After just over a month break, Dean has returned to the developer Q&A scene! 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.
- As usual, not everything in AMAs becomes a real thing in Hearthstone - keep that in mind!
The Next Expansion
- All the cards with the new card type have already been approved for the next expansion.
- If they were ever to change the rewards for end of season, Dean would rather give out more cards than to make them golden.
- There are no plans to implement an on-screen graveyard system.
- Dean liked the dual class pairings in Scholomance and could see them coming back again, though he also sees them being less restrictive:
- "Maybe for a set you can build decks with any two classes you want and we balance around it."
- A new Dungeon Run-style mode is something that they might potentially do in the future.
- "Hearthstone is a mostly 1v1 game now, we'd like to spend time exploring modes that expand that, still early on in exploration."
- There are plans for Dr. Boom stuff in the future, but no spoilers.
- If they make the move to four expansions per year, they'd have to make changes to the rewards track to make it feel good.
- Cutting down the size of it (to 75 levels) and increasing rewards at each tier were suggested by Dean.
- Dean could see the team doing more Arena events.
- Bringing back dual class Arena more than the once a year we see it probably won't happen.
- The team ask themselves if nerfs or buffs makes a format more fun.
- Novice Engineer and Pyroblast receiving buffs, would probably not make Wild more fun.
- There are no plans to rework golden cards.
- Blizzard has plans for new frames, alternate art, and more diamond cards.
- Additional Mercenaries features are at least 6 months away.
- Before a new feature drops, we can expect content drops like we've been seeing.
- It is possible the new feature stuff won't be out this year but early next.
- They try extremely hard to not break people's decks by removing cards from something like the Core Set between rotations.
- Players that log in and have an X over their deck isn't a good experience.
- If they were to remove a card that people built decks around, casual players might just quit instead of building a new deck.
- All of this was in response to a question asking if they'd consider removing Earthen Scales.
- Weapon and Hero Power designs can be tough due to the size of space they have available to describe an effect.
- Dean would like to see them do more stuff like Sword of Justice, but the design space is "so small" because of the text restriction.
- There are three goals with their expansion card designs. Cards should be:
- Powerful enough to be in a meta deck;
- Powerful enough to see play in special circumstances; or
- Fun enough to see play in a special deck even if it isn't powerful.
- "If a card doesn't do a fun thing and you can't imagine a scenario in which it might see play, I'd consider it a candidate to buff. Even then, we have to ask ourselves if time is better spent making bad cards a tiny bit better or making unreleased cards as good as they can be."
Dean Ayala's Q&A #44 Transcript
Quote From Dean Ayala
Hearthstone AMA #44 6:30PM - 7:30PM PST Ask me a question about Hearthstone! Or Design! (or anime…or elden ring) https://t.co/o9a2GC08qn (Source)
@IksarHS Hi Dean 👋
@NateWolfeTCG hi nate (Source)
@IksarHS Do you still play Elden Ring?
@MartianBuu no but i still like talking about it…. after @ItsMeMollyO and I did 100% achievements we put it down I still think of it as remarkable, though (Source)
@MartianBuu @ItsMeMollyO in my lifetime, I've been truly impressed by very few games Mario 64… Everquest… WoW… Hearthstone… Elden Ring not many others (Source)
@IksarHS @MartianBuu …Marvel Snap 👀😇
@ItsMeMollyO @MartianBuu such a shill (Source)
@IksarHS Which is heavier: a ton of bricks or a ton of feathers?
@MyntyPhresh equal in weight, though in theme I would say bricks a story about feathers could be silly a story about bricks is probably fairly serious (Source)
@IksarHS I know this has been asked a bunch any chance of changing the end of season reward cards to golden cards ?
@EliteLeafHater if we increased the rewards budget I'd rather give more cards than change the existing ones to golden, so probably not :( (Source)
@IksarHS Do I have the most Rogue wins in the world yet officially?
@J_Alexander_HS I don't know, probably you'd have it for sure if you posted less on twitter 😼 (Source)
@IksarHS Have the cards with the new card type been approved for one of the next expansions? If so, can you give a hint of what the new card type could be?
