Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blizzcon: Hearthstone Panel


From the Blizzcon Virtual Ticket, this was probably the most interesting panel to watch. The panel included a lot of development information about how they made the game and concepts going into it. Personally, the Elite Tauren Chieftain entrance was enough to sell me.

Here is my notes from the panel.

General:

  • Game developed from announcement to release within a single year. 
  • Blizzard change of pace. Using a small 'elite' team to develop game, only 15 people on dev team. 
  • "Focused" - Trying to get game released. PVP play only at first, add expansions to include new content.
  • Easy to start, "accessible for everyone"- Beginners should be able to read card and understand immediately what will happen. Card like Hellfire used as example in that it damages ALL cards. Now card text says "ALL" in caps to help explain.
  • Complex, "keep it deep" enough that layering card play makes for some interesting combinations. There could be valid reasons you want to destroy all your minions. Join a weak card and combine with another card to make an awesome deck. 
  • True to class - Cards (art, style, play) should mimic closely to WoW. Playing a warlock in WoW, should be similar in playing a warlock in Hearthstone. 
  • True to lore - Bring out cards and abilities directly from Warcraft lore. Ysera animation pulls card out of emerald dream.
  • Physical feel to game - cards have virtual weight, opening new decks is textured - like ripping open a new pack of cards.
  • Fast -Resource driven, makes game play faster, aka mobile friendly.
  • Fun! Make losing funner! 
  • (Planned) Open Beta in December. Later panelist said "You know Blizzard, that probably means January [2014]".

Upcoming patches:

  • Ranked play - now to have levels that you can achieve based on games won. Start with 'angry chicken' level. As you go up, your avatar will change. Level resets at end of each (1 month) season. Reach max level ranked play, get a new back for your cards. 
  • Golden Heroes - new abilities, new animations. Jaina appears to have a frost-bolt type ability. Need to win 500 ranked games with a specific hero to get.
  • New AWESOME entrances for cards - ETC card above, dinosaur minion will stomp onto play area. 

Future of Hearthstone:

  • Going mobile - Always planned as a mobile game to bring more players to Blizzard. Tablet version (aka iPad) looks to be available. Blizzard playing it internally as hard to beta test. Phone (iPhone and Android) available 2nd half next year. "Windows 8 touch available very soon afterwards." (don't know if that means Windows market place game, or full 8.1 release.)
  • Expansions - new cards.
  • Adventures! - Play against NPCs with a pre-made deck to achieve a certain objective. This reminded me of the tutorial that you start the game with. Get deck of cards when you have completed the quests. 

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