At BlizzCon 2013, StarCraft Legacy staff members were amongst the first people outside of Blizzard in the world to play Heroes of the Storm. The game has evolved a lot since it’s days as Blizzard DOTA & Blizzard All-Stars, and SaharaDrac is here to describe his experience with the game and share his thoughts.
I immediately saw that this was not the map I played two years previously. Nor was it the simple map editor experiment that got shoved into a corral next to Aiur Chef and StarJeweled I played before that. Where before, the game was sort of neat, but obviously just a StarCraft II Arcade mod, this was an entirely new game. It reeked of polish.
Check out the full article to read about the heroes, major changes, and gameplay experiences we shared at BlizzCon this year.
At BlizzCon 2009, Chris Metzen, Blizzard's VP of Creative Development, gave the fans our first look at many of StarCraft II's voices by delivering the first Voices of StarCraft II panel. On Friday, November 8th, BlizzCon 2013 began and Blizzard again presented several of the StarCraft II voice actors for a discussion panel that offered a rare look behind the curtain.Not only was the voice acting industry discussed, but the actors provided some interesting insights about the characters they give life to:
When asked about Arcturus Mengsk, James Harper discussed how even though the character an actor is playing may not be a protagonist, you always have to think of them as being in the right. He sees Mengsk as having started in a noble place, trying to protect his people, when power goes to his head. In order to make Mengsk believable, James has stated that each actor must believe that their character is in the right.
Several members of the StarCraft Legacy staff were in attendance and we've written a panel recap for the Templar Archives.
With BlizzCon having concluded, and the WCS in its off-season, Blizzard has made a balance update to Heart of the Swarm. Below are the changes to Heart of the Swarm multiplayer:
Protoss Oracle Movement speed increased from 3.375 to 4. Acceleration increased from 2 to 3. Units that burrow or cloak while under the effects of Revelation will once again be revealed after unburrowing or uncloaking.
Terran Armory Vehicle and Ship Weapon upgrades have been combined. Siege Tank Siege Mode attack period decreased from 3.0 to 2.8. Widow Mine Sentinel Missiles now deal reduced damage to units caught within its splash radius based on their distance from the target: 40 damage within 1.25 radius. 20 damage from 1.25 to 1.5. 10 damage from 1.5 to 1.75.
Zerg Roach Warren The Tunneling Claws upgrade now increases burrowed Roach movement speed from 1.41 to 2.
This is the article that will link to the other articles that have the art and screenshots gathered from BilzzCon. Remember that each of these articles might have very long load times due to the large volume of images.
There wasn't much StarCraft II news over at BlizzCon this year, save for one panel that occurred, the StarCraft II Update panel. The StarCraft homepage has a nice summary of that panel that you can read here!
As for a very brief list of things coming in patch 2.1 and beyond, there are clan and group event calendars, custom clan decals, extension mods for maps which can allow Monobattles to be played on any currently existing map, level cap increase to 35, new "StarCrafts" theme portraits, an automatic AFK-kicking feature for game lobbies, and remastered classic StarCraft music making its way into StarCraft II.
Here is StarCraft: Legacy's coverage of the BlizzCon 2013 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive panel! Read below to see what was discussed, what info was revealed, and how Heroes of the Storm is looking.
The panel begins, with all the panelists walking on stage, and a short intro about the concept of Heroes of the Storm is discussed. With every Blizzard franchise combining together to form one experience, the development team had a lot of creative freedom as to art direction and game mechanics. As mentioned multiple times through BlizzCon, bringing the three franchises together means anything can happen.
