full rework. I also worry a bit that if we go in and fix some talents but not others, that there could be a negative reception around "well why didn't you fix everything?"

    When all is said and done, I think that we can do more small balance number tweaks and smaller talent updates. The key is using the right tool for the right job, which can be hard to properly discern when looking at the entire game. As a small nugget, we're currently working on a similar update for Stukov, which should be similar in scope to Kael'thas! =) (u/BlizzAZJackson)

    What is your plan for newer players in this game? As in, how will you relieve the pressure of nearly half the roster being 10k gold.
    It's definitely a goal of ours to continue to reduce the gold and gem prices of older heroes. Right after Heroes 2.0 launched, we slowed this down because of all the other changes that happened during that time. We've since picked this back up and plan to continue to be vigilant in reducing gold and gem prices for existing heroes.

    I should also call out that we don't do this simply based on time in the game. There are other factors that go into the decisions about which heroes to lower gold prices on, like we might be more aggressive on gold price drops for newbie friendly heroes, while being a bit slower on complex or high skill floor heroes.

    We'll definitely keep looking for compelling ways to offer extremely low cost hero bundles, or in some cases just outright giving away a hero or two. (u/BlizzAlan)

    How does the balance team feel about Varian's level 4 diversity?
    Varian's a tricky one! First, some stats for context.

    In Hero League, Hero Level 10+, Diamond League+, Deckard Release:
    • Taunt - 75% pickrate, 50.3% winrate
    • Colossus Smash - 17% pick rate, 48% winrate
    • Twin Blades - 8% pick rate, 47.8% winrate

    Ideally, we'd probably want to get Taunt to about 50% pickrate, and maybe 30/20 amongst the two DPS specs. The damage Heroics could use a small buff, though the winrate isn't quite as bad as the memes would lead you believe.

    We have some plans to give both Colossus Smash and Twin Blades some more Health in a coming patch (just went into internal playtesting yesterday, so I can't give a date yet). (u/BlizzNeyman)

    My question is: what's your philosophy regarding giving small buffs to weak heroes more frequently, and why is it not happening too often?
    This has been a very hot topic lately, and I want everyone to know that we are actively discussing and taking it to heart. You saw a bit of our reaction with the last balance patch, as we touched ~18 Heroes (a couple of them bringing very significant talent changes). There are a multitude of reasons that the amount of changes fluctuates each patch. A couple of these are:

    • With the exception of a couple outliers, the current state of the game is actually pretty evenly balanced. All but a handful of Heroes are sitting between 45%-55% win rate (70% of the roster is actually between 48%-52%). If we inject too many changes at once, we’ll have a hard time narrowing down the cause/effect of any particular change. This can become problematic as every change has a ripple effect and we don't want to upset the equilibrium too much at any given time.

    Perception vs Reality
    • This one is what keeps us live/balance designers up at night. Let’s say that I come read reddit and see 10 threads on the front page about the frustrations surrounding Hanzo and how over-powered he is. I immediately run to our data dashboard and see that his win-rate is sitting at 46% (this is what it was before the last round of nerfs). What is the correct course of action - technically he needs buffs right? This is where balancing on win-rate alone becomes impossible. The frustration of playing against Hanzo has surpassed the reality that he is winning a lot less than he should. To 'fix' the issue we would need to make design changes alongside number tweaks, which take a lot more consideration and testing. In this example we opted to send out more nerfs in order to relieve frustrations and are internally looking at design changes to fix the core problem. Once we are happy with that, we can release it alongside some buffs in order to stabilize the Hero. In a perfect world we want each Hero in the Nexus to feel powerful and rewarding to play, but just as importantly to feel fair to play against.

    Razor Edges
    • We have a handful of Heroes that walk on a razor's edge of balance. Each member of the live/balance team has been working on the game since before it was launched. We have seen a lot of situations where a very small number buff can turn a borderline Hero into a nightmare. As the perfect example, let’s look at the crowd favorite—Chen. There was a time where Chen was completely un-bear-able (tee-hee) to play against. In certain compositions, he still is! His design is very binary in that you can either deal with him and his trait, or you can't. This is something we can't really fix through tuning and need to go into much deeper design changes to fix. We have a handful of these types of Heroes and they are very much on our radar.

