Dean "Iksar" Ayala popped in this evening for a Hearthstone Q&A session on Twitter. 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.
- "This won't be a popular thought, but our stance is that there are more people positively impacted by getting some ideas of what they should play than there are people negatively impacted by 'hype-loss'".
- "There is a thought that the meta is figured out faster because this event exists, but there isn't any evidence of that being true to any meaningful degree."
- The team feels that the number of cards that come out as a result of the mini-sets now is in the right spot.
- There are considerations to move Hearthstone to 4 expansions per year and no longer do mini-sets.
- Reward structures would need to be redone to support shorter expansions.
- There is "some very cool stuff" coming in Expansion 2 & 3 this year with regards to new card types.
Voyage to the Sunken City
- The Colossal mechanic is considered a new type of card.
- The team wants to have random cosmetics available as an option across all game modes.
- There are no plans to make Battlegrounds cosmetics available for gold.
- There is a new type of Hero Skin in development that will get a different treatment to its Hero Power.
- The current version of Hero Skins will continue to exist.
- The more cool a cosmetic is, the longer it takes to create which means there is less of them they can produce.
- Recently, the team has been brainstorming limited-time events that would bring back old favourites in Standard.
- "Like if naxx invaded the whole game for a month, what does that mean?"
- If another class is added to Hearthstone, Dean expects it would be a part of an expansion like Demon Hunter was.
Cross-IP (Intellectual Property)
- Dean thinks incorporating other Blizzard IP so far (Diablo) was "just okay".
- The team went light with the Diablo content, Dean thinks they'd go harder on the overall impact next time to see how it does.
- Bringing in non-Blizzard IP would cost the team a lot of money, which means they'd likely have to do an expansion theme around it.
- Dean isn't sure if the team is really interested in doing a whole expansion across IPs.
- Mass pack opening is on the to do list.
Dean Ayala's Q&A #40 Transcript
Quote From Dean Ayala
Hearthstone AMA #40 4:30PM - 5:30PM PST Ask me a question about Hearthstone! Or Design! (or anime…or elden ring…) https://t.co/KPnm57zkzz (Source)
@IksarHS Oh no! Muting “elden ring” making me almost miss a Iksar AMA! 😳🤣 https://t.co/lQ4zVGRTud
@ben_heathstone how dare you mute elden ring (Source)
@IksarHS @ben_heathstone Some of us just have no interest in gitting gud, Dean. (Source)
@hsdecktech @ben_heathstone not everyone can be a gud gamer like me, an elden ring expert and professional glintstone pebble caster (Source)
@IksarHS What were the reasons behind adding the BGs party disbanded notification (in it's current form)?Interrupting game play by stealing focus and requiring interaction for an unimportant notification like that seems unhearthstoney to me.
@D0nkeyHS @JohnEvMcIntyre Not familiar, tagging John as a reminder so we can discuss next week if it's something we should suppress. (Source)
@IksarHS Why do streamers only get to theory craft? Why not open it to public for a day? Just feel like a lot of people don’t like when streamers get to do it because the hype goes away
@onescoop this won't be a popular thought, but our stance is that there are more people positively impacted by getting some ideas of what they should play than there are people negatively impacted by 'hype-loss' (Source)
@onescoop There is a thought that the meta is figured out faster because this event exists, but there isn't any evidence of that being true to any meaningful degree. (Source)
@IksarHS Without being specific, is there some 'big' things coming Phase 1 of Year 2022 that we don't yet know about ?
@Arkentass We have an expansion coming out, nothing else I would put in the ‘very big things’ category in Q1 (Source)
@IksarHS Phase 1 was more like Early April to Early August. Thanks for the answer.
@Arkentass Oh PHASE 1. Sorry my business hat interpreted your question to Q1. That is too far out to give spoilers sorry 😢 (Source)
@IksarHS 1st AMA I ever made on time to! If we get a new hero, (monk per say) would we be introducing them with their own expansion like the demon hunter? Also when can we expect random portraits? I, like a lot of other loyal players, have way too many
@Sethetron Random options on cosmetics is something we want across every mode and every cosmetic, just not done yet. (Source)
@Sethetron And yes if we did another class it would very likely be as part of an expansion like DH was. (Source)
@IksarHS Do you feel that the 6 set + 6 mini set per rotation is still the sweet spot? Could you envision a period where a set roasted early / layer? Or maybe a set is considerably larger or smaller?
@RTwoCTwo We have been medium on miniset. Total number of cards feels right, been talking about doing 4 expansions per year and no minisets. We’d have to also adjust our reward structure if expansions just lasted a shorter amount of time. (Source)
@IksarHS Which card in HS's history did you think was going to be bustado-bonkers before release but then wasn't?
