Welcome to the Heroes of the Storm Overview panel. Your panelists are: Dustin Browder (game director), Alan Dabiri (lead software engineer), Sam Didier (art director), and Chris Sigaty (production director).
Browder: Hello BlizzCon. This is kind of a dream panel for me here. These are all the guys that I hang out in the office with all the time. We play board games together, we play “Dungeons and Dragons” together, so I get a chance to come up on the stage and talk about the game we have been working on for the last couple of the years is an absolute blast. We got Alan Dabiri, lead software engineer, we have got, Samwise Didier here art director, and we got Chris Sigaty, production director.
Alright, we are gonna talk to a little bit about what we are working on for “Heroes of the Storm”. So Heroes of the Storm is a lot of different things. It is a big game, we have been working on for a long time, but I am gonna try to boil it down to some sort of key points for you guys.
It’s about getting these Blizzard heroes into the game. It’s about trying to create an environment, where we can bring all of the heroes from all of our worlds, into one single amazing game.
It’s about fun with friends, and this seems kind of obvious, I guess; but it’s about playing with your buddies. This is a team game. We want to focus it on team work, and working together as a group and it’s about these battlegrounds, these new ways to play games of this genre. New challenges, new strategies and new tactics. And of course, for us it’s about paying homage to the amazing Blizzard community.
They really helped to create and to invent this entire genre of games. So I don’t know what you guys think, like for me it really seemed like everything really exploded when Warcraft III, came on the scene.
We had some really great stuff of course in Brood Wars, and even before, but Warcraft III is, it seemed like everything just really took off.
Sigaty: Yeah, So from my perspective with Warcraft III the big changes that came that feed into heroes was the editor. It was the most powerful editor that we had released. And then the other side in fact was the game itself. Warcraft III was centered on resource. A lot of game mechanics. Different things that played into Warcraft III the game; and the community went, took this powerful editor and started removing elements from it, and doing things like tower defense games, where all the races had towers, but nobody– but the game wasn’t based on that, they did, they made that game, and then AOE style games online and they really started taking with resourcing elements and concentrating on going out there and creeping, fighting hero on hero. So, that was couple of things that I think lead into it.
Didier: It was also Warcraft III is one of the first games we made just — huge amount of artwork. We had four races. Creating new art there, we had all these creeps, this is where “Murlocs” and “Kobolds”, and all these things were created. And the fans basically took this game and said: “Yeah, that wasn’t too bad; but I think we can make few games out of this ourselves.”
Thank you for that, but yeah there was just so much work with, and they weren’t you know, naturally hampered by any kind of rules for one type of game, whatever, they just made the genre that are just awesome now.
Dabiri: Yeah, I think it’s also the testament of the editor, how easily it was to be able to create a map. Part of it was just the game engine itself. It was so data driven. It was a bit of a selfish reason, as well. At Blizzard, we are pretty iterative in our design, and so the engineers were always trying to protect ourselves, where every time game design change their minds, they could basically do it themselves, and after a while we realized that, wow, these are really cool tools, map makers can now make all kinds of cool stuff, and we started adding features that we didn’t use in the game, that map makers could make cool maps with, and the rest is history.
Browder: Alright, so how this all started for us, as we wanted to make this, and I know, it’s hard to imagine this, to think back to 2010, when we first put out StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, we weren’t sure that everyone understood how cool our tools were, and how powerful the editor was, and we were a little nervous that maybe it wouldn’t explode of the scene as much as we wanted to, and looking back it seems ridiculous all the great games and MODs made inside the StarCraft II editor.
For a time we were a little nervous, and so we decided to we would try to show you guys what was possible inside the StarCraft II editor using our tools and so we made this little game that would later become “Heroes of the Storm” and we worked on it, and we brought it to BlizzCon; and you guys were very positive about it, and we left BlizzCon. We wanted to do more work on this game.
When we went back to the office, I think at the time — wasn’t everything in this game just StarCraft?
Dabiri: Most of it, if not all of it. Yea.
Browder: I think we had to wear the ETC for this one? I think that was it, otherwise or maybe not yet. Anyway, it was StarCraft II; and didn’t any Warcraft III considered at all, or if we did it was very few, but I remember I went up to Sammy and we were talking about it. We were trying to figure out if we are going to make this game. What universe are we going to sat it in?
Should it be a StarCraft game? Should it be a Warcraft game? What are we trying to do?, and we had this arcade machine in our space that we used to play a bunch of games on, while waiting for bills, and it was branded with this kind of, they put all this crazy mixture of art on it. Was this one piece where it combines stuff —
Didier: This is like art from different times and, Warcraft, StarCraft, some of the Blizzcon art, but if you look, we got Illidan in there. Kind of popular. We got Diablo on there, Protoss and Terran. Blood Elves, and the Murloc is on there. Always showcasing how we like to through these cool hardcore characters; but all also have a little bit of humor touched in there as well.
