Despite cutting costs, HotS dev team is as dedicated as ever

▲ The development team's primary goal going forward is to create a fun game. Simple as that.


The Heroes of the Storm development team would love to leave the past in the past.


They didn’t make the decision to have their employer, Activision Blizzard, cut support to the competitive scene. They certainly didn’t have a say in numerous individuals who were working on the game being transferred to other titles, making their lives more difficult. And, they didn’t intentionally alienate thousands of players who have slowly stopped playing the game over the last four months.


What is in their control, is how the inner workings of the game itself will operate going forward to ensure that the current playerbase is given the best playing experience possible.


On Wednesday afternoon, members of the development team held an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) on the game’s subReddit (/r/heroesofthestorm) where fans were chomping at the bit to get the opportunity to have their questions answered.




With hundreds and hundreds of questions eligible to be answered, Live Game Designer, Adam Jackson, took little time laying out, arguably, the most telling answer to a question over the two-hour span.


When asked about the team’s mindset going forward now that the competitive scene has been slashed considerably, Jackson didn’t hesitate:


I wouldn’t say that the focus of the balance team has changed drastically, and we’re still a bit fresh with this change so I don’t want to speak for the entire team, but this is my perspective:

Personally, my main objective now and going forward is primarily to maintain the best balance possible while also making the game the most fun for the most amount of people. As you have probably seen with our recent balance patches, there has been a focus on having more viable builds, more fun talents, more viable heroes, and more cool hero interactions. I don’t think there will ever be a world where we aren’t looking at the top level of play, including competitive games, but right now my focus has been on making cool stuff, which I’ve been taking a lot of joy from in the last few months.”


Jackson, who has a history of playing and competing at the highest level and is responsible for a lot of character reworks just wants to create...a fun game.


Without having to worry about which heroes are the most broken in the professional circuit, the development team can be more experimental, fix some problematic characters who could use some love (Tassacar/Chen where a couple they mentioned) and make the game have more of a personal feeling.



Production Director, Kaeo Milker, echoed similar sentiments when asked about the highest priorities for the game right now.


“We have some immediate things that we want to do to get the game stabilized, including fixing the AI that we broke recently and delivering the Ranked Play improvements being outlined by the team here today.  From there, our ongoing focus will continue to be around making improvements, changes, and additions to the game (design/balance/content/technology) that keep it feeling fresh and fun, as often as we can. As the team settles and we get through some of these urgent endeavors, everyone on the team is empowered to be asking themselves what the most impactful thing they can do for the game and for our players is each day.  And we'll do as many of those things as we can, as quickly as we can.”


This doesn’t sound like a development team shattered by the loss of numerous colleagues, is scared to try bold new things or is afraid of failure.


Other than the consequences of not doing their job well (like any other job in the world), what is there to lose? By making the core playerbase happy, the odds of them staying long-term opposed to jumping ship to another title only increase. By optimizing the title’s in-game Ranked experience, former players with a competitive itch may be inclined to return to a game they have sunk hundreds or thousands of hours into. By touching up old heroes and creating new fun ones going forward, new players who pick up the game may find a well-polished title they will grow to love.


▲ Production Director Kaeo Milker.


All the development team is asking from the playerbase is a bit of patience and, given the rollercoaster history of the game, long-time players won’t have much of an issue with that.


Actually, there is one thing that players can do to help the game going forward, according to Milker:


“Play the game.  Bring a friend or four.  Try some healers and tanks more often, if you aren’t maining them already.  Keep telling us what you love and, more importantly, what we need to do better.  When we make something you think is awesome, spend your Gold or Shards or Gems on it.  Be kind to each other and have fun together, because that’s what this is all about.”


It’s as easy as that. Let the development team do their job to the best of their abilities given what they have to work with because their goal is to create a truly fun game going forward.


While their bosses' dedication to the title may be in question, the development team's isn't.

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    level 1 Celeste_Kwasman

    I would love (LOVE) to spend my free time on weekends playing Heroes of the Storm. I miss it. I've spent a ton of money on it, too, buying skins and mounts, both before and after the big 2.0 shift. The thing is, the progression is too slow for me, so I only play after I buy one of the boost packs (aka stimpacks) from the store. Which is great when I have a whole week off, since they sell boost by the week, but they don't sell a one day boost. I'm not going to pay for a week when I know I'll only get to play HotS for the weekend. The result of this disconnect is that I play Heroes of the Storm when I have an entire week free to deal with it, instead of regularly, like I'd prefer. I've literally begged them (multiple times), both on the forums and via twitter, to make a one day boost available, and the only response I ever get is crickets. Or yelled at by toxic weirdos who tell me that if I was a "real" HotS player, I wouldn't care about the speed at which I accumulate gold and exp, or that I shouldn't care about wasting six days of a seven day boost purchase.

    I DID play the game. I did bring friends. Two, not four, but still. I spent hundreds of dollars. I play healers and tanks. I've always been friendly and helpful and welcoming to other players. When they announced they were paring down the HotS dev team, I immediately logged in and spent $50 (which, sadly, is a lot of money to me at the moment) just to try and help send a message to Blizzard that Heroes of the Storm was not disposable. I have never gone so far out of my way to support any game the way I have HotS, and all I've ever requested is a way to spend (far) more time and money on the game. So, that "keep telling us what we need to do better" line kind of stings. I have been telling them. Politely, respectfully, and for a really long time. They just don't listen.

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