Developer Interview with Eric Dodds and Ben Brode - Adventures, Game Design, Rewards

Developer Interview with Ben Brode and Eric Dodds

This afternoon we had the pleasure of discussing Hearthstone with Lead Designer, Eric Dodds, and Senior Game Designer, Ben Brode. We went to battle with some questions of our own, but we also covered questions fielded by the community here. Sadly, there are no current plans for a Kobold themed expansion. A shorter version of the interview will be available later this evening.

 

Rewards

Hamilton Chu, Hearthstone's Executive Producer, recently had an interview in China where he stated there were going to be new heroes available with real money. Are there any plans to make heroes available with both gold and real money?
Ben: We're right at the start of talking about that type of stuff, kinda right at the beginnings, so we don't have any specifics to announce right now.

How do you feel about the pace at which you reward players? Are there any plans to boost the rewards per day to give players more incentive to play outside of daily quests?
Ben: So, the pace at which we reward things is different based on which kind of player you are. If you're the kind of player who plays a couple of games each day, the pace is actually really great. You get the daily quests, and the gold for winning games. You get a pack every other day or so. If you're a player who plays all day, you might get less gold per hour played, but we look at it as rewarding people to come play Hearthstone each day, and if you want super hardcore rewards, you can get those through the Arena.
Eric: And really in a lot of ways, we view the biggest reward of playing Hearthstone as playing Hearthstone. It's a fun game to play and certainly the gold is a great way to earn packs and that sort of thing, but just playing the game is pretty fun.

So what about the scenario where you win your 40 gold daily quest, and win 30 games to hit your daily wins gold cap. You now don't have enough gold to enter the arena, and you need to wait until the next day. Are you guys thinking about changing that up to maybe make it so you can earn 110 gold from daily wins, or 50 gold from the daily quest?
Ben: I'll tell you, the 100 gold limit wasn't intended as a thing that most players ever hit, we only put it in as kind of a measure to combat some things that some players were doing to cheese the system. We picked a number by looking at how much gold people were earning, and that limit should really effect very few players. It isn't a kind of thing that we put in to prevent you from playing an arena each day, and 100 is just an easy number to remember.
Eric: We don't really have any plans on changing the gold rewards right now. Players are getting cards at a pretty good pace, and if you want to go into arena, you've likely got some gold from your last run that you can put towards the gold you earned from your daily quest and your gold for wins.
Ben: Plus, if you're doing your thirty wins and doing an arena run, that's a lot of hours!

Back in World of Warcraft Patch 5.3, a new mount and achievement was datamined for the Hearthsteed, and back during the alpha, we had datamined that the mount was to be a reward from a quest. Do you guys have any information on the Hearthsteed, or are we going to have to wait?
Ben: We don't have any information right now on the Hearthsteed, but stay tuned because we might have so information soon.
Ugh. The dreaded Blizzard soon!
Eric: But, real soon! Not Blizzard Soon.
So, March, but like actually May. Sounds good!
Laughter

Achievements! People have been wanting these for a long time, and they're kind of already in the game, but there's no interface for them yet. Are you going to be calling them achievements in the game or are you going to be sticking with quests?
Ben: Once upon a time, our version of achievements would be quests, and the goal was to give you a reward for every quest you complete. There's been a lot of requests for the traditional sense of achievements where they award points, and we're still looking at how that interacts with the game and if it's the right thing for Hearthstone. We don't have anything to announce regarding achievements right now though.

Game Design

You guys said at Blizzcon that there was a slight advantage in going first over second. Is this still holding true, and are there any matchups which vastly differ from the median?
Eric: It's still true. Actually, I think for every class now there's a small advantage to going first at every level.
Ben: It's about three percent better to go first over second. It's only a tiny bit better to go first at the lower levels of play.
Eric: And that being said, are there some decks which are built around going second, and might have a small advantage for going second? Yeah, that's certainly the case, but the advantage for going second in those decks I would imagine is less than one percent.

You've stated in the past that you're happy with the current set of mechanics and there's lots of room for new fun stuff without adding new ones. Are there any mechanics you are thinking of adding to the game or have you considered a Spell Taunt mechanic?
Ben: There's a lot of stuff that we can do with the current mechanics that we have, and beyond that, we can expand this game to crazy different places. We can make new keywords, new card effects, we could add new components to the game. That's one of the best things about this type of game. I don't want to tell you about any specific mechanics we might be thinking about adding for expansions and adventures, but there's definitely lot's of stuff we can do.