@MyntyPhresh Honestly in every set I ever worked on if I thought a card was going to be too busted we would change it 😂 Maybe the Druid DK, I thought we should nerf it but I was outnumbered. (Source)
@IksarHS Elden Ring inspired PVE mode when?
@MaxwellPerlman I try to avoid being the design lead that plays a game over the weekend and changes our direction as a result… But maybe….. (Source)
@IksarHS How do you and/or the team feel the other-blizzard-IP-crossover content went?
@ChaosOS_59 Haven’t talked to the team about that retrospectively, a good reminder. I personally think just ok. We were so light on it that it’s hard to tell if we should do it again. I am positive enough on it that next time I think we should go harder on the impact. (Source)
@IksarHS What has been the toughest Elden Ring boss for you so far?
@jorr1313 Last boss, though I still have not faced malenia. (Source)
@IksarHS For the amount of times you've "Beaten" the game, how much new stuff are you still finding in Elden Ring? Like, items or mini dungeons you missed the first time through, etc.
@AJz77x Almost none, but mostly because my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th playthrough had very little exploration. My 3rd playthrough only took 4 hours. (Source)
@IksarHS Are there any plans to make any of the BGs cosmetics obtainable with gold? It’s the only mode I play anymore and it feels bad to have nothing to spend gold on anymore.
@KyoyaSSBU No plans for that, unlikely to ever happen. Sorry! (Source)
@IksarHS Are colossal minions the new card type that was teased, or is something even bigger coming, pun intended
@theocannamela It’s the only new type of card in this expansion, we have some very cool stuff coming in the 2nd and 3rd expansions of the year tho (Source)
@IksarHS Has playing Elden Ring changed anything about the way you view game design?
@NautThatMeta Yes-ish. All great games (and some bad ones) modify how I view game design. I don’t think there was some great realization, though. The ‘ubisoft vs from’ discussion about how hand-holdy you should be with players is not a new discussion. (Source)
@IksarHS Designer question. During iteration phases of breaking mechanics into playables from proto to digestible stackable mechanics, do you find balancing these with a card game that’s digital more analog feeling (pen/paper board design) or does it follow more towards digital?
@IksarHS Kind of deeper clarification: testing a physical requires a full play through to figure out if it works, digital being we can run test suites, iterations and have software check it.
@MayplesVR Digital? We still obviously do testing in a wide variety of ways but as a digital product we take advantage of things like automation to a degree that wouldn’t be possible in something like paper magic. (Source)
@MayplesVR But if the question is purely about busted card combos and game balance there is basically zero automation that helps us catch that. It’s all human testing the same way a player would. (Source)
@IksarHS I kind botched my wording. I meant to ask do you find balancing a traditionally physical based design in the digital world harder compared to that of a board game. (Trying to not make it HS agnostic but about creating that engagement of a physical card game in digital)
@MayplesVR Complexity of game is the variable that probably matters the most. I’d say digital easier still do to the fact that digital play testing is usually much faster and easier. (Source)
@IksarHS Which card you think has the cutest art from the Sunken City expansion?
@slizzle466 The colorful fishy tokens (Source)
@IksarHS Have you watched monster? If so, what do ya think of it? https://t.co/niJNsKImZk
@eduardomendezr2 I feel almost embarrassed by this because it’s such a classic but…. I got 20-30 episodes in and just stopped. Got bored. (Source)
@IksarHS Did you watch the new Halo Tv series? If so, did you like it? I think it’s different and I’m hopeful for the future of the show!
@lamri247 I didn’t but now I’m excited to! I forgot it came out (Source)
@IksarHS I know all the int didn’t help with the maidenless thing, but if you want I can play the role of maiden
@J_Alexander_HS My last maiden burned herself to death so I’m not sure if I’d offer myself up if I was you (Source)
@IksarHS Looking at MTGs recent secret lair sets, what needs to happen for these sort of events to come to HS? For most live service games cross promotions are super prevalent, is it more a question of when they happen rather than if? Or finding the right IP?
@UchihaMiek Cross promotion costs a lot of money, usually X million minimum guarantee + %ofrevenue. Hard to sell a product that makes sense for us unless it’s an expansion and I’m not sure the team is excited by the idea of doing a non-Warcraft IP main expansion. (Source)
@UchihaMiek We’ve looked into it and didn’t shut the door, so never say never…. (Source)
@IksarHS Are character nerfs on the table for mercenaries? I understand it takes longer to level a character so they won’t be frequent but 1 or 2 characters rn seem to be warping the game around them hard (val and lok) and it worries me for the future. Also who’s your fav merc?
