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BlizzCon 2019 – Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive

BlizzCon 2019 – Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive
Kaeo Miller and some members of the Heroes team took a look at what’s coming for Heroes of the Storm.

Deathwing

  • There was a hero that everyone has been asking for and that is Deathwing!
  • What version of Deathwing should they do? Humanoid? Dragon? Both?
  • Alexstrasza was both, so the team just did the dragon.

Model

  • The designers looked at all of the versions that exist, from cinematics and other art pieces, to create their concept.
  • The team first makes a basic 3D model, with flat textures and minimal placeholder animations.
  • When Deathwing was walking around during testing, people could really see the head, back, and wings.
  • The team took the areas that people will see the most and added more detail to make him look more aggressive.
  • Deathwing has an iconic firey chest, but you won’t see that in game because you don’t see his chest. The team tried to bring some of that fire to his back.
  • The team added gaps to the armor on his back to let some fire shine through.
  • Deathwing’s jaw was a little too plain and chiseled, so they looked at reference material and added some iron cheekbones.

Design

  • One idea was having Deathwing as an entire map, with the team playing on his back.
  • The team settled on Deathwing in only dragon form.
  • In Heroes it was important for him to feel overwhelming and powerful, while still playing well in the game.
  • Dragon Fantasy – Powerful and menacing, uses fire breath and physical attacks to tear enemies apart.
  • Cataclysm Fantasy – Terrible and mighty, the world rips apart in his presence.
  • Capturing both fantasies in one hero was challenging, so the team created two ability sets that he can switch between.
  • The Destroyer – Close range, aggressive melee kit.
  • The Worldbreaker – Mid range, area denial kit, ripping the earth apart beneath his opponent’s feet.
  • The team tested Unstoppable – As long as Deathwing had so many armor plates active (health), he’d be Unstoppable. As soon as he lost his plates, he would retreat from the fight.
  • The team settled on making Deathwing Unstoppable, giving him a special nameplate that shows health and armor plates.
  • Some abilities are shared across both forms, such as Molten Flame. One of the highest DPS in the game.
  • Cataclysm gives him a powerful mobility and engagement tool. It was so iconic and powerful that the team had trouble getting players to choose the other heroic ability.
  • This led to the team giving him this Heroic ability at Level 1 and powering it up as he levels.

Effects

  • Deathwing is the most epic things the team has put into the game.
  • The effects needed to be powerful and effective, without causing performance issues.
  • All of his ability effects feel like Heroics visually.
  • Bellowing Roar is the second fear the team has put into the game.
  • Heroic abilities are the largest, most impressive, and most time consuming thing the team works on. Creating all of Deathwing’s skills like this was significant effort.
  • Normally lava, fire, and water effects use hand drawn animations or complicated fluid simulations made into a texture (flipbooks).
  • It’s never as simple as tinting an ability another color. The team could do this, but it wouldn’t be up to the Blizzard standard.
  • The team built some new tools for Deathwing. They created a shader that took a single static frame and manipulates it in real time with noise and motion, making them a little bit different.
  • The team then built some rocks and rotated, scaled, animated, and added effects to them so that Deathwing’s abilities have a physical component.

What’s Next

  • Updated version of the Toys game event, Toys 2: The Revenge of Tickle Mephisto.
  • Race around the game board, complete quests, collect rewards.
  • Cosmonaut Qhira!
  • Also adding an interactive mount. Toy Train mount can be shared with their allies. Allies can click, channel, and form a pain train to the enemy core.
  • With the release of Deathwing and new seasons the team is adding Nexus Anomalies. Targeted changes that affect the entire game. Try out for 3 or 4 months, iterate, or remove.
  • First Nexus Anomaly is playable at BlizzCon. Soaking minion experience is important, but the team hasn’t done a good job communicating it to players. All slain minions will drop experience globes.
  • The slow loss of a meaningful solo lane will also hopefully be addressed by this.
  • Storm League players that are Master or higher can only queue with one other player, who must also be Master level or higher. This should help with smurfing.
  • More Hero mastery rings are coming! You can turn them on and off. Rings unlock at 15, 25, 50, and 100. The 100 ring will show you the level as well.
  • Ready Check on game creation and auto requeue when a game fails to create are in the works.
  • All Heroes are free to play until November 11th.

Q&A

  • The team all loved HGC and miss it, but there are no plans to add an organized tournament again at this time.
  • Abathur will get XP orbs into the hat. Ragnaros’s Lava Wave will also grab the orbs from his kills.
  • The team tried a Core Replacement hero with Ragnaros, but not having a map presence felt bad.
  • Haunted Mines is loved internally, but there are a few design challenges with it. The team is working on it internally.
  • The team has talked about adding an overlay or hints that would appear in real time, such as a quest dialogue that would give them a hint when it is time to do a thing. They are aware they need to do a better job of delivering information to players.
  • There are a lot of design challenges with adding an Innkeeper as a Hero. Would need art for all of the cards. They’d love to do it, but have to find where it’ll fit.
  • The team is doing more reworks than ever
  • Tassadar will be changing into a ranged Mage.
  • Deathwing gets the damage buff from the map objective. He’s treated as a vehicle, so he only gets buffs that a vehicle would get.
  • Storm League is the most fair solution for competitive players right now.
  • The team is still working on making the AI better, being able to queue to replace AI for a bonus is a cool idea.
  • Teams want games to take 18-22 minutes, regardless of map.
  • The team wants to do a pirate theme at some point.
  • Allowing the enemy team to channel the Train mount is something they’ll look into.