    All this said, we are definitely listening and we will be trying our best to keep bringing balance changes and design updates as frequently as possible. We love bringing patches like our last one and will do our best to keep that bar going forward!
    Is there no consideration of releasing detailed stats if only for reasons of perception?
    This is an ongoing discussion that involves people well above my pay-grade, sorry (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    Can you add a feature to allow us to save our settings in Try Mode so that when we exit it and go back in, it remembers our previous settings?
    Good suggestion. Let me pass it on to the team and see what they think. Thanks! (u/BlizzAlan)

    Are there any plans to help melee assassins out, maybe even by giving more Supports Cleanse again, to enable these heroes?
    I think this is more of an issue with the current meta and the range of some ranged heroes and less a problem about melee assassins. We've recently nerfed the auto-attack range of Hanzo and Fenix, which should help with this feeling of being poked out all the time.

    As a counter-point, there are quite a few melee assassins that are performing very well at high level play, including Kerrigan (56%), Samuro (55.4%), Thrall (54.3%), Maiev (53.8%), Valeera (52.1%), and Malthael (52%). Not all of these heroes are seen a ton in the current meta, but they are performing very well, so I'm personally concerned that this is largely a perception issue about it feeling bad to be poked to death by ranged assassins, and less an issue of melee assassins actually being weak.

    Also to answer the second part of your question, we don't currently have plans to give other supports Cleanse.

    It's tricky to simply buff these melee assassins to get them to see more play, as they can easily become overpowering in their games, especially if the meta shifts more in their favor and they become more popular. (u/BlizzAZJackson)

    How do you prioritise what heroes to balance first?
    Great question! Here is the rough order we tend to follow when prioritizing who to balance:

    1) Newly Released Heroes: This is normally done in the two-week balance patch following the release (occasionally this comes quicker if we need to react sooner).
    2) Hot Heroes: We are scanning the forums and reviewing feedback constantly. If we see balance conversations and threads with supporting data backing them up, we will very likely make changes quickly.
    3) Heroes Outside of Our Bands: Unless we have a very good reason, Heroes that are sitting outside of our 45%-55% win-rate band will most likely see number changes to bring them back within bounds.
    4) Dusty Heroes: Sometimes a Hero hasn't seen any meaningful changes in a very long time. We try to go in and see if there are any number changes that can help freshen them up.
    5) Passion: Lastly, all of us have Heroes that we are currently spamming in Hero League and are very passionate about. If we feel that there are some fun and easy changes to help these Heroes, being intimate with that Hero's kit helps expedite these changes. (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    Is it true you're moving away from specialized heroes and releasing more rounded ones for the foreseeable future?
    Whenever we work on a new Hero (or rework), one of the questions we stop to ask ourselves is "What is this Hero's role on a team and who are they competing for a spot with? Why would I pick them over other Heroes?".

    Different Heroes having different capabilities is important if we want to provide a meaningful answer to that question. However when we put too much emphasis on counter-picking, it can create a situation where match outcomes depend too much on how you played the draft lobby, and not enough on how well you played the actual game.

    To offer a concrete example, Deckard and Stukov are Heroes who reflect the shift in philosophy we've been talking about. Both of them bring reasonable levels of burst and sustained healing to the table, as well as powerful CC and utility, but beyond those similarities they also bring very different things to a team. This is the goal we're aiming for when we talk about making Heroes less sharply specialized.

    We're not going to stop giving Heroes unique playstyles with distinct strengths and weaknesses. We still think it's important that you can make meaningful choices in draft based on your composition and the Battleground you're playing on. The important thing is not to put so much emphasis on that aspect of the game that it feels like Rock-Paper-Scissors. (u/BlizzMattVi)

    Some support heroes like Tyrande and Tassadar are not able to heal solo. But we saw changes to prevent double support lineups. What is the plan for these off-support heroes?
    We have a few plans regarding Tyrande and Tassadar:

