BlizzCon 2016 Hearthstone Q&A Panel Transcript

Hearthstone Q&A (Part 3)

Hi, again. This time I want to ask something about tournaments, because we all know that coming into the next year, Blizzard is going to have a lot of official tournaments in mind that is going to be shared with us, but on the other hand, right now what we are seeing in the community is a lot of third-party tournament organizers are facing a lot of issues that prevents them from organizing stuff, things about money, about viewership, about profit, blah blah blah. So I want to know going into the next year, is this the reason that you guys want to just go in by yourself and do more of that officially instead of by the third-parties?

Yong: No, not at all. I think diversity of tournaments out there is very important to Hearthstone. I think there are a lot of different tournaments that are out there that they are still going very strong for Hearthstone, and we are going to continue to support third-parties that want to have their own formats, and have their own types of tournaments.

What we are doing next year with 2017 hero championship tour, and then on top of that some of the other programs are running like the Hearthstone global games, etc, is supposed to augment what we already have, and make it more awesome.

It is not in response to us feeling like we need to go our own way, especially for something like Hearthstone global games, we learn a lot from what the community is doing, and some of the community tournaments have been in team format. So instead of like a 1v1 format which we focused on at the highest level for the Championship Tour… with the global games, we are going to be focusing on a 4v4 team based format.

So things like that, I think is really interesting. I think that the fact that those teams are going to be representing a specific country is going to be interesting, and we are doing these things because I think players want to see a lot of cool content like this. So we are all about different ways to play Hearthstone, and then different ways to kind of view Hearthstone, and we just want to make more of it.


Hello, gentlemen. We are here the voice of Latinoamerica, and I have three words for you: Nosotros amamos Hearthstone (We love Hearthstone), and our country is Perú. Actually, I have a question from a guy from México, which is supporting Hearthstone. He plays a lot. Are you into the tempo-based state that Hearthstone is right now, with little ways to come back into games, and are you willing to put in more tempo-swing cards, and/or efficient AOE to have a more dynamic game?

Mike: I think that efficient AOE is really important to have game swings, games going back and forth can be really fun. We have shown already one really big powerful AOE: the Dragonfire potion that priest gains, and I think that will show something that we are willing to experiment more in that direction; and as time goes by, you will see more of that.

Our legendary Kazakus also has the option where you create your own custom spell, to pick one of the AOE. You could either turn the whole board into sheep, or deal six damage to the whole board, If you pick a 10 mana spell, or maybe something else. So I think that it is really important to have tempo swings. Hopefully, we will do more of that in the future.

Peter: It is also really important as Hearthstone goes forward to have ebbs and flows. So right now there is a little bit less AOE. After Mean Streets of Gadgetzan it is going to be a bit more. And as time goes on, different strategies become good. Different strategies become bad, and it is important that Hearthstone keeps feeling fresh.


Hi, there. I have been playing the game for a while. I want to say I really love it. I was playing other different TCGs before I came to Hearthstone, and one of the things that makes the game unique is the class structure which is kind of borrowed over from World of Warcraft, but do you think that the amount of power that each class derives from its own individual cards kind of informs the way that players think about the different power levels between the classes? For example, do you think that they expect every class to kind of have its own top tier deck? Do you think that they bring over this feeling that everything should be balanced, and then see that there is a real negative when they aren’t, and then going back, with that in mind, do you think there is anything you would have changed to kind of alter that perception?

Mike: I think that having (like Peter said) an ebb and flow of which decks are strong is really important, and I think we are seeing a lot of that. Right now, Paladins (one of the weaker classes) that most people perceive it to be one of the weaker classes; but a year ago, Paladin was the most complained about class.

So you get some kind of ebb and flow. Shaman has done that, a lot of classes have done that, but it is also nice to have a few classes that are close together. It is something that we like to see a lot of as long as different classes have their time to shine, and different playstyles more importantly have their time to shine.

I like, for example, playing controlled decks; but I don’t mind if I play a priest control deck, a mage control deck, or paladin control deck; and sometimes I am in the mood to play an aggro deck; but I don’t necessarily mind that much which class is playing that deck, it is just that there is an option available to me as a Hearthstone player that fits my playstyle.


Forgive me if this has already been answered in a panel, but I am curious if the three families at Gadgetzan are your answer to having neutral spell cards in the game?

Peter: Before we answer that, I think your cosplay is fantastic. Are you Brave Archer? That is amazing.

Yong: I am a little worried to answer, because I feel like if I give the wrong answer she is going to shoot me from where she is.

Actually our goal for the tri-class cards was to make it feel like you are playing that family. So for the goons, when you sign up for hunter paladin or warrior — not only you play that class, but you are also getting to play the unique new strategies that represent the goons. That was our goal with the tri-class cards, and I am super-excited as we start revealing these cards over the next month to see more of a specifically how each family plays. They will be pretty cool.