@Kross3d_ yes they have been approved no hints! (Source)
@IksarHS @hsdecktech What is the card you guys designed that never took off that you thought was going to be meta defining?
@jcandance @hsdecktech troggzor! (Source)
@IksarHS @jcandance Lol, you and everyone on the outside too. (Source)
@IksarHS In the recent update we saw some greta mercs buffs. I'm curious what goes into the decision making when buffs are considered. Yulon felt like a clear better Valeera answer but for more subtle changes like HP buffs or smaller adjustments what makes a merc considered for buffs?
@ZombiesGoNomNom I'm not quite close enough to mercs balance to have commentary on this @TinMan354 leaves some great insights, he's your guy if you ever have questions like this (Source)
@IksarHS Hello Sir. Are there any plans for the dual arena to return? I would like to play outside of Halloweend. Also, do you have a plan to invite Lobby Legends in a way other than the rate at the end of the month? (e.g., hold an official tournament and invite the top players).
@sinikaka We have a hand a couple different arena events, I could see us doing more, but unlikely we'd bring back dual class more often than we do now. We do it once a year and usually by the time it's gone people are ready for it. (Source)
@sinikaka No plans I know of to change lobby legends invites. (Source)
@IksarHS has the team ever considered a way to go back to previous years? like going back to year of the mammoth and only being able to play with sets that were standard for that year? (Kobolds, Frozen throne, Un'goro and everything in the previous year)
@triceslice yes, but not as an option to choose any year or any time period been discussing revamping classic into a rotating format that explores different time periods (Source)
@IksarHS Does the team consider reverting nerfs to Core and Wild cards that would not be power outliers today? Like Novice Engineer, Nat Pagle, and Pyroblast, for example.
@rberberich When considering nerfs or buffs, we ask ourselves if it makes the format more fun. We consider nerf reverts that make the game more fun but not nerf reverts simply because we can. I'm not sure wild becomes more fun if Novice or Pyroblast are more powerful cards. (Source)
@IksarHS Are there any plans to add a feature that will allow us to see minions that died during this match? I have to remember what died and how many each time
@kirayamatoXV no plans for a graveyard-like system we've discussed it, but I think we'd only implement if we had more ways to engage with your graveyard and mechanics that supported it lots of UI in a system like that and we'd rather not bloat the screen with more stuff unnecessarily (Source)
@IksarHS It has been mentioned that Dual-class cards felt successful and may return. Would the pair-wise combinations of classes change? Flavor-wise, the Scholo combinations were flawless so I don’t see how it could change.
@MouseDivided I liked the pairings a lot as well, if we did dual-class again it would probably be the same I could imagine us being less restrictive in general, though. Maybe for a set you can build decks with any two classes you want and we balance around it. (Source)
@IksarHS When will we have the long due collab Elden ring-Battlegrounds? Imagine the posibilities.
@Eduardrcc I think hearthstone could benefit from collabs with IPs that have a wide base of recognizable characters fromsoftware games generally don't have memorable characters, despite being awesome games league, marvel, pokemon, etc…. those might be better fits (Source)
@IksarHS In the future, would you consider simply removing a card like Earthen Scales from the Core Set if it's a popular but not problematic card in Wild?
@Pabenjamin94 yes, though we usually try extremely hard not to break people's decks most players don't engage with the community around the game, so if they log in and there is just a big red X over their deck, that isn't a very good experience (Source)
@Pabenjamin94 especially if your deck was built in some ways around that card now you have to find and build a new deck a lot of times when that happens to a more casual player, they just quit instead (Source)
@IksarHS Any plans on reworking golden cards, I think can help selling golden bundles an overall packs. Adding more colors in it with just touches of gold would be perfect.
@ErnestoRZarate no plans currently, we have some plans for new frames, alternate art, more diamonds…. no news to share right now tho (Source)
@IksarHS The ‘Big Moment’ for Mercs was teased around mini set time. What’s the time frame for that? The coin issue is very demoralizing tbh.