    • In the new role system that we’re aiming to release later this year, we have a distinction between “Healers” and “Supports.” The current thinking is that characters like Tyrande and Tassadar would be flagged as Support, and would be treated differently for QM matchmaking purposes then someone like Stukov or Malfurion.
    • We’re okay with compositions that utilize a support Hero like Tassadar, Zarya, or Medivh in addition to a dedicated Healer. We understand that most (if not all) team comps will likely require a dedicated Healer regardless of whether or not you take a Support character like the three I just mentioned. We think that teams with some kind of Support-Healer combination could lead to some fun and interesting strategic and tactical gameplay situations, much like team comps where you take both a dedicated Tank and an off-Tank or Bruiser Hero as well. We very much prefer these kinds of team comps to double-healer comps, which we already nerfed last year because they were creating unpleasant gameplay experiences for many people.
    • Tyrande’s current play style and talent builds can be really unique and compelling for certain players, but she doesn’t really have a role in the current meta. Internally, we are currently exploring some design changes to Tyrande that would make her viable as a solo healer. Overall the changes have been received very positively by our team, but there is a tradeoff: She is losing a lot of damage and her ability to chunk people from long distances with her owl build. This is something that we recognize can be fun for Tyrande players, so we’re carefully debating if this is the right direction for her. I’m curious to hear any thoughts you all have on this. Obviously, we could go the opposite route for her and remove/reduce her healing mechanic and point her more towards a ranged assassin.
    • As I’m sure I will be asked in response to what I wrote above: Why make Tyrande a Healer, why not Assassin? We’re exploring the healing side of things as the rest of Tyrande’s kit can really encourage a Support-y playstyle—she can provide strong scouting for her team using Owls (using them to deal tons of damage works, but it’s a bit odd), her trait debuffs an enemy and helps the rest of your team to set up kills. We could make the trait more selfish, but we like its current iteration that sets up your team and essentially calls out a focus target. For her stun, were cautious to put a hard CC (stun) on the base kit of most ranged assassins. We do break this rule from time to time so it’s kind of soft for either way, but we feel more comfortable putting strong CC on Supports and Healers. This allows them to set up your team do meaningful things outside of purely healing.
    • Tassadar is someone we would like to look at more in the future but he’s not someone we’re currently working on. In the past, he could be viewed as a really frustrating character to play against and he was often paired with characters like Genji or Illidan who could essentially “hyper-carry” with his shields. We think the role of ‘enabler’ for Tassadar is pretty unique and fun, especially with someone like a Valla who is a little easier to deal with. Not sure what changes we will make to Tassadar in the future. (u/BlizzCooper)

    Is the development team happy with where Valeera is now?
    We think that Valeera is in a better state now than when she was released, but there's definite room for improvement. You've correctly identified one of our issues: players like to focus fully on a few openers and therefore as the game progresses and you pick Talents, you have fewer gameplay choices. That runs contrary to one of the design goals for Talents in our game, we want them to increase the options and abilities available to your character over the course of the game.

    Anecdotally: When we designed Valeera, we decided to make her different from Heroes like Zeratul by really capturing one of the World of Warcraft Rogue fantasies of locking down an enemy Hero. When Valeera was in development, the Valla/Greymane hyper carry meta was in full force, so we thought that this would also be a welcome addition to the game that would shake up the meta. If Valeera is good at locking down only one enemy, and a team's composition relied on having one major damage dealer, she'd be great at it.

    That's why the balance changes we've made to Valeera over time have tried to reduce her damage, and kept her focus on disabling one enemy. We're still trying to adjust the Talent tree to fit into that philosophy, and trying to balance making her good at reducing a carry without also making her too strong in setting up kills. (u/BlizzNeyman)

    There are many talents that clearly underperform compared to others in their tier, e.g. Maiev’s Tier 4 talent Pin Down is clearly worse than any of her other talents. Can we expect to see buffs to these underperforming talents with bad win rates?
    Yes, we're always looking at making these tiers healthier. Sometimes that means we can make tuning changes, sometimes it means we need to make design changes so that two Talents aren't competing with each other to accomplish the same goal. We periodically do sweeps of Talent trees and try to make a series of small incremental adjustments. Typically you'll see a lot of these changes in our balance patches two weeks after the release of a Hero or Rework. (u/BlizzNeyman)

    Does the potential viability of support Abathur concern the balance team? Will Abathur be balanced around this role in the future?
    Personally I think it's really cool that solo-support Abathur has emerged as a fringe strategy. One of the exciting things about playing and watching games in this genre is when these very unique types of strategies have some success, so we're hesitant to immediately remove it until it becomes a larger problem.

    As far as longer term, Abathur isn't considered a primary Healer for his team, so if this became "the" way to play him, then that would be a concern, additionally because his healing is tied to his Level 1 talent.

    I won't say never, but there's a very low chance that Abathur would be balanced around being a primary healer in the future, and we have no plans for it. (u/BlizzAZJackson)

    Are you considering adding maps that have weather effects which influence the gameplay?
    We have talked about this a little bit. Early on in development for Garden of Terror, the night cycle actually reduced player vision range significantly – this is a mechanic that we felt was interesting in Warcraft 3 and wanted to explore it. Ultimately, we didn’t end up doing this for a couple of reasons. First off, it tended to result in more passive play, players were scared to move around the map without their team. It also set a more dreary and dark tone for the match. As a development team we felt that this could psychologically take a toll on the player.

    That being said, there is more room for us to explore here, whether that’s a Day/Night cycle, weather effects, or other layered events on top of our Battleground mechanics. One thing we always consider is making sure that our Battlegrounds provide a unique area for our epic heroes to do battle in. We like player driven events that require team action. Events that happen automatically that put the hero or the player in a backseat are things that we would explore cautiously. Ultimately, the Battlegrounds should enhance the heroes and make the players feel more awesome, not overshadow them. (u/BlizzCooper)

    Why did the balance team determine that nerfing the top two healers was the correct way to restore diversity rather than buffing the healing output of less popular options?
    This is a very popular question on the forums.

    Each of us on the balance team has slightly differing views on the subject, and we all work together to come to the best consensus we can. The reasoning behind the last round of changes came down to two major reasons:
    • They were both over-performing and out-classing the other Healers in the game. Stukov and Malfurion were dominating drafts and winning more than their counterparts by 3%-4%.
    • We are being very careful not to power-creep the Healers as we do not want to step back into a mandatory double-support meta. When it comes down to it, ending a game in a timely manner relies on players actually dying.

    Here is some (hopefully) fun win-rate data since our last patch:
    • Auriel: 54.8%
    • Deckard: 52.7%
    • Alexstrasza: 52.7%
    • LiLi: 52.2%
    • Ana: 52.1%
    • Brightwing: 51.8%
    • Morales: 51.1%
    • Lucio: 50.7%
    • Malfurion: 50.4%
    • Rehgar: 50.2%
    • Kharazim: 49.9%
    • Uther: 49.7%
    • Stukov: 47.8%

    As you can see, the Healers are all pretty close in terms of viability (this is data from Hero League @ Diamond+, Hero Level 10+). It would seem that we may have hit Stukov a bit too hard and under-estimated the 5% PvE buff we gave Auriel. (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    Is there any chance, even slim, of a hero being reworked into a whole different role?
    So in general when doing a rework, we try to keep the vibe (and role) of the hero the same while making improvements to their feel, power, and utility.

    Having said that, we've talked internally for a while now that we don't think this is a hard rule. We would be open to making significant (and drastically different) changes to a hero if it made sense to do so. Maybe to the point of even changing their role. Obviously, this would probably only ever be considered on a hero which has very low pick rates, or simply doesn't fit in the current game anymore (and lesser changes wouldn't be effective).

    Do you guys have any thoughts on what current Heroes in the game you think we should consider taking this approach? (u/BlizzAlan)

    Are there any plans to freshen him (Stitches) up?
    Yes - I am currently slated to take point on looking at him in the near future. This may change, but I hope it doesn't as I am hooked on some fun new ideas! (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    Any plans to buff Rexxar?
    We don't have any current plans to buff Rexxar, however:
    1. He has a very high win rate, but we understand that he has a low play rate and that that matters. Part of this is obviously that he is a multi-unit control hero, so he already has a large barrier to entry.
    2. I believe that he also isn't played as much because he doesn't FEEL powerful enough to play for the work it takes to master him.

    I think we can do better here, but to be transparent we don't have any plans for changes right now. I'll add him to my list of things to do.
    And there's also that bug that causes charge to go on cooldown with no effect... It's been bringing him down for years now.
    I haven't heard of this bug. If you could get steps to replicate it and post on our forums, our QA team would gladly check it out. (u/BlizzAZJackson)

    If you could release any hero tomorrow that you'd personally love to see in game who would it be?
    Yogg'Saron. I freaking love that guy. (u/BlizzAZJackson)

    How did you get into design and balancing for heroes of the storm?
    Many years ago I was a Customer Service Rep in our Billing department (you may have talked to me at some point!), but got my start in Design by working on projects for the SC2 Arcade in my spare time. I had so much fun making maps that I decided to pursue a career in Level Design, and after a temporary assignment on Diablo 3, I had the honor of joining the SC2 Campaign team to work on Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void missions.

