Interview with Kaeo Milker: “Hoping for More Strategic Plays by Removing Fort EXP”

Kaeo Milker, the Production Director for Heroes of the Storm, foreshadowed a huge change to the game. They will be dividing the previous 4 hero roles into 6, and remove fort and keep EXP -- as he spoke about it, we could see how determined he was to fundamentally improve Heroes of the Storm. These changes, along with the addition of the HotS-original hero Orphea, shows that the world of HotS may expand even further in the future.

As the Production Director for HotS, Kaeo Milker helps decide how and who to adopt from among Blizzard’s many characters to add to HotS. We had the opportunity to talk to Kaeo Milker about the future plans for updates at BlizzCon 2018.


▲ Kaeo Milker, the Production Director, and Peter Lee, the Artist, for Heroes of the Storm.


The hero roles will be divided into 6; is there a reason behind this?

As HotS grew larger, more characters that provide unique gameplay have been added to the game. At one point, we thought it was inaccurate to just classify all heroes into just 4 roles (assassin, warrior, specialist, and support) so we expanded that to 6. This was done so that both experienced players and newcomers can have easier and quicker access to HotS. Also, having 6 roles will make the queue for quick match go much faster.

Then you won’t be seeing the ‘4 specialists + 1 support’ team comp in quick match anymore?

We will be able to have more precise queues for quick match from a programming perspective; each team will have at least a tank, healer, and DPS. Quick match is one of the most popular features in HotS and it is important to have a proper team comp with each role, so this will be an important update.

I tried the new hero, Orphea, for a while and her skill set seems great, although I’m worried that she will become too OP since she can warp with her Q and can drain life with her basic attacks.

We want all heroes to have their own strengths and weaknesses. Orphea does have high performance. However, you would have to successfully land the Q in order to warp; if you miss, you won’t be able to, and the cooldown will be fairly long. Thus Orphea isn’t a hero with great mobility. I think she won’t be that OP since there are ways to counter her skills.

When the Overwatch heroes were introduced at first, everyone was saying Tracer and Genji were too OP; even Mephisto as well. But all heroes come with weaknesses. I believe it will be easier to play against Orphea if you think of her weaknesses and ways to counter her.

Orphea was designed to be a hero that many people can easily access, but in higher ranks, she does rely on a lot more precise mechanical skill to succeed. Her strengths and weaknesses are fairly apparent since she relies a lot on a player’s mechanical skills.

What does Orphea summon to attack?

It appears in the original world of HotS; to go into detail, it’s a relic that is passed down in the Raven Lord’s family. The relic holds ancestral magic, a sort that is strongest in Orphea. You can see it as not just a monster or object but something that materializes Orphea’s psyche.


▲ The ‘thing’ that was materialized from Orphea’s psyche.


There are still some world settings that haven’t been introduced in HotS. Is there any chance that Harth Stonebrew, the innkeeper, will appear in HotS?

The innkeeper is certainly on the list of the heroes we would like to add. Actually, this list has names of many heroes on it. First, I would like to say that anything is possible for HotS; it would not be strange to see the innkeeper come out. Internally, we talk about him all the time because we think he’s awesome, although we don’t know exactly when he will be added to the game.

Can you tell us why you removed keep & fort EXP and increased the minion and mercenary EXP?


The reason for the change is so that we can have a more even match. Once you are ahead with team EXP, you will be able to increase the talent gaps between two teams, which leads to the faster destruction of forts. In the end, there are many games where you end with a 4-level gap -- this is no fun for either team. We planned to change the EXP system so that the EXP won’t have an almost permanent effect, but instead a temporary advantage.

Instead of the fort EXP, we had catapults coming in each wave; we hope there will be strategic plays with catapults. We didn’t aim to make the game go longer with the EXP change. The EXP for forts has been allotted between minions and mercenaries so the game itself won’t be too long.

How about we get out of the 5-on-5 system? It seems like it would be fun to have a 40-on-40 game in WoW’s Alterac Valley or 15-on-15 fight in Arathi Basin for HotS.

We don’t have anything like that currently in the works, but it sounds like a great idea.

This season for the HGC came to an end with the finals at BlizzCon. How do you feel?


Heroes of the Storm has grown a lot over the past 2 years. The quality of the tournament went up as well as the number of viewers. I personally like esports as it’s a place where you can see some pretty extreme performance. Our team likes esports very much and enjoys watching pro gamer’s playing; we work hard on new hero releases and remakes on old heroes to see better performance.

There have been many times where we have been inspired by a tournament itself. Even within the devs team, we would react like ‘Wow, that sort of thing is possible?’ when we see amazing plays done with the characters we made. We are consistently in awe at the plays people pull off and get new ideas to use when making new characters. This is how much we are inspired by esports. We are trying hard so that Heroes of the Storm can become a great esports title.

What will Heroes of the Storm be like in 2019?

Many changes are planned; the biggest one would be the change to the league tier system based on the feedback we got, as well as what we felt when we played HotS. We will be improving the MMR and tier system; we will also be decreasing the penalty you get when losing when your team member has disconnected. It seems the HotS content became more active now that you can solo queue for the team league. These improvements will be steadily added throughout 2019, so it will be an important year for us too.

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