@ArchDustBunny not sure what tease this is referring to, but our additional feature plans for mercs are still a ways out at least 6 months, though we do have content drops before that (Source)
@IksarHS @ArchDustBunny Does this mean extra coins/PvE endgame are no longer expected this year as previously mentioned? Or is additional features referring to other things here https://t.co/z6daDNOBdS
@ZombiesGoNomNom @ArchDustBunny still unsure, we'd like to ship asap but still some design work necessary before we start locking everything in our hope is that we'll have most of feature work done by end of year but likely it'll spill into early next year that said, there will be updates along the way (Source)
@IksarHS Will we ever see a new dungeon run mode, they were always fun and I'd love more content. I know duels in kinda also in that area, but since its balanced for pvp you can't go as insane with the fun factor as the pve versions.
@Sternhawk nothing on the schedule it was on a list of things to potentially do, was just beat out by a bunch of other features we're excited to work on hearthstone is a mostly 1v1 game now, we'd like to spend time exploring modes that expand that, still early on in exploration (Source)
@IksarHS Hey Dean, any Dr. Boom plans on the future? Cosmetics, Guest Appereance, Diamond Card, etc… (PS: He MIGHT be my favorite character)
@machadogps definitely, no spoilers tho (Source)
@IksarHS Any chance Genn could get updated to reduce DH hero power to (0)?
@ChaosOS_59 no plans, sorry! I mentioned in a previous comment that I'm not sure wild gets more fun if novice engineer nerf is reverted…. I feel the same way about this is wild more fun if Genn DH is a thing? (Source)
@IksarHS Are there any designs/effects for cards that you wanted to put in, but the size of the text was too long for the card? If so can you gives us some examples.
@HiroicGenius Yeah, this happens a lot on weapon or hero power designs. Taking Sword of Justice for example, that is a pretty simple effect. You have to use a lot of text to explain the durability going down. I'd like to make more cards like sword of justice but the design space is so small. (Source)
@HiroicGenius Because of the text space restrictions. The same is true of hero powers, just less useable space to do something that requires many words. (Source)
@IksarHS For standard format. There seems to be a focus on nerfing outliers. Is there any plan to buff the weakest outliers? I have pages of cards that never see play.
@rgbowencom Hard to prevent that. There are only so many decks that will be powerful at any given time. Those decks only have 15-20 unique cards in them. There are 1000+ cards in standard by the end of the year. (Source)
@rgbowencom Our goal is that cards are either powerful enough to see play, powerful enough to see play under special circumstances, or fun enough to see play in a special deck even if that deck isn't very powerful. At least for expansion cards. (Source)
@rgbowencom If a card doesn't do a fun thing and you can't imagine a scenario in which it might see play, I'd consider it a candidate to buff. Even then, we have to ask ourselves if time is better spent making bad cards a tiny bit better or making unreleased cards as good as they can be. (Source)
@IksarHS Why do you think most games use a skin system rather than something like wow's transmogs? I like skins a lot, but they're not as unique. My guess is that skins are way easier to produce, even then I'd love to see games on like apex and league doing something like this
@Shmilia Do you mean: Create an avatar that represents you, dress up that avatar with stuff. as opposed to Have no avatar, choose between a variety of characters to represent you. (Source)
@Shmilia or like, instead of having Jinx and Jinx skin 2/3/4. You have Jinx, and in the shop they sell a bunch of outfits I can put on my Jinx (Source)
@IksarHS The latter, I'd love change her outfit and hair. Like caitlyn, for example, I like her visuals a lot, but I freaking hate her hat, I would pay money just to remove her hat from the base model >:(
@Shmilia I feel like this would be a very long conversation with no real right answer. Part of it is the ease of implementation, part of it is building a universe and cast of characters. Hard to build a character everyone loves and cares about when there isn't consistency. (Source)
@Shmilia Whether your core goal is to give players a sense of themselves or to give players an option to choose an amazing character to play as are pretty different. (Source)
@IksarHS I have another one! We've now seen both Diablo and Tyrael make it into Hearthstone in one form or another. HOWEVER If we ever got a Starcraft character to make it over to Hearthstone, which character would it be, and why would it be Nova or Alarak? Cheers :D
@ToastieNL I'm an Abathur kind of guy (Source)
@IksarHS Do you prefer Light or Void?
