BlizzCon 2014 Overwatch Panel
Overwatch: Behind the Inspiration
After yesterday's gameplay and overview session about Overwatch, Blizzard has another panel about the inspiration behind Overwatch along with why it exists. Today we're covering the panel where Blizzard talks to Jeff Kaplan, Jeff Chamberlain, Chris Metzen, Bill Petras, and Arnold Tsang.
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The biggest challenge for them was trying to make a game that kept up with the current standards of graphics, but still maintained a Blizzard vibe to it.
It was out of the blue for them to go with kids for the trailer--at first they were a little hesitant, then someone was like "Do you like Goonies?" and it clicked for them that it was a direction they could go in for storytelling.
Readability is the cornerstone of their art style. They want a hand-crafted feeling where you can feel and see the brush strokes.
The reality of the cinematic expression and the game are very cohesive on purpose--"it's drawing part of the company closer than before."
It's a communal experience to design and create a hero; someone has an idea, they take it to the drawing board, and they all have a lot of different ideas. Anyone can come up with one.
After they come up with the gameplay for a hero, they find out who the hero actually is as a team; finding the voice, finding how they express themselves, and so on.
Winston really represents Overwatch and what they're trying to do; he was spawned from seeing his art first, much like Reaper.
With Warcraft it was a solid and simple base, game by game and expansion by expansion mythology, characters, and more changed and grew more complex.
There a lot of simplifying of the style in going from the cinematic to the game.
Winston had a lot more effort because he had to go from his additional modes--morphing into a maddened, frenzied version of himself in combat.
Widowmaker, conversely, ended up being the easiest.
The main concept art/poster became a rallying cry of imagine the potential and possible heroes.
Temple of Anubis helped them see how it looked.
"If we don't make this story, I don't want to work here." - Chriz Metzen
They needed a quick playtest, whole team ended up being there until 12:30 at night, winning and cheering--smack talk. For Kaplan this was a moment where he realized how much everyone loved it.
Overwatch has a lot of ladies, can we expect more female characters or more diversity in general?
Yes. Often. People want to feel represented, it's how we're looking at this product; everyone should come into play, people should be represented.
Will Overwatch characters going to be in Heroes of the Storm?
That would be freakin' awesome. We'll hope and plead; the way we see it is we have to earn that right.
How long have you been working on this?
In the summer of 2013, we had a small core group start in on a new idea. We had a really fun ideation period, talked about various directions we really wanted to go in--you guys would be surprised by the variety. With a lot of game ideas you have to spend a long time to get people excited, but this one was instantaneous and everyone was immediately excited. Very collaborative.
Will there be any collectible hats?
(Laughter) You know what that is a great idea. We'll have to discuss it.
I'd love to see more story for this.
We should totally do that. Here's the truth: we got some hooks, but right now we're just kind of scratching the surface.
My big issue is that there's a lot of heroes fighting other heroes. Where does the line get drawn, who is the antagonist?
Kaplan and Metzen were talking it through--at the end of the day, they made the decision very early on that while they're in it for a big story and universe, but they don't want the story to ruin the gameplay. If someone wants to play four Winstons, then some team can play Winston. Trying to throw story into the maps, into the gameplay, dwelling on nuance and theme would be hard. While Blizzard isn't known for leaving out story, it was necessary. They want to chase the story through the cinematic. The reality of the gameplay is very divergent from the gameplay.
Do you have any plans for having an adventure mode to explore backstory?
That sounds like an awesome idea, we would love to explore something like that but have no plans.
Are you going to have skins?
That sounds awesome too. But no plans.
So how do you deal with people comparing it to Team Fortress 2?
We'd take that as a compliment; we love that game. But we think that as you play it, you will realize how incredibly different it is. There are similarities, already we have twelve heroes while they have their nine characters that have a roster and are customizable while ours aren't. Overwatch is also about the abilities and the heroes, not just killing people--it's an FPS, but it's about the abilities rather than the shooting always.
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