With Heroes Brawl announced, we got to sit down with Claudio Gentilini, Producer from the Heroes team. We talked a bit about what has happened since Blizzcon 2015 and what the future may hold for this brand new fun filled mode! Be sure to check out our full breakdown and videos of full matches if you missed them!
We were talking about the re-branded Arena, now called Brawl. Seems that you guys drew a lot of inspiration from other Blizzard games that have had similar game types like this. What do you think that was good that you took from other games and what were things that you put a Heroes spin on?
Like you said, we definitely expanded arena mode into this much larger mode, so arena mode, became this smaller component of that mode. Just a piece of what is shuffled, pick and random heroes but Heroes was all about that concentrated experience, our games are generally faster and so how can we make that even faster right?
So boil it down into sometimes 6 minute experiences sometimes into 20 minute experiences, it just depends. So we just get to take our crazy heroes and we can mix them up however we want to and shuffle things around. It just makes for an even crazier Nexus experience.
So you obviously have Lost Cavern, you put that in there as well, kind of just making ARAMs a part of the weekly brawl experience. Do you ever see that potentially being its own separate mode? Because I know a lot of players out there do like playing that and want to be able to choose to be able to queue up into something like that.
Sure, we don’t currently have plans for an individual ARAMs queue, we are going to keep support through custom games and then introduce it in a brawl. So we have Lost Caverns now and we’ll have more to announce later. That will give you your queued match made experience when they do show up in Heroes Brawl.
For pings when you get all five of the same hero, it can be a bit confusing who is doing the pinging, what could be done about that in the future?
It’s an interesting point, it would take a little bit of development to support something like that. It’s a good point. Like John was saying, generally we don’t take our brawls too seriously. We like to just go in and have that really fast experience or that just absolutely crazy experience, with ten Thralls or ten Illidans.
So yeah it is a really cool idea I can see on our side what it takes to support it. It could be a little bit of work or it could end up being quite a bit of work. So it just depends on the cost of that, like how do we get some new UI for our next brawl or do we change this one.
Not all of them you won’t always have that problem on them, so it could just be on some weekly brawl that you would run or that you get some ping points with it.
The MVP system was brought into the game recently; do you see that being a part potentially of brawls in the future? Or is that just something that you guys don’t want to add that to the future?
I don’t think we have it encapsulated anywhere in the brawl experience. I mean it could make it. It does make sense and it doesn’t at the same time, like we don’t want to take ourselves too seriously, with the brawls. MVP is really meant to capture that you were a standout player in this game and we want to recognize you for it. So I mean maybe if it made sense to bring it in we could, but it’s not part of it now.
What about hearthstone usage in Brawls, since we kind of compared it to Lost Caverns, when that came out you can’t use your hearthstone there. But this you can obviously use your hearthstone. What was the reasoning behind that here?
So, we like John had said, you have ARAM Mode. It’s kind of like a community design thing that is molded over time like even to the point that you would say ‘just don’t go back ever’ and it’s just an honor system right? So it makes sense to keep that around for modes like Lost Cavern or whatever, but when you’re playing Heroes Brawl and other maps and you’re playing heroes you’re not familiar or there’s maybe no healers in the game.
It can really kind of cause a slow down or just weird problems and so we just said well if you’re not alive you’re going to be dead, but we don’t just want you just running around waiting for your healing fountain cool down or to run back and run back with your mount. So we just decided that it was the best experience to just able to do it quickly and get back in and everyone can do it so it’s not like your restricted
From Blizzcon last year, the feedback was really positive on the arena mode. What made you guys come back to HQ and think let’s continue iterating on this and make it even better. Even though everyone seemed pretty happy with it and might have been happy with it released as is.
Sure, so we had only shown a couple of arena maps, at the time at Blizzcon, and we were working on at third one that didn’t quite make it in time for BlizzCon. Which was the Punisher one you were playing here and the shuffle pick that we were using at the time was pretty janky. Like designer implementation work and stuff so there was a lot of components that weren’t at the quality bar that we would make a shipping product for, a Blizzard product.
