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.
Note: We won't have a weekly Q&A every week since Dean will be in and out of office over the next 6-8 weeks. (Source)
- This was the first set that Dean lead the balance team on. He was responsible for Neutrals.
- They don't do mechanics that work on both you and your opponent much, so Dean didn't think of it like that much.
- Dean felt the card was weak, figured they'd work on archetype balance first and then come back and buff the card.
- Realz discovered it was busted and some initial playtesting showed it was powerful, but they let it out because it seemed interesting.
- Dean says he should have listened to Realz. "You win some you lose some".
- One of the core features was custom rules.
- "It was largely a tool for fireside gathering groups to run brackets together alongside the fireside functionality we have now".
- "We had plans to expand it but those went by the wayside when we cut the system".
- All the UI and code is still around. They are unlikely to touch it until 2022.
- They are working on more expanded Battlegrounds features.
- Slysssa asked about "Smash/Halo/Mario Kart" party rules for Battlegrounds Parties. Dean says he'll see if there is interest.
- Your rating is a part of matchmaking.
- Record of current deck and amount of passives is the first part of matchmaking criteria.
- You should get at least 1 treasure that works with your deck but you should never have a 100% chance of getting a specific treasure.
- Most mechanics going forward are going to be limited to a specific set or a year.
- Can we have more sigils? Ok.
- The miniset release will be "soon".
- All the ranked rewards are combined so that you don't feel like you need to grind every single queue.
- They considered a mode with rotating sets but think the audience would be too small.
- Shaman will become competitive again, they just need more cards released.
- They don't have a Diamond frame yet for hero cards.
- Alec and Chakki have recently been working on the new core set for next year.
- Their goal with Hearthstone isn't to simply retell stories in World of Warcraft.
- This year is going to be more set Warcraft fantasy - expect that from the next 2 sets.
- The mercenary characters might not always appear as minions in the next 2 sets.
- We could see some of the new characters return outside of this year, it depends on how well they are received.
Full Transcript of Iksar's Q&A #19
Hearthstone AMA #19 Ask me a question about Hearthstone! 7:15PM - 8:15PM https://t.co/NhbgTQaucD (Source)
@IksarHS So can it? https://t.co/PxI37a8GLy
@ZeddyHS no comment (Source)
@IksarHS How do you/the team feel about the number of evergreen vs. set mechanics in the game?
@ChaosOS_59 Pretty good about current number. Most mechanics going forward will be expansion or year of expansion release only. Once in a blue moon we'll have a mechanic that sticks around, but rarely. (Source)
@IksarHS Hi Dean! You have hacked the game and Kazakus always offers you the same Golem. Once you choose the Golem, you’re stuck with it forever. What Golem do you make?
@GallonHS stealth spell damage +2 golem obviously didn't you see how well it worked vs that warlock (Source)
@IksarHS When are you coming to karaoke with me, @OvileeMay, and @CaptainFlowers since you commented on our pic last weekend?
@bmkibler @OvileeMay @CaptainFlowers omg I would love to, it's rare I see any humans and think 'wow, i could be friends with these people' I am out of office/everywhere for about a month then we'll see if our powers can combine sometime (Source)
@IksarHS Has Hearthstone moved away from World of Warcraft too much? No cataclysm, no Pandaria, no Draenor, no Legion Invasion, I guess we got Ghuun, Rastakhan and N'zoth from BFA but no Nazjatar, Queen Azhara, Mechagon or Void themed units… and of course, no Shadowlands. 1/2
@ramparcerocasa0 Our goal isn't to retell stories already told in Warcraft lore. I like when our sets are grounded in Warcraft roots but we tell our own story. Mean Streets was maybe too far (ogres in pinstripe suits?) but sets like Un'goro are close enough that we feel good about them. (Source)
@ramparcerocasa0 This year in particular was meant to be more rooted in core warcraft fantasy, so you can expect the next two sets to be more in that vein. (Source)
@IksarHS Have you put any thought into making more tools for organizers? I'd love to see a sandbox mode for custom rules or spectator tools that make it easier for new organizers to host events without an elaborate setup.