What about implementing a cap on the amount of armor a hero can have?
Ben: We don't have any plans to do that right now.
Eric: We're going to continue to pay attention to the meta game, and from week to week and day to day, there's always different heroes on top so if something changes with the meta and it becomes a problem, it's something we can talk about. Right now though, the meta just keeps bouncing around all over the place [so there aren't any major issues].

Some cards have races, like Dragons, but there's no interactivity with these races like what the Murlocs have. Is there any plans to add some interactivity or was this done just for flair?
Eric: So the Dragons was really done for flavor. To give you some insight into development, a couple of years ago, we were talking about adding this guy who would interact with the Dragons, but he never made the cut. Really we just kept it because the Dragons are such iconic and cool Warcraft characters that we felt needed to be labelled as dragons. We're likely to do something with that in the future, we just don't know exactly when.
Ben: One of the cool things about this game is we can go back and add those tags to different creatures. Say we wanted to create a Kobold expansion in the future and wanted to label Kobold Geomancer as a Kobold and he would interact with the Kobolds in some way, so that's kind of cool.
Eric: Just to be clear, Ben, I don't think we're going to be making a Kobold expansion.
Ben: We're going to make an expansion about the whole level one experience! (Sarcasm)

Sticking on the theme of card races, are you guys happy with the current place that Pirates are at? They don't really have the same level of cohesion as the Murlocs have.
Eric: I think we're likely to put more stuff in for all the races in the feature, but on the other hand, we feel like they don't have to play the same way. Murlocs feel that they should all hang out together and be a swarm, whereas when you think of Pirates, you don't really think of them as a cohesive bunch. So if I want to play with a Pirate deck, I might play with a couple of them together, but they're not as quite as tight a unit. So when we look at these different race groups, we feel that they don't need to have the same vibe to them.
Ben: Right!

Are there any plans to visit Anduin Wrynn's Shadow Form voiceovers? The light shall burn you is't very fitting.
Ben: We don't have any plans, but I think that's a great idea and we can definitely look into it.

Players are sometimes frustrated they can't have more than nine decks. Are there plans to give players more than nine deck slots?
Eric: So when we first started developing the game, we wanted to make this a really physical game. It lead to the box, and it lead to things feeling very physical, but it also lead to some of our UIs being built in specific ways that feel physical. So for example, right now, we have the nine decks setup in a very physical way, and it's certainly possible for us to change it in the future, and we've certainly talked about it some, but there's definitely challenges there as well. We still want it to feel physical and make decks feel like big solid pieces of the UI.
Ben: One very important thing for why we set that deck limit in the first place is because when we were first developing, we wanted to create a collection manager which players would not be scared off by. Deck building is one of the more daunting parts about playing a card game, so we tried really hard to kind of remove complexity and streamline the deck experience and give you tools for that. One of the things that got out of hand quickly is that players would build a lot of decks, and they'd forget which ones were which. We put the nine deck limit it to keep it management and understandable. We could certainly add more [slots] in the future, but that was the reasoning behind why we started with the nine deck limit now.
Eric: Yeah, but certainly imagine if you had 50 decks, and you were looking for that one deck, it can be quite difficult. To be frank, there's also something fun about going, hey I need a deck slot, and I haven't played this one in a while, so let's rip it apart and try something new. There's certainly other reasons, but there's also something fun about it as well.

Adventure Mode

Are there going to be limits to how much you can play through an adventure, or are we going to be able to play through it over and over again?
Ben: We are still working on the structure for adventures, so I don't know how it's going to end up.

Are there any unannounced rewards for adventures outside of the cards?
Eric: I think the big reward that you can expect is the cards. That's going to be the most important thing for players, it's going to change the environment, the arena, and that sort of thing. You also get to play the adventure. Not all these things are thought of what rewards the player gets out of it, but to make sure they're also super fun to play.
Ben: And these cards that we're adding, twenty to thirty of them, are super fun to play with.

Are there going to be any class specific cards?
Eric: Yeah I think we'll be seeing some class cards.
Ben: Scoop! Class Cards!

Are adventures going to be 100% against AI or will they also feature a human component.
Ben: The adventures themselves will be only against the AI. The human component comes out though when you're playing in Play mode and the Arena.

Are there plans in place for co-op adventures?
Ben: Not right now.

