Summary of Blizzard's Hearthstone Reddit AMA
Yesterday night, several members of the Hearthstone team hosted an AMA on Reddit’s
The developers answered questions about many topics including deck slots, upcoming plans and more!During the AMA Zeriyah announced that the Android version of Hearthstone is
in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.The community’s questions were answered by:
- Ben Brode - Senior Game Designer
- Yong Woo - Producer
- Christina Sims - Community Manager
has summarized the AMA highlights, grouping together the important replies by topic! Click on the links to be taken to each question and answer on reddit.
There are some obvious ways to add deck slots, but the most obvious methods aren't always the most elegant, and it's important to us to keep Hearthstone's UI clean and simple. We know you guys get it, and I've seen some clever ideas posted here on reddit that take these goals into account.We know you guys want more deck slots. We have some cool ideas for satisfying our power-users, I think we can make magic happen somehow.
Randomness in Hearthstone
Thanks for linking this! It's a good primer on randomness in games. There is lots of design theory out there regarding this topic. I also recommend Richard Garfield's talk on Luck in Games.In general, the existence of luck in a game doesn't have a direct correlation with the amount of skill in a game. "Bad beats" exist (see: Poker), but those are great stories too. Over the course of 7 game series, many moments exist for players to exercise their incredible skill. Playing to the "out" of winning a lucky flip is still a decision you make, along with the decision you made to play that deck in the first place.
New Player Experience
Howdy! I super appreciate that you guys are looking out for new players. It's really important to us that Hearthstone is approachable and accessible. We're on the same page here.We do have some problems with Matchmaking. We had taken steps to make sure brand new players were not matched against players who had already built massive collections, but we recently found some issues there and have been working to make it better.We are going to continue to monitor the new player experience, and I do think we'll need to do things to make it better over time, especially as we continue to release new content.
Number of Cards for Free-to-Play Users
Hopefully our matchmaker will find you a fair match, regardless of your skill level and the size of your collection. We do play close attention to this, though; new players are super important to us. We'll keep it in mind as we continue to release new content.
Hearthstone on Mobile Devices
We are making sure that Hearthstone is a great tailored experience on a phone. Don't be surprised if you see some modifications to make it mobile-awesome!
Alternate Methods of Gaining Gold
Not at this time - we already give gold for playing in Casual/Ranked, for playing in the Arena, and for quests completed in both.
As community, we actually don't limit ourselves to just forums when we're collecting overall sentiment. We have our official channels, such as the Hearthstone Facebook and Twitter, where we have regular conversations with players, but we're also monitoring many other places as well. Our forums, Reddit, our fansites, our fansite's forums, Twitch ... this list could go on for awhile. Basically, if you're talking about Hearthstone, we want to read it! Aside from the spam posts afflicting our forums (which we're currently working on a fix for), it's actually not a bad thing for players to be able to come to our forums and voice their opinions, even if other players may not feel their concerns are valid. That sort of feedback, even if it isn't as constructive as posts on other forums, are still insightful. It's good for us to know how our players are feeling about certain cards or strategies, but I can see why other forums aren't as open to feedback of that nature. In the end though, it helps us make a better game.
Oh sweet, a production question! :D What is the process to get a card created? First design team comes up with the theme for the given expansion. In the case of GvG, the theme was going to be Goblins, Gnomes, and their wonderful mechanical inventions. The backbone of the set is designed around that theme: e.g. we definitely need to have a Goblin Shredder! So those cards start from the flavor and then game mechanics is built around it. "Piloted" mechanic arose from the hilarious image of random denizens of Azeroth ejecting out of these things. Other cards start from interesting and fun game mechanics we want to highlight in the expansion and then we come up with the best name/art work that would fit that card mechanic: e.g. Bouncing Blade. Once name and stats start taking shape, we take a look at the huge breadth of amazing WoW art we already have in our repository. If there's something that fits perfectly we go with that. If we can't find something we are perfectly happy with, the designers work with the art team to put together an art description which describes what that card is like. The art description then goes out to the wonderful artists we work with and we collaborate with them to finish the piece. Sometimes we want something very specific for a card, other times there's general guideline which the artist can run with.
We have to take into account the translation into all languages, too! I think Warlock is Hexxenmeister in German. :) But yeah, heard a lot of feedback on poor old Neptulon - we'll take a look. Bit weird to change a card's name post-launch, though.
Naming Common Card Text
In general, when keywords do more than 1 thing, it is tough to remember the full scope of what they do. I like simple keywords like "Can attack twice" or "can attack immediately". We could do something like "Shrouded from Spells. Shrouded from Hero Powers." Or we could just say Shroud means "can't be targeted by anything but attacks" and make Battlecry not work either. We might break this rule sometimes, but it's something we need to be careful of. Also, we like it when keywords imply what they do. "Shroud" doesn't have that direct link to the rules text that "Charge" and "Taunt" have. We also discussed "Untargetable" and "Ethereal". At the end of the day there are LOTS of reasons to keyword or not keyword something, and this was right on the razor's edge with this one. Just happened to fall on the "not-keyword" side of the line, at least for now.