@BytesHS Unfortunately this was actually the core feature of tournament mode. It was largely a tool for fireside gathering groups to run brackets together alongside the fireside functionality we have now. We had plans to expand it but those went by the wayside when we cut the system. (Source)
@BytesHS We still have all that UI and code lying around, unlikely to put any focus on it until 2022 as our slate is pretty full til then. (Source)
@IksarHS Can we have more sigils??
@KatakSumur ok (Source)
@IksarHS How do those amazing songs in the Hearthstone Trailer get made?
@triniku29 Our SFD (story and franchise development) team has amazing writers, directors, and people of all kinds that work together to create an awesome show. Of all the groups at Blizzard I think SFD might be the best. (Source)
@IksarHS Hi Dean, Is there any chance that you insert Arabic language in hearthstone and any information about the miniset release thank you
@hakimchekroun Hmm, I actually don't know about our plans (if any) to expand into other locales. It does remind me to check into it, though. Miniset release will be "soon" (Source)
@IksarHS What can we expect the next big thing similar to Arena, BG or Duels? Ps love the alternate game modes
@ShaadeGaming Mercenaries will be that. A little different than those three but should be appealing to the kind of player that likes those modes. (Source)
@IksarHS I really like games like smash/halo/Mario kart that lets you setup party rules. Any thoughts to allowing battlegrounds party to create their own rules? Pick minion bans, hero bans, include prizes etc
@Slysssa not crazy, we're working on some more expanded BG features so I'll see if there is some interest in making this happen. My first question is are there enough settings that would make for an interesting experience? Hero Health Hero Bans Tribes Available Minions Active/Inactive (Source)
@IksarHS we must know the truth about corridor creeper. how did it get made? when did you and the team realize it was the nuts? how insane were the numbers internally?
@RidiculousHat Ok so this was totally my fault. It was my first set ever leading the balance team and I made myself in charge of neutral. It was pretty wild west back then so there were only three of us doing any playtesting with regularity. Me, @puffinplays and @RealzDev. (Source)
@RidiculousHat @puffinplays @RealzDev If you think about creeper's mechanic, we really don't do mechanics that work on both you and your opponent's actions. So for many weeks I just read the card in my hand as getting reduced by my own minions deaths. (Source)
@RidiculousHat @puffinplays @RealzDev I thought it was pretty weak, so it was one of those, "let's work on archetype balance and we'll worry about tuning this correctly later, probably make it more powerful". (Source)
@RidiculousHat @puffinplays @RealzDev Then much later in testing @RealzDev is like hmm this is pretty busted what do you think? I start putting it in decks and we play some (but not enough) and realize it's powerful but I made the call to let it ride because it seemed interesting enough and motivated token play. (Source)
@RidiculousHat @puffinplays @RealzDev Turns out, uh, it was obviously busted and I definitely should have seen that. Was a little blinded by the fact we were playing these well-thought-out busted archetypes by the time we were playtesting jank corridor creeper stuff. (Source)
@RidiculousHat @puffinplays @RealzDev Anyway, should have listened to @RealzDev but oh well, you win some you lose some :). (Source)
@IksarHS There have been a lot of confusion in the duels community on if rating affects matchmaking, could you please clarify if that is the case or not?
@TeamAmericaHS There is a complicated formula that my brain isn't large enough to explain but the answer is yes, it affects it some. We still prioritize record and amount of passives first, but your rating an effect on your match after that criteria is met. (Source)
@IksarHS N'zoth Question: With the buff to N'zoth, can we please see Flesh Giant made into a Demon? I mean….the thing looks demonic AF. Nobody would dare questions it's a demon. @Celestalon
@BIGYKN @Celestalon hmm curious what @Celestalon has to say about this he is the minion type king (Source)
@IksarHS @BIGYKN This guy? He is stitched together humanoid and creature body parts. Nothing at all demonic about him. https://t.co/rVtryr9cEx (Source)
@Celestalon @BIGYKN omg never blow up this picture again UNSEE UNSEE (Source)
@IksarHS @BIGYKN https://t.co/WjWA1EJtD5 (Source)
@IksarHS For the mercenaries are we gonna see them again as legendary minions for next expansion and the one after that or could we maybe see them return in different ways?
