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    Heroes Design AMA - May 9, 2019 Recap

    Heroes Design AMA - May 9, 2019 Recap
    We've gathered a few highlights from yesterday's Design AMA for easy perusal right here. If you're interested in more details about the answers, or just development processes in general, you can read the full AMA below.

    Heroes
    • New heroes are coming that were not in development at the time of reassignment of developers in December
    • The next hero is only a few releases away
    • D.Va is up for a rework. Suggestions and feedback are welcome
    • Chen's rework is coming Soon(TM)
    • Garrosh should be able to throw D.Va's mecha again in the near future
    • We're going to see more mana cost adjustments in the future but not to the degree of April's update
    • Perception of the meta does not always corrolate with actual winrates. For example: Diablo and Garrosh are among the bottom 3 tanks currently, and Ana is overshadowed by several other healers
    • Azmodan is in a good place winrate-wise

    Battlegrounds
    • New battlegrounds aren't out of the question in the future, but for the time being the focus is on improving current ones (Braxis, Warhead, and Blackheart's were specifically mentioned)
    • Haunted Mines is going to stay removed indefinitely
    • Dragon Shire's recent visual rework is meant to accompany the Orphea storyline, so it's unlikely we'll see other maps visually updated to the same extent

    Other
    • No current plans to revive the Heroes esports scene
    • Work is being done on a true ARAM gamemode
    • A map editor is not going to be released any time soon as it would take away too much development time from other features
    • Expect more AMAs in the future
    • Animated character screens were taking too much time away from more important things
    • New voice lines aren't typically added to existing characters because of the work it'd require for localization

    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
    With Anduin having been released over 3 months after the previous hero (Imperius), will this be the standard amount of time between new releases going forward, or will this gap increase as the backfill of heroes in the pipeline are all released?
    Part of our journey right now is figuring out the balance between what the team wants to do, and what the team can do. That said, I don't want to commit to a standard timeline if such a thing ever existed. I will say that we love making new heroes and will continue to dedicate our time and passion to them. At the same time, we are also enjoying a world where significant balance changes and hero reworks are meaningfully helping close the gap between new heroes while letting each new hero have room to breathe and shine.

    Our next new hero is coming along great and is only a few releases away, so please bear with us and keep letting us know how things are feeling along the way. (/u/KaeoMilker)


    Currently, summons do not benefit from leeching effects such as [[Nano Infusion]]. This means that (for example) Nazeebo's Q, W, and Garguantuan all do not provide him with life leech when he is nanoboosted. This is very counter intuitive, especially on the Q. Are there any plans to look at this interaction?
    With Kerrigan's rework this became MUCH easier for designers to handle in script (which is why it works for Kerrigan's Ultralisk), in the past there was a lot of trickery that needed to be done and the complexity unfortunately wouldn't always make it very effective or feasible for every hero.

    We can now go through and fix these for some of those situations you mentioned and hopefully we can achieve some consistency here! (/u/Blizz_JeffB)


    My main question: Do you know how much we love you? Because seriously, we do. You guys are incredible.
    Thank you so much dexo568 - we love you too!
    Actual question: Any chance of a D.Va talent refresh?
    D.Va is indeed on our list of Heroes to look at for a talent overhaul! I don't know exactly when it will ship, but now is the time to give feedback or awesome suggestions!
    Actual question 2: what are our odds of getting a new map?
    This is a bit tougher to directly answer because we don't really know right now. We love all of our current maps as they add so much diversity and are one of the wonderful things that makes our game so unique. Moving forward, we are asking our team, as a whole, what they feel would be the most passionate and meaningful changes that they can bring to the Nexus. When that answer becomes "a new map", we will definitely look to bring one in! For the time being, we are focused on finding ways to improve our current maps through both balance and small design changes. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    Is there any hope to see unique kits like Abathur, Murky or Cho'gall in the future?
    Thanks for the question! I think the simple answer here is yes! We love making fun an interesting mechanics, whether it be for a hero with a less established gameplay presence like Abathur, or new unique heroics for Overwatch heroes like D.Va and Junkrat. We are always looking for ways to be creative and push the boundaries of what's expected. (/u/Blizz_Thomas)


    How is the Chen rework coming along? I think most of us are very much looking forward to being "staggered" by it!
    He’s really shaking things up around the office. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stumbled into your hands soon! (/u/BlizzAZJackson)


    Why don't ability descriptions have a stat block at the top for range, duration, damage, casting time, and other pertinent numbers (besides mana and cooldown)?
    We have discussed this idea quite a bit over the past couple of years. We have some old design documents for what 'advanced tooltips' would look like but with all the other cool stuff we have wanted to bring into the game, it never made it to the top of the priority list.

    While we think this would be awesome, the sheer amount of work involved to retrofit all of our Heroes is pretty massive and would be extremely time-consuming. That is not to say we don't want or plan on ever doing it, just that we have to find the right time for it. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    Are there any heroes currently being worked on that were not in development prior to December 14th 2018?
    Yes.
    Yes. <3
    Yes!
    Yes!
    Yes™
    Yes...!
    yah
    Yes¿
    Absolutely. (source)


    There is not HTC at blizzcon. Will there be a stage for HOTS tournament? Will there even be anything HOTS (Announcements, Game Testing, ect) at blizzcon this year?
    We're still in the process of planning BlizzCon, but at this point there are no plans for organized Heroes esports. I would love to see some games played - exhibition or otherwise - but no promises there.

    And I obviously can't go into any details, but the team and game will be there with new stuff to talk about and play! (/u/KaeoMilker)


    Whose idea was it to make Cho'Gall's mount him picking up the fuckin horse.
    Michael Cuevas!

    He was just posting about that yesterday -- that said, it took some SERIOUS Tech Art magic to make it happen. I can't remember exactly who, but Billy Shih is probably a good guess. (Maybe Stephan Coan? Check the credits! Thank them all!)

    PS: Happy Birthday, Billy!!!!!!!!! (/u/Blizz_LanaB)


    We have all the races from SC and Diablo in the game, we are still missing a few from Warcraft (I.e. Nagas, Ethreals, and even gnomes if you consider Chromie a dragon). Should we expect these races to enter the nexus?
    Our intent is to eventually have those races represented in the Nexus. It will take time. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    Once upon a time in the long, long ago; Dustin Browder promised us the ability to save talents.
    Remind me to have a good long talk with Dustin about this :)

    To be completely honest, I remember having talks about both of these suggestions a long time ago (years now?), but have not followed up on them recently. On the surface (without digging into the engineering that would be needed), being able to save talent load-outs seems like the easier ask (we actually had the capability to do so internally at one point!). I will follow-up and make sure that it is still on our backlog feature list.

    As for implementing a re-spec mechanic...that opens up a can of worms that I am not sure we can easily solve, especially due to quest talents/mechanics. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    What's the character you personally had the most fun designing and why?
    I definitely had the most fun designing Kel'Thuzad. He is such an iconic Warcraft character and had so many potential options for what he could be. Early on, one of his level 1 talents was actually Mr. Bigglesworth which was a pet he could summon and move around with his 1 Key, similarly to Lunara's wisp. While it was out, it had an aura that increased Kel'Thuzad's spell power as long as he was near it, but had a long cooldown if an enemy hero was able to attack it. Another idea we tried was that Mr. Bigglesworth was a scout like the Wisp, but if it was attacked it would run away and Kel'Thuzad would yell at the enemy team for attacking it and gain a huge damage buff for a short amount of time. We moved away from these ideas for a few reasons, but the main thing was that as a combo mage, it felt tedious and fatiguing to be constantly maneuvering a pet around while trying to land difficult combos. (/u/BlizzKyle)

    I'm going to accept 'designing' as 'worked on' in general, so I can answer this, too. My go-to answer will probably always be Orphea, so I'm just going to go ahead and omit her as an option.

    OTHER than Orphea, I really loved working on Dehaka. The Heroes' take on him was so much different to how he appeared in StarCraft, but he was still everything that we wanted a Primal Zerg to be. I think he was also the first hero I worked on where I really noticed how much agency I had as a developer on this team. No one was standing over my shoulder making calls for me. Our Art Director and my Animation Lead made sure I was never veering off-course and provide feedback/advice, but for the most part I felt very independent working on my sweet, sneaky boi. (Plus, animating monsters/creatures is my favorite thing to do so it was super fulfilling from that end, as well.)

