Overwatch lead designer reveals how Blizzard make new heroes - Dexerto
Overwatch

Overwatch lead designer reveals how Blizzard make new heroes

Published: 14/May/2019 15:30 Updated: 14/May/2019 15:53

by Joe O'Brien

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Overwatch lead hero designer Geoff Goodman has revealed how Blizzard go about creating new heroes for the game.

Overwatch has seen a steady schedule of new hero releases since its release in May 2016, with new heroes arriving every March, July, and November since.

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In a video with GameSpot, Goodman has revealed what the process for creating new heroes looks like as they turn concept ideas into fully-fledged heroes figure out what their abilities might look like, using the creation of the latest hero, Baptiste, as an example.

New hero prototypes

The video gives a fascinating look into how heroes are prototyped by showing off footage of early versions of Baptiste that the developers used for testing.

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Where new models and animations are required, Blizzard tend to use simple designs that only vaguely resemble the finished product, to ensure no more resources than necessary are invested into ideas that may ultimately be shelved.

Where possible, however, they often simply adapt existing elements – a prototype for Baptiste, for instance, used Ana’s profile picture, Soldier: 76’s weapon model, and a recolored version of Zarya’s alternate fire for his healing grenades.

Blizzard EntertainmentBaptiste is the 30th hero in Overwatch, and the 9th to be released since the game’s launch.

Baptiste ability changes

While talking through the development process for Baptiste, Goodman reveals some interesting details about how the hero’s abilities changed from concept to final implementation.

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His most iconic ability is perhaps the Immortality Field, a unique mechanic that makes players within it invulnerable to damage beyond 20% of their health. Internally, however, this ability is still often referred to as “Lamp”, because it was originally prototyped by using a street lamp as the deployable object.

This actually had some effects on gameplay, as the lamp was apparently thrown like a spear, allowing players to influence how the Immortality Field deployed by placing it at unusual angles, which is why it was ultimately changed. The ability did get a buff, however, as it initially left players on just a single point of health.

Who is Overwatch hero 31?

Having been released to the live servers on March 19, Baptiste is now well-established in Overwatch, and fans are already turning their attention to the next new release.

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While there are plenty of candidates for potential new heroes in the future, two of the most popular – Echo, who was revealed in the “Reunion” animated short, and Sojourn, who featured in the Storm Rising event – have been confirmed as not being hero 31.

That leaves the most popular candidate as the mystery omnic who also appeared at the end of the Storm Rising mission, but Blizzard have been known to introduce entirely new characters out of left field, so hero 31 could still be a complete surprise.

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Whoever the next new hero is, they should be due for a release in late July, with a full reveal likely coming earlier in the month or perhaps at the end of June.

Overwatch

Jeff Kaplan reveals his ideal competitive Overwatch meta

Published: 8/Oct/2020 3:13

by Theo Salaun

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Blizzard Entertainment’s Vice President and Overwatch’s beloved Game Director Jeff Kaplan has revealed what he thinks is the ideal competitive meta for the expansive title.

Overwatch exists in many forms, from its highest ranks to its lowest, but the game’s competitive meta at the professional level has also varied greatly since the original release back in May 2016. 

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In the olden days, teams prioritized dive compositions led by Winston’s jumps and Tracer’s blinks. Then, in 2019, fans around the world either groaned or cheered as the divisive GOATS meta took center-stage, featuring a hefty squad built entirely with tanks and supports. 

Now, Kaplan is explaining his perspective on the game’s ideal state, following criticisms he levied back in July against the game’s double-shield reliance. Examining the game’s departure from a static, Orisa and Sigma-dependent environment, he dissects his compository ideology. 

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Brigitte stuns Junkrat on Volskaya
Blizzard Entertainment
Barriers have held an uncomfortably powerful role in Overwatch for a long time.

As discussed in an interview with the Loadout, Kaplan is both aware of the professional scene’s interests and the casual base’s tendencies. Coupling those factors, he believes the game is at its best when there is some blend of high skill caps and diverse team compositions.

“The most ideal, healthiest state of the game is when the meta is somewhat fluid, when the meta is more map dependent or team match up dependent than it is static. We’ve all seen those moments when the meta has been completely static and all six players will just play the same six heroes every time. I think that’s fun from a mastery standpoint, but I think it’s a lot more exciting for viewers when creativity and curiosity come into play,” he said.

When Kaplan refers to a “static” meta, the simplest example is 2019’s GOATS, where three healers (Brigitte, Lucio, and Moira) were coupled with three tanks (D.Va, Reinhardt, and Zarya) and would barrel into opponents.

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It took tremendous teamwork to be pulled off successfully against other professional teams, but many fans considered it more tedious than entertaining after months of gameplay.

In its current state, Overwatch is not completely balanced, but there is a degree of variety to it. That diversity seen in the Overwatch League spans downward into the casual ranks. Kaplan indicates that this is in line with his department’s hopes.

“I think most of our players would say in the ideal meta, all our heroes would be viable in some way competitively. I think as a competitive goal from a game designing and game balancing perspective that is extremely challenging, but it’s obviously what we strive to achieve.”

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While he assures that Overwatch would be completely balanced in an ideal world, in the meantime, his team would at least like to push toward a game that varies to some extent based on coaching, player preference, and map.

It remains to be seen if current and upcoming patches can accomplish that, but Kaplan’s emphasis on “fluidity” is a welcome driving force.

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