To make the art of Heroes of the Storm cohesive, the art team mixed the styles of the three franchises; big bold colors were used like in Warcraft, attention to detail was used like in Diablo, and the grittiness of StarCraft made it into the game to give every character and every battleground that consistent feel. The concept art for the King's Crest battleground pops up on the screen, showing the medieval, green, neutral theme of the map reminiscent of Warcraft III. A fly-by video of the map plays, and the panelists point out the medieval motif that is applied to every structure, with a dragon statue model adorning the top of each structure. At this point, it is mentioned that there were goblins and ogres for mercenary camps originally, but this was problematic when Horde characters took the field and tried to kill these mercenaries; orcs fighting goblins all the time felt odd. Footmen were the blue and red minions that players killed in masses, which was odd when Alliance characters took the field and started slaughtering Footmen. So new mercenaries were created, one of them being the Siege Giants, the long-range siege creatures that are present in each battleground. Knights are the other mercenaries, also present in each battleground, that soak up damage for minions. Boss monsters are also present in certain maps, such as the Grave Golem in Blackheart's Bay. In King's Crest, however, a player can become the boss monster by taking control of the Dragon Shrine, turning into the Dragon Knight and destroying the opposition.
Moving on to Blackheart's Bay, the concept art flashes on the screen. The panelists say that everything on the map has to fit in with everything else; this means the structures, the mercenaries, and the environment are altered to fit with the theme of the battleground. The battleground is a nautical, cursed-pirate-themed map that has docks and naval mercenaries and boats. A massive ship was designed a long time ago, which was placed on the edge of the map and was controllable by players in order to bombard the enemy. The problem with this original ship was that, because of its position on the map, players didn't really focus on it or feel drawn to it. It was decided to move the ship to the middle of the map, but the problem was: how does it move and shoot around the map? The solution: make the ship into a ghost ship. The fly-by video of Blackheart's Bay plays in the background. On Blackheart's Bay, the objective is to find treasure around the map and bring it to Blackheart the pirate; bringing enough treasure means Blackheart will fire his ship's cannons at enemy fortifications and deal extreme amounts of damage. Treasure can be found in treasure chests and some mercenary camps, and players will have to pick up the treasures and carry them over to Blackheart. But if a player is killed while carrying treasure, they will drop all their treasure, meaning treasure-couriers feel like quarterbacks for their team. As for the alterations to mercenaries for Blackheart's Bay, Siege Giants fire cannons instead of throwing rocks and Knights have anchors instead of swords.
Next up is Cursed Hollow, an autumn, haunted-themed battleground. Concept art of the map flashes by, then the fly-by video of the map plays. The goal of this battleground is to encourage teamfights; "tributes" spawn at random locations across the map, and once three of these are collected by one team, that team gains a team-wide buff that increases damage dealt to minions and structures and prevents structures from attacking the players. Because these tributes spawn randomly, it creates variable strategies depending on when and where they spawn, guaranteeing that no two fights for tributes feel the same. A gameplay video of a teamfight over a tribute plays in the background.
Last but not least is the Haunted Mines battleground. The fly-by video plays, and the panelists explain that this map was aimed to create a competitive dungeon; players go underground to collect more skulls than the enemy team, so that they can summon stronger Grave Golems than the opposition. Once underground, players have to kill skeletons and the eventual mini-boss in order to gather the skulls they have. Teamfights can break out underground, pushes can be made above ground, and the battleground is very multi-faceted. Once all skulls have been collected (100 in total), both teams summon their respective Grave Golems, with varying strength depending on the number of skulls collected. These Grave Golems rush to enemy fortifications to destroy them. When these golems die, players can collect skulls again and once all 100 skulls are recollected, the Grave Golems respawn on the spot that they died.
The discussion changes for a moment to focus on how a 3D environment concept was made using their editor, which seemed to resemble the SC2 editor. The accompanying video showed the textures for the ground being laid out, the doodads and structures being placed on one side, a cliff and a mine entrance being placed on another, and a small graveyard at the corner of the "map". The panelists noted how easy and fast it was to make a sample map.
Now that all the battlegrounds were elaborated upon, it was time for hero design talk. The development team asked themselves some central questions before making each hero: What is the fantasy of playing these heroes? What should each character feel like to the player? What makes this character unique? Who is this hero for, beginners or experts? What is the hero's role on the battlefield, assassin or warrior? While mentioning these questions, they showed Raynor as an example of a hero for beginner players, and Abathur for experienced players. While Raynor was straightforward and involved using abilities to deal damage, Abathur involved having a lot of map awareness, switching attention between different allies to help in different ways, and move around the map so as to never get caught. Vella, the Demon Hunter from Diablo III, was mentioned as an example of an assassin, darting around the battlefield and hitting enemies while being careful not to be hit herself. Tyrael was an example of a warrior, someone who rushed to the frontlines to deal and absorb damage for the team.