    Beyond that, I was somewhat new (~1yr), working alongside one of our designers who was even newer than me, Jade Martin. Talking to other disciplines when you're new to the industry can be intimidating (or at least it was for me!). However, our development styles really clicked and the level of collaboration we achieved was something really remarkable at the time. It really opened my eyes to the importance of open communication channels that extend far beyond your root discipline, and it changed the way I've approached development ever since. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)


    Any thoughts on a D.va rework in the upcoming future? The recent change to where friendly abilities no longer affect her nuke has been a bummer.
    We actually changed it so that Garrosh's Into the Fray doesn't affect Immune to Friendly flagged units. It ignoring that flag was actually a bug. When we fixed that though, it exposed another issue that D.Va was flagged as Immune to Friendly.

    We've weighed what changes would happen if we removed that flag from D.Va's Self-Destructing Mech, and we've decided to remove it in an upcoming patch (the next major one with a PTR). So you'll be able to throw D.Va's Mech again (as well as a few other things like make give it Sanctification's Invulnerability).
    Wait it was supposed to not be immune to friendly? I always thought she a was because that way you wouldn't waste things like chain heal jumps or, even worse, some ultimate on it.
    Well it was at the time. But it also wasn't.

    We previously flagged it as Immune to Friendly to avoid things from being wasted (like Chain Heals or Heroics), but wanted certain things to work on it like Into the Fray. By removing the flag, we realized most of our fears were unfounded because the abilities solve themselves.

    D.Va's exploding Mech is never missing Health, so Heals can't target it and won't jump to it unless there's no other target. D.Va Mech is treated as something similar to Nova's Holo Clones or Chen's Storm Earth Fire, which are filtered out as viable targets for most allied Heroic Abilities.

    Basically we solved the issue in other ways rather than calling something Immune to Friendly that wasn't really Immune to Friendly.
    I remember seeing someone wasting Ancestral healing on a Nova decoy a long time ago, is that not a thing anymore?
    Will fix! A lot of Heroics don't though. (/u/BlizzNeyman)


    What are the dev teams main focuses right now? Heroes? Reworks? Maps? Skins? I hope we can still get a lot more heroes, definitely brings players back/into the game.
    We are focused on Heroes, Reworks, Skins, Skin packs and more. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    How do you guys balance creating a new and interesting MOBA character while still keeping the character in line with its source material?
    This is a great question -- and definitely an interesting balance to strike! I think it's something that was a little trickier at first, but over time has come more and more naturally. There are a few things that we have to take into consideration:

    1 -- The character history. As in: How much of an actual, written history does the character have. The more tangibly recorded history a character has changes our approach. A long character arc definitely gives us options to play with, but also gives us more ways in which we can explicitly get things wrong. Take Kael'thas for example. Do we go with early, chillin', blood elf Kael'thas, or late, crazed, mana-addict Kael'thas? Both are technically RIGHT, but the era we choose to pull from would change our approach to designing both the abilities and visuals of the character.

    2-- The character fantasy. I think to many people this blends right into point number 1, but for me, this encompasses so much more. This is the baseline do's and don'ts for the character (which is, again, often dependent on the era of the character) that need to be upheld across everything -- even BEYOND the ability sets. i.e. Ragnaros is the Firelord. He's gonna have fire-related abilities, duh. BUT he's also an intense guy; He speaks in all caps! He's never going to have, like... a tender moment admiring Sulfuras' beauty. He's never going to have voicelines that are admiring the foliage. This is what makes you FEEL like you are playing the character you selected. What is their personality? What do they do when they aren't fighting? Answering these questions helps us to live within the known fantasy of the characters while delivering new moments, pieces of the character that have yet to be seen, but fit seamlessly in with what our players already know and love.

    3-- Developing trust and communication with the other teams. There have been several times our team has felt passionate about an idea we wanted to do for a character, only to be told we're out of bounds. It can feel disheartening to be told no, but learning the boundaries of the characters, walking through the reference material with the devs who originally made it is such a gift! Plus, we can expedite our own development, because our focus is refined down the right pathways. When we can create something new, and something true, that excites and delights the teams onsite, we know we've done it right.
    Could you please give an example of an ability / idea that was deemed "out of bounds"?
    When I animated Zarya I made her taunt something that was very sportsy, but wasn't very on brand for good sportsmanship. It rang of too much ego, and that isn't what she's about!(/u/Blizz_LanaB)

    Awesome question, and u/Blizz_Lana really hit the nail on the head, but i'll add:

    This is one of the best parts of Heroes of the Storm. We not only get to bring to life Iconic heroes everyone recognizes, but we also get to imagine gameplay for characters that might not have any source references.

    This was the case almost entirely for Deckard Cain. In Diablo, Deckard Cain is a narrator and quest giver, but we wanted to give him a fully playable ability set in Heroes of the Storm. We looked for as many hooks as possible to keep him grounded to his source material, but we also had to invent new gameplay for him based on relevant bits of lore, like Stay a While and Listen, Sealing Scroll and even the Horadric Cube.

    Ultimately, the balance for a new character’s ability design and aesthetic comes down to; Does it feel like it fits in the world, and is it fun to play? (/u/Blizz_Thomas)

    It's a fun challenge and it's one of my favorite parts about designing new heroes! There are many ways we start, sometimes we have a strong idea for a kit and we try to find a hero that it would work best on, other times we have a strong desire to bring a specific character or silhouette into the Nexus and have to build a kit to fit the role of whatever that hero may be. Kel'Thuzad is a great example of a hero who we knew we wanted in the game, but trying to tie down what his kit was took some time. Do we go with the traditional Lich kit from War3? Should he bring more of his necromantic side and support skills like Raise Dead and Frost Armor? His role as a burst combo assassin helped narrow down what his base kit should be, and we brought in some newer ideas like the concept of him using his Chains to pull people around.

    Samuro is a good example of a hero who almost perfectly matches his source material in terms of base kits. He has all of the War3 Blade Master abilities as well as the heroic Bladestorm. However, talents really enable us to experiment more and give cool choices and new gameplay styles to make the character feel fresh despite sticking to the source material for his base kit. (/u/BlizzKyle)


    When designing a hero that hasn't had a playable or interactive iteration in another franchise (Imperius, Zul'Jin, Murky, etc.) do you tend to start the design process with a kit or with a visual design? Bonus Q: if you had to be stuck on a road trip with a hero, which would it be?
    Usually we start both at the same time. The concept artists get to work on how to interpret the visual design of the character into Heroes of the Storm and the designer goes to work on creating a kit that would fit the hero and feel unique in our game. Sometimes the concept art will inspire new ideas for the kit. Having worked on Zul'Jin personally, I had a really fun time trying to imagine all the different ways he could throw an axe or what kind of other axes he had in his back... pockets? He even has a voice line where he asks where the axes are even coming from. :D

    As for the bonus question, I'd probably say Alexstrasza. She could just fly us wherever we wanted to go instead of being stuck in a car. Plus it'd be super fun to fly around on a dragon, right? (/u/BlizzKyle)


    Are there any heroes that you see getting asked for reworks, that you feel are fine?
    The quick answer to this is no. As designers, we are constantly evolving our philosophies on abilities, talents, and the game as a whole. I honestly think we could take any Hero, even recently reworked ones, and find ways to make them better. I was the main designer behind Lucio's rework and there are already a handful of things that I would love to change or improve.

    This said, there are Heroes that we feel are both very well received by the community, and in a good spot meta/balance wise. These are much lower priority on the rework list, but can still very well see design changes during balance patches. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    Can we PLEASE get a unique feedback color for Health Shred/Percentage damage?
    I think this is a great suggestion, I will bring it up with our UI team and see what they think! (/u/Blizz_JeffB)


    Has any existing hero limited your design space more than others?
    Zagara definitely has, from an engineering and design perspective.
    Implementing a ground changing effect other than Creep alongside Starcraft's Creep implementation is complex... The system wasn't meant to support more than one texture overlay on our geometry, and expanding/rewriting the system would take considerable time/resources. This is in addition to the visual issues this would cause, trying to display multiple terrain types coherently and still have them look good.

    Having other characters that create and use Creep is problematic, because they would have super strong synergy with Zagara. Even a hero that can spread creep and do nothing else would massively increase the value of Zagara's abilities, making it much stronger in any game with an allied Zagara, but not necessarily by itself.

