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BlizzCon 2015 Interview

Michael Bitton Posted:
Interviews 0

MMORPG.com: Shaman and Rogue players want to know what plans you have for those classes specifically. Any details you can give?

Dean Ayala: Well, like I was just saying, with Rogue for sure. Every time we add new cards, like Tunnel Trogg is going to be an amazing one drop for Shaman. I think Shamans have a problem where they tend to fall behind, like Zombie Chow’s not always enough to keep out a lot of the aggressive decks out there. Having a card like Tunnel Trogg will definitely help out Shaman. Really all you need is one or two cards to really bring yourself to the top. When we released GvG, all Paladins really needed were Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle. It was just a couple cards to introduce in order to bring these classes back to prominence.

I think in the world championship, we’re seeing Shaman, and having a certain amount of success with it. I think those decks already exist out there. They haven’t necessarily been fully explored, but with Rogue and Shaman this time around, I think we’re introducing fairly high power level cards, and you’re going to see a lot more of those classes around.  I want you to be able to queue into all nine classes with different decks all the time. That’s the goal of everyone on the team.

MMORPG.com: The Joust and Inspire mechanic cards. They’re really interesting mechanics that just don’t see a lot of play. Do you have plans to adjust the cards? Or introduce new Joust and Inspire cards to make them more viable and usable?

Dean Ayala: For me, I’ll just go back to, in BRM we released dragons, and there were some dragon decks out there. I think not until we released TGT and we’re like we really love dragon decks and we need to release some, let’s give them some more pieces. So, I think you can expect, we’ll continue to do that in the future. We’ll continue to do things where they make sense. So, if it doesn’t make sense for a certain set to have, say, an Inspire mechanic, we won’t do that. But in a set where it does make sense, the flavor really hits, or we come up with an idea, maybe this will be really cool for Inspire decks, we’ll sort of bring that back. We’re always looking for those opportunities. I don’t think we’re ever really fully abandoning anything, it’s just a matter of when does it make sense? When is it fun? When can we fit that back in? We’re always looking to do that.

MMORPG.com:  Along those same lines, the game is moving along really quickly at breakneck pace, you’re always adding new cards, and new adventures, and stuff like that. Is there ever a time where you’re thinking, “Are we only catering to our existing playerbase at this point? Are we leaving behind potential for new players?” How would you get new players into the game without making them feel overwhelmed by all the mechanics and different cards?

Derek Sakamoto: This is something we actually think about a lot. We actually hired a designer to look at the new player experience, to really play through from scratch and see what that’s like. It’s a fine balance between, like you said, adding new cards for existing players, but also making it still approachable for newer players. And this is kind of top on our list for something we’re looking at. It’s something the team is thinking about a lot and really working on how to make that great for both players. That’s why we’re doing things like Tavern Brawl, give you Classic packs. We can now accelerate newer players with Classic cards we think are better for them. We’re also releasing adventures like League of Explorers, which can really provide some new stuff.

MMORPG.com: How is this adventure (League of Explorers) different from previous ones? What makes it special besides the new cards?

Derek Sakamoto: Besides the new cards, it’s got the same relative format, but we’re doing new adventure types. Where there’s, on the show floor today, you can play Escape the Temple, where you’re not playing to defeat the boss, you’re just trying to survive a certain number of rounds, and you can make decisions on there, like, “Do I go left or right?” It’s just a different concept, a different way to play the game. We’re also providing some more lore stuff, so you’re seeking the Staff of Origination, so you can, as you beat different wings, you can see the pieces being added to the top of the wing. We’re just trying to really bring that sense of adventure to the game.

MMORPG.com: In a lot of ways Hearthstone feels almost like a board game that you can play with friends, or play by yourself, or play against other players. But is there ever a time where you want players to play together more? I think the Tavern Brawl has a co-op mode. How’d that go? Are you thinking about doing that on a permanent basis?

Derek Sakamoto: I think it went great just by judging from player reaction. At the office we had a blast playing this, because it really changes how you think about the game and about the cards. Just playing across from someone that you’re not trying to kill. Healing cross-way, and emotes being really useful, and mousing over cards just to flash to your opponent, to say maybe you should play this or something like that. I think that just totally changed how Hearthstone felt and I think that was really interesting. We’re going to see how it did, but it’s something we might explore in the future, or maybe future Tavern Brawls.

Dean Ayala: I actually really like co-op brawl. The thing to me that sticks out, we always wanted to, “What is the craziest thing we can do that people are still going to cling to and understand that it’s still Hearthstone?” Even in terms of co-op, when you think about co-op, I don’t think that’s really what you’re expecting. It’s an elegant design, I think, to get to that point and be really, really happy with it. It was really exciting to me and we’ll definitely continue to find what is the new, crazy thing we can do. Maybe we’ll do something like that in the future or maybe we’ll come up with something even crazier.

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Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB