Everyone's favourite Hearthstone Dad, Dean "Iksar" Ayala, finished off the week with a Q&A! As usual, here's our recap of all the important points and a full transcript of the event.
- All previous Q&As from Dean can be found under our "Iksar's Community Q&A" topic.
- Anything covered in the previous Q&As will not be covered in the recap but will appear in the transcript below.
Future Hearthstone Goals
Nothing in this list is currently in the works as they are busy on Mercenaries. These are all ideas that Dean would like to see in the game.
- Sustainable Content! They need to stop creating content that requires so much upkeep.
- Mode Equality - All game modes should have the same level of support that Constructed gets.
- Social - Play with your friends in real-time and accomplish goals together.
- "Getting your friends into the game makes it easier for them and is beneficial to you as well."
- Self Expression - Look and play how you want. Show off to your opponents.
- In-Game Competition - Express your competitive side at all skill levels.
- Single Player
- Expanded AI
- User-Generated Content
Dean's Dream Land
- Dean would love to explore a Mario Party-style game in Hearthstone.
- You could use Battlegrounds tech to go into an 8-player match.
- There could be minigames everyone would play.
- Tower Defense would be a good fit for a Mario Party mode.
- It is more likely they will improve or revamp Duels/Arena instead of making a new limited format.
- There are ideas floating around about system and ranked additions to Arena. They won't get pitched for another month or two.
- They will only create new modes that will have health populations in the mid to long term.
- Hero cards like the Death Knights from Knights of the Frozen Throne will happen again.
- They have some plans in progress, they just want to make them feel different the next time around.
- This card type was an underrated design; Using existing mechanics to make something simple yet hugely popular/exciting.
- If Hearthstone Battlegrounds was on Steam, it would be in the top 5-10 games played on most days.
- You can look at the global steam stats here.
- Path of Exile, as of writing, is in 10th place with 110k player peak today at 63k right now.
- Wild cards are not all meant to be the same power level, it's about the history of Hearthstone; Don't expect buffs to make cards playable.
- If they wanted to have an impact on Wild with buffs, cards would need to be buffed to "pretty extreme power levels".
- Arthas is too big of a lore character to not make a return somehow.
- [Note: This might be a stretch due to a possible typo, but the way the tweet was constructed this is the only thing that makes sense]
- "Arthas is way too big of a character to [not?] come back to one way or another..."
- The goal with Core cards is to not create cards that are auto-includes in decks.
- Dark Inquisitor Xanesh discounting already Corrupt cards is something they'll talk about.
- The set releasing in July/August 2022 will be pitched in a few weeks.
- Dean does not believe Crabrider is overpowered, at least yet.
- Dean sees the team working on new cosmetics and not upgrading old ones.
- Dean wants to do alternate art cards at some point.
- "I think you could have different tiers of alt art where some also come with new animations".
- The cosmetics pipeline is still being ramped up. [This gets mentioned almost every Q&A, it's important!]
- Dean agrees the current system of class leveling is not ideal.
- They opted to keep them around because "sometimes people just like to see their bar go up".
- If they were to redesign the system, Dean thinks they might tie the levels to wins instead of an XP system.
- They could still change it. Getting 1 win per level would mean a level 500 Hero unlocks your golden hero.
- They have been growing quite a bit over the last few years so even a natural turnover rate will look like more people are leaving than normal.
- People that become game designers are talented and ambitious. They will keep pushing forward to the next challenge and that might not be at Blizzard.
- Regardless, the leaves of Brode, Chayes, Dodds, Morhaime, and most recently Kaplan, leaves Dean sad.
- "People that talented are always on loan until they find a new challenge."
- Dean wishes they had more time back during The Grand Tournament to figure out a better Hero Power mechanic than Inspire.
- Dean also wishes they had made a better thematic and usable mechanic than Twinspell.
Full Transcript of Q&A #15
Hearthstone AMA #15 Ask me a question about Hearthstone! 5:30PM - 6:30PM https://t.co/H0ZgHYSy6r (Source)
@IksarHS Any regrets for certain HS mechanics?