@XyrellaDevoted VOID (Source)
@IksarHS Hi Iksar! How's the youngin? Mine just hit 14 months and is just about to walk, so many experiences!
@CutronaAGames just turned a year! he's great, so fun, an angel loving being a dad :) (Source)
@IksarHS how are all of you feeling about the reward track? are there any changes you want/will make to it or a you fine as it is now?
@Wiibomb I like it better than I did quests, but it's still not particularly exciting if we change our content cadence from 3 to 4 sets a year we'd have to make some significant rewards track changes probably go to 75 levels and increase the rewards at each tier (Source)
@IksarHS who's the best hearthstone player at blizzard NOT on team 5
@jcandance @RealzDev or @mike_donais a couple alumni :) (Source)
@IksarHS Which game that got announced this week are you most excited for?
@WickedGood it didn't get 'announced', but honestly my answer is D4 I've been obsessed playing D4 company alpha, I think it's really great. Obviously I can't speak a word about it but I have high hopes! Starfield also looks amazing (Source)
@IksarHS What Hearthstone keyword design do you think would make for the coolest RTS game mechanic, and why is it Magnetic?
@Frost_Giant Not really a keyword, but I think secrets could be cool. Face up, obvious looking traps, but you aren't totally sure which trap your opponent built and you have to play around different possibilities. (Source)
@IksarHS What board games are your top 3 all time?
@kageman unlike most game designers (especially card game designers) I've played a very low amount of board games I loved Gloomhaven! I'd probably love games like Pandemic but never played. Board games are hard for people like me that don't particularly enjoy being around others…. lol (Source)
@IksarHS How does one get into the game in 2022 now? I know the basics but there’s a LOT to catch up on!
@kageman hardest part is finding a deck you like to start, you don't need much after that just play and you'll get an idea of what is out there, what to play around, and what decks you might enjoy playing yourself (Source)
@kageman looking for budget decks through a google search usually an easy bet if you understand https://t.co/VVoWyam9Lf, you can sift through that site to find something interesting and powerful to build (Source)
@IksarHS you play shredder's revenge yet? i missed the ama because i was busy being donatello
@RidiculousHat too busy with apex, league, and D4 (Source)
That's it for AMA, thanks for coming! See you soon! (Source)
@IksarHS Did the team know Tidal Revenant was going to be so good? Was mostly panned in reviews, curious if it also caught you all off guard as well.
@BocLife @IksarHS I’ll say that in the one playtest I was part of it felt powerful. (Source)
@hsdecktech @IksarHS It looked so unassuming, and we’re kind of conditioned to believe 8 mana cards need really splashy effects to see play. Was pretty shocking to see it be one of the highest-performers in a top tier deck.
@BocLife @IksarHS Yeah, even during the playtest I wasn’t sure if it was actually good versus if it was just good because we were playing suboptimal decks. (Source)
That's a hard thing to swallow for merc players. The PvE endgame better be extremely deep, fun and full of content when it launches.
Unless the gameplay is overhauled, Im not optimistic that it would be.
PvE is too much about efficiency. Play fire comp and destroy everything, and when that's not good enough then move to holy, or nature bros. Stuff like beasts, nagas, pirates, old gods, all these aren't bad themselves against the creeps and then the boss or dopplegangsters completely destroys them.
And then there's composition. Lose something like voljin or geddon in their respective comps to creeps and where do you go from there?
All this can be avoided simply by allowing us to switch out mercs, or at least removing retaliation damage, because whenever you're running attackers there's always the common situation where your merc literally kills himself because the whole pve game is seemingly balanced around casters.
Losing a Merc is simply too big a penalty in PvE when you're running anything less than the most optimized comps. PvE needs another penalty besides just "1/6th of your team is now gone."
Further, PvE is far too static with not enough variation between matches in a run -- if I just defeated a comp when I had fewer treasures, why send me up against it again? There needs to be variation, possibly through difficulty escalation or minor enemy lineup changes, as the run progresses.
And treasures range from the actually disadvantageous to the perfect with lots of trash inbetween. Serious rebalancing is needed.
4 expansions means no miniset? correct?
There are considerations to move Hearthstone to 4 expansions per year and no longer do mini-sets.