Developing an Expansion
Often different parts of the team are working on different stages of an expansion. While card FX and engineering implementation wraps up, design team is often moving ahead and concepting out the next set of content. We have some cool tools that allow our designers to play with different card ideas and missions before we decide to go all the way with implementation.
We're always keeping an eye out on balance in Hearthstone. We (as Community) are pretty tight-knit with the balance designers as content is released. We monitor feedback and sentiment, and discuss the initial reactions to cards with the designers. They're watching things on more of a numerical level, though they're also in the thick of things too. All that aside, it's a little early to make any changes to cards right now. With so many new cards released with GvG, we like to see players develop and evolve new strategies to counter what may have been vexing them previously. We're watching though. We're always watching.
We are always pushing the boundary for trying new game mechanics. In the case of Flame Leviathan, we wanted to try an effect that triggers when you draw a card. Whenever there's a new game mechanic it's hard to evaluate how good it is until you play with it a whole bunch. Even though you don't have control over exactly when it goes off, mana free 2 damage AOE can be very powerful. It was very exciting to see Trump run with the card in his deck over the weekend. He was having a ton of fun with it.
Goblins vs. Gnomes
Outperforming or Underperforming GvG Cards
Oh it's way too early to tell. We just tossed a stick of dynamite into the metagame. Going to take a while for things to settle down and we can get real data.
Mostly the cards get cooler as they move through development, so our old designs are kind of boring. Oh! Here's one. This is the original design for Sabotage (it sounds cool but plays pretty badly):(6) Destroy an enemy minion and all copies of it in your opponent's hand and deck.
Bane of Doom
Skynet is correct - we haven't changed the pool of minions Bane of Doom is able to summon in GvG. It's something we're looking at though - we have to be a bit more careful with this card as opposed to Webspinner, since Bane of Doom puts a Demon directly into play rather than just puts it into your hand.
There are pros and cons and we have to figure out when, if ever, the right time would be. Pros: Would be friggin' rad. Cons: less likely to get cards for the specific class you're excited about. Balance is trickier.A good design exercise is to think: "How many classes is too many?" My sense is that it's closer to 9 than to 20.
Alternate Hero Powers
We feel that 9 heroes already offer enough variety. We are not currently considering adding more hero powers.
Class-Specific Tribal Cards
We want to give each class a lot of different ways to build a deck. We also want to make each class feel distinct and have its own flavor. Tribal theme is a fun way of doing that!
Priest “Stealing” Effects
"Stealing" effects have traditionally been the source of much consternation for us. Mind Control was infuriating when it cost 8 mana. Mind Vision was rage-inducing when it stole a card from the opponent's hand. We pay close attention to these types of effects. Power level is an easy thing to tweak if things are too powerful, and we've taken steps like this in the past, where needed. We'll keep watch to make sure things aren't out of whack.
I think laddering is pretty chill right now (except for ranks 5+), and we like that it doesn't feel so bad to lose games. It's mostly a great way to compare yourself against your friends and other players.
Yeah, that's something we'd like to get working some day. Golden cards in the Arena would be rad.
Gold Cards in Arena
It's something we'd like to tackle.
In-Game Tournament Mode
We are excited about making more fun and easy ways for players to get together and compete against each other. We have a bunch cool ideas we've been bouncing around at the office. We are definitely excited but still at an early stage of forming the idea.
That one's on me - when I was addressing this question, we hadn't announced Heroic mode quite yet, so I was alluding to Heroic mode as a reason to return to Naxx. We like to consider Naxx a fun way to acquire new cards and a way to freshen up the current meta with those cards, but we also have to be careful as to what kind of rewards we offer since we also don't want that content to feel tired or tedious over time. Killing the same Naxx boss over and over again is less fun and feels more like work. Playing against other players to complete quests is just way more fun and dynamic, especially now with the release of GvG.
Adding a Completion Percent for Collections
Yes, it's something we've been hoping to get in there for a while. Just goes to show you how large our backlog of awesome features is.
Stacked Gold Cards in Collection
I've seen that UI design before! :)We agree that something in that vein is pretty cool.
New Expansions and Adventures
Still trying to figure this out. Looking for community feedback on this too. We have a lot of options for the mix of adventures, expansions, and other things, and for the pace of those things. Choosing the right strategy is a big focus for us right now.
I was actually chatting with Mike Donais about adding a "Maddest Bomber" at some point. I kid you not, he
. The way his mind works frightens me sometimes. I think he
the Maddest Bomber.
We are really interested in doing cool/fun events. Like the GvG prerelease arena and the Naxx wing openings. We're continuing to explore more for the future and the focus is on fun surprises.
New Daily Quests
We definitely want to add more!
Meaningful and fun achievements are hard to design! But we've been thinking about them.
We love Hearthstone puzzles too! We don't currently have plans to put them into the game, but I would love to see someone in the community pick up the torch and regularly post (weekly?) puzzles. Do eeeet!
We are focused on great player experience first and foremost. If cosmetic unlockables are something that the Hearthstone community would be really excited about, it's something we can look into!
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