The panelists showed the abilities of three specific champions, Stitches the abomination, Raynor, and Tyrael. Stitches was one of the oldest heroes created for Heroes of the Storm, and took its origins from the abomination in Warcraft III. He has Hook, an ability that can pull enemies towards him from long range, Devour, an ability that deals a lot of damage and heals Stitch, and Putrid Bile, which leaves a trail of poison behind Stitch that deals massive damage. A very interesting mechanic was the ability to augment base abilities to make them different; the given example was Hook, which could be augmented to become Fishing Hook, giving it much longer range.
Raynor was next, and he had the ability to call the Hyperion, making it help him in battle. When the ability is used, a shadow of the Hyperion appears on the battlefield, and units underneath it get randomly attacked by volleys of lasers. This ability could target structures, minions, and enemy heroes. On the other hand, he could summon two Banshees instead of the Hyperion, which gave him sight over terrain, gave him more direct damage to a single target, and made him a very powerful duelist.
Tyrael was last, and it was pointed out that Tyrael was an easy-to-execute concept because he perfectly embodied the idea of a heavily-armored defender of justice. One of his abilities shields an ally, making all damage dealt to that ally be dealt to Tyrael instead. This ability could be augmented to become Fire Chains, dealing damage to anything that came between Tyrael and the shielded target. He also has a dash ability, granting him near-instant movement over short distances. On top of that, he has Judgment, an ability that is a long-range, fast dash that allows him to rush into fights quickly and easily.
An example of teamfight potential was shown; a screenshot popped up on the screen, showing Tassadar as we walled off the enemy Illidan from escaping. Stitch was throwing his Hook, which was headed directly for the cornered Illidan. The panelists say that the teamfight potential of different hero mixes was something that made every hero stronger than they first appear to be. A tidbit of pre-match info that was given was that players could reserve their preferred hero before getting into a game, allowing everyone to play the way they wanted. There's also an out-of-game levelling system, which unlocks talents for heroes, new heroes, and other things as a player levels. As the panel wraps up, a slideshow of in-game skin screenshots play in the background while the panelists discuss the creative freedom in creating skins for the various heroes and mounts.
The FAQ is currently being transcripted. Stay tuned...
As many people are probably aware, the recently-renamed Heroes of the Storm is being shown off at BlizzCon 2013. With playable demos and related panels occurring all throughout the event, there's a lot to cover. But first, here is StarCraft: Legacy's coverage of the first Heroes of the Storm panel, called "Heroes of the Storm Overview".
Dustin Browder comes out, followed by Alan Dabri, Sam Didier, and Chris Sigaty. They take their seats, and Dustin Browder stands up to start the panel.
He starts by listing some of the core philosophies of the game: it's about teamwork, playing with your friends, working as a team, playing on different battlegrounds, using new strategies on new maps, and it's about paying homage to the community, which spurred the fighter-brawler genre back in the days of Warcraft III.
Chris Sigaty then takes the mic to talk about how the genre began. The powerful editor that was in Warcraft III allowed players to use the massive number of Blizzard-created assets to design their own games, such as Defense of the Ancients, and then allow other players to experience vastly different experiences to the base Warcraft III game. Alan Dabri comments that Blizzard realized that the editor was capable of incredible potential, and made improvements upon the Warcraft III editor and then went on to create an even more powerful StarCraft II editor.
The talk transitions back to Dustin Browder, who noted the nervousness that was felt at Blizzard that the StarCraft II editor might not be powerful enough for the fans, but was relieved to see that that was not the case. Changing the topic to Heroes of the Storm specifically, he mentions that he felt confused during the early years of development. He voiced concerns that everything didn't fit together, that the different franchises clashed with each other. At the time, he went to Sam Didier to ask how in the world everything was supposed to fit together, and Sam Didier showed him an art piece for a previous BlizzCon, with heroes and villains of each franchise posing together, and how well they meshed together.