Browder: And there was this other moment, that happened may be a year later, where we were working on this game and I was getting a little nervous. I was like: “I don’t know…” Like what are we really doing here? Seems kind of all over the place. I don’t understand what is the visual creative vision for this game and in my moment of weakness, I went to Sammy again. I said: “Sammy, I don’t know man, what are we doing here?” And he pointed to this poster hanging on our wall, this.
Didier: I was like: “Turn around dude, check it out! It’s really good together.”
Browder: Yeah, that’s right behind me. This was made by Wai Wang, I think. Right? Done specifically for Blizzcon. As this was an example of how literally weirdly BlizzCon itself became the world, in which we built this game. We are building a base on this amazing art, we had seen hanging around our office, hanging around the studio, that it comes specifically for Blizzcon.
Alright, so that’s what we are doing. We making BlizzCon the game, we are trying to get all of these heroes, all smashed together and create this game that has a lot of freedoms, with the ability to really do, sort of crazy things that have any hero that, from any one of universes, suddenly jumping in to this amazing battle, all sort of inspired by this map that we started with and of course all of this art from BlizzCon, we had hanging around in the office.
And the other thing we were been inspired by recently, It’s been Heartstone and this the game that we have been playing in the office just little bit longer than you guys have, but it’s really been geeking it up, I know Chris you been playing a ton of Heartstone.
Sigaty: Yeah I think, and this is a great slide. Heartstone is important to the Heroes of the Storm, because Heartstone represents– I really don’t know, a really great job, Team 5 internally keeps throwing these kudos on them because I think they captured that fun and essence of Warcraft in this card game really well and we are inspired to do that with Heroes, as well.
And we are on our way, we are in alpha phase, but we gonna see more of that. The other thing that Heartstone represents is an unarguably crowded space, and I keep getting asked these questions about: “Are you worried about the space that the Heroes of the Storm is going into?” and for us, I think it’s been true for all of the games, but Heartstone being the most recent to say, it’s unarguably crowded card space, how are you going to go in there and play.
We are not even thinking about that. We are just focused on making the best card game we can with Hearthstone, and I think that’s the same thing here with Heroes. We want to put that Blizzard slant on into this genre, and this Heroes broader genre, and make it great. So Heartstone is an inspiration.
Browder: And I think the other thing I love about the Heartstone is that you are looking at a game, when you first played, it looked pretty simple. It’s looked like, “well, yeah I think there’s not that much to it”, and you know, and 100 hours later you are still clicking away, trying to get as much damage that you possibly can, trying to survive that next attack.
It’s just absolutely an amazing experience, and we really want to challenge the genre. It is the other thing that we are trying to do. You want to try to provide something new for our players, some new strategies, some new tactics, some new things to do, so these games feels fresh and original, and it’s like something that you would really want to check out. Something worth of your attention. Alright, let’s talk about our Blizzard Heroes and as you know, this is the big part of what the art team is working on for the last many months, trying to get all these amazing heroes into this game. Pretty cool.
You want to talk, Sammy about like, all the work your team has been for these years.
Didier: Yeah! A lot of questions I have been getting to is like it’s difficult to kind of make StarCraft, Warcraft and Diablo all fit sort of in this same game, and the answer is really no.
I mean how many times as Orc have you stood next to demons in Outland, and we have been doing that for years. So Diablo is not really much of a stretch for that, right?
So we take a lot of the characters that we have, and with some of the Diablo characters, they are arguably a little bit more realistic.
A little bit more dark and really real to this world– kind of, and we sort of just ramp them up just a little bit into some of that comic book level the world Warcraft has, where every one is saying, what?
Like super huge comic book heroes and villains, and then StarCraft kind of falls right in the middle where it had a little bit more of fidelity.
The textures, the specular mapping, and all these cool art terms, but we sort of apply these to all of characters and they all seem to fit really well together, in the Heroes of the Storm.
Sigaty: Yeah you can, I mean we worked to gather daily; but there is a sense of admiration looking across at the art that the artist have created for this game.
It happens on other teams but even within the team, it is still kind of pinch yourself, when you come to work sort of thing, when you see the final results that the artist have had; and I don’t want to build up egos anymore here but, any way, it is great stuff we are floored on a daily basis.
Browder: Alright. So these are our Heroes. These are the guys we are trying to create. Some of these guys have lots of lore behind them. Lots of depths. These are heroes people have lots of expectations.