@discobungle Regrets is probably the wrong word, there will always be mechanics that come together and some mechanics that don't. Wish we would have had more time to explore a better hero power mechanic than Inspire or a better thematic/useable mechanic that Twinspell. (Source)
@IksarHS Are there any thoughts for adding cosmetics into battlegrounds (i.e. golden heroes)? Also, I played you in a wild last year I was emoting greeting not from toxicity but from pure joy that I played you. GG :D
@Jkor92 We have plans for many battlegrounds cosmetics, I would expect the support for battlegrounds to increase significantly in the next 12-18 months. Players love the mode, it's massively popular, we're ramping up design/engineering/art support to match that. Just takes time. (Source)
@IksarHS Any chance we will see new hero cards for all classes anytime so ala Knights of the Frozen Throne?
@sc24evr Hero cards are one of the most types of cards, so we'll reuse as a major mechanic again. Have some plans for that in progress, just a matter of not making them feel the same as before. (Source)
@IksarHS What are the Hearthstone goals for the next, let's say, 5 years, what do you think will be different from how the game looks/feels today?
@imik_plays Need to figure out how to make sustainable content rather than content that requires continuous upkeep. When we keep making upkeep content it makes it harder to make the next big improvement or new thing. (Source)
@imik_plays Five years is a long time. Some things I'd like to achieve in that timeline that we aren't doing now. A: First-Class Experience in All Game Modes System support on the level of constructed for BG/Merc/Arena/Etc (Source)
@imik_plays B: Hearthstone as a Social Game You can play with your friends in real-time and accomplish goals together asynchronously. Getting your friends into the game makes it easier for them and is beneficial to you as well. (Source)
@imik_plays C: Best in class self-expression Look how you want, play how you want, show off to other players. Hearthstone becomes less about nameless class vs nameclass class and players can fully express their individuality to the friends and opponents. (Source)
@imik_plays D: In-game competition Would love to have avenues to express your competitive side for players of all skill levels that feel rewarding. (Source)
@imik_plays Lots more. Single-player, expanded AI, user-generated content, lots to consider… so little time. None of these things are currently in the works, we're pretty heads-down on mercs. As we prioritize for the future, these are the kinds of things we're considering next. (Source)
@IksarHS If you were trying to implement a new card type, which one would it be? (We have Hero Cards, Spell Cards, Weapons, etc) What could be the next step?
@imik_plays We've experimented with a few. There aren't any direct comparisons from other games but we've tried that is similar to Planeswalkers, captains on the battlefield. Also with static on board effects like weather/enchantments. (Source)
@imik_plays I really like the idea of captains of the battlefield, they don't attack but instead have abilities of their own they can use right away. We didn't stick the landing but we'll probably come back to them at some point. (Source)
@imik_plays Hero cards have been tough to live up to. Hard to design something that is nearly as exciting with similar or less complexity. Hero cards are an underrated design. Used existing mechanics to make something simple yet hugely popular/exciting. (Source)
@IksarHS I literally just finished the “start 50 turns with a full hand” achievement. Do you think it’s good design to have an achievement where the fastest / best way to complete it is to literally do nothing? Feels like it could have been a little more interactive.
@RTwoCTwo Ideally all achievements point you in a direction of something at least a portion of people would consider fun. If an achievement is making you do something really unfun it's probably not a design we're happy with. (Source)
@IksarHS there's been a lot of very visible blizzard turnover over the past few years, including multiple game directors. it's a little worrisome - i doubt you can comment much on it, but is there anything you can share that might keep players from getting spooked?
@RidiculousHat We've been growing significantly over the last few years, so even a natural rate of turnover is going to come across as more people leaving than normal. (Source)
@RidiculousHat As for GD level people leaving, it's also more normal than you would think The kind of people that become GD are talented, ambitious people. They've reached the next level in their careers multiple times and kept pushing onward. (Source)
@RidiculousHat Those kinds of people are rarely going to reach GD and say 'yeah, this is enough for me'. There is always a new challenge or new idea. When people that talented get a new calling, they tend to act on it. (Source)
@RidiculousHat All that said, it does make me sad to lose the Brodes, Chayes, Dodds, Morhaimes, and Kaplans of the world. Whenever you lose people that immensely talented it pains everyone around. Again, though. People that talented are always on loan until they find a new challenge. (Source)
@IksarHS Has the team ever tested increasing the starting hand of each player by one card? If so, what was the conclusion?