@BionicDoor They are new characters so some it depends on how they are received, as least for the more distant future. As for this year, a big piece of our story is following these characters so you can expect to see them in some capacity in every set (even if not directly as minions). (Source)
@IksarHS Which part of a new release - from inception to design to testing to live to “Meta” - is the most fun for you?
@RTwoCTwo I love this question. It's changed drastically as my career has progressed. Earlier in my career it was the final balance weeks where the last bit of tuning happens and the archetypes we've spent so much time on see their final form. (Source)
@RTwoCTwo Nowadays I think my favorite time is the pitch stage where we're talking about what characters, settings, and themes to use. Warcraft is such a rich universe I love thinking about all the different directions we can go. (Source)
@IksarHS I would so much love to be a fly on the wall during these sessions :)
@RTwoCTwo Pandaria has been on the list of expansions to do for like 6 years and still hasn't been picked RIP pandaria (Source)
@IksarHS Does the team test major keywords or mechanics in-game prior to release by printing them explicitly on a single card? For example Charged Devilsaur is basically rush, Extra Arms is basically twinspell etc.
@baney64 Not really. Sometimes we'll look at cases like this in retrospect but never as an intentional testing ground for a future mechanic. (Source)
@IksarHS So when will the small expansion come? Cant wait any longer!
@KyleYue98 very soon ish i think pretty sure (Source)
@IksarHS Are there any plans to split the Standard, Wild, and Classic ranked rewards? And if so, would they give rewards specific to their mode. I.e. Classic giving classic packs.
@B1u3Zombi3B1ood We opted not to do this to not make it feel like you should be playing every format to completion to earn your rewards. (Source)
@B1u3Zombi3B1ood Rewards always starts with the question of 'how much rewards do we want to give' then 'how should we give them'. Assuming the total rewards stays the same, I like just giving out the total budget for your best in any mode as opposed to splitting that budget among all modes. (Source)
@IksarHS The recent hotfix to Duels with Unlocked Potential makes me want to ask: do you think forcing the algorithm to give "the best fit" for passive treasures in Duels is really a good thing? ik people were upset about getting completely irrelevant treasures but I do kinda miss.. (1/2)
@IksarHS the challenge of pivoting a deck's gameplan if you don't get the perfect synergies. Part of it admittedly is me getting tired of the same Rush/Battlecry/Spell treasures in EVERY deck, but I also don't want NERFS per se. I don't know what the solution should be. What do you think?
@LTTUltimate I know @Tabayrak shared some thoughts on this online. He is (one of) the duels maters. My knowledge of duels is limited to the systems it was built on and less of the content side these days. Sorry! (Source)
@IksarHS @LTTUltimate I can add a bit to this! So the intention of the system was not to be as deterministic as it turned to be. There are a handful of factors to how it ended up this way. 1/2 (Source)
@IksarHS @LTTUltimate Tldr the system should not have a 100% chance of giving you a specific treasure. At the same time you should get at least 1 treasure offered that works with your deck. 2/2 (Source)
@IksarHS @LTTUltimate Sike 3/2 I agree and think the feeling of adapting/discovery is very compelling and I think the current system definitely dampened that. (Source)
@Tabayrak @IksarHS Thank you for the response! Do you think Unlocked Potential will be moved back if the system gets fixed?
@LTTUltimate @IksarHS Duels being malleable makes that move totally possible. As much as I love Cho and Nat being the boogeyman of the meta. So anything is possible. (Source)
@LTTUltimate @IksarHS I do want to mention it was was more than the combos consistency we didn't like. The starting deck had between 9-14 legendary minions in it. We really disliked the feeling that you need a fist full of legendaries to play the mode. (Source)
@IksarHS I think that a card that would do literally nothing in Arena is a big red flag for design. Eg, a spell that only discards Hero cards. Would you agree with this notion? Arena seems to still have a place in card design, helping gauge the usefulness and power level of cards.
@coolboypai I think if you write words on a card they should do the thing most of the time you play them. So any design that spends time explaining something that doesn't actually happen very often is a red flag to me. There are exceptions, but not many. (Source)
@coolboypai Spells that do literally nothing in a large number of use cases are designs we almost always end up cutting. You mention arena here but this applies in cases where you randomly generate a card in constructed as well. (Source)
@IksarHS Have your team ever discussed a new mode with rotating sets? Something like 6 sets, 1 Core, 1 latest, 3 Wild ones and random Standard one; and rotate last 4 every 2-3 months?