In the end it was decided that BlizzCon would be the "world" in which Heroes of the Storm takes place; BlizzCon has always been the event that combined the spirit of every franchise into one entity. Dustin Browder says that the BlizzCon experience was really inspiring for the development of the game. With regards to inspirations for the game, Chris Sigaty comments that Hearthstone was very inspiring because it represented a mixture of themes that, ultimately, led to a great game, and that it also represented Blizzard's ability to make great games in an already-crowded market. Dustin Browder agrees, and adds that Hearthstone looks simple and easy at first glance, but as a match progresses, players get sucked into the intensity of struggling to survive those crucial, upcoming turns in order to win. He wanted this "easy to learn, difficult to master" mentality to permeate Heroes of the Storm as well.
Dustin Browder passes the conversation over to Samwise Didier, mentioning that the art team has toiled over the development of the game to fit all the characters into one setting. Commenting specifically on Warcraft and Diablo, Sam Didier says that meshing the two art styles wasn't much of a stretch because of their fantasy-genre roots. He does say though that the art style of Diablo and StarCraft characters were changed to have a more comic-book aesthetic in order to mix appropriately with the Warcraft art style.
Giving an example of a playable character in the game, they bring up a screenshot of Arthas, and Dustin Browder says that players should feel like they are controlling the deadliest of villains when controlling Arthas, because the deadliest of villains was the essence of Arthas and especially of Heroes of the Storm Arthas. Arthas is explained to be a slayer, a powerhouse, a killer that roams the map looking to slay enemies across the battlefield. An idea being played around with in development is the idea of allowing players to choose their own "heroic powers" for each hero, what are called "ultimates" in other MOBAs and brawler-fighter games. This allows Heroes of the Storm Arthas to either summon an ice drake onto the battlefield or summon undead minions to form an army.
Skins became the next topic, with Sam Didier saying that, art-wise, characters can have skins of how they looked in the past, such as Arthas back when he was still princely and blonde. The Elite Tauren Chieftain is mentioned to appear in the game as well, as a playable character with high mobility, self-healing, and several fun abilities that suit the style of the Elite Tauren Chieftain. Abathur also makes an appearance, and Dustin Browder explains that his role is to stay back away from the fighting and help allies by "infesting" them and firing abilities off of them like a form of long-range caster. Since Abathur is terrible at fighting enemies head-on, he relies on teammates to make the moves, and instead waits for opportunities to support the team. The design philosophy for characters is specifically stated to be making each character feel different from one another, as different as possible. An Abathur gameplay video is shown, where Abathur's team gains control of key objectives thanks to his great map control capabilities.
Going back to skins, several variants to characters are shown: there is a Vampire Hunter skin for the Diablo III Demon Hunter, a Murloc skin for Diablo, a "Glamrock" Elite Tauren Chieftain skin, a Terran Medic Uther skin, and a Judgment Armor Uther skin. Sam Didier reminds everyone that these skins have no lore basis; they are in Heroes of the Storm because they are fun skins, and they feel that Heroes of the Storm is a great place to let loose with the crazy non-lore ideas. Heroes of the Storm is, in essence, where anything can happen.
Dustin Browder takes the mic to go over how matches of Heroes of the Storm will feel. Having fun with friends is the main goal of Heroes of the Storm, with design decisions that allow players a chance to play with buddies in fun, interesting superhero teams and battle the enemy. The game is designed so that each game averages ten to fifteen minutes, so that a losing game isn't an extremely long experience, and to allow players to wait only a few minutes for a friend's game to end so that they can play together. Another game mechanic that really supports the idea of "playing together" is that there are team levels; each team has a level that is the level of every character on that respective team. Support heroes don't have to worry about stealing kills, or trying to catch up on levels; there aren't games where one player just one-shots the entire enemy team, and every other player in the game sits around for twenty minutes for the game to end; specialist heroes don't need to be on the frontline to become strong or be strong, they just have to help the team win. These are the elements of Heroes of the Storm that motivate teamwork over "carrying".