Hi, again. I am really curious to know if there are any plans for sideboards, and I feel like sideboarding is really interesting, certainly at a certain level of play where maybe we could have five cards, we could swap in predefined, and as soon as the game starts we know the heroes, and we decide: hey, it is a warlock. Maybe I need a bit more of this. It is a priest, and maybe I need a bit more of that; and I feel it would really help the whole aggro being a pain to deal with, because if there is a sideboards it can be more skill to aggro, and right now I feel aggro is probably the most irritating thing to play against, because you are just like: oh, he is going to beat me up. I am not going to do anything; and it feels so powerful, but having sideboards make me feel like we are going to have more power to deal with them, and aggro will also have more power to adapt to what it is playing to. I feel it is going to be a bit more healthy.

Mike: I think sideboards are a cool idea. Something that I was used to having from other card games. Maybe it is a specific thing that we could try out in the tavern brawl, or something like that. One of the things I have noticed in Hearthstone is that people bring a variety of decks, and that performs a little bit like a sideboard, because you will say hey I have to play against this control warrior, I am not going to pick my freeze mage, maybe I’ll pick something else. So there is some give and take there, but maybe sideboards is a cool idea for a tavern brawl. I will mention it to the tavern brawl guy when I get back to work, and we will see what happens.

Hi, guys. My question is about maybe creating like a custom built or a way to build a custom deck for the AI. if you run into a certain kind of deck that you are really struggling to beat, you can kind of practice and see weaknesses in your own decks to kind of work through it.

Mike: It is a pretty cool idea having a way to play against a specific deck. I have certainly simulated that sometimes by saying: hey, Matt, can you build this deck so I can try this against it, and we will just play a bunch of games. But Matt is better than the AI, so it is hard to.

Matt: I wish. I wish.

Mike: Maybe find someone to play against. Post on reddit, and say hey I want to try it out. Is anybody a really good hand lock player? Want to play against a hand lock a hundred times, or something. See if you can cope with that. We don’t have any plans to put it in right now, but if a lot of people ask for it, I am sure it is something we could do.


Kind of a follow up. Do you think it would be possible to adjust the AI intelligence (if that is something you could put into the game) to read what cards are in the deck, and kind of figure out the playstyle of that deck?

Yong: Yeah. I think our AI system in general is an area that we could potentially invest more time in, and I think if you were to kind of want to let the AI to have an arbitrary deck and you want to have a meaningful training partner with you, I think we would invest more in the AI system for that. So that is one of the possible ways we could be investing our resources in the future, and it is something we do talk about. So thank you for your feedback.

I had a question about engineering, and how it interfaces with design as the game gets more complicated over time, more mechanics and cards and things like that, that tends to make things more complicated and can get messy, is that a challenge for you and how do you overcome it?

Peter: It is both a challenge and an opportunity. Personally, I think if we go to that first engineering meeting, where we showed them all the cards and they don’t freak out a little bit, we haven’t really done our job. So tri-class cards is a good example for Mean Street of Gadgetszan to get something that was difficult on the engineering side. It is something where the system internally was just built assuming cards had a class, rather than being able to ask: is this card a rogue card? Is this card not a rogue card? That is just not something we could do. So that was something that was difficult for us to do. Honestly though, engineering is never really limited our design space. It is very very rare that we go to engineering and we say: we want to make this card, and they say: Pff, we can’t do that. Our engineers are excellent and they have done a fantastic job every time of coming up with a way to do it. Every once in a great while a card would get pushed back a little bit, but that is even incredibly rare.

Matt: It is also fun when you come up with an idea, share it with an engineer, and they are like: Wow, that is so cool. I have no idea how to do that, but that is really neat.

Mike: One of the things I love about working at Blizzard is, all the different teams that are like rockstar levels. So if I just do my design job, I know the engineers will take care of it. I know the artists will make it look awesome. I know the animators will make it have an awesome animation. The sound guys will make it sound awesome. All the teams just deliver on like A+ level, and that is really nice. So we don’t really have any. It makes our risk with the engineers much lower.

Yong: Yeah it is all about communication. We have our designers sitting in this one area, and the gameplay engineers are sitting literally like next to them. So I see all the time guys like Dean, he is working on something, and he is like: hey, I don’t do this crazy thing. What do you think Josh?

And Josh is one of our gameplay engineers, and he will be like: Oh, wow! That is crazy, but awesome; and then we start working on it together. So I think the fact that everybody on the team is really committed — like we all love Hearthstone — we are all committed to making it awesome, allows us to collaborate together not just as like: I am designer. I will give you a spec, and sign my name on it, and now the engineers just going to do exactly what it says.

That is not at all the way we work. It is all about: Hey, I am going to get you excited about this card. It is a really cool idea. Hey, Yong, I am going to come over to your desk and say we are going to make the players make their own cards, and I am going to stare at you (because you are crazy) for like 10 seconds. I go: That is awesome! Then we work on it together. That sort of question, I think, it is a wonderful team to work on.


Hi, it is me again. So I am going to make sure that I don’t miss this question that is most frequently asked in our Chinese community. It is about Tyrande. So have you guys figured out how to release the skin in other places of the world, and also going to future skins like when are Druid or Warlock, these kind of heroes king going to get their own alternative skin?