How are you going to make sure the cards from adventure mode are balanced, and if needed, when will we see balance patches to take care of any issues?
Eric: If we do things the way we'd like to do them, everything will be perfectly balanced when they go into play, and we won't need to change any of them. Of course though, if changes need to be made, we will be sure to make those changes.
Ben: We have some really great guys working on balance, and they test not only all the new cards, but how the cards interact with the current dominate decks, and see how they'd be used in new decks that nobody has even thought of. Hopefully we can introduce cards which are really exciting and don't end up in a degenerate state.

Regional Play

It was announced we would be able to play in other regions via Battle.net Global Play. When can we expect to see this?
Eric: Yeah, our intention is to have that available for release.

So we can play in other regions, that's great, but why can't we just play globally. Latency isn't a very large factor in a card game.
Ben: It's not really a latency issue, it's how we interface into Battle.Net, so right now, it's just not possible for us, and there's no plans for it currently.

#ESPORTS

It was stated by Hamilton Chu that you guys aren't currently working on spectator mode. We've seen a number of live tournaments that could benefit greatly from a spectator client and would further prove Hearthstone as a competitive sport. What's the plan for spectator mode so we can start producing higher quality online events like Blizzcon.
Eric: A spectator mode is certainly something that is important to us, but more important than that, is getting out the game and getting these last few features for release in, and getting the iPad client out.
Ben: It's pretty high on our list.

Are there plans to implement a tournament mode into the game itself? Maybe players could signup for a PUG tournament?
Eric: So right now, we've been watching the tournament scene evolve and it's been exciting that this thing has appeared and that there is a tournament scene. I anticipate us getting involved at some point, it's just not yet. So, no plans right now to put something like that in, but we're definitely very interested in paying a whole lot of attention to what's going on in the tournament and esports level.
Ben: And even though that we aren't actively putting that into game right this second, the tournaments and things going on right this second are informing us of things that are going to be important for us to get in.

Release

So what's left to do before release?
Eric: Our plan is to have reconnect mode, so if you get disconnect in a game, you can get back into it and you don't lose.
Ben: We're also working on card backs for ranked play, and golden heroes.
Eric: And, people might also be excited to have us working on the minion swapping bug!

Community Developers

There's some people out there in the community who are creating some awesome applications surrounding Hearthstone, and there's a lot of manual data input. Are there any plans for a community platform API like the one World of Warcraft has?
Ben: We don't have any plans for that right now, but the fact that you're asking about it, is actually useful. We're going to listen for those types of requests and see if it's something that we can prioritize.
Eric: And one of the cool things for us, is that once we've released, we can start paying attention to all these feature requests that everyone is talking about and figure out which of them are the first priority to get them into the game.

 

Comments

  • +1
    #24 hablix (Beta Patch 4482)

    Those expressing disappointment seem to me to have unreasonable expectations of what is, after all, a Blizzard game. New features are going to be a long time coming, and they're not going to talk about them until they're ready. No news. Also, to those making comparisons to Diablo III... well Diablo III basically sucked, whereas Hearthstone is actually pretty good, even as it stands today.

  • +1
    #22 Walochin (Beta Patch 4482)

    It´s sad to see a game with such a tremendous potential sink down with that dev attitude and practicaly zero flexibility and community feedback. When they realise people are leaving, it will be too late (like D3). Look at League of Legends and learn. Daily updates, honest and respectful communication with the community.

  • +1
    #23 Jurassicpark2539 (Beta Patch 4482)

    Thumbs UP to you sir i hope they realize it soon. I am very sad for D3 it had so much potential but they dont listen to the community.

  • +1
    #21 Jurassicpark2539 (Beta Patch 4482)

    The cap of 100 gold per day is a big issue. Some players dont like randomness and dont play arena at all. Give these players chances, or add a mechanic to cap exponentially the gold you win after the 100 cap. Just a suggestion after you win 100 gold in ranked you need 4 Victories for 10 gold than 5 than 6 than 7 than 8.

  • +1
    #20 Cyborg71 (Beta Patch 4482)

    so: "the 100 gold limit wasn't intended as a thing that most players ever hit, we only put it in as kind of a measure to combat some things that some players were doing to cheese the system. We picked a number by looking at how much gold people were earning, and that limit should really effect very few players. It isn't a kind of thing that we put in to prevent you from playing an arena each day, and 100 is just an easy number to remember."

    then raise it to 110g,120g or 150g or whatever. If you didnt put it in to prevent players from playing arena each day, in other words to try and make players buy a ticket more often, then there is no reason why it should be 100 gold and not 150 gold.