@Stock_v2 We thought about it but I think the audience would be quite small for something like this. Must own a wide variety of old cards and be interested in deckbuilding on a regular cadence. (Source)
@Stock_v2 The kind of people that would be interested in this are extreme engaged Hearthstone users, which is why I think you hear it talked about often in places where extremely engaged users talk. I don't think the audience is there for it to be a permanent fixture, though. (Source)
@IksarHS I'll press my luck and ask another question. Are there any plans to revamp the tutorial. I've had friends I've recommended to try hearthstone that don't have the patience to sit through it. It's also very out of date. Especially since the core set has been added.
@B1u3Zombi3B1ood I think it's still a pretty good tutorial for constructed Hearthstone. Metrics we have agree. It's a terrible tutorial for people coming into the game for BG (and merc soon…). Planning to address that part of it. (Source)
@IksarHS Do you think current Shaman has enough space for ladder? I think it doesn't, but I'd like to hear your opinion and the future plan about it.
@ven0m_symbi0te In the words of a wise memer, there must always be a 10th best class. Shaman will be competitive at a high-level again, just not until more cards get released. (Source)
@ven0m_symbi0te That said, it's not like it's impossible. The links that get thrown around are overall class win-rate metrics that aren't really relevant to anyone. The best Shaman archetypes sit around 48.5%. (Source)
@ven0m_symbi0te This means if you learn them and make yourself a great Shaman player you can easily hit 50%+ win rate and get to whatever rank your skill level caps at. Will it be as efficient as a meta pick? Probably not. It's just not as far off as the internet would make you believe. (Source)
@IksarHS @ven0m_symbi0te With the new cards can we expect a shaman win con and draw? These things have been holding shaman back along with shaman not getting any focused cards in sets.
@Oakijak_HS @ven0m_symbi0te no spoilerino (Source)
@IksarHS Is there plans for a competitive setting for BGs, either a regular league type setting or smaller tournaments? There's been a ton of interest in high-level competition since the brawl, and wondering if there's anything in scope to support and build off that momentum.
@pocky_plays I'm not involved in out-of-game competition questions, though I am aware of the interest. In terms of in-game competition we have some ideas in email and wireframes-land but they are still a long ways off even if they do get fully realized. (Source)
@IksarHS Would you ever want to introduce a class to Hearthstone that is not in WoW? Any ideas what that could be?
@Raktoner Fantasy of Monk and DK I think is too cool for us to want to slip past them I think. But we've talked about it. Bard or some music-based class have been really cool to us. (Source)
@IksarHS What are the optimal conditions for a nap? We’re talking setting (couch/bed/hammock??), duration, time of day, silence or background noise, or even an Iksar original ingredient?
@hsWhiteDelight one glass of wine + literally any setting (Source)
@IksarHS with you being gone for the next month where are you going on vacation or is it not vacation ?
@EliteLeafHater to be answered at a later date… (Source)
@IksarHS @EliteLeafHater Who is the best @HSesports PR manager and why is it still somehow @TheLyns(because she’s the best in general)?
@ElliottEricS @EliteLeafHater @HSesports @TheLyns @TheLyns isn't the best PR manager she's simply 'the best' (Source)
@IksarHS Diamond Dr. Boom for completing GvG and Diamond Dr. Boom, the Mad Genius for completing The Boomsday Project, is that a thing?
@machadogps If I have anything to say about it, yes. We don't have a diamond frame for hero cards yet so we'd have to see what custom work is involved there. (Source)
@IksarHS What made u guys choose Jaina, Garrosh, Anduin, and the others as the standard hero portrait?
@BilldaFralda I wasn't around back then! Was all @bbrode and Dodds. I think the choices they made were pretty solid in retrospect. (Source)
@IksarHS Is the team working on anything spicy for next years rotation?
@CrunchTime4L I'll have to ask Alec "spicy" Dawson @GW_Alec I know him and @Chakki_HS have been working on a new core set recently :). (Source)
@IksarHS Are there any thoughts towards having more frequent rotations and/or microadjusts for Arena?