With the massive fan desire for interact-able maps that arose from the Wings of Liberty Campaign, Dustin Browder says that Blizzard felt it was fitting to have changing, alterable elements in Heroes of the Storm. After hearing players ask for multiplayer versions of dynamic maps like the ones seen in the Wings of Liberty Campaign, the maps of Heroes of the Storm will incorporate objectives and areas that play a central role to how the battlefield plays out. Sam Didier explains that the world of Heroes of the Storm is "the Nexus", a place where all three Blizzard franchises could coexist. This means that the battlegrounds, aka maps, could have any theme, any objectives, and any mechanics that came from any of the three franchises. Making teamwork-focused challenges and mechanics was their main goal while creating these battlegrounds, and each map was designed to be different from one another so as to provide variety. In addition, the map pool could be altered and changed over time, much like the StarCraft II ladder map pool, when needs or game changes arise.
Some examples of playable battlegrounds are given, such as Blackheart's Bay, where players collect cursed doubloons from chests and creatures around the map. The players then bring these doubloons to Blackheart the pirate to try and earn him as a temporary ally. When players meet enemies that are carrying doubloons, those enemies can be beat up, thus forcing them to drop their doubloons. Another battleground is the Haunted Mines; players venture underground to collect skulls, which then are used to summon a giant Grave Golem that marches towards the enemy base. Each team gets a Grave Golem at a specific point in time, but the number of skulls collected for your team determines your team's golem's strength and size. These golems are able to be killed, but when the time comes again, they will revive at the same location they died, creating a tense tug-of-war feel.
To wrap up the panel, two example fights are shown and shoutcasted by Dustin Browder, which show the importance of capturing objectives and ambushing enemies as they capture objectives. Afterwards, the panel starts its Q&A.
The Q&A transcription is being written and will be posted in this article shortly. Stay tuned...
BlizzCon 2013 is well underway, and everyone is pumped! The opening ceremony ended a short while ago, and a lot of new things were shown off on-stage. Keep reading if you know what happened!
The stage dims, and, after a short pause, a video starts. The video is a montage about previous BlizzCons, with Blizzard developers talking about the amazing experience that BlizzCon brings year after year. With the conclusion of the video, Mike Morhaime walks onto the stage, donning a Mists of Pandaria shirt.
"Welcome to BlizzCon 2013!" Mike Morhaime starts. He grins as the audience cheers their hearts out.
He begins his speech, thanking the fans, the players, the community for all the support. Blizzard could not have made it this far without the passion of the fans.
"So from everyone at Blizzard, thank you for being here, and welcome home!" Mike Morhaime says.
Mike Morhaime continues on to briefly talk about each of the franchises: about all the eSports, and all the events taking place at BlizzCon 2013, about Diablo III and the removal of the auction house, about Warcraft, and all the new World of Warcraft info and Warcraft movie info coming up, and, last but not least, Heroes of the Storm, which he doesn't discuss; he ques the video, then heads off stage.
The stage dims. Text flashes by on the video screen, and then Raynor appears through a sandstorm. He's goading to something to come out to fight... and that something appears: Diablo, claws and all, joined by Arthas and Kerrigan. But Raynor has his friends as well; Nova and Tyrael step forward, and each team sizes the other up. Kerrigan and Tyrael shoot off into the air, engaging in a duel of claw and blade. Nova and Arthas have their own duel, fending off each others' attacks with their respective weapons. Diablo bolts and Raynor follows, spraying bullets upon the demon, but Diablo strikes back and seemingly has Raynor cornered. Raynor simply smirks, as a nuke drops on Diablo's head and the camera cuts to Nova, who had a laser pointed towards Diablo. Nova blows a kiss, and the cinematic cuts out.