  • +1
    #17 Setcamper (Beta Patch 4482)

    They did the exact same thing with Diablo 3. "We're looking into it" was their mantra for 2 freakin' years. Look back and the only thing they really changed about the core game was the paragon system, increased Legendary drops (making them not total crap doesn't count), Monster Power, and those uber bosses- and most of those changes are based a numerical adjustment to basic mechanics.

    "I got an idea, how about we charge everyone for the changes we promised/should have delivered in release in the form of an EXPANSION! Everyone loves expansions."

    My only take away from this interview is they're going to fall back on the "You should be playing the game because it's fun, not because we work hard to evolve it in a timely manner." MTG would have already introduced a new playset.

     

  • +1
    #18 Dev (Beta Patch 4482)
    Quote from Setcamper »

    They did the exact same thing with Diablo 3. "We're looking into it" was their mantra for 2 freakin' years. Look back and the only thing they really changed about the core game was the paragon system, increased Legendary drops (making them not total crap doesn't count), Monster Power, and those uber bosses- and most of those changes are based a numerical adjustment to basic mechanics.

    "I got an idea, how about we charge everyone for the changes we promised/should have delivered in release in the form of an EXPANSION! Everyone loves expansions."

    My only take away from this interview is they're going to fall back on the "You should be playing the game because it's fun, not because we work hard to evolve it in a timely manner." MTG would have already introduced a new playset.

     

    And think how's gone with Diablo :)
    People bored to hell, leave the game till expansion.
    In a free2play game, you must attract people, but most of it, you must do the most important thing: let the people stay.
    If i log everyday, every single day in Hearthstone, and the ONLY thing that i can do is playing ranked (without reward), unranked (without a point) or arena...sooner or later, this will take to the same point of Diablo.
    But honestly, im not the one who care about this stuff. Blizzard must care about his own product.
    So the point is quite simple: if they keep the interest high for this game, people will stay and use money. If not, people leave. Simple as that.

  • +1
    #19 Darmok (Beta Patch 4482)
    Quote from Dev »
    Quote from Setcamper »

    They did the exact same thing with Diablo 3. "We're looking into it" was their mantra for 2 freakin' years. Look back and the only thing they really changed about the core game was the paragon system, increased Legendary drops (making them not total crap doesn't count), Monster Power, and those uber bosses- and most of those changes are based a numerical adjustment to basic mechanics.

    "I got an idea, how about we charge everyone for the changes we promised/should have delivered in release in the form of an EXPANSION! Everyone loves expansions."

    My only take away from this interview is they're going to fall back on the "You should be playing the game because it's fun, not because we work hard to evolve it in a timely manner." MTG would have already introduced a new playset.

     

    And think how's gone with Diablo :)
    People bored to hell, leave the game till expansion.
    In a free2play game, you must attract people, but most of it, you must do the most important thing: let the people stay.
    If i log everyday, every single day in Hearthstone, and the ONLY thing that i can do is playing ranked (without reward), unranked (without a point) or arena...sooner or later, this will take to the same point of Diablo.
    But honestly, im not the one who care about this stuff. Blizzard must care about his own product.
    So the point is quite simple: if they keep the interest high for this game, people will stay and use money. If not, people leave. Simple as that.

    The thing is... I do care about this and I think many people do aswell. Ever since I heard about a game that would combine MTG and the Warcraft franchise, I thought this would be the best thing ever. And up until now I do think Blizzard has delivered. Would be a shame to see this game fail, it has so much potential. 

  • +1
    #16 brushmyhair (Beta Patch 4482)

    Arrogance overload

  • +1
    #15 Darmok (Beta Patch 4482)

    I'm really trying to get excited about this interview, but somehow I can't. The short answers someone put earlier in this thread are quite accurate, if you ask me... There won't be any new content until release and, as of right now, they're not working on any of the major requests from the community (a part from a few bug fixes). Now, if release is in two months or something, I don't think this will be much of a problem. But if they keep the game in its current state for much longer than that, I don't think "adventure mode is coming and we're working on the swapping bug" will be enough to keep people playing. The "it's still a beta" excuse doesn't really work, ever since they decided to make the game available to everyone and start taking money. Hearthstone is much more than just a beta at the moment. So, to me, the big question wasn't even touched on: What is the release date? Knowing Blizzard, I don't feel very optimistic about that. 

