As those of you who have been following along know, we're currently in alpha testing for the game. Admittedly, it's been slow work.
Among the reasons for that are us being a small team, and the need to take care of other business (legal, taxes, events, etc.). But maybe the worst offender is me as a hero designer.
Having worked on hero designs for over 15 years, I've already played with most of the low-hanging fruit as far as mechanics go. New heroes tend to push limits to bring out exactly the kind of gameplay I want... and that usually means pushing our technical limits as well.
A Little Paradox
I will share an example from some hero design work that I was doing earlier this week. I was examining an ability that was overloaded, so I added more stuff and it became simpler(!).
Here's how. One of Rasputin's abilities was as follows:
Rush of Faith
Rasputin pauses for 2 seconds, before running to the target ally at max speed, healing them on arrival. A second activation will swap the heal for a temporary offensive buff.
Even though this ability is simple to describe, I felt it was overloaded.
- The player must weigh mobility against healing against damage, which is a difficult three-way calculation.
- Giving the offensive buff to an ally adds complications. Can they make use of the buff? Are they a competent player?
- To enjoy any mobility, Rasputin has to target an ally: which means he doesn't get to be a play-maker with the offensive buff himself.
Here's a better version of this ability:
Rush of Faith
Rasputin pauses for 2 seconds, before running to the target ally at max speed, healing them on arrival. Extra activations will cost influence, and add +60% healing, a cleanse, and an AoE cleanse.
This ability has three extra activations, which is definitely 'more stuff'. However, without an offensive component our player can weigh mobility against healing: a much cleaner comparison that demands less cognitive load. Having multiple tiers of healing makes this a gradient ability, which is exactly what we want to enable player expression.
All this sounds great, but it means we have to add support for having more-than-one extra activations. This involves new code and bugs, and delays progress on other stuff.
That's kind of how the story has been going. We do cut corners when we need to, but it is a big advantage if players are alpha-testing heroes 'as intended'.
Descent of Winterchill
Earlier I mentioned 'other business', and on that topic we will soon be retiring the name Rise of Winterchill!
Whenever I introduce someone to the project, questions about that name are a given. It served well for a Warcraft III map, but is less accessible to a general audience, and routinely gets confused with a certain location in Game of Thrones.
The new name is not yet announced, but we will be very excited to share it with you all when we rebrand.
Thanks for your continued interest in the game; we are still working hard to make it happen!
Until next time,
Finally after 2 months a blog post
I expected the name of RoW to be changed. Not for the reasons mentioned, but because I assume that "Winterchill" is trademarked by Blizzard.