Blizzplanet interviewed Production Director Jason Chayes and Technical Designer Ben Brode over the newly announced Blizzard Entertainment game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
After watching the interview, make sure to read our Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft coverage.
Complete PAX East coverage page.
Blizzplanet: Today we’re going to be talking to Jason Chayes and Ben Brode about Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. From what we’ve seen and played so far the game is super fun. What we are wondering is if you could explain Hearthstone to our audience and what are the basics of the game play – especially for those who are not familiar with collectible card games?
Sure, so Hearthstone is a free to play collectible card game set in the Warcraft universe. You can get in and play as 1 of 9 heroes. Essentially it’s designed for anyone that can come in and pick up and play to be a very accessible experience. Ben can speak up and talk a bit about what happens when you start up the game and give everyone kind of a heads up on how the turn flows and everything.
Ben Brode: Sure, wonderful. Hello Blizzplanet. Yeah, it’s a collectible card game as you mentioned and you choose 1 of 9 heroes, I’m a little reiterating. It’s really fast paced. You play minions and cast spells and equip weapons to crush your opponent, but it’s really whimsical and light hearted as well. You can emote back and forth with your opponent. It’s really fun.
Blizzplanet: So far in the demo we’ve seen many minion cards and spell cards that can be played on the active players turn, is there any intention to have counter spell or interrupt cards?
Ben Brode: Given that we wanted the games to play really fast, we don’t have any interrupt cards you can play on your opponents turn, but we do have counterspells and things like that you can play on your own turn that your opponent can run into. So you can put down some things that your opponent has to navigate and know that you have something up your sleeve but they don’t know exactly what it is and they have to try and work around it.
Blizzplanet: In Magic: The Gathering you can have up to four cards of the same kind in one deck. Are there any limitations in deck building in Hearthstone?
Ben Brode: Absolutely. There’s a 30 card deck you can build and you can only have up to 2 copies of one card and the highest rarity, legendary, you can only have one copy of those cards. So it makes collecting a little bit easier because you don’t need so many copies of each card and it also makes deck building a lot easier because on an online space it’s kind of tough to manage a lot of cards. 30 is plenty to play a very interesting and varied game and so I think we did a good job with that.
Blizzplanet: When watching the demo some people were confused on how the mana resource worked. Can you explain on how that works in the game?
Jason Chayes: Basically the players will be getting 1 mana every turn. At the start of your turn you’re awarded a new mana crystal. This accumulates over time and you can get up to 10 mana crystals. The mana crystals are available so you want to cast anything you can in that particular turn because they reset every time it gets to your next turn. It’s generally in your best interest to spend all of your mana.
Blizzplanet: A lot of people have been asking about trading. But in the FAQ it says there will be no trading making this a collectible card game. What are the reasons behind not allowing trading?
Jason Chayes: So it’s a great question. Obviously there are a lot of games out there that do support trading that are similar within the genre. For Hearthstone we felt it was the best experience to instead of having trading we have a crafting mechanic. So what players will be able to do is take cards they don’t really need, maybe they have some extra cards, they can disenchant those cards and accumulate arcane dust and use that arcane dust to craft new cards. The biggest reason here is we wanted to guarantee players have a great experience when they log in and sometimes you can have trades that don’t go in your favor when you’re trading with other people online and this is a way to guarantee that not only will you get fair value for your cards but it will also make sure that sometimes with trading you have weird fluctuations with the card economy, that this way you’re always going to get a consistent value for your cards.
Blizzplanet: Another common question has been about Android and mobile operating systems beyond the iPad. We saw that you are planning on expanding to other mobile devices after release. What are the reasons to not offer Android up front?
Jason Chayes: So, obviously there are a lot of people that have androids at the office. It’s a platform we think Hearthstone has potential on, but right now our focus is exclusively on PC. So we’re starting with Mac and Windows devices and we’re releasing Hearthstone there first. Then iPad will follow shortly thereafter. Obviously if our players are looking for other platforms it’s something we’re going to be listening to and making sure we build into our plans in the future. Right now, for launch, we’re starting with just those.
Blizzplanet: Will there be offline mode for those on the go who don’t have wireless access on their iPad?
Jason Chayes: That’s something we’re definitely thinking a lot about. Hearthstone was designed from the ground up to be a multiplayer game, PVP. So because of that you obviously need to be able to connect and play with other people online. So that’s kind of the initial design we began with. Now it is something that could make sense for us in the future to play offline. It’s something we’re definitely thinking a lot about. There are a lot of cool things we’d like to do in terms of additional features. So if that’s something from a players standpoint that is a very highly requested feature then it’s something we can build into our roadmap for the future.
Blizzplanet: Will the game be account based so you can play on your PC and also have your cards available on your mobile device?
Jason Chayes: That’s also something we’re looking at a lot right now and would be a great way to play Hearthstone and we’re working with our battle.net team at Blizzard on what would be required to support that feature. It’s something we don’t have a confirmed approach on for today but in the coming weeks we’ll have a final update on what it will be like for launch.
Blizzplanet: In the presentation we saw some shoutcasting, but we could only see one players hand. Are there any sort of observation features in the works?
Ben Brode: I think this game could be really incredible as an eSport. We don’t necessarily know right now because no one has really got a chance to really dive into it. We’re going to wait and see what happens with the beta and see what players are excited about and see if that’s something we want to spend our time doing as opposed to other features players may be more excited about. So we’ll see what players want.
Blizzplanet: What’s the plan for Team 5 after the game is released?
Jason Chayes: So our main focus right now is on Hearthstone and like all Blizzard games we intend to support Hearthstone well after launch. We’re going to have new content coming out in the future and so that’s all of our focus right now. We are excited about the potential of other things we could do, but all our energy right now is going to this game and making sure it has an awesome launch.
Blizzplanet: Have there been any discussions yet on how you’ll expand the game beyond launch? Will there be any added new decks or cards or heroes?
Jason Chayes: We’re still in the pretty early days for that. We definitely think like other games of the genre it works really well to bring additional cards out occasionally because it helps keep the meta game fresh and gives you new things to try out. We haven’t really figured out the frequency on how often this will happen or what’s going to be included there. But it’s definitely something we want to keep supporting in the long term as well.
Blizzplanet: Last question – Blizzard employees have been claiming to losing hours to this game in the alpha stages – what seems to be the overall consensus on what the deck right now is the most liked and what effect is it having on continuously developing the game?
Ben Brode: Each class has a unique feel and something special about it. We try to make all the classes play very differently. Right now we’re seeing a lot of people who really like rogue. Rogue has a mechanic on a lot of it’s cards where this card can do a little extra if you’ve already played a card this turn. We call it a combo. That makes it really difficult to decide which card to play first because you may not get the combo effect on that card but if you play something else first you may get that combo effect. Right now players are really enjoying that. We’re seeing a lot of people though playing all the classes, they’re all really interesting and they’re really enjoying it.
Blizzplanet: Do you have a favorite?
Ben Brode: I have a lot of favorites. But I’m currently playing a lot of warrior and druid.
Blizzplanet: And what’s your favorite deck right now?
Jason Chayes: I like to play a lot of shaman and a little bit of mage, too.
Blizzplanet: Mage is my character.. so… *laughter from Ben and Jason* sounds good. Thanks very much for your time!
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