@kolstIRL I think one microadjust per cycle is enough, just a matter of how quick we can do it. As for rotations, the cadence has seemed pretty good to me, you feel differently? (Source)
@IksarHS I think to a lot of us, more frequent change is better. If we're talking one rotation and one adjustment per 4 months.. that's a long time for the meta to be stale - particularly for the classes stuck on the bottom end.
@kolstIRL I'm not a believer in the more frequent change is better philosophy, but I wonder if this sentiment comes from there not being frequent enough updates or an issue with the updates themselves that causes them to become 'stale' quickly. (Source)
@kolstIRL Been thinking about going wild-west soon and having a format with all cards. Having some idea of what to play around is a nice goal but I wouldn't mind having an extremely wide format with more deck variance for a bit. (Source)
@IksarHS Didn't we try this a couple years ago? From what I remember, it was great for a week or two.. but then, you realize you just don't play around cards at all, and then it ruins the point of the game. I'm very open to this kind of stuff for short term events. But prob not super long
@kolstIRL It depends on what metrics you look at to determine success. Users? Hours played? Hours per user? Online sentiment? (Source)
@IksarHS Attempt #5? Ever considered having a class banning system similar to tournaments? Would remove a lot of frustration and wouldn't have to react as quickly to nerfs. Maybe not being able to ban the class your playing though? Just wondering your thoughts? Love that you do this btw!
@Imick_HS I actually think this is a cool idea and we've thought about it but the implications are complicated. It totally changes what decks are the best because you can eliminate any decks worst matchup. (Source)
@Imick_HS I've thought about wanting to try it for the last 1 or 2 months of an expansion cycle but I'm skeptical it is a good long-term idea. (Source)
@IksarHS Oh, I almost forgot to ask this: Do you think Control Priest is balanced? Priest is the only one who has 100% pick rate in GM, and it's always banned. Many Korean pros are saying Priest is over-balanced, and Priest-Priest mirror matchup is literally DISASTER.
@IksarHS By the way, thanks for your reply to my former question about Shaman :)
@ven0m_symbi0te what does overbalanced even mean lol (Source)
@ven0m_symbi0te Priest/Rogue generally have high skill caps so it's natural for them to be performing better at higher levels. That said, neither class is much better than other options at any level, including high-legend. (Source)
@ven0m_symbi0te In lower ranks, or even the bottom 90% of users, Priest is relatively weak. (Source)
@IksarHS Quilboar after nerf looks great on BG, useful from beginning to end of the game. Why is there no more significant balancing in the other races/heroes in the game? Shouldn't the game being F2P leave the team more free to make constant changes to seek this balance?
@Tesdey There have been a significant amount of balance changes in BG, so it's not like we don't do them. I think the question players don't ask themselves when considering balance changes is if the result of making the changes they have in mind. Will the game be more fun? (Source)
@Tesdey Sometimes we'll look at a powerful or not powerful thing and consider a change, only to conclude that the overall experience would be less fun if we did. (Source)
@Tesdey Sometimes the right balance change is not just tuning numbers, but redesigning a mechanic or adding/removing minions. These are more cumbersome changes that take time. (Source)
@IksarHS Any chance of we seeing those low Health Archetype for warrior again like Mortal Strike? I know there's only 2 cards, but they're so interesting https://t.co/fw2kH1LngI
@BoaPharaoh I always thought these cards were the strangest fit in Warrior, the class that is the least likely to get to low health totals due to having armor as a core mechanic. Makes so much more sense in a health fluctuating class like Warlock/Priest. (Source)
@IksarHS What is your favorite OTK deck of all time?
@MarkMcKz Definitely Shadowboxer OTK Damage Loop https://t.co/xHt9ojYl4Y (Source)
@IksarHS Pretty good night Dean. I'd like to ask, How is 'Upgrade to Golden' going?
@Mas11_passions good and still happening (Source)
@IksarHS What part of the game design process takes the longest for Hearthstone? The initial design/final design or the literal programing/play testing?
@Corpssavy66 All those things happen simultaneously but we probably spend the most time playtesting, it's necessary for design iteration. Playtesting goals are different at different times, though. Sometimes it's for balance and final tuning, sometimes to see if a mechanic is fun or not. (Source)