#380 - Into the Nexus: “with HOTS-Dev Kofalt”
• Garrett • Kyle • NotParadox or Guest
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Intro: Welcome to Into the Nexus! The Heroes of the Storm podcast!
Associate Game Designer for Heroes of the Storm Josh “RawrJar” Kofalt joins the show! Garrett and Kyle get to sit down with the man behind the balance curtain and ask your questions! Kofalt has a rich history with the game, joining in the technical alpha, Cloud9, coaching and eventually making his way on to the Q&A team. Now part of the developers, Kofalt has taken up the mantle on Reddit for balance updates and inquiries. This episode is a catalogue of design philosophies, strategies and a gimps at the Heroes Team as a whole. Enjoy, and remember to thank your devs!
Josh Kofalt Interview
Patreon Mention: Patreon.com/ITN
Thanks to our Patreon producers Declan H, CheezyBob, Chris K, Shawn B, & Mike R!
Who's your favorite hero aesthetically and one you love to play?
When you're playing HOTS, what's your personal favorite game mode?
Do you watch CCL or other tournaments? Your favorite teams/players?
Philosophy and Personal Style
Is there something you'd like players to do that would make your job easier? (Individually or collectively, in or out of game)
Have balance philosophies changed at all since Jackson left the team? In general, what are some lessons that Jackson left you with and some of his ideas that you are trying to preserve and what is something new or different that you can now do that was maybe not a goal or a priority before?
(For example, I think I remember that Fishing Hook was almost cut completely during the previous rework but the latest rework made it baseline at 13. What was the thought process then and the thought process now?)
Are the devs willing/able to share anything about some of their philosophies guiding hero reworks?
Is there a certain era/patch in your history behind the curtain of Heroes of the Storm where, in your opinion, the game was in as close to perfect balance as it could be?
What is your least favourite thing about HotS and why? How would you change the game to improve this?
How much do you consider storm league rank when you’re looking at data for adjustments?
What is your criteria for 'baking in' a talent for a hero? Do you have any more planned 'bake ins' you'd like to share with us?
Can we expect any sort of regular update schedule? 2020 was basically every 4 weeks. This year has been irregular
Some people have argued something along the lines of Mercenary camps usually being taken more for their EXP than their pushing potential.
Are there any changes or an anomaly for mercenary camps in the works?
Have you thought about reversing the Forts and Keeps prioritizing Heroes who attack other Heroes over shooting Minions. I’m pretty used to it at this point, but still do feel like I miss the old style.
When removing the Medallion the dev comment said that cc protection might be explored more in the future. Is something cc-related actively being tested right now?
Are you happy with fountains? Some are still calling for immunity until the fort/keep dies. If ability to snipe a well is part of a heroes power pie, I'd rather have something cooler
Why are unranked accounts excluded from rank decay?
Could you share a (more) recent ranked player distribution? The last official one we got was mentioned back in summer 2019 and I'm curious what/ if anything has changed since then.
What can you share about future reworks and other changes/additions?
Are you happy with how the Loan Talents are working out? Are there more thoughts on iterations for them?
Do you have an extreme or even unrealistic dream for Heroes? Maybe a crazy talent that you want to see added or something?
Does the team have an internal reference sheet when it comes to designing & implementing talents & abilities - something along the lines of "when implementing a knockback ability, use X formulae", or "when wanting a multiplicative damage buff with Y other buff types, use Z method", or "apply buffs & debuffs after damage is dealt, but markers before"?
Are you ok with Aba being the only hero with Mule when there's lots of chars that it would make sense also having it like Zag, Probius, or maybe Gazlowe?
Level 20 Talents
Scaboboboobs & Spinn73 both asked about 20’s
There are still heroes with 20's that don't feel impactful or exciting to pick (Blaze, Zagara come to mind). More fun and stupidly powerful 20s please!
In his podcast AZ Jackson revealed his desire to create more interesting and unique level 20 talents. He expressed his desire to give zagara Broodlust, an ability which would spawn a bunch of summons and buff them for a short amount of time. Do you have any wishes to give more impactful level 20 talents to some heroes in the future? And do you have any personal requests?
Does ARAM influence balance changes? It seems like it's growing in popularity (idk for sure), and its balance is all over the place. The absolute chaos of ARAM is fun but some severe outliers like Zul'jin/Gazlowe can make some matchups feel very one-sided.