    Another example is characters like Abathur and Cho'Gall, who can potentially lower the number of bodies a team can field. Too many of these characters on one team leads to a pretty degenerate game state, from a design perspective. You can probably imagine a game where you only have two characters able to be in lane at the beginning of a match and how that would affect that game for both teams. (/u/Blizz_JeffB)


    This is a VERY important question... is Lana back on the team?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! (Please say yes, pretty please!!)
    Where'd you think I went, dawg? (/u/Blizz_LanaB)


    I love all the unique characters brought into HotS. The question I have is will we ever see a Hero that can utilize time in very interesting way? Also would this Hero be a Nexus original like Orphea?
    Hey Zefer! Thanks for the question and glad you like Orphea! Time manipulating heroes are pretty tricky to pull off and it can be hard to understand as an enemy exactly what they are doing. Early on in Chromie's development process she had a Heroic ability that allowed her to slow down time for all units on the map except for her, which made it much easier for her to land her skillshots. While it was thematically cool and fun for Chromie, it was pretty unfun for everyone else. Despite that, I think it would be fun to explore more time-based heroes and what that could mean for the game... afterall, anything is possible in the Nexus! (/u/BlizzKyle)


    How much can we expect from new hero skins/concepts? Any chance of something way out there like a Warcraft 2 Peon skin/kit for Probius? Or a Death Knight LiLi?
    We have some exciting and very fun skins coming up! I'd say you can expect skin themes to make a return, and completely new themes as well. We love a crossover and are always looking for opportunities to do more of these, I see so many cool ideas in this vein come from you guys as well, you guys keep me inspired! Hadn't thought of a Death Knight Lili but that sounds cool (hehe)! For us also it's a lot about finding the right opportunities! We like to alternate our themes so it never feels like we're lingering too long in the same space. (/u/Blizz_Vega)


    Was there ever any attempt to make Xul's skeletons follow him? While the bruiser playstyle can be neat, it falls short of the D2 necro fantasy.
    There were many changes to Xul as we were creating him. To your question we tried it and the biggest problem was clutter. At the time we developed Xul we had Zagara, Nazeebo, Azmodan along with 35-45 other heroes (can't remember the hero number). We were getting into a trend of putting a lot of summons on the screen at the same time. We tried to keep the fantasy of the Necromancer as much as we could while keeping clarity for the player base. One ability that hit the cutting room floor was that we wanted to get a more active corpse explosion which consisted of using the skeletons as leaping at a target then detonating. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    What are the most interesting early design philosophies that you have since moved away from?
    This is definitely a bit controversial, but I would say that the most interesting philosophy that we have been very cautious of over-doing is creating more 'weird Heroes - Abathur, Murky, Cho'Gall, Vikings'.

    We see a lot of feedback and pleas to make more of these Heroes, but we have been resistant to do so for a lot of reasons; one, however, stands above the rest:
    • Why is it okay for a single Hero to force up to 9 other players to change the way they play the game?

    Our team loves these Heroes, but we have to be cognizant of the frustration (and mayhem) that they can bring to both their team and the enemy. The vast majority of players want a standard game, with a standard composition of Heroes. Is it fair that one player can single-handedly decide to warp the match around them?

    While I can positively state that we are exploring other Heroes that could cause similar feelings, we want to make sure that we are being thoughtful and critical with the designs in order to make each match feel fun for everyone involved. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    Any chance we may see a UI update to Living Bomb?
    Thanks for the question. We strive to make all abilities visible regardless of their size or impact, however you're right that some abilities require a more robust solution than others. Gameplay clarity is essential, and like many aspects of Heroes of the Storm we are constantly evaluating and evolving our techniques and process.

    We have played around adjustments to the visual indicators, adding an icon above a player’s head or a ring around them on the ground, but these solutions did not satisfy the design goals for the Hero. We are always open to exploring creative solutions and if you a suggestion I'd love to hear it!
    A ring around the living bomb target would be incredible
    I got ya. The decision here comes down design balance. At the highest levels of play KT has a lower pick/win rate and it's the opposite at lower levels. So adding a ring might mitigate frustration for some players, but it would also add concerns for others. Thanks for the feedback, it's definitely on our radar and we'll continue to try to improve clarity where we can! (/u/Blizz_Thomas)


    With so many amazing characters currently in the game, do you feel it's now hard to come up with unique characters and play styles that don't change the game?
    I think our goal with any given character is to change the game. We want to keep what the baseline experience of Heroes in tact, of course -- We never want any given hero to be 'broken', but the shifting meta is what is what keeps things fresh. Change is good! (/u/Blizz_LanaB)


    Will we see more alternate reality skins for some heroes ?
    I think there is always room for us to introduce fun twists on existing characters, in fact that's exactly what we aim to deliver with skins. Alternate reality skins are a great idea and a lot of fun to work on, like our Dark Nexus twist for Alarak and Guldan or bringing Junkrat into the Diablo universe with Fallen Junkrat. Anything is possible in the Nexus! (/u/Blizz_Thomas)


    Please I beg, can we have any word on will there be new maps this year? Or map overhalls to annoying ones like warhead, blackheart etc
    You can expect to see more adjustments to Battlegrounds like you saw recently to Volskaya Foundry and Infernal Shrines going forward. There likely won't be any new ones, but we think that even smaller adjustments to older maps can make them feel pretty new (Braxis Holdout, Warhead Junction and Blackheart's Bay, I'm looking at you).
    Have you considered the suggestion to spawn 1 less nuke in Warhead Junction?
    It's a cool idea, something we'll consider. I think the biggest challenge facing Warhead is probably the size of the Battleground, and that's why there's less interactivity with opponents more than anything. It's interesting because the map was an answer to the request from players that they wanted a way to have more smaller 1v1 and 2v2 skirmishes so they could show off their individual skill, but the result was that globals were mandatory and split pushing and Mercing is king. (/u/BlizzNeyman)


    What are your stances on talent-quests at the moment? To me it seems like you're consistently reducing the amount of talents with quests in them. I guess I'm asking what, in your opinion, is the perfect amount of quests for a character?
    This is a great question with no right answer. A lot of players love questing talents, and as designers, we love making them! When we first started introducing them, we went a bit crazy – adding them in almost every possible situation. Over time, we have come to realize that we over-did it; often asking players to use abilities or play in ways counter-productive just in order to complete (or stack) their quest. While this is okay in some situations (Zul’jin always wants to be Basic Attacking enemy Heroes), in others it was detrimental (Tyrande probably shouldn't be casting Sentinel on cooldown just to stack damage on it).

    As we continue to update and rework Heroes, we are trying to take a more critical approach towards questing talents and either attempt to fix or cut them, depending on the situation. This is an on-going process and we are still trying a lot of different approaches (like granting multiple stacks for using Muradin’s Storm Bolt to secure a kill). As the game continues to evolve, so does our philosophy on questing talents (and talent design in general), so you can expect to continue seeing us adjust, change, or remove them going forward. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    What are your plans for future brawl rotations? Will you stick to ARAMs for a while?
    Our current plan is to keep rotating through ARAM maps for the time being. We are still discussing what the mode looks like in the future, but we have broken ground on a true ARAM mode that could potentially replace the current BRAWL mode sometime in the future. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    Do you guys like Mannaroth? We need him and Archimonde, plz.
    Personally those two sound awesome. I would lean towards Mannaroth though he comes with some challenges. Characters with multiple limbs (e.g. 4 legs, 2 arms 2 wings) take a ton of time to animate. For me when I am on something creative that is taking a long time to get done it can be mentally draining. There's a point where I have a hard time calling it done and things get blurry which can be hard on an artist.
    Makes sense. Follow up question: Is it feasible to import hero models or animations from wc3 reforged?
    No. It's a good start but nothing is a direct import from other games. There's a lot of recreation when we pull a character in from another game. Different art style and tech art and animation needs. If you look for the 2017 Hero Deep Dive the team and I go into this a bit more.

    So does it mean that you are afraid of making him? Pity, he is my brother's most hated villain and my favourite demon.
    We're never afraid of making a hero. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    Is the plan moving forward to continue to release skin in themed events/bundles, or are there going to be more "One off' skins for Heroes that come out?
    Magic 8 ball says outlook looks good. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    When reworking heroes, how do you decide what to keep for fantasy's sake or remove for balance's sake?
    This is a great question, and I believe that understanding how to balance fantasy vs. balance is one of the hardest jobs of someone in charge of balancing a Live game. From a higher level perspective, when we decide to rework or rebalance a particularly difficult hero in a large way, it’s usually because their fantasy is at odds with the enjoyment of other players in the game to a point that we feel like something needs to be done. Garrosh and Chromie are good examples in our past of this.