So we had to wait for teams to be able to come up with the proper designs and implementations and Battle Net support and queues and there was a lot of system designs behind rewards and progression and portraits and creating art and then there was a lot of art assets and other things that had to get pumped into some of them. Then there are other ones that they retrofitted on Towers of Doom where everyone’s Sergeant Hammer. And so we only wanted to make sure that we had proper time to stand up all those things and naturally if you give people more and more time to tinker with things it’s only going to get bigger and everyone one was fully behind where the growth of the idea was going.
So we just decided to keep going to until it eventually ended up where we are here. So we are happy to get it out as fast as we could, but like you said we probably could have shipped it at an earlier point. But it would have been a much less supported feature and I think it would have been not as good if we just only had three things, two of which we showed you at Blizzcon and you played those all for weeks and weeks on end till we actually got the proper support for some of the new modes that we made. So now we have shipped them all out up front and it is has become a lot easier for us to use.
Obviously, you still have that really kind of fun factor where we can all randomly get the same hero and we don’t get to choose from that and we saw that earlier during the play test. What are the kind of protections in place to prevent that from that being not fun necessarily? Are there specific heroes you are kind of removing from that?
There are for sure, shuffle pick, does have some protections in place. We pretty much allowed every hero to be randomly chosen for one of the selectors. I do think we eliminated Cho’gall from that just because it makes selecting him, choosing him, a little harder for the shuffle picks. Then I think were excluded Abathur and Azmodan just because Abathur’s trait and Azmodan’s demons require some of our laning logic so they are just dumb or they do un-expected things and it kind of makes people upset so we just excluded them.
But then in terms of the crazy mode ten-person same hero experience we quickly found out that ten supports is not very fun. So I don’t think we allow most supports at all to be in crazy mode. Assassins and Specialists, minus Abathur, I think are all pretty much fair game.
I think for the most part you could do all ten Warriors also, but it’s mostly heroes with a crazy mechanic. Like you wouldn’t want ten Medivh specialists, that would be like a one-hundred-minute game instead of a five-minute game.
Specifically, about the Towers of Doom, Sergeant Hammer Brawl. How would you guys find that was something fun and that it would work? How would you iterate it to get to that?
That was actually one of the ideas from one of our implementers, his name is Zack, he loved Sergeant Hammer, he loves siege tanks and StarCraft. A lot of our stuff just comes through those guys just tinkering around and they’ll pitch ideas to John. John even stated in there, that I don’t necessarily want to come up with every brawl idea, I just need to be the person that thinks there’s something hidden, like a hidden gem inside the idea, and how to curate that into the final product and add the polish. And so Zack had that idea and it went through a lot of iterations, but that result ultimately ended up with just ten siege tanks is awesome.
You can pick your heroic, so you can get different things. John said Towers of Doom was actually just the first map we picked because we thought it would be the craziest. I think we tried it on other maps too, but again as players mid max and other things you find that there could be correct strategies if you don’t curate that experience down to something like Towers of Doom or you have an invulnerable core.
Similar to Hearthstone and Overwatch with their brawls, You’ve probably seen some repeats of ones that people like. How often do you think we might see that built into the schedule already or is it going to be playing it by ear to see what people like?
I think it will depend. There will be brawls that some people won’t like, similarly maybe you really like the Arena mode brawls, where you get to shuffle pick that kind of forces you to play a hero you’re not familiar with. For example, I play a lot of supports, but maybe I don’t play a lot of specialists. Then we give you three specialists options, then guess what you’re playing. I think that people are really going to find that they’ll enjoy that they are being forced into something outside of their comfort zone. Because even when you are playing a quick match game you don’t really want to necessarily pick something outside of it.
So we are going to have a whole lot of opportunity for that. We have a lot of designed right now; it just depends how much of them we can wrap up before the next week begins or whether or not we need to wait for the next patch to include a few more. So maybe just some technical reasons, why we would start to repeat some if we had to. We might have to pick some of the ones that we got really positive feedback on.
Like John said we may just hold the brawl out for a little while, even though there may be a rotation that looks like there is in place so that we can change the map for a hammer of time but change the rules on BFG (Sgt. Hammer Heroic). So it depends on the cost of some of that, but we generally for this mode will prefer inexpensive. How many can we make? How much fun it can be? So we’ll probably gravitate more towards that, but you will see repeats for sure and we will hopefully be able to spice some of them up. Especially if we discover some problems with some.