AmA Sessions: July, August and September

General Discussion
Add this one to my list:
Why did you chose to change Tyrande this way, and not make her more like a multiclass, where she gets brand new healing talents, and make them compete with her damaging talents? That design would've been so much more interesting and flexible.
And some feedback:
I recall seeing you say that Multiclass was a bad idea (or something like that), and we wouldn't be getting any more of those, but I have to disagree with that - Multiclass was an awesome idea, that could've had some problems with the execution, if any.
I think the designs of the new heroes and recently reworked heroes is worse than that of some older heroes. They feel like one-trick ponies, and very few have talents that change/determine the way they are played. Most new talents simply improve what the hero is already doing in one way or another. But you can't actually change that, like some of the older designs could. Like Li Ming - she has Orb build, Missiles build and Teleport build (and some missiles-teleport hybrid builds). But the Orb build feels completely different from the Teleport build - while with one she needs to be as far away from the enemy as possible, she needs to be almost in the middle of the enemy team with the other. It's insane playstyle difference, that is all determined by her talents. But newer designs don't provide such variety :(
Tyrande and Azmodan lost their build variety with their reworks too :(
Hey everyone!

The September 19th AmA session has concluded. In case you missed it (or you just want a TL:DR version), I'll copy/paste some of the highlights that Reddit member /u/taQtaQ summerized in his thread. You can find his helpful post here.


Balance patch creating process:

Every week the members of the balance team meet to talk about the state of the game. One of the things we do during this meeting we all bring up individual changes/heroes/issues that we would like to see addressed in the upcoming balance patch. In regards to how we decide what issues to tackle, there isn’t a single method, as our decisions can come from various sources. Some of these are:

  • We have a lot of data that we can look through to find anomalies. We can see hero and talent win/play rates across various filters to see if something is over/underperforming.
  • We watch pro play and have discussions about what is happening there.
  • We all play the game regularly, and use our personal experience to see where we can make improvements for the average player.
  • We look at heroes who haven’t been tweaked in awhile to see if there’s any room to make changes.
  • We make the actual changes the week before the patch releases so that we have time for QA to check the changes and fix bugs.

Sometimes for larger balance changes, for example Artanis’s changes that came out in a balance patch, we will test the changes for weeks/months in advance and merge them into the next balance patch once we’re confident in the design.

Baseline quests
While we do read quite a bit of criticism about baseline quests, typically pointing at the feast-or-famine nature of them, there are also a lot of players that enjoy the thrill of chasing power. At the end of the day, a quest (be it baseline or a talent) is all about adding asymmetrical power spikes to an otherwise fairly static power curve.

The Heroes you listed above all bring a unique playstyle to the Nexus that I think is actually very fun for a large number of players. I personally love designing and playing with quests that are uncapped, because every game starts out with a chance to become 'infinitely' powerful. That said, the reality is that we know the average stacks that a player gains in a game, and at what time they are unlocking the rewards behind them. Ultimately, we still like these types of quests because they make for increased variability between games--sometimes a player feels like a God, and sometimes not so much. If you think about the 'carry' role in other mobas, it is very similar. Many of us love that feeling of a really good game - one where everything just clicks. This makes up for those games where maybe you're not playing at your best and can find areas to improve your game. While we don't want to push this philosophy towards ALL of our Heroes by any means, I think we definitely have room for a few of them.

Lastly, it is important to know that we are always actively looking at a lot of the quests in the game. We went through a period where we tried to add as many of them as possible, which actually ended up creating a lot instances where you needed to play less than optimally in order to stack quickly. Your example of Tyrande is actually perfect - I originally created the baseline Sentinel quest, and although a lot of players enjoyed it, when working on her recent rework, I knew I needed to remove it. We still have quite a few quests in the game that do this and we will continue to either remove them or change them in ways that reward you for using them correctly.