@ZuidermanHS Not since I've been around, which feels like forever. Generally we try to make games feel more different than each other than more of the same. Increasing hand size creates more consistency which makes for more game-to-game same-ness. (Source)
@IksarHS The achievement for completing Book of Mercenaries with Rokara hasn't been working since it came out (pack is awarded but still shows 0/8 progress). Any ETA for a fix for us achievement hunters out here? Thank you! 👏
@Draketh90 I know the team is aware and I'm sure a fix is in the works soon. I'll check in on it just in case. (Source)
@IksarHS As the back catalogue of sets keeps growing, is there any plan to make them more accessible? Whether that’s through lowering the price of old packs or something else entirely?
@elilong Rewards increase and core set for free were some of the ways we've tried to address that recently. Goal is that getting into the game and getting a fun deck or two that you can play with very little friction. (Source)
@IksarHS We go agane Curious about potentially getting animations and special "trays" for previously released alternate heroes? Is that something with the potential that you may go back and do? Is that something that may be more like how some of the classic legendaries got animations?
@Hylung I think if we were going to spend time on creating cosmetic content we'd be spending it on the new rather than the old. It's often a question of volume vs features. If every hero-skin had a new tray/animations/fullscreenart/newheropower we'd end up with far less options. (Source)
@Hylung I'd really love to do alternate art cards at some point. I think you could have different tiers of alt art where some also come with new animations. We're ramping cosmetic content currently and I think what people have been seeing in the last 6 months is just the beginning. (Source)
@IksarHS Has there ever been thought into a 'Random Deck' option that would start a game with a random deck from your collection?
@FilmCriticKurt Yes, though we're very stingy with button/option adds. In the case of random deck, didn't meet the bar of usability we'd like for something to have to create a new option. (Source)
@IksarHS What’s up with Tidal Surge and Drain Soul being in the same core set, with the one that costs half as much mana for one less damage going to the class that can leverage its life for cards with its hero power?
@bmkibler A reasonable question. Cards are targeted at different goals. Drain Soul is meant to be a core contributor to making Warlock archetypes work. It's at a power level to hold that class up as a generic use card. (Source)
@bmkibler Tidal Surge is less important to making Shaman archetypes work and is powered as a fringe card that might see play in heavy control shaman decks whenever that is a thing. (Source)
@bmkibler Shaman does also have SP, just not in great quantities atm. All that said, it might be a little soft :). (Source)
@IksarHS Hi Iksar ! Can we consider a hearthstone tower defense in future game modes ? 👀
@OliechHS I'd love to. I really want to explore a mario-party style game mode with battlegrounds tech where players go into an 8-player match and play minigames with one-another. Things like tower defense are good fits for role-players in that mode. This is just Dean dream-land for now. (Source)
@IksarHS Are there any talks of buffing some of the old gods, N’Zoth and Yogg in particular, I feel they didn’t get to be played as much as they should have and in there current state I’m not sure they will.
@BionicDoor Not unless we brought them back to core. Not all wild cards are meant to be the same power, meant to be a lens into the history of Hearthstone. (Source)
@IksarHS Have you guys considered a legendary Paladin minion Arthas for the future? Since Liadrin came out, would love to see him soon. 💛
@HolyKnight077 Arthas is way too big of a character to come back to one way or another… (Source)
@IksarHS So, the real question… When can we expect a viable Control Shaman list in the future? 🙄
@imik_plays No reason why not, they theoretically have all the tools in their kit for a reasonable control deck. Removal and life-gain are generally the most important for this. Just a matter of time. (Source)
@IksarHS How many packs in total have been opened since the game was released?
@ZuidermanHS I wonder if I could even find this out if I wanted to. Definitely not information I have off-hand. A LOT (Source)
@IksarHS What is the most surprising data insight in battlegrounds that you have seen?
@derajn honestly, probably hours played bg is a lot more popular than people realize, would be a top 5-10 game on steam most days by itself (Source)
@IksarHS How are Chakki and Gallon doing? Are they as op at card design as they were at Hearthstone?
@Luker_HS they are excellent, yes @Chakki_HS has been working on BG lately and @GallonHS currently working on the last set to release this year alongside @GW_Alec and @BoarControl (Source)
@IksarHS Is there a reason you stuck to King Krush w/ new Alex being made. Like sure beast synergies but it feels like you guys could have choosen a new or better legendary because Krush.