    While working on SC2, we started the project that you know today as Heroes of the Storm, and as a MOBA fan I was fascinated with it. I spent a lot of time talking with the team and regularly sent them lengthy feedback emails about which new Heroes I'd like to see and how I'd design them, or which Talents I'd always or never pick on existing Heroes and why, much the same as many of our players do here. The Heroes team saw my passion for the game and, after work wrapped up on Legacy of the Void, they offered me a chance to come over and work with them—which I happily accepted =)

    Based on my experience both from applying for Design jobs, and later being involved in hiring others for those jobs, the single biggest piece of advice I can give is to pick up a tool and start making things. I often see people complain that "even entry level jobs require experience," which is true to some extent, but the thing that some people don’t realize is: modding and making your own small game projects is a totally valid way to gain that experience.

    If you can apply for a design job with playable samples of your work, it will show you're capable of both creating and executing on a design. If you can walk into an interview prepared to discuss what decisions you made on your projects and why, it will give you a huge leg up over the competition. Remember that every game studio is different and they're much less interested in whether your answers are "correct" than they are in seeing how you think about the design choices you've made and your ability to clearly communicate why you made those decisions.

    Good luck and I hope this helps! (u/BlizzMattVi)

    How do you guys feel about Brightwing: are you happy with how she compares to modern supports like Alexstraza and Deckard?
    We love Brightwing - she is personally one of my favorite supports! She has gone through a couple major updates in the past but I would not be surprised to see another head her way in the future.

    If I were going to start working on her right this second I would probably start by looking at the following:
    • Is there a way we can make her healing more interactive?
    • How can we embrace her global nature?
    • Are there some more interesting build-paths we can explore? (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    Is completely reworking a hero’s kit on the table? And if not, why?
    The short answer is yes, but it's going to be extremely rare. There's a large cost to completely dismantling a hero's kit in regards to players being unhappy with the changes purely because we removed a hero that they know and love to play. There's also a risk that the changes also don't pan out, and we just wasted a bunch of time for a side-grade in regards to design and popularity of the hero.

    However, if a hero needs it enough, we aren't above drastically changing abilities. We've begun to do this with Garrosh's Q and Genji's Dragonblade, and I can see us doing it more often down the line. (u/BlizzAZJackson)

    Do you have any plans to take a pass at ults with extremely low pick rates?
    Yes! We normally do a pass on these every few months. Unfortunately, sometimes our hands our bound as some of these disparities cannot be fixed with tuning due to:
    • Perception: We feel some Heroics that are overlooked are actually extremely powerful (but maybe not meta at the moment). Past examples of this are Mighty Gust and Twilight Dream.
    • Design: Some Heroes have one Heroic that enable a playstyle that is core to the Hero. We have been getting better at this on the Hero Design side, but we still have some outliers that we would like to eventually fix through design changes. (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    Will there be any mechanics specially designed to counter mobile skills? What about some mechanic which punishes only teleporters while "pedestrians" are not affected, instead of bringing in more stun/ root chains to further hurt those who aren't evasive enough?
    While we have no concrete information to share at the moment (Sorry, wish there was), I can say that we have had meetings about this exact thing and are exploring ideas on how to make this type of 'grounding' mechanic a reality. (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    Do we have to wait for another SC anniversary in order to get an awesome character like Fenix from the BW universe?
    We'd actually been wanting to do Fenix for a while, and timing it with the SC2 anniversary worked out well. That said, we consider a huge number of factors when deciding which new Heroes to bring to the game and when, including balance across different roles and universes, and of course whether there are specific Heroes the development team or community are excited about (like Fenix!).