    Years ago one of our designers said something that stuck with me in this regard, which was that heroes have a certain budget for “mean” stuff that they’re allowed to do to each other, and that it’s critically important that we let them have that as long as it doesn’t get too out of control. If a hero doesn’t have something really crazy that they can do, then that probably means that they’re bland and boring to play. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of “well xxx hero just did something mean to me that I couldn’t do anything about in my last game, that’s crazy and OP and Blizzard should remove it”. Even in our internal playtests we struggle with this all the time, and there usually isn’t a 100% correct answer. When these situations come up, I use these guidelines to help decide if something actually needs to be done, and to what severity:

    a. Does the “mean” thing have counter-play, and how frequent does the counter-play actually happen?
    b. Is the “mean” thing effective, or is it just a nuisance?
    c. How critical to the hero’s fantasy is it to keep the part of their kit that’s frustrating other players?
    d. Is there a feasible way to keep the fantasy while removing the frustrating parts of the mechanic?

    The answers to these questions has often helped me when making difficult decisions as to whether we should cut or keep something when we get the feedback that it’s overpowered or too frustrating and must be changed.

    To more directly answer your question, in Chromie’s case we had to give up some of her roots as an artillery mage because we couldn’t find a way to reconcile the ranges on her abilities that we wanted to give her for her fantasy with having the proper amount of counter-play and consistency. When balanced, due to the high variance of how often Chromie players would hit their abilities, they had to hit absurdly hard to keep her at a decent win rate, which led to huge frustrations when playing against a good Chromie player.

    In regards to Abathur, Locusts were not only designed with tower ammo in mind, and our larger concern when balancing them is how often Abathur players can run away with a game by pushing side lanes and forcing the enemy team to clean up his mess. Split pushing is largely an un-fun mechanic for a lot of players (though we still think it has a valuable place in our game), and Abathur’s global nature makes it even more critical that we keep the amount that he can do this at the proper power level to make him feel fair to play against. It’s a balancing act, and I agree with your sentiment to a point, which is why his split pushing was recently buffed. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)


    Are there any characters from other MOBAs that you absolutely love for a specific reason and would like to incorporate something similar in HotS?
    I am a huge fan of Rek'Sai from League. Possibly in large part because of her sound design, but I think Burrow/Tremor Sense is a super cool and unique mechanic. (/u/Blizz_JeffB)


    Who is doing the Art Direction of Hots at this moment? Does hots have an art director or it is more of a Sr Art Director that just check this game once in a while?
    Trevor Jacobs has been art directing Heroes for the past couple years and brings over 20 years of amazing Blizzard art contributions to the game! His vast experience across all the Blizzard RTS games combined with his passion for delving into unique, cohesive visual themes has been the guiding light for our artists since our art pipeline went into overdrive with Heroes 2.0. Trev may pop into the forums and AMAs occasionally to say hi, but he usually prefers to stay focused on making cool stuff behind the scenes.

    And glad to see so much love for Anduin! While Trev leads the art team, it took our team of concept artists, character artists, animators, and fx artists to bring the team’s vision for him to life! (/u/KaeoMilker)


    There has been many requests for a map editor, which will allow the community can help create content for HOTS. Out of curiosity, are there any plans for this? How much time and resource would it take to develop something like a map editor for HOTS?
    We've talked about releasing an editor for Heroes quite a bit over the years, but have been vocal about our plans changing as our game priorities shifted. While we would love to release an editor and see what amazing things the community could come up with, the amount of work required to take the tools we work with and make them fit for public consumption (and further, map publishing/curation) would severely limit much of the other work we want to do on the game. I would never say never, but there are currently no plans to do the work required to release the editor. I will echo what /u/AngryMrMaxell said and add that the StarCraft II Arcade scene is still going strong, so anyone with a passion for making Heroes-like content should definitely check that game (and its editor) out. (/u/KaeoMilker)


    What's the most hilarious bug you've found while playtesting a new hero?
    When we were making Lt. Morales, I was very hype about the Dropship heroic. Particularly on Dragonshire. E Z Capture, E Z life.

    We were having one particularly good match, a bit of back and forth, and I saw my opportunity to seal in the win -- their team was well over-extended bottom lane and it would be a 5v4. I over-pinged my team (like I do) to join me in the dropship. We were going to fly bot for a dope combination of flanking maneuver and bottom shrine cap. It was the PERFECT PLAN.

    Except the Dropship did not drop us on the bottom capture point. Instead, it mysteriously bounced off the ground and flew into the darkness insta-killing all of us in the loudest death ping I've heard to this date. They capped both points, snagged the dragon and we lost.

    What a world. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)


    Who comes up with naming all the talents? I feel like a lot of effort goes into it and it has to be a pretty large team effort.
    It's usually a group effort. Usually the designer of the talents would take a first shot at creating names while we began to test them. Sometimes these are definitely temp, sometimes they are closer to their final name. We'll then send them off to the team at large where people more familiar with lore or clarity can chime in and offer better alternatives as needed. (/u/BlizzNeyman)


    Any plans on bringing back Haunted Mines?
    None at this time. While we enjoyed what Haunted Mines brought to the game, we couldn't find a way to get it to the same level of fun that our other Battlegrounds could provide. As our number of Battleground swelled, we couldn't justify keeping the map in Ranked or Quick Match rotations over others, so we've removed the map indefinitely.

    That isn't to say that it couldn't ever come back in some new fashion if someone comes up with a fantastic amazing solution, but that's not on the books right now. (/u/BlizzNeyman)


    If new hero releases are going to slow down, can we have a say (like participate in official polls) on what hero gets released next?
    We pay attention to what the community wants when considering a new hero. When what the community wants aligns to what we're really passionate about that's when those heroes come to the nexus. If you look at some of the past community driven hero polls you'll find that we're doing our best to hit the top end of most of those polls. If the past couple years has been our track record of that I think we've done a pretty good job. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    Yrel has one of the most interesting play styles and there has been a lot of debate on whether she has been over nerfed. Are you able to share Yrel's win rate at both average and high tier plays? Do you have any other perspectives you can share on Yrel and future direction? Thanks.
    There are a lot of ways we can slice a hero’s win rate, but for the examples you requested, the rates are:

    Storm League High Level: 45.9%
    Storm League All Levels: 49.7%

    Keep in mind that in general the guideline for our acceptable win rate levels are between 45% and 55% (this doesn't mean that it's always OK, just that there isn't an emergency that needs to be fixed right away).

    In regards to our perspective on Yrel and her future direction, we have a few thoughts. The first is that she is a scary hero from a balance perspective because she is a bit of a perpetual motion machine with how her trait and abilities interact with each other. When she hits a certain power threshold she quickly dominates matches and the meta, so when comparing her to other heroes, it’s more important that she is tuned carefully as she can get out of control. As far as any future direction, my ideal path going forward to her is small buffs that slowly bring her more into the meta, and having those buffs be done in such a way that we introduce more counter-play into her kit and talents. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)


    How happy is the team with the mana cost rebalance in April? Are there other heroes that are being looked at to bring their mana costs more in line?
    The bulk of the work related to regulating Mana costs in our game is done, and going forward it will be more about fine tuning costs so that the appropriate resources are being used for various abilities. You can expect to see more Mana tuning balance changes in the future, though they will be much more minor than the giant original pass that was done.

    However, I would like to temper expectations here and say that brining Mana costs more in line does not mean reducing Mana costs for heroes who actually have a fair amount of Mana tension. An example I’ve seen around here a lot is a perception that Tyrael’s Mana costs are totally out of control and we obviously missed not reducing them across the board. He’s actually much closer to the center of the pack in this regard since we reduced his Mana costs in the past, and the goal was to bring more heroes closer to him, not the other way around.

    One example coming in a patch near you is that we’re reducing some of Kharazim’s Mana costs, as he actually has a fair amount of Mana tension due to his Q having multiple charges, which I did not factor into enough in the original pass. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)


    When will we see the next Overwatch hero?
    Which Overwatch heroes would you like to see? (/u/Blizz_Thomas)


    Has certain skins prevented the team from making certain new heroes? For example, Broll bearmantle, magni bronzebeard, and widowmaker?
    Great question. No. One of the first skins we made was Medic Uther and we were able to make Lt. Morales. We also made a Novazon skin for Nova and later came out with Cassia. Anything can happen in the Nexus. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    To follow up on Lana's answer, what would be the best resource for you guys on the dev team if you wanted to draw ideas from the community either on a new hero, skillset, or anything else? Aka: how can we best help you guys (if you need it)?
    Keep posting on reddit and the forums. We are watching. I post in those threads often. We do see them. We talk about them. Rally behind a concept the community wants and we'll try to make another Azmodunk or Janitor Leoric. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    Why doesn't the game have a concept of "chaos damage" (aka true damage), as something distinct from percent damage?
    While we don't have a specific damage type for this, we actually do have a few characters who can opt into ignoring armor. Check out Titan's Revenge on Cassia and Dead Magic on Orphea! I think this gives these characters a unique feel and can make the tank-killer role more explicit in those cases.