If we are talking mid average, players who reach lv.200 each expansion would have 80 packs + 2K gold for miniset for the next one, and that's barely enough to get you around 4-6 legendaries. This is a 4 months worth of XP.
If we're having 4 expansions, it would be 3 months total XP, netting around 55 packs + 2K miniset per expansions. And that's sucks. 3-4 legends if you're lucky. Plus if that happens, I won't be playing anymore. Free is fun when you can at least be competitive, with those numbers above. It won't happen.
I think they are able to balance the F2P experience with the reward track accordingly.
What worries me more, is the P2P experience tbh! Right now, prepurchase bundles correlate to 20€/month.
A 4th bundle would be a significant increase in yearly cost for players that want to collect these unique skins and care about a full collection.
Sure, you can allways miss out on one and would have enough ressources anyways (i think you can even do that right now) but knowing myself, that's not what's gonna happen. We're basically put in front of a dilemma - miss out on stuff or pay more...
The financial aspect aside, more cards surely are cool from a gameplay standpoint. Even though i have my concerns that pre expansion excitement will be lowered a lot when they occure so often. The last few patches were short allready and i haven't had the time to really understand the meta.
Which is exactly why he said they'd make some "significant rewards track changes" to increase the rate of gold acquisition if they moved to 4 sets a year.
Man, I even checked earlier today to see if there was going to be an AMA. I didn't realize I need to check every 90 minutes if I don't want to miss it.
4 expansions is just too much, unless they take the minisets out.
Dean has previously stated that if they go to 4 expansions, the mini-sets are gone.
Yay Mercs content drops, but RIP anything big changing (from reading this).
Still enjoying the new task system, at least.
Also, yea, keep to 3 expansions a year, please.
If they move to 4 expansions a year, I’m quitting. I’m a whale but goddamn I can’t imagine doing a preorder, then a mini-set, then a preorder, then a mini-set, then a preorder, then a mini-set, then a preorder, and then another mini-set to end the year. There are enough cards that never see play so why is it even a thought to add more
Dean has previously stated that if they go to 4 expansions, the mini-sets are gone.
I think 4 sets per year could work pretty well since they can do a lot more variety with the extra set. Mini-sets are currently just building on the set that it comes out with, so let's throw in another whole new theme of fun instead. I think it would give the game more staying power.
Though, with that said, they need to figure out the legendary situation.
~25 legendary cards in each set, we'd be getting 100 legendary cards in a year, whereas now its ~87 with the 25 from a main set and then 4 from the mini-set. The big problem Hearthstone has with their design now is that each class always gets 2 legendary cards, and you have to also have some legendary cards that are neutral. The problem only gets worse once the next class shows up within the next couple of years.
I'm not saying people need full collections to enjoy the game, but it is very unfortunate that players would be even more limited in what they could obtain - assuming nothing changes.
I like to think that Blizzard has been doing a decent job over the past couple of years and shifting a large amount of their monetization over to cosmetics, so it might make sense to look again at the base pack system. Maybe Legendary cards become a bit easier to obtain (pity timer to 30?), maybe their dust cost gets reduced a chunk, or maybe we just go back to having 1 legendary for each class in each expansion. Hell, fewer class legendaries might break the game less too.
I believe Dean is genuine when he says that, but Blizzard has other ideas.
Four sets a year puts a sour taste in my mouth, I wasn't a fan of mini-sets when they were announced mainly because they feel like an EA (the company not early access) game. Now with 4 sets a year we revolve back to my age old argument of "What percentage of these cards are actually useful, and why aren't there more ways to play with my cards that doesn't involve Wild?"
There's an easy way to figure out the Legendary situation...... make the Legendaries worth getting. If they're good or above average players will gravitate towards buying packs to get them or get the dust required to craft them.
Players don't need a full collection to enjoy the game, but a collection is worthless when their Standard cards go to the infinite power void that is Wild.
I'm gonna disagree with you on that last paragraph because I wouldn't call it "Shifting", but rather adding onto their monetization.
I'm all for one Legendary per Class in an expansion, it'll be an easy way to define the class during that expansion cycle.
Edit: Here’s what I said to Dean about it.