Exclusive Hearthstone Dev Interview with Yong Woo - Deck Slots, Class Portraits, Player Catch-Up, Tournament System

Update 7:27 PM EST: Made a slight update to our statement on Ben Brode pushing deck slots. It was meant to be more about community-developer communications and not that he was pushing it internally. Sorry!

Exclusive Hearthstone Developer Interview with Yong Woo

We got a chance to sit down with Hearthstone's Senior Producer, Yong Woo, at BlizzCon today to get your questions answered. We've recapped what we learned from the interview below.

If you use Twitter, go ahead and give Yong a follow!

Quote from Yong Woo

About Yong Woo

  • He is the Senior Producer on Hearthstone.
  • Joined the team 3 years ago and was team member #12.
  • Makes sure the team has everything they need to function. Do they need new hardware?
  • Talks with the engineers and designers to figure out what they need to do, and works to establish a timeline for building and shipping content.
  • Live operations! When the game servers die, someone has to help make sure we have the right people involved.
  • More recently, as the team grew, Yong has others to help him manage some of these things. Running a 45 man team by yourself is too much.
  • Now Yong is more into features and new content updates for the game. Making sure the team understands what is needed to get everything out the door.
  • Does not have a pool.
  • Yong Woo has a sister and shes on the Hearthstone team. Previously came from the WoW Team.

Deckslots

  • They know people are tired about hearing about how new deck slots have been in progress for so long.
  • Having a long list of deck slots isn't the right way to handle it, and they especially think that's the case for newer players.
  • If all they cared about was getting us deck slots right away, there's definitely a way they could have gotten it done already.
  • They don't think that we're dumb, they know we can handle more deck slots.
  • Ben Brode has actively been communicating to the community that they're working on the design.
  • They're hoping once deck slots are released, we'll all see why it took the extra time to get it out.
  • Yong feels it would be wrong for them to make more deck slots a micro-transactionThis is a personal comment.

Class Portraits

  • Great way for more diversity in the game, let's people connect with different heroes they really like.
  • They're currently trying to figure out the best way to move forward. What's the best way to distribute them?
  • We will definitely have more Hero portraits added to the game.
  • He will not be commenting on the leaked evidence that they've been working on heroes. (Laughter)

Player Catch-Up Mechanisms

  • It's obvious to them if they keep doing what they're doing for 20 years, there's going to be too many cards. Something will have to change, it isn't sustainable.
  • They should be looking at new players and how they can accelerate their collections.
  • Tavern Brawls are one way that they can help newer players grow their collection. There's a reason its a classic pack.
  • The Classic Pack is of high value for newer players.
  • The "new" Watch and Learn quest for spectating helps bring more of these Classic Packs into the hands of new players.
  • They're going to continue adding more quests.

Tournament System

  • They're having a problem trying to come up with specialized names for what it could be.
  • What exactly would a tournament mode in the game be? Lobbies? Sitting around for 10 minutes? 8 players?
  • Would they emulate what they do with the World Championship? Do you bring 3 decks to the table in conquest format?
  • Waiting around, is it cool to wait for others to finish their games? It can feel like it goes against Hearthstone's philosophy of having the game be played around your life, and not taking control of it. Especially with mobile and being on the go.
  • They know players want a more hardcore system to compete against each other in a short time-frame rather than the ladder legend grind.
  • They definitely aren't ignoring it, they just want to figure out the best way of doing it.
  • They can learn from other things happening at Blizzard, like what they're doing with StarCraft II.

Adventures and Expansions

  • Yong thought it would have been interesting to announced a content update and then just have it immediately available. Hearthstone is about delightful surprise, and that is a pretty good way of going about it.
  • Things could get boring if every release announcement was the same.
  • Another pre-purchase is not off the table. They really wanted to just surprise us this time.
  • They want to keep variability (RNG) in the game. It's very important to keep all your games exciting and not feeling the same.
  • Discover helps with variability, but gives you a choice between cards, which can each help different depending on your situation. Strategic depth.
  • Some members on the team are not only working on the next piece of Hearthstone content, but even the one after that. They need to continue to get ahead.

Tavern Brawls

  • They've been talking about co-op for a while and want to take it slow. Crawl, walk, run!
  • We'll see more co-op brawls in the future.

Auto-Squelch

  • There's pros and cons to such a feature.
  • Yes, emotes can emotionally touch you in a negative way, it is a way to connect to the enemy player.
  • Emotes are safe.. unlike enabling chat.
  • Feedback is appreciated on it, but they aren't careless.

Patch Notes

  • Writing good quality patch notes is very time consuming, especially when you're patching the game so often.
  • There's value in detailed patch notes like the ones World of Warcraft produces, it just hasn't been prioritized.
  • Your feedback about patch notes has been valued, and Yong doesn't mind hearing about it.

Hearthstone API

  • Cool idea. The post on the Battle.net forums was a bit optimistic.
  • They need to figure out exactly what kind of data they would feature.

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