Yong: Yes. So first of all, we are very interested in getting an alternative hero for all of the classes. That is something we are going to be continuing to do. We make these heroes available in different ways, and sometimes we make them available in one way, and then we also do other things to make them available to a different subgroup of a population. Like Medivh, is a very good example. So Medivh is available in the store, but we also did a thing for instance when you get the Warcraft movie DVD, like maybe there is like a promotion that is included with that, and that is another way you could obtain the hero.

So we are thinking of a lot of different creative ways to get these heroes out working with partners that are really good for the community, like Twitch. I think it is really awesome for the community when the great ways for you to kind of view streamers and kind of pro Hearthstone gameplay. So we are going to continue to do that. So Tyrande specifically in China that is something that we are definitely working on. So don’t feel too left out for now, please. We are working on it.


Okay, we hope that we can hear from you soon about the good news. Thank you.

Hello, fabulous four. So we have an abundance of riches with cards. I definitely have my favorites: Annoy-o-tron and Ragnaros. Is there any thought to changing the interface to allow us to maybe group some of the cards, or favorite some of the cards so that as we are creating new decks we can pick from our favorites?

Peter: That is funny. I literally had that conversation with somebody like a week or two ago, where it would be really nice to be able to reorganize your collection the way that you would like, to be able to both make it easier to find your favorite cards, but also to build decks in ways that are a little bit more convenient. We have lots of cards now.

Personally, my collection, I have lots and lots of cards. I love getting Hearthstone cards, and so it’d be nice to be able to find ways to reshuffle that, and to make the collection manager a bit easier to access, and a bit better for that purpose.

So you have a favorite in cards. I literally just talked about– I think it would be really cool. We don’t have any plans right now, but collection manager and looking at understanding what we can do to make that part of the game better for players is something that we are very passionate about.


Cool, thank you very much.

Hey, guys. Hey, Yong. I really enjoyed the opening ceremonies the other day, and of course, the Hearthstone yesterday. My question is for new players. So I do a lot of fireside gatherings and helping out with that situation, and we have a lot of people coming in, or coming over and asking: what’s going on over here? It is Hearthstone. How do I play? How do I get into this competitive tournament that you have going on during your fireside? Make a account, go through this tutorial; and they find themselves sitting in front of a computer, or in front of a laptop all alone for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, we are over here in the fireside gathering playing. I want to know if you guys have any ideas, or plans for the new player experience at this fireside gatherings, or just new players’ experience in general?

Yong: New player experience is something that we care about a lot. One of our designers actually really focused on that, good amount of our time, and she is actually my sister. She used to work on another team, and she joined us. So, super awesome. So, yeah, new players’ experience is something we focus on. Specifically, for some of these like tavern brawl related use case is something we are very excited to make it better.

So it is like: hey, I am a new player, I want to join your tavern brawl, and have fun with you right away. That is definitely use case that we are actively looking at right now. So thanks for the feedback. It really kind of validates our prioritization for that, and we are going to be working on that through 2017.


Thank you, Yong, Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.

Yong: I love your podcast. – two and a half years going now. Thank you, guys. We really appreciate what you guys do.

Hey, guys a couple of my favorite brawls were the PvE team-up brawls like the Nefarian, and United Against Mechazod, but some of the older tabletop TCGs that I have played give you a chance to have like three or four people play against one boss. I know you have the iconic Hearthstone player facing player. That is kind of maybe a limiting design factor, but is there any chance in the future that is so out of the blue that you could have two or three people like maybe a tank, healer, and a Range class work a couple of multi-classes against one big boss?

Yong: Oh, I want to talk about this.

Peter: That was awesome in the trading card game. The World of Warcraft one.

Mike: Yes, the trading card game. Also, the MMO is pretty cool.

Peter: Haha, I have played that one before. Once or twice.

Mike: I love that idea. I think the nice thing about the one that we did, the tavern brawl that we did, we used the tools that we had in the interface that we could manage like on a phone and iPad and so on; but I think once we have done that, people showed a lot of interest, and we will keep experimenting more in that direction. Probably small steps. See what we can do.


It is all I can ask for. Thank you.

Mike: One more question. Tis is the last one by the way.

That is fine, so my question is regarding eSports and HCT in general with the growing push in 2017 in the competitive scene. What are you guys thinking to do (if possible with anything) for a more physical event? Similar to what we are experiencing here at BlizzCon, and over on the world stage. Are you guys looking to do more eSports events and pushing the eSports, and kind of further pushing the community aspect in general?

Yong: Yes, there is a lot of plans right now to leverage the tavern heroes model to kind of have these local fireside gatherings feed into the HCT, and we did some of that in 2016. We are going to do even more of that in 2017. So we want this. So, yes. We really want these fireside gatherings to be like these local mini-BlizzCons in your local community, and that is an angle we are going to push very hard.

Awesome. Thanks guys.

Yong: Thank you.

Peter: Thank you. Yeah, I think that is all the time we have for questions today, but thank you guys so much for coming. We love seeing all the passion. We love seeing the community, and enjoy the rest of your BlizzCon.

Mike: Thanks everyone.

Matt: Thank you, guys.

Narrator: Thank you for attending the Hearthstone Q&A.


Transcriber: Iluv2proofread
Editor: Medievaldragon

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