Quests are a way of adding asymmetrical power spikes to otherwise static power curve. Infinite quests are not seen as a bad thing, as it brings variability between games and simply introduces the possibility of becoming very powerful. Many people are drawn to this "carry" aspect, familiar from other mobas. There was a point when quest were just made, which ended up creating instances where stacking quests resulted in less optimal gameplay (e.g. Tyrande's owl quest). Team is now looking to remove such quests or change them to reward using them correctly.

  • Creating specific type of map objectives is not one of the design principles of battlegrounds. Centralized objectives have been more frequent lately, but have not become a standard.
  • BHB to be adjusted, but not to an extent of complete mechanical overhaul.
  • Garden of Terror: read this.
  • Terrain height is something that has been experimented with and see as a possibility, but there has been no chances to really use it, nor are they currently working on anything with it.

  • Often coupled with stuns to give them more impact, interrupt mobile channels and make them more recognizeable.
  • There has been no discussion regarding making "daze" a keyword or creating dedicated counterplay abilities.
  • Specific counterplay effects for knockback might be too niche and hard to use, as knockbacks are fast and hard to react to.

Main tank design
  • Quantifying what exactly makes a main tank is hard.
  • Blaze is very close to Arthas in being viable in both main tank and solo-lane roles, but is still not quite there for higher level play.
  • Yrel requires more work, which makes the team resistant to change her, as her gameplay is fairly unique.

  • Internal data shows dramatic overall increase in match quality, but also that it resulted in longer queue times during off-peak hours.
  • MMR and rank divergence caused matchmaking issues for some players.
  • Working on dynamic matchmaking restrictions based on number of players in queue, which might then lead to occasional rainbow games during off-peak.
  • Ranked play to be looked as whole, removing TL group restrictions is the first step.
  • Discussing of getting rid of rank points and tying MMR to ranks directly.

  • Pushing boundaries (Abathur, Cho'gall) is something that keeps HotS special, high mobility is one of these rule-breakers.
  • Mobility offered by Genji and Tracer was something the team knew that needed to be balanced around, but their impact was initially underestimated, leading to constant nerfs.
  • Mobility is a great way to raise skill cap, but having no condition limitations made Genji and Tracer especially strong.
  • More mobility will still be added in the future, but it will have conditions and more counterplay options.

  • Lack of interaction between players acknowledged.
  • Dev team tries to favor offensive play as the optimal solution, however top end players tend to lean towards the safe and consistent option, as offensive play is very risky.
  • Team sees the issue being the appearance of durable warrios with high waveclear and self-sustain (Blaze and Yrel) as a reason rather than suggested tower ammunition change.
  • Team doesn't want to revert the ammo changes, but are looking into other options and are open for suggestions to increase the reward of winning the lane.

Reworks vs. small changes
  • Both have uses, neither takes priority.
  • Small changes have less risk, keep the game more fresh and reduce the time multiple heroes are left untouched.
  • Large reworks sometimes necessary to bring older designs in line with current philosophy, fix fundamental design issues and give a place to heroes that have fallen out of favor

Talent diversity
  • Less popular talents can be fine, if there some situations where it is viable.
  • Usual option to address one talent dominating a tier are making it baseline or buffing the others. These are evaluated case by case.