    In general though, adding a new damage type increases the complexity of damage in the game (both from an engineering perspective and from a player perspective), so we have to make sure the positives outweigh the negatives.

    For true damage, it would fill a similar niche to percent damage -- giving the character a tool to deal with tough targets. Percent damage also isn't mitigated by armor in Heroes anyway, furthering the overlap. There isn't a whole lot to gain that we cannot address with percent damage or as talents, but things can always change in the future! (/u/Blizz_JeffB)


    It feels like tanks specifically (with a few outliers) are almost all in niche balance slots, or even require a second tank to really perform. With the importance of having at least one tank per team are there any plans to maybe even out the "power levels" of the tank roster? Purely from a diverse drafting perspective, I find myself as a tank player often forced into playing Diablo, Johanna, Anubarak, or Garrosh when my heart screams Blaze, Malganis, Stitches, or Arthas.
    There’s almost always a meta that develops with certain roles, with Supports and Warriors being the most strict for players due to the necessity of having one on each team (and players wanting the most meta hero for those roles when drafting). What makes this especially hard is that the meta heroes who are picked in these roles are often not what’s actually winning, which puts us in a tricky place. As an example, since Anduin’s patch, Rehgar, Tyrande, Kharazim, and Whitemane are all outperforming Ana, who is still the #1 most picked and banned Healer.

    The top 3 winning Warriors at high level play as of Anduin’s release are Anub’arak, Arthas, and E.T.C. The bottom 3 are Muradin, Garrosh, and Diablo. We could have the choice of letting players figure out over time what is winning and what’s actually better, but the truth usually ends up being that people pick the same heroes not because it’s what wins, but because it’s what everyone else is doing and due to the social pressure that it’s what’s expected of them.

    In my experience being a part of multiple competitive games over many years, players usually end up finding out what’s actually strong over time (some good examples of this are Starcraft: Brood War and Super Smash Brothers: Melee), but it takes a very long time and has a higher chance of happening when there is an expectation that nothing is going to change on the developer side via balance patches. When that expectation is there, it is much harder for trends to change as people usually just pick what everyone else thinks is strong and will rely on the developers to “fix” what’s perceived to be wrong at the current time.
    So while describing the problem is interesting, I think you probably want a more direct answer to the current situation. My direct line of thinking about your question is this:

    a. We see Diablo, Garrosh, and Anub’arak too much, and they are crowding out other Warriors. It’s not ideal, but the truth of the matter is that other Warriors are seeing a good amount of play.
    b. Anub’arak is actually too strong which is why he’s received many nerfs recently, which we will continue to do. We don’t want to nerf him into oblivion, so we’re doing many small cuts rather than dramatic huge changes.
    c. I would rather buff up other Warriors so that perception changes and they get their time in the sun as opposed to nerfing Diablo and Garrosh again. If we nerf what makes Diablo and Garrosh special too then over time they become more bland. Doing this too much to the current meta heroes makes the game as a whole worse.

    I hope this answers your question! (/u/BlizzAZJackson)


    Cho'Gall has always been a difficult character to balance, but he currently seems to be in quite a slump. Are there any plans to give him a major rework, or perhaps a minor talent one like Kael'thas?
    Balancing Cho'Gall is actually an impossible task and is probably the single most difficult ask of any balance designer. He has seen highs and lows but for the most part has been in as good of a spot (balance-wise) as we could hope for.

    As for a major rework vs. a talent overhaul - I would expect to see the latter well before the former. Gall's talent tree is one of the most one-dimensional in the game and I am looking forward to the time where we can dive in and see if there are some easy changes to help create more diversity for our two-headed Ogre! (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    When introducing heroes that aren't based on a major npc or playable class (Probius/Brightwing/Lunara), how do you decide what moveset are used? Is it a blend of environment and personality?
    Thanks for the question! There are a lot of factors that go into developing a Hero's kit. It all starts with a paper design, then goes through a lot of iteration and eventually gets implemented into the game using temp art. At this point the team gets to give all sorts of tempered, rational and completely unbiased input to try and sway the design. Sometimes an artist will simply create a really cool looking visual and the design will change to support the art. The whole process is very collaborative.

    When it comes to Heroes that do not have an established kit, the process is the same but the freedom to explore fun and unique gameplay elements become a focus. At the end of the day we want to both fulfill the fantasy that's expected from a character and satisfy the intentions of the gameplay design. (/u/Blizz_Thomas)


    Are there any heroes you want to design more skins for, but feel you don't have any good ideas for?
    Ideas are usually not a problem. We have a ton of ideas but are always open to more. This is why we like chiming in on community skins and whatnot. We're there to let you know we're watching. Still would love to see the next community inspired skin like Azmodunk or Janitor Leoric. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    Hi there, this is just a “thank you” comment for putting those details into every object the game has. When I’m dead/waiting, I zoom in and admire the work you and your collegues have done! Really great job!
    Ah, the seldom-seen zoom IN. This is fantastic to read. Thank you, /u/rwky! <3 (/u/Blizz_LanaB)


    What is the top deliverable to complete for 3Q and 4Q 2019?
    Hi, /u/arkibet! The top thing I want this year is to have the team get settled and comfortable with the scope and frequency of the updates we want to make to the game. As you've seen with our releases thus far this year, we remain focused on making meaningful additions and improvements to the game as often as possible, and we want to maintain our quality and polish. Matchmaking hardening, Storm League improvements, balance changes, hero reworks, seasonal events, new heroes and more are all coming alongside opportunistic things that the team is passionate about. We want to have fun making this game, while having fun playing it! (/u/KaeoMilker)


    Would you agree that the team took more risks with the Lucio and Chromie reworks? (I loved them both btw) Maybe I don't remember well, but I have the feeling that previous reworks have been more conservative.
    I think a lot of reworks in the past have been pretty aggressive in terms of change. Diablo saw an entirely new Talent tree and change to his Firestomp. Sylvanas saw large changes to Withering Fire, Shadow Dagger, and Black Arrows. Artanis gained the ability to use his Phase Prism during Blade Dash. Lots more.

    Over time, we've seen the success of reworks and dedicated more time and resources to them. I think you've seen an uptick in both the frequency and amount of change in the last 18 months as we've noticed that they can be powerful new ways to make older Heroes feel like new. (/u/BlizzNeyman)


    Can we get some summoner like Zagara soon?
    I love summoner characters! I play a lot of Nazeebo and Rexxar (he counts, right!?), so this question is close to my heart.

    Blizzard has a storied history of monsters spawning other monsters, so there are always opportunities for these kinds of characters. One interesting challenge with summoners is that they can bring a lot of visual spectacle to the game, but we have to be pretty careful with them because they can 1) increase visual clutter, making it harder to parse the game and 2) cost more from a memory/performance perspective. (/u/Blizz_JeffB)


    How do the artists go about HoTS-ifying a character from the Blizzardverse to make it fit into the game's art style. Is it difficult to unite them since the different games have unique art styles
    I'll take a stab too. The style of Heroes borrows mostly from Samwise Didier's style. What this means is when we pull in characters from Diablo or StarCraft we have to adjust them since those styles are generally leaning more towards the more realistic side of the scale. Overwatch, StarCraft and Diablo games, particularly the cinematics have a ton of tiny details made to be seen up close. Those teams put in a lot of awesome details which at our viewing distance would get lost. We need to carefully edit the details that would get lost out while enlarging some of the more important details. This is all an attempt to make everything look like it is from the same world. (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)

    Yes. One of the most challenging aspects of creating FX for Heroes of the Storm is coming up with creative ways to marry the vastly different visuals across all of Blizzard’s franchises.

