Before the launch of Hearthstones newest single-player offering, Saviors of Uldum: Tombs of Terror InvenGlobal had a chance to ask some brief quests to two members of the development team. Dave Kosak works as Lead Mission Designer and Hadidjah Chamberlin is the Lead VFX Artist for Hearthstone.
We asked about the most challenging aspects of creating the adventure, some of their favorite details, and whether or now competitive Hearthstone ever borrows from the rule-breaking craziness single-player modes offer:
What was the most challenging aspect of designing this adventure? In addition, what is the most satisfying thing that you’ve specifically designed or worked on?
Hadidjah: So for patch 15.2 specifically, one of the big challenges for us was, because we have all the duel-class stuff, a lot of the treasures kind of play into that and we wanted to specifically play up the dual-class thing for the some of the paths of effects associated with those treasures. Some of those combinations, the core visuals of those classes don’t really naturally mix. Elise worked really naturally because you can mix all of the lunar, priestly colors and the nature, Druid colors -- they work really beautifully.
Reno on the other hand, where Rogue is smoke and super desaturated with these smooth shapes and then Mage has all of these super bright additive sparkly pinks, that was a funny one for the team to try and tune. But capturing that dual-class was one of the really fun little examples. Building out these cohesive kits for the bosses, the plague lords especially because they’re such big moments and they have a few more custom cards associated with them, that was really fun.
And as far as me specifically, 15.2 is actually the first patch where I didn’t personally work on anything in it. I was just leading the team, but seeing them have so much fun with the weird, whacky effects…
Dave: But you did create a lot of the plague effects though and then we used those for the plague lords, right?
Hadidjah: I did Plague of Death and then the team did the other ones, but yeah the adventures are always super, super fun because there’s a little more wiggle room and we’re playing a lot more with telling the story and capturing moments because it’s single-player and you can take your time a little bit more and bend the rules a little bit more. Seeing the team really go wild on that for the first time and really have fun there was pretty awesome.
Dave: Yeah, let me take a stab at it here. The most challenging, from a design perspective, was that we were worried about the dual-class. Would it pan out? Would it be fun? Would it have a lot of variety? We were actually the most worried about Elise, which was Druid-Priest, just trying to find the gameplay there. So we started with that character and then, when we had that dialed in we thought: "this is going to work and this is going to be a lot of fun".
"We got to implement a treasure that we’ve been wanting to do since way back in Kobolds and Catacombs and we realized we could do it even better now."
Obviously there are healing synergies between the two classes, so you could do something great there, but it turned out that there were some other really fun things to do. You could be super aggressive with Elise and go on the attack and some of her signature treasures allow you to do that. She can do a lot of big minion play that works well with both classes, some buff decks that are great. Combining druid shards with Lyra the Sunshard to get more spells ended up playing really fun. So there were some really crazy things we could do with Elise and we ended up having a lot of fun with that we knew we were on to something and everything was going to work out. That was one of the most challenging.
As for my favorite thing, we got to implement a treasure that we’ve been wanting to do since way back in Kobolds and Catacombs and we realized we could do it even better now. That treasure is the Hearthstone! So the Hearthstone is a unique treasure that you can use it once and then it’s removed from your deck. If you’re losing a fight against a boss and things just aren’t going well, you can play your Hearthstone and it will hearth you back to the tavern! Then go back to the non-combat encounter and you can go tweak your deck. Then, when you leave, you start that fight again.
So it really feels like the hearthstone from World of Warcraft! That was super fun and I was glad we were able to get that in there. It’s tough to pick a favorite because we had a lot of fun designing this whole experience.
I remember when the most broken thing you could do was play a 4/5 minion on turn one and obviously there are a lot more powerful things that you can do now. Is there ever any instance where the balance team sees something you are doing and they create a new type of card around it? Are there any instances of that in the history of you guys making these adventures?
Dave: Yeah, one of our initial designers Alec and I were talking about that yesterday. Not any individual cards so far, but sometimes ideas that we play around with. The missions and the tavern brawls are a great space to play with different formats and different things to do and experiment with and can often make their way into the collectible set.
So we’re doing a lot with dual-classes right now and that turned out to be pretty fun. We often did a dual-class arena Halloween event on the tavern brawl, so I’m excited to see if we can get some of that into the collectible set. I think, because you were asking about esports, that would make matches really exciting if there is a secondary class you could play as well.
So we’ll see how Tombs of Terror goes and how people respond to that. It’s a great place to experiment with crazy stuff although, like what I talked about earlier, so many of the things that we do in the missions are deliberately broken that you wouldn’t want to use them against another player.
So is it safe to say that if players respond positively to these dual-classes then there is a chance that it may enter a standard format of the game?
Dave: It’s hard to say. I can’t really speak for the entire design team, but they’re going to watch us closely.
Tombs of Terror is available now and the First Chapter and playable Hero, Reno Jackson, is available to all players for free. Over the next two weeks, more chapters will be available to purchase as a bundle for $14.99 USD, and individually for 700 Gold or $6.99 USD.