Hero specifics
  • Deatchable Box Magazine is a cool ability, but the way it is unlocked could be tweaked.
  • Healing Dart will gain the functionality to pass through full HP Heroes in a future patch.
  • Eye of Horus and Aim Down Sights most likely not adressed until it's time to put her full talent tree on table.
  • Chen
  • Slightly below 50% in winrates, but not in horrible position.
  • Will be revisited at some point, but any large scale update will not happen in the next few months at least.
  • Current kit not suitable for main tank, but team hasn't yet fully grasped which direction to take him.
  • Chromie
  • Was pushed out of the artillery mage role as it didn't feel great to play against.
  • Had many aspects which combined were hard to tune, while at the same time keeping her feel fair to play against.
  • Illidan
  • Acknowledged that while Metamorphosis has reasonably high pick rate in higher leagues, its performance is lacking and there is room for improvements.
  • In general the metagame is not favorable to him, as there are less squishy targets and higher amount of CC in this bruiser-heavy meta.
  • Looking to make smaller tuning changes.
  • Malthael
  • Tormented Souls losing value with inclusion of Cleave was somewhat expected.
  • Team is looking into revisiting the heroic and trait interaction- soon TM .
  • AoE aspect of the ability likely to stay.
  • Mephisto
  • Heroic initially only did damage.
  • Slow gave the ability an additional purpose and could works as a tuning knob.
  • Hesitant to change damage value, as it is now in a good place between being impactful single target damage and "just white noise damage".
  • Tassadar
  • Hard design to balance.
  • Will be looked into eventually.
  • Feedback has been heard.
  • Xul
  • Happy to see him played in HGC, as it is an interesting strategy.
  • Due to this there are no plans on changing him in near future, but he will be kept an eye on.

  • Catapults not being Blinded already fixed in PTR patch.
  • State of mana is the next important topic of internal discussion.
  • Team wants to make rule-breaking heroes, but notes that it is hard as the heroes need to remain fun to play - also both with and against - for longer time.
  • Team is ready to completely revamp a hero's role, if a need arises. Will certainly be discussed when Tassadar is eventually brought up.
  • Multipliers and tooltips to be made more consistent with each other over time. Might result in changing some interactions.
  • Low play rate heroes (Chen, Probius, TLV) will be looked at some point.
  • There is already plenty point and click CC. New ones will be introduced, but they will not be put emphasis on, as they are not very skillful to execute and have low counterplay options.
  • Recognized that there is room for more frontline supports, as they are natural for interactive and skill-based gameplay they are pursuing. Request for more noted, but cannot make any immediate promises.
  • Multiclass to be removed with role rework, as it wasn't very clear concept, and you couldn't always play Varian the way you wanted.
  • More Blizzard Classics heroes may be added, if there is a good timing and there is something they can bring into the table.
  • Normally 2 reworks being worked at a time, rotating list of total of 8-10 heroes they want to work on.
  • Small number tweaks for slightly out of line heroes. Seemingly minor changes can cause a larger shift depending on heroes. Sometimes also used to give small nudges for community to start using them.
  • Crossover skins do not rule out the possibility of adding involved heroes in the future.
  • Spectator feature is something they want to make, but there are dozens of things that have priority over it.
  • Opting for Shuffle pick in custom cames would be "cool".

  • Thanks again to /taQtaQ for the summary and thanks everyone for participating. I am going to unsticky and unlock this, in case you want to discuss these answers. As always, feel free to disagree and offer different angles, but please do so in a civilized manner.
    I'd like to throw some suggestions your guys way for some of the fixes.

    1st up for Chromie.
    There are 3 types of mages in my book.
    1: The short range burst mage. (Jaina, KTZ, Ming)
    2: The medum range zoner/High damage (KT, Gul'dan, Ming)
    3: The high range poke and sniper burst (Hanzo, Original Chromie, Ming)

    Ming can cover all 3 things since she has build to play all 3 roles and has high mobility to boot. But she's balance as she lacks the perfect zoning and perfect control of the others.

    Now I know the team seems to work away snipers alot.
    Ana range nerf, Chromie range nerf and even Hammer has been hit by this.
    I believe poor Hanzo could be next since he can outrange Chromie and is even mobile on the side.
    To balance chromie you need to balance around the mobility, burst, control and such.
    I'd recommend since she is a forseerer you should keep more of her "original" sniper design in, but make it more tricky.
    But also have a way to slot into something more mobile.
    I made a suggestion on this before.

    I'd say make her talents give up on somethinig but buff something else.
    You want more range? You get more cast time.
    You want less cast time? Lose some range.
    I don't say make her like Ming but use Ming's all round talent builds as a baseline to tweak chromie but make it more double edged.
    Make her the plotter, the sniper or the swift mage as time will see.

    As for BHB rework... I have some ideas for that I will do in another topic.

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