    Healing FX for instance can range in color from gold/yellow to green to red. We "HoTS-ify" by finding a balance between retaining the fantasy from an established franchise and using clearly identifiable shapes and sounds to sell the intention of the ability. There's a fine precision in taking a character that's well known and loved and making adjustments that benefit the nature of our game. Anduin is a great example of this, where we adjusted his model to help differentiate his silhouette from his fathers and make him more readable from our overhead camera angle. (/u/Blizz_Thomas)

    yo! I can speak to the concept art side of things here. For me it's largely about silhouette. we're at a point in HoTS where we have a ton of heroes! Which is awesome, but also comes with its own challenges on the art side, we have to be a lot more careful for readability's sake. So we'll initially do a silhouette exploration to make sure we're not running into any existing hero space. An instance I can think of, is when I was concepting Yrel I was confident she would be fine silhouette wise. She was the first Draenei! Piece of cake! But after doing some concept rounds, she ended up running into Artanis' visual space. Something I did not anticipate at all, but it's details like that that can steer the entire boat into a whole nother direction! The other thing I personally take into account is personality! I like condensing the character's personality into a bite-sized flavorful chunk. Our chances to showcase a character's personality are brief, so we try condense a lot of it into the moments that we get. Our animation team does a lot of heavy lifting in this area! They're really cool kids (/u/Blizz_Vega)


    Would you consider working with veteran players on a personal level on the topic of hero design and balance?
    To be completely honest, we have always done this with Hero balance. Our entire live design team is constantly reading posts and digesting feedback from veteran players and former pros (we even sat down with teams prior to last years BlizzCon). In fact, one of our designers has been a very high-level NA GM in every season since the games inception. He is very in-touch with the highest level of play and is actively working with other high-level players to create better gameplay at those levels.

    If we see a trend of feedback pertaining to something distinct, we will often bring it up in our weekly syncs and talk through the proposed issues and potential solves. As for Hero design, we need to be a lot more private about what is coming down the pipe, so it is quite a bit more difficult to utilize the community in the same way. (/u/Blizz_Daybringer)


    Thank you for making Anduin happen, I was waiting for years and it was well worth it. You nailed the character fantasy and exceeded all expectations. How hard is it for you to thematically balance heroes like this?
    HI! This is a really good question! For our game specifically a lot is driven by silhouette. We knew we wanted to do a more current version of Anduin, but were a tad worried about how his plate armor would read against our existing alliance heroes so we adjusted it to have him feel more unique. Typically (because we're a top-down camera game) our characters have broader shoulders, and while we needed to keep that in mind, we also wanted to keep Anduin's slimmer frame in, so we ended up going with a bit of a mix of his priest robes and some light armor. All in all, we're very proud of Anduin and extremely happy to see that you guys love him as much as we do! Lastly I'll leave you with some early silhouette explorations by the amazing Luke Mancini, that give a bit more insight as to why we made the choices we made! https://imgur.com/a/k4DnCnK (/u/Blizz_Vega)


    1. How does the process of creating talent trees look like?
    1.) Creating talent trees usually starts once a hero's base kit is in a more finalized state. The kit is working together nicely, the abilities all have cool uses and shine in different situations, and the hero is feeling fun to play as and against. At this point we can start looking at adding talents to accentuate their abilities. Usually while we're in the process of working on the base kit, we'll have ideas of what a cool talent would be. Sometimes we have a base kit ability that might be a bit too complicated, so we cut out something and reserve it for a talent idea. Other times, we just have a ton of ideas for a hero and since they all can't fit on the base kit, they ultimately become talents. Eventually we start testing the hero with their talents. We focus on each talent individually and on talent builds. We try to make sure the talents are fun to play with and effective on their own as well as when combined with other talents. Players love discovering new synergies and builds and sometimes even we're surprised by what kind of playstyles become the dominant way to play the hero.
    2. Nu-school themed tiers are easier to make and easier to balance but they don't allow for much adaptability. Lucio and Sylvanas were the best examples of this, but now Anduin is the new Lucio where talents are either math calculations or just stylistic choices. Why not take a middle road and shift one talent from each tier to a nearby tier (AAB, BBC, CCA...)? Instead of being forced to pick 1 out of 3 theme's talents, you could pick 2.
    2.) We run into a lot of problems when we put different types of themed talents on the same tier. A good example of this was early on in the Heroes alpha and beta days when Illidan and Tychus both had a suite of survivability talents scattered throughout their tree. The primary way to play these damage dealing heroes was to pick all of the survivability talents rather than the talents that increase their damage. No matter how much we buffed their damage talents, players still felt safer and more effective when using the survivability builds. So instead of just nerfing the survivability talents into the ground, we thought it would make more sense if we put them together, changed their use cases, and let players pick between them. It isn't a perfect solution, but as we've developed more heroes we've become better at finding situations to combine talent themes. Orphea has a lot of tiers that offer both survivability and damage on the same tier, such as at level 7 where she can pick Ravenous Hunger (damage and sustain), Insatiable (pure damage) or Mind Devourer (more CC and damage). Li-Ming also has a lot of tiers that offer different choices -- at level 1 she has mana options alongside damage and survivability options (Power Hungry vs Force Armor). At level 13, Illusionist vs Glass Cannon offers another interesting choice and at 16 she has 3 damage options alongside a pure survivability option (Diamond Skin). In many cases, the type of "build" that you're using may define which talent you end up picking. At the end of the day, what matters most is that players have a wide range of choices and feel effective no matter what build they end up using and that they also feel smart for picking the talents that best suit the game they're in, the team composition they are playing alongside, and the enemy composition they are playing against. When those three concepts don't align, that's typically when you'll see a hero get looked at for a talent update or rework.
    3. Will DVa ever be redesigned? She seems to be the only hero that doesn't have any niche.
    3.) We feel the same way about D.Va. We're looking at making some changes to her in the future but don't have anything concrete to announce at the moment. (/u/BlizzKyle)


    Have you ever run into a situation where the design of a hero accentuates a specific map too well? Has it ever been so OP that you had to change something after playtest feedback or ptr feedback?
    There have been a few heroes in the past who have created map balance issues. Varian with Twin Blades early on could very easily solo any boss on any map, Hanzo with Scatter Arrow build was able to deal incredible amounts of damage to stationary bosses very easily and with a very low cooldown when he combined the Serrated Arrows (level 4) talent with the Never Outmatched (level 7) talent. One of the changes we made to address this issue was changing Never Outmatched to require you to attack a hero in order to gain the cooldown reduction benefits. Previously it was any basic attack. (/u/BlizzKyle)


    In WoW we have three mage disciplines: frost, fire and arcane. Jaina represents frost, Kael'thas fire. Who is the arcane mage? Do you consider Li-ming(blasphemy) or Medivh an arcane mage of HotS?
    I would personally consider Medivh to be more of the Arcane mage. He doesn't have a mana management game (that's more of Whitemane's thing) but he does have mechanics that restore mana such as hitting heroes with Arcane Rift, the Arcane Brilliance talent, and Raven's Intellect. He also has a few other classic mage spells like Polymorph and Invisibility! (/u/BlizzKyle)


    When creating new kits, do you ever take inspiration from fan ideas for heroes?
    We take inspiration from everywhere, including our incredible fans. (/u/Blizz_Thomas)


    Are you currently working on any new maps or is the focus shifted more on balancing current maps and reworking the old ones?
    We think that we have a diverse and interesting Battleground pool at the moment, and while we think it would be fun to introduce new ones, we think there are a lot of gains to be made by making smaller tweaks to the existing ones to keep them interesting and make sure they're fun. So for the foreseeable future, we think that smaller adjustments to Battlegrounds is the way to go. (/u/BlizzNeyman)


    Why does Dva's mech ejection give the enemy kill credit, such as resetting Genji's dash? In the Overwatch game her mech doesn't reset Genji's dash...
    As a Hero enters the Nexus many design decision are made between source authenticity and what feels right for Heroes. As part of D.Va's journey, it was determined that defeating her Mech awards half the experience of a Hero kill. Heroes that award partial Hero kill experience (like Misha or Murky) grant full credit for 'on-kill' abilities and talents. (/u/BlizzKofalt)


    If you could remove any hero from the game, who would it be?
    I would remove Azmodan, so we could release him as Azmodunk. That's the true Azmodan in my book!

    No but seriously, I think any time we've thought this, we've essentially gone back and reworked the character to be in a state that we're happy with. So from a practical standpoint, I guess you could look at the Heroes that have required the most changes since coming out, and it would be nice to have super-fortune-telling powers and release them in their current state now rather than their initial release? (/u/BlizzNeyman)


    Can we expect AMA every month?
    We started this series of focused AMAs last year and have really been enjoying them as an opportunity to bring different developers in to chat with all of you about specific areas of the game. While today’s AMA is the last in the series we most recently announced, we’re going to keep this process going and we’ll have info very soon on the next AMA series. We usually try to align them around updates/changes/additions to the game, so expect a similar timeframe of about every month or so, patch timing permitting. (/u/Blizz_IanMcEwan)


    Why didn't you continue with the animated login screens? I really liked them.
    I really liked them too! Unfortunately, the more involved we got with them, the more it was draining our resources from things that were ultimately more important. At some point we had to stop and say 'Okay, do we want to do this crazy amazing homescreen that takes everyone offline for 2 weeks, or do we want 2 more weeks of making the character feel as incredible as possible in game, where our players are actually going to spend the most time with them? And for us, it's always gameplay first.