Dustin Browder comes on stage as the stage lights up again, and he looks as enthusiastic as ever. He starts by talking about how the community has become a developer of its own, creating amazing games and giving birth to genres such as tower defense and MOBAs. Heroes of the Storm, originally, was an extension of that and was Blizzard's way of trying to create something amazing that the community built the foundations of many many years ago. But as development progressed, Heroes of the Storm grew and grew, and eventually was changed to be remade as a full game. He then introduces the alpha gameplay footage of the game; the stage dims, and the video comes on. Towers whirr into formation, gates retract and characters ride out on their mounts. Arrows, swords, bullets and fireballs are strewn across the battlefield as heroes and villains from every franchise duke it out.
Before leaving the stage, Dustin Browder explains that there are several battlegrounds, with different themes and gameplay mechanics, and that each map is playable at BlizzCon 2013. He also adds that beta signup for Heroes of the Storm starts today, which you can do here after logging into your Battle.net account!
Rob Pardo walks out this time, here to talk about Hearthstone. He explains that Hearthstone began as a small, stealth project with a small team that was more of an experiment as to whether or not Blizzard can still make Blizzard-quality games with a very small team, as they did in years long past. He explains what a journey it has been, seeing the small project grow and gather fans and evolve into something that is incredibly enjoyable. Hearthstone, which is currently is in closed beta, is revealed by Rob Pardo to enter open beta next month! For anyone interested in Hearthstone, there is the Hearthstone exhibition matches at BlizzCon featuring personalities such as Day and TotalBiscuit face off with preconstructed decks. Next, Rob Pardo ques the reveal of the BlizzCon 2013 attendee and Virtual Ticket purchaser exclusive Hearthstone golden card: the Elite Tauren Chieftain! The card will be available for anyone who attended BlizzCon 2013 or purchased a Virtual Ticket. As for current developments for Hearthstone, golden hero cards are in development, as is a Ranked Play mode and a mobile version for tablets, iPhones, and Android devices. This mobile version will be out next year.
He moves on from Hearthstone to talk about Warcraft as a whole. The Warcraft movie is briefly mentioned, and the panel for the Warcraft movie and its panelists are mentioned as well. World of Warcraft is also discussed, with the game reaching nine years of age and holding many many dear memories. Rob Pardo explains that his first experience of game design goes back to Dungeons & Dragons, how creating experiences and memories for his friends was an integral part of realizing what creating a game was. He goes over the many memories of WoW history, talking about the first raids, the first time you could walk through the Dark Portal, flying mounts and the unfortunate swooping ganks. The virtual epidemic, Corrupted Blood, that swept the servers a long time ago. Rob Pardo shares his thanks to the fans for supporting them, letting Blizzard be their dungeon masters all these years. With a cryptic hint about "the next chapter of World of Warcraft, he moves off stage for Chris Metzen to appear, looking somewhat tired but amazingly pumped as usual.
Chris Metzen starts by mentioning that it is a "great time for Warcraft", and how it made Blizzard think back a lot about the early days. How the DNA of World of Warcraft came from the Warcraft RTS, about how a large number of World of Warcraft players have never experienced the stories of the past, the origins of the DNA of World of Warcraft. The main story of Warcraft began 30 years ago, lore time, with the opening of the Dark Portal. The races of Azeroth had to band together to fight against the Orcs, and it was darks days for everyone.
"What if those dark days could come again?" Chris Metzen asks. "What if a pantheon of the greatest villains of Warcraft could come again?"
The Alliance are specifically mentioned; "the dark days ahead will test you," Chris Metzen says. But the Horde have their own honor to be had. The Horde "have a chance at a new start in this brave new world".
"So... Are you guys ready? Are you with me BlizzCon?" Chris Metzen says. "Blizzard is proud to present to you the next expansion set for World of Warcraft! We call it: Warlords of Draenor!"
The cinematic comes on, and it shows off the new character models, the new areas to explore, the concept of "fortifications", the level cap being raised to 100 and allowing new players to have their levels boosted to 90, and other tidbits.
Chris Metzen enthusiastically thanks everyone for being at BlizzCon 2013 this weekend, and bows out to the end of the opening ceremony.
Unfortunately, after the opening ceremony ends, Mike Morhaime says on the livestream interview, "There will be no news about Legacy of the Void today."