@ZombiesGoNomNom I am a baron geddon fan… he’s just such a loyal guy and rag doesn’t treat him right 😤 (Source)
@ZombiesGoNomNom And yes, on the table. We’d rather solve through meta change but would step in with balance change if necessary. (Source)
@IksarHS Has the team reconsidered the idea of having alternate hero power art for hero portraits. I recall it being a no in the past, but I’m wondering/hoping maybe it’s been reconsidered. I’ve already thought it’d be a cool addition to help tie hero skin’s hero power to their character.
@IksarHS Also had this idea of having different Silver Hand Recruit art. Maybe 3 different recruits, and different Paladin heroes could add a special themed silver hand recruit art. For example maybe Arthas could have a recruit that isn’t so happy with his current assignment…
@BionicDoor @IksarHS I would also like this to be reconsidered. Maybe it’s an animation that changes the base hero power to one of the same affect that has better theming. like Azshara right now is a “Firebolt” that’s a watery animation, we’re getting Shadow Xyrella with a glowy yellow HP, etc…
@jakewait98 @BionicDoor Just a question of bandwidth we have to create new things. We have higher-complexity, higher-coolness type of hero skin in development that will have different hero power treatment but will likely preserve the simpler hero skins with limited new stuff. (Source)
@jakewait98 @BionicDoor The more features we add to cosmetics the cooler they get (usually) but also the slower we can make them and the less of them we make. We like having a solution of sometimes we make cosmetics with a wide feature set and sometimes we don’t and price lower. (Source)
@IksarHS First time i made it to one of these in time :D, First of all. Thanks for hosting these. Came back to HS around a year ago and since Fireside gatherings cant be hosted atm, is there any chance you could add the Nemsy Hero portrait for ingame gold? or to the shop again Cheers!
@gn_karl Will look into it, generally if a hero skin is obtainable through a particular method we make it unavailable other places. If Nemsy is a long-term unavailable skin due to other problems we should just make it available. (Source)
@IksarHS i think the latest balance updates were not as impactful as before, is that intended or is it something in particular with this meta? What I mean by impactful is that, questlock, for example, got multiple nerfs and stayed playable.
@IksarHS I could be wrong tho, but idk. happened with mozaki mage too " incanter's flow cost 4 now, mozaki mage is de- oh wait".
@Shmilia We try and nerf with a lighter touch these days so that people that truly love the decks still feel like they can queue up. Sometimes we miss and are too light, but the goal is a good one if executed correctly. The opposite is something like Warsong Commander. (Source)
@Shmilia Like most things, just about the execution. We never intend to nerf things multiple times, but mistakes have and will always happen. (Source)
@IksarHS Have you guys ever thought about doing a Hearthstones Greatest Hits year? Like some of the most loved cards of all time in Standard as a core set and expansions revisiting worlds we loved etc, maybe for Hearthstone’s 10th anniversary? Thoughts 💭
@Impact_onfire I like it. Lately we’ve been brainstorming having events that bring back some old favorites for a limited time in standard. Like if naxx invaded the whole game for a month, what does that mean? But yeah, core set hopefully will hit on some of that. (Source)
@IksarHS I’m getting married in 13 hours, any top tips?!
@LeBruce You will remember this time the rest of your life, so try and soak it in and create some good memories. It’ll be over in a flash, so enjoy it :) (Source)
@IksarHS Have you completed the mystery achievement in Alterac Valley yet?
@ZeddyHS No… you crushed my desire to hunt for achievements thanks a lot (Source)
@IksarHS should i try attacking ahead
@RidiculousHat You don’t have the right (Source)
@IksarHS Have you considered implementing a 10pack simultaneous opening? I am having a very difficult time with new expansions taking up more than 2hours of my time every time they are implemented I believe that the time taken to open packs is also contributing to a decrease in purchasing
@kirayamatoXV Mass pack opening on our todo list but still a ways out (Source)
@IksarHS Howdy Dean! Can you please provide some insight as to why the core set hasn’t been announced yet? Last year it was announced the day after FiTB was shown. Not the biggest deal to wait but it definitely would add to the excitement of card reveals. Thanks for your time 😃
@IksarHS Dang no tease this time I can’t complain I’ve been lucky with getting responses haha
@lil_robitussin1 I like spacing them out, personally. Gives each its own moment for discussion rather than blurring the message. Upsides to both, though. More context can be nice as you mentioned. (Source)
@IksarHS Question about the puzzle, will there be any puzzle in future and any reversable plan about it? Tbh most of Chinese player think the puzzle this time is too difficult and don't like it. Well I guess I should ask @Celestalon about this one…
@CN_Soda @Celestalon @Celestalon is puzzle master (Source)
@IksarHS @CN_Soda I think having a variety of puzzles is a good thing. These ones were very high on individual solving and time investment. The next ones (if there are any), might be more difficult for the group to solve and then easy per person. (Source)
@IksarHS What’s a quality you like to foster in people you mentor?