    BUT this actually enabled us to do something cool, too! We were creating all these amazing illustrations for the releases of characters and skin packs that largely got lost in the internet. By switching out the way we used our resources, we are actually able to highlight MORE art in a more efficient way, while also providing the best play experience possible to our players. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)


    When designing heroes, do you ever look at the current dominant hero selections and make kits that are designed to counter them in some way?
    Not usually, but sometimes it is a thought in the back of our minds. Since heroes take 9+ months to develop it can be very difficult to predict what the meta may be by the time the hero comes out. Instead of trying to "counter" the current common strategies, we try to focus on making sure we have a diverse range of character options and strategies for players to use. (/u/BlizzKyle)


    What are the developer's views in abilities that lock or move your camera against your will such as junkrat concussion mine, abathur symbiote, varian taunt, Zagara nydus when exiting, uther when dying, when getting hit by dragon knight etc?
    We have these locks in the game to help newer players not get lost in hectic teamfights -- but you are right, experienced players may find them unecessary or distracting. I would love to have the option to disable ALL forms of camera lock as well... I will float this again and see if we can find a solution everyone is happy with. (/u/Blizz_JeffB)


    From what you have introduced in 2019, what are you most proud of?
    I am most proud of Anduin! Early in our verification processes we discovered that Leap of Faith did not like to play nice with so many things. While it was fun watching an ally accidentally fly across the entire map to Anduin, it's not exactly what was intended. I was really impressed with how quickly my teammates were able to turn over every stone to ensure it worked just right when it was introduced to our players. (/u/BlizzKofalt)


    Is there any chance the great Chris Metzen will come back and record lines for a Varian and Thrall announcer? We also need lines for Varian and Anduin!
    Chris is family, so I would expect his VO contributions to continue whenever he's excited about participating, HOWEVER we usually don't add new voice lines to existing heroes because it involves getting new writing and recording done in every language the game is localized into. I will say that we often record announcer lines alongside the original Hero VO, so there could very well be announcers for them lurking somewhere...we shall see! (/u/KaeoMilker)


    Are there any plans for BHB or map bans?
    We don't have plans for massive Battleground reworks similar to Garden of Terror's recent update, but we do want to continue to make smaller changes ranging from tuning to minor gameplay changes like Volskaya and Infernal Shrines recently received.

    We realize that Blackheart's Bay is a divisive Battleground, and have plans to increase the interactivity with enemy teams without taking away what makes the Battleground special. I can't offer a time frame for that at the moment, but it's something that we're actively talking about and I wouldn't be surprised if you see changes before the end of the year.
    Can you, alongside the gameplay rework, do some visual update? Dragon Shire looks great with new stuff.
    We loved the work that was done on Dragon Shire. A lot of that update was done to coincide with the comics and the big push for Orphea release. I'm not sure that we'll do things to that extent again, it was a special moment in the story of the Nexus, but it would be cool to do smaller things. (/u/BlizzNeyman)


    What is the process that leads to the creation of a new Character, Skin or Map?
    Gameplay Engineering's role in the initial determination of what characters to bring to the Nexus is largely figuring out how complicated/unknown a design or art need will be for a character. Things like figuring out how to make a giant four legged creature like Alexstrasza turn correctly or how to make Junkrat's bombs bounce off of walls are the types of things that factor into that determination.

    Once development is underway, my role is to develop new systems or extend current systems to solve those problems, as well as providing support when the path forward for a problem isn't clear.

    As for tools, I basically only use Visual Studio. Most of the client and server code for Heroes is written in C++, with some of our tools using other languages. (/u/Blizz_JeffB)

    The first part of the process is answering two big questions:

    What are the players excited about? and What are WE excited about?

    Finding content that sits on these crossroads ensures that we're going to be creating the best thing we possibly can. Beyond that, the process of probably both more complicated, and dramatically less complicated than you might imagine:

    The process is more complicated, in that the intricacies of our various professions are something that each member of this team has dedicated many years of our lives towards learning. The basic structure of it is:

    Hero Design>Talent Design>Balance Design>Concept Art> Modeling >Textures>Tech Art >Animation/FX>Engineering>UI>Sound>QA>

    But, it's so much more collaborative than this, that laying it out this way doesn't really do it justice. The nuance of what makes good design, beautiful FX, vibrant illustration, or brilliant audio is something that takes focus and practice to hone, and would probably take too long to accurately shed light on, here.

    The process is mess complicated, in that it's really as basic (and as awesome) as one might predict: It's a lot of sitting in meeting rooms and debating what the coolest thing is: The coolest way to attack someone, the coolest way to teleport back to base, the coolest way to ride a horse. Once we choose the cool things we want to do, the process is a lot about communicating well with one another ('soft skills'!), determining priorities, and selecting the most viable options given resources, and then doing the work.

    Making games boils down to a group of us using our imaginations together and then figuring out what it takes to make it real. (/u/Blizz_LanaB)


    Although I know Diablo is way up the popularity charts, might we see a tweak to his souls at some point?
    We have no plans to tweak Diablo’s souls in the near future. We think that it works with the play and counter-play that we want for Diablo, so I don’t see it changing in any major way unless we find a design change that is a clear winner. (/u/BlizzAZJackson)


    How difficult, and what kind of timeline is required to create new tints for existing skins? Also, same question, but for simple tweaks, like adding “hats” that create a new skin from a current one (Think Artanis with Zeratuls blade, or brightwing with her Halloween hat).
    We do! We're adding new tints to Heroes all the time. Artanis with Zeratul's Blade is a little bit deeper than just doing a new tint but we do lore skins like that as well. We do our best to get mount color matches. Keep an eye out! (/u/Blizz_KinaBREW)


    How does the process work of testing heroes in development and heroes being reworked simultaneously?
    With many Heroes in development at once it can definitely be tricky to ensure they’re all receiving the testing they need. We’ve found a lot of success by assigning an individual to follow along each new Hero or rework, starting as early as the paper design. This gives us fantastic visibility into where every Hero is in their development, allowing us to prioritize as a team what’s ready day-to-day. Additionally, a lot can change over a Hero’s development and building an understanding of everything that’s been implemented helps us even further in preventing issues. Juggling the needs of all the Heroes and reworks in development can be demanding, but with our process I get the privilege of watching a Hero start from an idea while frequently testing different content. (/u/BlizzKofalt)


    Are there any plans to show more developer activity on the official forums, such as seeing blue posts more often or hosting AMAs there instead of only on Reddit?
    Yes! Our forums were upgraded last year to have a lot of great functionality more akin to Reddit and our team is currently going through training to help prepare everyone for a greater presence on both our own forums, and places like Reddit. More info soonish®! (/u/Blizz_IanMcEwan)


    Can you guys please remove the Veteran AI as filler for Brawls/ARAM?
    We can take a look at ARAM stats and see if there is a better way for us to handle AI fills. The setup is definitely geared towards Brawls of the past -- filling so aggressively may no longer be necessary. (/u/Blizz_JeffB)


    Any thoughts about where Azmodan is at the moment?
    I just checked the stats for the Lord of Sin. Since the Anduin patch, he's at 53.2% at Gold MMR or lower games, and 50.4% at Platinum and above games. So he's in a pretty healthy position overall.

    For Talents, while Talents like Gluttony, Art of Chaos, Tide of Sin, and Total Annihilation are picked more than their counterparts, they actually have lower or comparable win rates. Some of this is the expertise effect (if you don't know how to play Azmodan, you play the cookie cutter spec, and you probably have a lower win rate). But these statistics are pulled from only people that have leveled Azmodan to at least 10, which displays at least a decent familiarity with the Hero.

    TLDR: Try to break the mold and pick some of the other builds when it makes sense, they are actually pretty strong. Overall, Azmodan is right in the middle of the pack in terms of overall balance. (/u/BlizzNeyman)
    Last edited by Nerraw; 2019-05-10 at 09:48 AM.

  2. #2
    Herald of the Titans DesoPL's Avatar
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    Fuck i loved Haunted Mines, but if they can replace this map with something else two lane from Warcraft, i diggin it.
    If you are Activision fan boy. Please don't talk to me.