  • +1
    #13 Walochin (Beta Patch 4482)

    I´m so disappointed with this interview. Not with the questions though, but the answers. They are working!? on bugs a reconnect issue known for such a long time? Are we supposed to be happy? Beta should be hotfixed or patched on a daily/weekly basis, how can they make sure it would be all ok after release? They are really thinking that you need no more rewards because just playing that game is rewarding enough LOL. Such arrogance.

     

    And THIS

    Quote from LinkDK »

    Short answers to simple questions.

    Do you think rewards are too low? No.

    Will there be achievements? No.

    Care to share any new mechanics we can expect in the future? No.

    Any plans to add new interactivity for minion races i.e. dragons? No.

    Can we have more than 9 decks? No.

    Are there other rewards for adventure modes? No.

    Is there going to be any cooperative play (2 player/ raids)? No.

    Can we play cross-region? No.

    Are you going to help hearthstone develop as an e-sport anytime soon such as implementing spectator mode / tournaments etc? No.

    Can we get an API so modders can implement basic features you haven't such as stats tracking / etc? No.

     

     

    Last edited by Walochin on 2/5/2014 5:42:46 AM
  • +1
    #12 Nintendude (Beta Patch 4482)

    Hi, I just wanted to thank whomever selected the questions for picking mine to lead off the rewards section. I have always wondered what they thought about the pace. :)

  • +1
    #10 faantastic (Beta Patch 4482)

    Hopefully a few fun gimmicky cards that can be used in Ranked etc.

  • +1
    #9 Dev (Beta Patch 4482)

    What bother me a lot is the "Blizzard time" in this kind of stuff.1st priority: release the game (at least 6 months, listen to me!). Then, probably at the same time (or with some delay) Ipad release.
    They stated in some other interview, if i remember correctly, that adventures will be released after the Ipad version of the game (so...math isnt hard in this situation...).
    Then, new expansion, spectator mode, Interface for tournaments...but we're at least one year far away from all this.
    Meanwhile...for one year, repeat with me, one year, we will have the same stuff as now.
    Feel kinda....weird? Only to me?

  • +1
    #7 LinkDK (Beta Patch 4482)

    Short answers to simple questions.

    Do you think rewards are too low? No.

    Will there be achievements? No.

    Care to share any new mechanics we can expect in the future? No.

    Any plans to add new interactivity for minion races i.e. dragons? No.

    Can we have more than 9 decks? No.

    Are there other rewards for adventure modes? No.

    Is there going to be any cooperative play (2 player/ raids)? No.

    Can we play cross-region? No.

    Are you going to help hearthstone develop as an e-sport anytime soon such as implementing spectator mode / tournaments etc? No.

    Can we get an API so modders can implement basic features you haven't such as stats tracking / etc? No.

     

     

  • +1
    #8 xskarma (Beta Patch 4482)

    I think you deliberately miss the point. They are mostly saying "Not right now" but clearly indicating a why, or at least acknowledging that they understand it's a community question/concern.

    They are still trying to get the game ready for release, they can't work much on things that aren't directly related to that. And that includes the jokingly mentioned bug and reconnect feature, which are vastly more important right now then having an API or cross region play capability.

    People should try to keep in mind the game is in beta still, and for a reason. Time enough to complain about lack of features when the game is released and they have time to start adding more stuff. Even then though, it's a small team. They won't be able to do everything we want from them, in the short amount of time some people want them to do it in.

  • +1
    #11 LinkDK (Beta Patch 4482)

    I think we all get that they are a small team but at some point they are going to have to deal with the weight of expectation created by the success of their game. People are going to want more features, more cards, more depth & mechanics, e-sport tournaments & functions, etc etc. There's only so long you can use a crutch like 'We don't have enough resources' when your probably drawing more revenue than Diablo. And it's hardly a beta - its open for anyone to play - it's monetized, collections / gains are all final, there are no more wipes, it's polished to within an inch of it's life - the only difference between this and live will be a few less bugs.

  • +1
    #4 JCourtney (Beta Patch 4482)

    I was under the impression that we'd be getting co-op adventures or raid like adventures at some point. 

  • +1
    #5 brg9000 (Beta Patch 4482)

    These guys have a way of openly discussing ideas like that in interviews, and then the community tends to run with them as promises of future features. I'm sure it's a possibility but it sounds like not any time soon that those would happen.

    Last edited by brg9000 on 2/4/2014 7:42:45 PM
  • +1
    #3 TheChiv (Beta Patch 4482)

     

    I dont know I really feel let down by their responses...

    Last edited by TheChiv on 2/4/2014 7:50:26 PM
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