@kilmarnok1285 Effective context switching Learning to be a great listener How to pitch your idea (Source)
So has the ??? Alterac puzzle been solved and I missed it?
What will happen to the puzzle when the new expansion drops?
It got solved a couple days ago, but it's probably the hardest one to execute as you can't just follow straight instructions and the starting point is randomized for each player for each of the 3 puzzles(8 Maze different mazes with Items, Rubix qube and Math). I'm sure a full guide will be covered here eventually.
Its been done, so Ive read in reddit at least.
You can complete it anytime you want. The only reward here is a cardback after all.
We recently had a bit of a deluge, skin-wise, so I'd personally welcome fewer, higher quality cosmetics.
The only way I would support four expansions per year is if they gave us the option to buy them as full sets, the way mini-expansions work now. I'd even be fine if the full-set option were cash-only, no gold.
Odds are a full set of an expansion will cost $50 or more. Thats $200 or more a year. Thats insane.
how is that insane?
that's much less than you have to spend now if you want to get full set for all 3 expansions and 3 mini sets(I'm talking about getting all for cash ofc)
also $50 is much less than you pay for a AAA game, and on average you will get maaany more hours of playtime out of HS than of some AAA games which tend to be 10-20h long nowadays
I was being very very conservative at $200, its more likely to be in the $300-$400 price range to buy four full sets. As for spending that in a year, nope. The last year I spend about half that, only 2 mini sets, one wasnt worth it, and 3 paid rewards tracks for a total of $90.
If you estimate one set to $50, how can 4 sets be $400? Your math is just plain wrong.
You might want to reread my comment where I said that was "very very conservative". $50 for a complete expansion is the absolute bottom cost that could possibly be charged. Its more likely to be $75-$100 to make up for lost sales of packs. Remember Blizzard is in business to make money. They would need to make up for all the mega bundles they would not sell.
They make up for it by having more paying customers, not by overcharging existing customers. Also, more sets would mean fewer cards per sets, which would mean lower prices (per set or per bundle). You clearly have absolutely no idea how much they would charge, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to dig in your heels on this weird opinion of yours.
At worst it's another option for people who like the idea. You can continue to gamble on random packs if that is what makes you happy.
I seriously doubt that a set will have fewer cards. The 3 mini sets that the 4th set would replace total 105 cards, Blizzard would likely add 30 more cards to make a full set. As for how its going to save money, thats YOUR OPINION, and counts just as much as mine. Likely less because you have nothing to base it on. What I have based my opinion on is that Blizzard is a business, and as such is out to make money. They have proven time and time again that they like making money and want to continue to do that. You have absolutely nothing to base the "saving money" idea.
Nothing would make me happier than to see cost reduction in HS. But wishing and hoping it will happen while looking back at what Blizzard has done in the past isnt realistic.
I have to choose between the Elden Ring and the new Borderlands game. My mind says Elden Ring, my PC says no, and my heart says Borderlands. It is hard.
I do not mind the idea of four expacs per year, but maybe instead of adding new expacs, it might be a better idea to do more Doom in the Tomb style events. I imagine it would be easier to balance the meta out if you could just put in historically good cards instead of trying to print a single good one for an archetype.
Was playing Wonderlands yesterday, and it's fun. Currently playing the Graveborn while I freeze skeletons with my SMG.
From what I heard from reviewers and commenters, it has all the best qualities of Borderlands 3 with better writing and additional quality of life improvements. It has a "more of the same" feel which might bum some people out, but it's what I wanted so more is fine with me.
I am going in blind, but if Borderlands 3 is the baseline quality of every future game, I will be a happy camper. I cannot wait to play it myself when it comes out on Steam.
Forget Ring and Borderlands... get the new Sim City super dooper 1992‐2022 gala package!!
Naaaah, get Borderlands.
I have the 31st off specifically for it. I am so excited to play it. Got my beer and snacks prepped a whole week ahead of time.
I definitely agree with him on the Theorycrafting streams. I don't think they've ever had a meta close to what we get even a week after release. The biggest example I can remember is Ashes, where every streamer was playing Highlander Midrange DH. Then, literally day one and no one was playing that anymore.
I don't understand how people come to the conclusion that the meta becomes solved from the theorycrafting stream alone. Hearthstone has millions of players that play matches all day, and it still takes weeks for the meta to settle. The theorycrafting stream is (I think) 20 streamers who can play for a total of (I think) 6 hours.
Not to mention, streamers are going to play "cool" decks with new mechanics, not whatever they think is going to be meta. On top of that, they are forced to run at least 10 cards from the new expansion.
Even moreso, I don't get how theorycrafting streams kill the hype of the expansion. Seeing all the new cards in action just makes me want to play them even more. I honestly can't empathise with this argument.
Also, thay need to have 10 new cards in each deck (I think). This makes many decks non-optimal.