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HotS Team Discusses Impact of Deckard Cain, Hero Reworks, Hanamura, Third Ban, and More; Full Q&A

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HotS Team Discusses Impact of Deckard Cain, Hero Reworks, Hanamura, Third Ban, and More; Full Q&A

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Heroes of the Storm at PAX East 2018: Community Questions

Heroes of the Storm

Twinfinte:  Are there any updates on how the team is looking to improve reconnects and combating afk players or to lessen the impact that is afflicted by these players?

Kaeo Milker production director of Heroes of the Storm: Yeah we’re looking that in a couple of fronts. First detection and actioning on AFK players is something that we have put a lot of work into and we continuing to invest in. Having players continue to report people who see doing things, whether it’s being AFK, toxicity, whatever it is… use the report system because we action on it.

We’re also looking at things on our side, that lets us determine who is doing these behaviors so we can action on them as well.

The reconnect system is something that’s deeply rooted in the technology of Heroes which was built originally on the technology of StarCraft 2. We’ve made some improvements over time, so some players have probably seen some of that come already. I understand that it’s never perfect, it needs more, and they want to get [back] in as fast as they can. And the longer you’ve been disconnected, the longer it takes to reconnect which is really the problem that people start getting into. Our hands are somewhat tied. We can’t just snap our fingers and suddenly make that instantaneous, but we will continue to look at opportunities to make improvements to it though.

The other side of that though, which is what I think people are concerned about, is how we can have something like loss forgiveness if you’re in that situation and you’re negatively impacted by that. Whether you’re the person that got disconnected or someone that was playing on a team with someone that got disconnected and it impacted your game. How can we make it so that doesn’t start knocking you down for a situation that was out of your control and not something you can influence? We’ll keep looking at those sort of things to try and mitigate those effects.

Twinfinte: Is it possible for players to have shared heroes across regions or is that something that is also inhibited by those technical issues?

Milker: Yeah so there was decisions made early on about the way the licenses carry over on your account and it’s specific to regions right now. I think we keep getting feedback on that. I’m interested in continuing to hear it. I don’t know that there are any plans or immediate action that I can talk about, but I hear that people are saying that.

Twinfinte: Can you give us any updates on Hanamura?

Milker: Hanamura came out, and it did a lot of different things… but the challenge was that it did… a lot of different things [laughs]. There’s a lot going on on that battleground. Very quickly we started seeing that players were struggling with knowing what to do in any given moment and that there was a lot of debate on what the right thing to do was. And while we make battlegrounds specifically to give you those types of strategic choices, and that’s important to us. Generally you have like one or two choices that you are weighing, and you pick a clear one. Hanamura has more options than that at any given moment. So I think it became something that caused a lot of confusion and strife with players.

So we’ve been doing a lot of work on it, it’s undergoing a lot of changes and play-testing on our side. I don’t have an ETA for it, but it will come back and it will be a much more streamlined battleground that’s focused on a few very strategic choices. We will bring back the aesthetic and the beautiful art that we love from it, but it will be re-imagined into something more akin to the rest of our battlegrounds in terms of clarity and purpose in what you’re trying to accomplish.

Twinfinte: Are there any plans to re-balance Raynor?

Villars: So we’re definitely hearing that feedback. It’s something that we have an eye on. I think we have mentioned previously that we are shifting more energy in those reworks and getting them out there. So I think he could definitely be a candidate. We don’t have anything to talk about right now but we’ve totally heard it.

The big concern that people bring up is that “he’s the intro hero, so we couldn’t change him” but honestly we could. That’s one of our big values: easy to learn, difficult to master. So there’s plenty of space to have a hero who is pretty straightforward and approachable, but still has a lot of room to grow as you play him more.

Milker: What I’ll say on the Raynor front too is that as time goes on we learn a lot about making heroes, and we’ve come a long way. Raynor is one of early ones, and players value the simplicity of his gameplay, in terms of his kit is very straightforward and approachable, and he’s a great starter hero. I think some of the things people bring up is that we bring out a new hero that’s the better version of Raynor and that Raynor can’t stand toe-to-toe now. I think it’s important for everyone to know that we’re going to take [everything we’ve learned] in these reworks and go back to our early heroes and level them up and do everything we can to make them still have their own space in the game, and their niche, and make them a choice for players to choose so that they can say: “I love this hero, I love playing them, I love their kit, and I love the way they feel” while also maintaining their uniqueness.

Twinfinte: Heroes of the Storm has changed so much since launch. What are you most proud of in terms of where the game is now, versus at launch?

Villers: That’s a good question, we’ve changed so much. Sometimes we look back and look at the breadth of things that we have changed and we’re blown away. Like recently, someone was looking at in 2017 we patched the game 57 times.

There is this mentality on our team that of like “what’s the most impactful thing we can do to the game, what’s the best opportunity to make it better?” That’s something that we really strive for, and we’re not afraid to touch anything. Any system is up for revision, any hero, any battleground. It’s something that we’re going to keep pushing on. And that means that the game is going to be, at any given moment, the best version of the game that has ever been, and that’s something really cool about working on this game.

Milker: Something on the hero side that we have come a long way on is the design for talents. Initially we had a lot of generic talents that were just “hey this does more damage or the cooldown is a little bit lower.” And I feel like, we’ve really learned a lot of the years about how to make really exciting talents and talent trees. Both in terms of individual talents, the balance between talents within a tier, and the overall structure for heroes so you feel like you have good ways to both express yourself, and make in the moment make interesting decisions. It’s been a really cool process, and through reworks we also get to take that knowledge and apply it to some of the other heroes.  

Twinfinte: Going forward, are you aiming for smaller, more calculated patches and updates, or larger scale ones that dramatically shift the meta, and then you see where it lands?

Villers: There’s a balance that we want to be careful of. One of the challenges with how frequently we’re updating the game is that it does create instability that it’s hard to grab onto any given change and wrap your ahead around the current state of the game because it’s in such flux. So one of the changes we’ve made recently is we used to deliver just a ton of stuff in one patch. Where it would be like: “three hero reworks, a brand new hero, we might have a new battleground, tons of balance changes, bug fixes” there would just be a bunch of stuff, and you don’t even know the state of the game anymore after something like that. Maybe players could focus on one or two of those things and wrap their heads around it, but there was just this huge breadth of changes. And [now] we’re really trying to space those things out to give more breathing room and digestion time for each individual change so people can wrap their heads around the current state of the game in that snapshot of a moment. I think it’s going to benefit [players] in a couple of ways. They really get some time for those things to shine from apperciation standpoint and a understanding standpoint.

Twinfinte: Are there any plans for a third ban in drafted modes?

Milker: That’s something we’ve talked about a lot. I think as our hero roster grows, we’re hearing more and more of a demand both from an esports perspective and just from players in general. It’s something that we’re open to and talking about to see what kind of timeline we can get it on.

Twinfinte: Are there any plans to rework Team League in any way?

Milker: We love Team League. We look at Team League as the way we would ultimately like to have people play the game. That’s where it’s experienced best when you’re in a full team, communicating, using voice chat to talk to each other. I think we’ve done a lot of things already to try and encourage Team League play. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit for rewards and bonuses for playing that mode. I would like to keep doing that. Because again, it’s really the best way to play.

It’s challenging for players I think because they need to find the people to play with to make it work. But we’ve made some changes in terms of the number of players you need over the years, and I think we’ll keep looking at it trying to make sure we get the best balance of how to make sure [players] can get players and get in there and have fun, while kind of preserving the sanctity of that mode.

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