The Overwatch Fan Festival, taking place for 2 days, from August 22nd to 23rd in South Korea, celebrates the release of the Busan map and the animated short, “Shooting Star” which features D.Va and her backstory. We had to chance to interview the developers, including Jeff Kaplan and Scott Mercer and David Kang about D.Va and the new animated short.
Following is the interview with senior game producer Matthew Hawley and concept artist David Kang.
Q. Please give a short self-introduction.
David Kang: Name’s David Kang, an Overwatch Concept Artist. To briefly explain my role, a concept artist is in charge of demonstrating the ideas provided by a planner in real life. Simply speaking, the job is to draw your thoughts.
Matthew Hawley: I’m Matthew Hawley, a senior game producer at the Overwatch dev team. I support the practical tasks of developers. While developers think about “what”, I think of “how”.
Q. How do you feel about participating in the Korean Overwatch Fan Festival?
Matthew Hawley: It’s my first time in Asia. It has been very meaningful encountering a different culture. Moreover, South Korea is the country of gamers after all. Gamer wasn’t really [an ideal title] when I graduated from college 15 years ago. South Korea is the country that made me proud of being a gamer, and I’m really happy to be here.
David Kang: This is not my first time, to be honest, but it always feels new whenever I visit here. It’s probably because I have a personal connection with the country.
Q. What were the features you wanted to implement in the Busan map as a producer and artist?
David Kang: The goal was to make a map where Korean people instantly realize that it has Korean characteristics. Also, we differentiated the map from other Asian maps such as Hanamura in order to avoid any similarity and added a few SF elements.
Matthew Hawley: As a producer, my goal was to release the content on time. We tried our best to release the content as soon as possible by scheduling our tasks, which include art, localization, and such. We also tried to involve as many Korean features as we could.
Q. Not only does Overwatch involve many countries and characters, but it also has excellent depth with details. Is there a reason behind these efforts?
Matthew Hawley: There are various heroes in Overwatch. It is our objective to make each player have their own favorite character and empathize with the Overwatch world.
Q. Do you have any plans to add a Story Mode for each character?
Matthew Hawley: Although I agree with your idea, there are a couple of issues. We had various event modes including Junkenstein and Retribution in the past, but they take a significant amount of time. Further, the game engine has been designed to be a 6v6 shooting game, so it’s not appropriate for a single-player story mode.
Q. As a concept artist, who is the hero that you like most and the one you do not?
David Kang: There are a few characters who have changed significantly from the original design. The Mech which D.Va rides went through so many tests, and I’m thankful for how she looks now. Reinhardt is the one who became completely different from the original design, which was at the time a robot with the codename Juggernaut. In regards to skins, the Officer D.Va and Palanquin D.Va are the most memorable skins to me.
Q. The Overwatch skins are often considered indistinct compared to other games. People point out that it’s only the color that changes, not the modeling.
David Kang: As Overwatch is a shooting game, momentary decisions are quite important, so it’s difficult to make a skin that is way different from the original design.
Q. Are there any reasons why the Story Mode is run periodically?
Matthew Hawley: As a matter of fact, we had internal opinions saying the mode should be implemented as a permanent in-game content when we were developing the Uprising. However, we foresaw the possibility that content might wither away because the progression and satisfaction are quite low due to its features. We are preparing the past content to be replayable every year.
Q. Do you have any plans to release Overwatch on the Nintendo Switch?
Matthew Hawley: It requires an unimaginable effort to transfer one game to a different platform. We will focus on platforms we are currently servicing for now.
Q. The company got excellent results with the Pink Mercy Project in the past. What was the main focus of this project, and why did you choose Mercy for it?
Matthew Hawley: The project had begun solely because some developers were so passionate about it. A number of people whose family member used to have breast cancer or any type [of cancer] banded together and started the project to deliver the “hope” of Overwatch. Thankfully, many people participated in the donation and brought about meaningful results. The pink bracelet I wear today was also made to commemorate the project.