What design insights - if any - are you able to glean from ARAM, given the amount of games that are played/the constant team fight nature of the games?
any thoughts, revelations or ideas on aram? would love to hear how you people view it behind the scenes!
Rework requests from Reddit:
Are there are any plans for reworking Kael'thas? He feels impactful only when enemies group up and are bad at dodging. I think there should be something that makes him more dependent on skill of his user and not skill of the enemy players.
How do you feel about Samuro's current state and how successful do you feel the rework was?
What is the teams current philosophy with hero reworks, and what should we expect going forward? Is there any chance we see lower popularity/impact heroes (Nova, Probius, etc.) getting any love soon?
Are you planning on redesigning Nova as a support and reworking Zagara, Probius, and Nazeebo? Also appreciate the interaction with your fanbase.
What do you think of the current state of probius? Now that gazlowe has been reworked to be more of a team fighter I think the niche of a builder type hero could be more.heavily leaned into as the combo and area denial mage probius is outclassed. It would better fit with probe archetype.
Nova, Butcher, Arthas, Valeera or Murky any of them getting a rework anytime soon?
Any plans for upcoming balance changes for Whitemane?
As a side note, I love whitemane, can we bake in something fun that's auto attack related?
Tell us a lie about something we are not supposed to know!
Will Johanna get scaling on her E shield glare?
Question: Can you add some kind of travel tunnel to blackhearts bay to solve the similar problem you had with warhead junction?
Can Tyrande get a clearer and longer lasting hunter's mark visual?
Patreon Shout Out
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New Hero Requests of Reddit:
Can we get any information or hints about when to expect the next hero? Should we only be looking forward to the one, or is there a possibility for more than one to release this year?
Do you have any supports you are working on? Or at least a hero what would have similar kit to old Tassadar? Considering you didn't have any supports in progress, Tassadar was a big lose for support role.
New Mal'Ganis skin when? Our local vampire craves moar skins
MORE ORPHEA SKINS
Would the team be open to placing community driven events such as CCL on the launcher in the future?
Are there any plans to improve the search tag feature that was recently added (and maybe make it more apparent for hero selection options)? For example, It would be nice to be able to say something a long the lines of "we need something that can engage," and have a team mate just press a button that displays a selection of heroes with reliable engages.
Is the team aware that heal taken reduction(like Varian's Mortal Strike talent) is multiplicative with heal dealt increase\reduction(like Varian's Banner of Dalaran granting spellpower, or Blaze's Suppressive Fire reducing spellpower)
I mostly ask as the heal taken reduction floating combat text does its math as though it is additive, Gul'dan's Hunger for Power's Heal dealt increase has the math thinking it is additive, so I'm really genuinely curious if it is meant to be and thought to be additive, but it is actually multiplicative.
I understand that the past game modes like the pve zerg mode were unable to use current heroes like DW on them and as such were more or less abandoned. With the ability to turn off heroes ALA stukov what is stopping us from having game modes like Pull Party or the PvE maps in at custom lobbies with those characters disabled?
Off-Topic / Other Department
Any words on clan systems?
There are various rumours about dev team size and whatnot, is he able to comment on what he thinks the future of the game is?
Any plans on monetization that can add to the game? A Battle Pass would be a great addition to keep players playing on their main account and curb smurfs. You guys already have a framework with the seasonal reward track, and you don't even need to create new assets - you can just reuse the HGC rewards, or the HGC Twitch rewards which were stupid expensive and most people couldn't get them.
what is happening with all the bugs in recent patches?
Are we ever going to get a protoss or diablo demon healer? Maybe rework probius into a healer?
Will missing skins be fixed
And for my final question, will we ever see Haunted Mines in QM again?
Is it possible that HotS could have a Battle Royale mode?
Any chance the Mastery Rings could be purchasable with gems too? Kinda sucks running out of gold and still having 2,000+ gems
Is the team working on any new maps or map reworks? Is there a chance we get a Haunted Mines rework and rerelease? With all the art and sound assets already made, it seems like a great opportunity to breathe fresh air into the map pool.
Is there a fix planned to make all of the skins available for the current events that are up? Currently you can only purchase and craft some of the skins from each of the events, but many are still not available.
Is Arthas' remodel in plans for this year?
Is there a slight chance of Arthas recieving at least a visual update?
Is the team (dedicated employees) currently larger or smaller than in 2019?
Can we imagine future cooperations with other Blizzard games like we used to have with Overwatch and WoW?