    While I can't go into specifics about future Hero releases, I can say both Blaze and Fenix were awesome BW additions to the Nexus and we're excited to explore more of those Heroes in the future. Do you have any specific ones in mind that you think would be good candidates? =) (u/BlizzMattVi)

    Does the dev team see Brightwing as underpowered, out of the meta, or something else?
    I am not sure she is underpowered, per-say, but definitely out of the meta. I would love to see some small tweaks to her in order to fix that. Hopefully soon! (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    Any news regarding Hanamura?
    There has been a lot of work and testing on this Battleground internally. We've made a lot of good progress, and have plans to talk about the specific changes some more in the future! (u/BlizzAlan)

    "Is there a reason you got rid of Diablo's Health percentage damage without any compensation?"
    We feel like we've actually properly compensated the rest of his kit, though Devastating Charge does have more counterplay now. We removed the percentage Health on Devastating Charge because we thought his unrestricted ability to kill enemies regardless of their high Health pools or defensive buffs wasn't healthy for a tank character. There weren’t many ways to counter it besides positioning or immunities. We tried to keep the spirit of what Devastating Charge is, and actually if used on a lower Health Hero will do basically the same damage it did previously (more if you can get external Spell Power or reduce enemies Armor).

    One of the challenges facing reworks—especially ones affecting characters who are already powerful—is that we have to take away from somewhere in order to add additional power in order to keep them balanced. Sometimes this means we trim out some of the less important or noticeable effects (like the armor on Shadow Charge), and sometimes we have to add additional counterplay to already powerful existing effects (like Devastating Charge).

    "Any changes planned for Cho's level 16 talent Surging Dash?"
    Yes. It's a bit too transforming when Cho gets the Talent, and shuts down too much of the counterplay for opponents after level 16. We'll likely keep the overall balance of Cho in mind (he's still really powerful in Team League and Quick Match, so it might be okay to just flat nerf).

    "Why did you feel Hanzo needed the longest AA range in the game when he was released?"
    First, a bit of history on Hanzo development (this was partially explained in Kent-Erik's BlizzCon talk last year on Hanzo). When we were working on Hanzo, we started to become hyper-aware of the frustration that long range Heroes can pose at times. We were pursuing a sniper fantasy for Hanzo: his Storm Bow (Q) had a much longer longer and did much more damage than it does now. What we decided to do was pull in his Q range, increase his Basic Range, and shift some of the power of his Q over to his Basic Attacks. I think the version of Hanzo that shipped is a more fun Hero to play against than the one we were iterating on at the time (which was essentially Chromie with mobility).

    Then his release happened, the winrate wasn't especially high, so we made a bunch of buffs to the Hero. That pushed his Basic Attack damage into an area that started to make the range feel frustrating again. In hindsight, we should have reduced the Basic Attack range when we increased his damage to a point where being "poked" by it was really becoming meaningful.

    Hopefully that makes sense! (u/BlizzNeyman)

    Can you share any details about the planned Raynor rework?
    I gave him a Trait ;) (u/Blizz_Daybringer)

    The Varian and Diablo changes both gave them self-sustain. Have you changed your approach on what is required of a hero to be a solo tank?
    We don't think that all tank Heroes need self-sustain, but it doesn't hurt. We specifically added it to Diablo because we wanted Fire Stomp to feel more meaningful, but we didn't want to add a ton of damage to Diablo. It also fit well with any Talents that increased the damage of Fire Stomp, since that could mean more healing for Diablo too (which as a tank should be one of his primary focuses).

    We added it to Varian because it gave him more solo lane presence that he would need as an occasional bruiser, and it was a method of survival that wasn't tied to Parry (since too much of it was tied into Parry already, causing Talent issues). (u/BlizzNeyman)

  2. #2
    The Lightbringer DesoPL's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    Well maybe it is time say good bye to sweet king Varian and remove him from game?

  3. #3
    Cool, I was waiting for role rework since Medivh release. As I understand specialists won't be changed. Multiclass class will be removed becasue it doesn't make sense in new system (in old system neither). Some heroes will have multiple categories, like Varian and mentioned Kharazim and Zarya. Varian will be tank/melee assassin, Kharazim healer/melee assassin and Zarya (probably) bruiser/support.
    And I'm happy for Kerrigan and Azmodan reworks.

