[OWL Media Day] Interview with Jeff Kaplan: "I want Esports to feel more like traditional sports."


Along with the Overwatch League teams and related personnel, the developers of Overwatch participated in the Overwatch League Media Day as well on Jan 10th.

Jeff Kaplan, the lead designer on Overwatch, had a media interview and shared his thoughts on the Overwatch League and how Esports can feel more like traditional sports. He also said that he will work on the balance so players in all ratings can enjoy Overwatch.

Below is the interview with Jeff Kaplan.



Q. Why did it take some time to add the observer mode?

When we add a new feature to the game, we try to do it the right way. For the observer mode, watching a lot of Overwatch Esports was really helpful to us. We saw how the observers broadcast, got viewer feedback, and compiled them together before actually adding the mode to the game.

Q. What kind of feedback did you get from the viewers?

We presented the revamped observer mode during the Overwatch World Cup and people thought the observer mode was greatly enhanced.

But there were some comments like the white colors for the away team were too white, so we fixed the white color so it can be more vivid and changed the part where each player’s name is written. We also tuned the level of saturation for better visuals.

Also, we worked on the replay system so it can capture important moments better. The World Cup was the first time that the observers used the technology and they did not have enough practice. But now that they are more experienced, there will be better replays during the opening week.

Q. Why is it that the away team’s color is white in most cases?

When we designed the OWL skins, we referenced soccer a lot. The most important aspect of team skins is that the views must visually distinguish the teams easily. The most effective way was to make the away team white. But the designers are always open to new ways. We will experiment on different designs and colors, but the most important thing is that the viewers should be able to distinguish between the two teams clearly.

We started to share a lot of ideas towards team skins an year ago. Team colors are very important, so we thought about using complementary colors like red and blue. But for most FPS gamers, the color red usually represents “enemies” so we decided not to use that color. We also referenced a lot of North American traditional sports like football and hockey and decided to make the away team’s color white.

Q. Do you balance the game based on professional plays or casual plays?

The most important aspect in balancing the game is that all types of players enjoy Overwatch. As a development team, we must pay attention to both professional players and casual players.

The balance of Soldier:76 is an example. Low level players usually just hold down the button when they shoot so they are at max spread the whole time, but professional players are very cautious on how they unleash the burst. In that sense we know that there are two levels of players who play very differently, and it gives us an idea how to balance the game.

Q. Anything you are expecting from the opening of the Overwatch League?

What I’m excited about is that fans of Esports would enjoy the OWL and the efforts we are putting into it. I want to elevate Esports to the next level and make Esports feel more like traditional sports.
There are some Overwatch players who do not enjoy watching Esports. I want them to enjoy Overwatch Esports as well through the OWL, as Esports an exciting entertainment.


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