@Zelfie_Taker Goal with core cards isn't to make must-include-generic-power-cards. Normally to make fringe options you can feel good about including in the right deck. Krush and Alex might be violaters for different reasons. (Source)
@Zelfie_Taker I would consider it more likely Alex gets nerfed than Krush gets buffed, though. We do a fair bit of beast mana-cheating so there is always hope for big beasts like Krush to see play in those decks. (Source)
@IksarHS What card has your favorite animation?
@jwilli maybe deathwing, it's pretty iconic/epic (Source)
@IksarHS @IksarHS Third time's the charm? Would you consider changing Dark Inquisitor Xanesh so that it discounts already corrupted versions too? The deck is low power enough and would make the card feel way better without pushing it over.
@Tacticalian Not crazy, I'll bring it up with @GW_Alec (Source)
@IksarHS Would the team ever do a round of buffs for Wild?
@ChaosOS_59 Not something I'd be very excited for. Part of Wild is a look into the history of Hearthstone. Not supposed to be a place where all cards are similar power level. Also, in order to impact Wild at all you have to buff cards to pretty extreme power levels. (Source)
@IksarHS Any chances of another limited format? Something comparable to MTGs sealed maybe? Or is that what duels was meant to fill?
@JonathanLoyd more likely we'll improve/revamp something like arena/duels rather than make an entirely new format (Source)
@JonathanLoyd have some ideas for system and ranked additions to arena but probably won't kick off that pitch for another month or two (Source)
@IksarHS Are there any plans about rebalancing Wild? APM mage really takes the fun out of my favorite format, it's like naga sea witch all over again but even worse
@Durianstorm1 No changes planned currently. I play a significant amount of Wild and I'd say the most busted feeling things are definitely APM Mage and Darkglare Warlock. APM Mage got a population jolt due to some Barrens cards so still waiting to see how meta settles. (Source)
@IksarHS More counterspells in the game? When or if? I've always wondered why such a common card game mechanic is only on one card after all these years
@coolboypai If we do, they will probably be one-offs. Hearthstone is really light on 'mean stuff' and counterspell is in that category for sure. When we do make mechanics that mess with your opponent's things they are usually weak and still cause much distress. Tickatus, OhMyYogg, etc. (Source)
@IksarHS How often is the team planning ahead for future expansions?
@MusicalRhea We work about a year in advance. For example, we are going to start the pitch process for the July/August 2022 set in a few weeks. Will start work on it in 5-6 weeks. (Source)
@IksarHS Will battlegrounds ever go out of beta ? 😂
@doudouillitsa have some plans for that, want to do it right (Source)
@IksarHS Don't you think Crabrider is too overpowered?
@ven0m_symbi0te Not yet. It's an early/mid-game card for minion style of control decks. Different but not completely different from cards like Firefly/TarCreeper/SludgeBelcher. Cards like that promote on-board fighting and punish decks that don't engage. (Source)
@IksarHS Will hearthstone allow more custom-rule Gamemodes, rather than purely card expansions in the future? Pauper has been proposed before, but even something like You're allowed to use X number of cards from another class when building your deck.
@IksarHS Or i guess a better way to reframe my question: Why has hearthstone been fairly limited in its supported formats thus far?
@Riokaii Hearthstone has more formats that most games, we're just trying not to go overboard. We have casual/wild/standard/classic/bg/duels/arena/tavernbrawl/adventures and mercenaries coming. Only interested in creating modes that will have healthy medium to long-term populations. (Source)
@IksarHS Any plans to change how class leveling works? With the core set changes, it feels a bit weird that you get basically nothing for leveling past 10, especially since we have total wins as a stat to track progress with a class, that DOES come with rewards
@TheyCallMeBrino Not currently, though I agree it's not ideal. Essentially we had a way we were happier with for golden card acquisition and had originally removed class levels completely. (Source)
@TheyCallMeBrino We opted to keep them around even if their purpose wasn't very relevant to the new rewards scheme. Sometimes people just like to see their bar go up. It's still a reasonable representation of how much you've played something, which some people like. (Source)
@TheyCallMeBrino If we were designing the system from scratch, I think we'd probably have removed the levels or tied them to wins or something rather than a background XP system. (Source)
@TheyCallMeBrino We might still do that. Imagine leveling was 1 win per level rather than some number of XP. That way getting to level 500 would mean something (golden hero). Some downside in changing the definition of very old things, though. This is just a long way of saying I agree it's weird. (Source)
@TheyCallMeBrino Also, congrats on winning that Yugioh tournament. (Source)