  4. #4
    Immortal Frozen Death Knight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesoPL View Post
    Well maybe it is time say good bye to sweet king Varian and remove him from game?
    Why, if I may ask? The issue with Varian currently is primarily numbers, not his design. They simply went completely overboard with the number nerfs when putting his ultimates at lvl 4, which frankly was not needed when he already lost a lot of survivability from the Parry changes. Giving some of his old health back will make him able to actually stay in melee longer when going Colossus/Twinblades, which is pretty hard to do on live currently.
    Last edited by Frozen Death Knight; 2018-05-18 at 11:37 AM.

  5. #5
    On the maps, that can be over quickly and have a boss, Braxis and Cursed, Twin Blade went from a meme to a still gimicky, but viable build.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Kerrigan and Azmodan changes - yikes. I liked Malf, Hammer, Leoric, LiLi all more before their reworks. Lately it seems every hero touched gets niche-ier after large updates.

  6. #6
    Yeah I loved playing Malf before the rework- after the rework it just sucked playing as him.

    Am slightly optimistic about Azmodan's rework, it felt great bombing teams for big numbers but I do agree that SDW and ASB were fairly worthless if you specced into GOA.
    "It's 2013 and I still view the internet on a 560x192 resolution monitor!"

  7. #7
    I wish they would do actual reworks for some heroes instead of just changing some shitty talents around.

  8. #8
    I really wish they'd make those win- and pickrates public, because they're telling a different tale from what I see on HotSLogs. With a Dia+ filter, Twinblades is the highest winrate and 4.2% more popular (which is pretty significant when talking about an 8% winrate talent). Same for the support and melee assassin stuff.

    I'm excited for the role rework and where they'll go with Tyrande and Tassadar (and Amodan). Also for the inevitable daily rework that'll happen alongside it, unless they just add dailies for every role. Granted that dailies don't really matter in draft so it doesn't really matter either way, I guess.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ophion1990 View Post
    Also for the inevitable daily rework that'll happen alongside it, unless they just add dailies for every role.
    All they'd have to do is rename 3 dailes. Change "play 3x warrior/support hero" to "play 3x tank or bruiser/healer or support hero".

  10. #10
    I very much agree with their assessment of Azmodan. He has a cool kit but none of his baseline abilities feel impactfull without several talents buffing them which... feels bad.

  11. #11
    looking forward to that Azmodan update. His baseline abilities could benefit a great deal from the stuff they have created for abilities since his conception

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormcall View Post
    All they'd have to do is rename 3 dailes. Change "play 3x warrior/support hero" to "play 3x tank or bruiser/healer or support hero".
    Yeah, that's what I was getting at with "add dailies for every role". I'm kinda hoping they'll smooth out the gold rewards from dailies so that there's no longer the 2 outliers aswell, though. Aside from that, maybe make it so you're never shoehorned into 1-2 heroes to complete dailies. QM looks nice with the stuff they have planned for it but the OW daily is gonna send me straight to draft nonetheless. After the role change OW won't have a tank or melee assassin or Diablo might only have 1 support, for example.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ophion1990 View Post
    After the role change OW won't have a tank or melee assassin or Diablo might only have 1 support, for example.
    But it wouldn't matter. If they changed the dailies like I said, where ONE daily was "play 3 games as a warrior or bruiser" it would literally allow exactly the same heroes as "play 3x warriors" would now. Whereas adding different dailies for each role would not.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormcall View Post
    But it wouldn't matter. If they changed the dailies like I said, where ONE daily was "play 3 games as a warrior or bruiser" it would literally allow exactly the same heroes as "play 3x warriors" would now. Whereas adding different dailies for each role would not.
    Yeah, I really have to stop reading the first words of a sentence and filling in the rest from there. I thought you said rename the quest and meant to add additional ones for each role, your solution is definitly what I'd want to see.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ophion1990 View Post
    Yeah, I really have to stop reading the first words of a sentence and filling in the rest from there. I thought you said rename the quest and meant to add additional ones for each role, your solution is definitly what I'd want to see.
    Seems like the easiest way of doing things...doesn't add new dailies and dilute the pool of heroes available per daily. Of course, this is Blizzard, so...they'll probably do it the other way, and make different dailies for each role, lol.

  16. #16
    Excited for the Azmodan rework! A bit scared for the Kerrigan one, she's kinda my ace if I have to carry team. She is super strong after you learned to hit the Kombo, hope she doesn't lose too much power to get more popular

  17. #17
    Stood in the Fire
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    Nov 2016
    how quick the time passes.

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