  3. #3
    I really loved Haunted Mines and I hate losing content so I'm pretty bummed about that...But I'm more bummed that even now they do not want to work on a map editor.
    Imagine how great it would be with custom game modes on battlegrounds made by players including a game browser.

    It would revitalize the game big time, and this is exactly what Hots would need to bring it back to life.

  4. #4
    Here's hoping the Anub nerf will finally target Cocoon. It's just too good of an ability.

    As for the other tanks, ETC is pretty squishy, he just doesn't get punished for it all that often in uncoordinated play, which is probably why he has a solid winrate. That said, he's not a bad hero by any means to begin with. As for Diablo, he just doesn't fucking die... He's too tanky for the damage output and CC that he has. Not to mention a strong synergy with heroes like Zerathul or Hanzo. Which, again, isn't something that's all that relevant in uncoordinated games; not to mention lower rank games where those 2 heroes barely exist. I wish they would have included tank winrates across all brackets, since HotSLogs doesn't feel too reliable anymore these days, though.


    Glad to see the next hero is already in the works. Granted that I'm kinda not expecting it to arrive until august or so, we seem to be getting 1 "event" per month or so, so next is a skin drop, after that maybe the summer event, then the hero, IDK.

    I agree with @Gurluas on Haunted mines aswell, sucks to just lose it with nothing in place. It wasn't my favorite but it's not like the other maps are perfect either. As long as they keep it out of the ranked rotation *cough*like they should with Hanamure *cough*, I don't see why it couldn't come back.

  5. #5
    Legendary! Raugnaut's Avatar
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    I feel that Haunted Mines wasn't removed for gameplay reasons, but rather lore reasons - Similar to how Dragon Shire was revamped to reflect the comics, I feel Haunted Mines was removed because, well, it was destroyed.
    Anyone ever notice how the sun seems to shine silverish now? Didn't it used to shine goldish? PM me if you've noticed this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Moounter View Post
    I think your problem is a lack of intellect.

  6. #6
    I am happy that they are working on things they hadn't started last year. It denies doomsayer tenets about dead game and using old stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by DesoPL View Post
    Fuck i loved Haunted Mines, but if they can replace this map with something else two lane from Warcraft, i diggin it.
    I loved it too. I think that maps from alpha are the best.

    That isn't to say that it couldn't ever come back in some new fashion if someone comes up with a fantastic amazing solution, but that's not on the books right now.
    That said, they might rework it in the future.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Do you guys like Mannaroth? We need him and Archimonde, plz.

    Personally those two sound awesome. I would lean towards Mannaroth though he comes with some challenges. Characters with multiple limbs (e.g. 4 legs, 2 arms 2 wings) take a ton of time to animate. For me when I am on something creative that is taking a long time to get done it can be mentally draining. There's a point where I have a hard time calling it done and things get blurry which can be hard on an artist.
    There is another post below.
    So does it mean that you are afraid of making him? Pity, he is my brother's most hated villain and my favourite demon.

    We're never afraid of making a hero.
    I give my flesh and blood freely to the Warchief. I am the instrument of my Warchief's desire. I am a weapon of my Warchief's command.
    https://www.mmo-champion.com/threads...lopment-thread

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by matrix123mko View Post
    I am happy that they are working on things they hadn't started last year. It denies doomsayer tenets about dead game and using old stuff.



    I loved it too. I think that maps from alpha are the best.


    That said, they might rework it in the future.

    - - - Updated - - -


    There is another post below.
    It wouldn't be the same. The first rework was okay, but if it's going to be a rework like Garden of Terror then I'm not so interested in it.
    The rework butchered what made that map fun.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Gurluas View Post
    It wouldn't be the same. The first rework was okay, but if it's going to be a rework like Garden of Terror then I'm not so interested in it.
    The rework butchered what made that map fun.
    Yes, summons are boring in comparison to transformations.
    I give my flesh and blood freely to the Warchief. I am the instrument of my Warchief's desire. I am a weapon of my Warchief's command.
    https://www.mmo-champion.com/threads...lopment-thread

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by matrix123mko View Post
    Yes, summons are boring in comparison to transformations.
    Eh, while I sort of agree, since being able to hop into a vehicle or transform into a monster is much more interactive, it can be annoying if you have talent quests you're trying to get done that you can't do while inside something, or if you're playing a character that still needs to be around to keep the rest of your party alive (healer, tank to a lesser extent) but none of your damage dealers want to volunteer to grab the objective. Probably because they also have talent quest they're trying to complete. And don't get me started on the number of times I've had to run around in a Protector on Volskaya without a gunner....
    "Perhaps victory is in the simpler things that you've long forgotten- things that require a smaller, more honest soul."

  10. #10
    Good news they still have projects, ideas and new heroes to bring. But I feel like we need a new map.

    Dunno, maybe like the map of SC2 where parts gets full of lava, chasing a treasure goblin or which team has the kotmogu sphere for longer time.

  11. #11
    The Lightbringer therealstegblob's Avatar
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    tl;dr: Game is a CC-centric turd with no balance and no coherent hero design.
    i am not the real stegblob. My blog where I review books and crap.

  12. #12
    come on you dickheads, you gotta ask about the fucking core replacer hero concept.

    but, it's good to hear there's heroes in the work at least. i'll never be satisfied though, not until i'm playing a writhing tentacle mass core replace old god.
    https://imgur.com/FX4poT6

    steve danuser - waifu cringelord

  13. #13
    Pandaren Monk msdos's Avatar
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    I too enjoyed Haunted Mines.

    I think once Chen gets his re-work, you will start to see a shift in what tanks are dominant and they won't need to apply tank nerfs, because Chen is a tank's nightmare.
    He can avoid everything you do and make your life miserable with his ults. Chen glued to his team's healer is cancer in a lane, they'll just blow lanes up because nothing is there to stop his brew drinking and he gets a talent to apply it to teammates.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by msdos View Post
    He can avoid everything you do and make your life miserable with his ults. Chen glued to his team's healer is cancer in a lane, they'll just blow lanes up because nothing is there to stop his brew drinking and he gets a talent to apply it to teammates.
    Nothing is there to stop his brew drinking? Are you expecting stuns to quit stopping it? Also, that talent may not be there after his rework.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by msdos View Post
    I too enjoyed Haunted Mines.

    I think once Chen gets his re-work, you will start to see a shift in what tanks are dominant and they won't need to apply tank nerfs, because Chen is a tank's nightmare.
    He can avoid everything you do and make your life miserable with his ults. Chen glued to his team's healer is cancer in a lane, they'll just blow lanes up because nothing is there to stop his brew drinking and he gets a talent to apply it to teammates.
    ... wh-what?

    Chen has the second lowest winrate, barely above Cho, and that's because everyone and their mother has a CC that interrupts his drink. His aoe shield is a complete non-factor. SEF was hella nerfed to no longer be a second health bar, and Wandering Keg is asking to get nuked unless you get the whole team rolling.

    He is a massive joke and it's sad because I used to main him extensively and can't even play him QP because of the glut of counters he has.
    "It's 2013 and I still view the internet on a 560x192 resolution monitor!"

  16. #16
    Give me WC3:R, Blizz! The Stormbringer's Avatar
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    That's a huge AMA, wow.

    Damn, no Haunted Mines. I liked that map a lot. Also, why would they not want HOTS eSports and still keep doing (in my opinion) crap like Warcraft Arena on stage for prizes? Sigh.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by The Stormbringer View Post
    Also, why would they not want HOTS eSports and still keep doing (in my opinion) crap like Warcraft Arena on stage for prizes? Sigh.
    Definitely mandated from above.

  18. #18
    I think a map editor is what this game needs to give it a rebirth.

    I keep thinking of what Counter Strike became growing out of Half-Life.

    I know that Blizzard is a strong IP company that doesn’t like users tinkering with their creations but on a stagnant or dying game I guarantee you fans will come up with better maps the necessitate metas that aren’t currently on the radar, create new interest and quite possibly become a new revenue model.

  19. #19
    I highly doubt a map editor is going to be prioritized any time soon, especially with WC3R right around the corner. Everyone will go there for their map-making needs.

  20. #20
    The Unstoppable Force breadisfunny's Avatar
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    haunted mines was my favorite map. makes me that much less wanting to log in nowadays.
    Last edited by breadisfunny; 2019-05-27 at 12:58 AM.
    r.i.p. alleria. 1997-2017. blizzard ruined alleria forever. blizz assassinated alleria's character and appearance.
    i will never forgive you for this blizzard.

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