BlizzCon 2014 – Overwatch Origins Panel Transcript

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Kaplan: That’s awesome, I’ve had so many breakthrough moments on this game; it’s been so exciting, but I’ll give you guys a kind of a weird one that you might not think about.

We had a milestone back in March we were working a lot of hours toward and I think this was actually in February, because the milestone was due in March and the team was working hard and the team has been absolutely amazing and it’s late at night, it’s probably 10:00pm, 10:30pm at night and it’s when everybody starts to get loopy and you are not making the best decisions, or whatever; and our engineers were just working their butts off.

They were working on new features and fixing bugs and one of our engineers was working on something that could only be tested if you had a full match going; you needed ‘six b six’ going. I think it was either Andrew Wang (Senior Software Engineer 1) or Keith Miron (Senior Gameplay Programmer); I forgot which one but one of those engineers was working on something and they sent out an email.

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Some people were getting ready to go for the night because it’s late at that point and they sent out an email like “hey I need a play test, I put a play test up and I just need a few people to see if my feature is working”; fast forward like two hours later and the whole ‘freaking’ team is there until like 12:30pm at night, everybody is just playing at that point and you literally hear screaming and cheering as teams are winning and losing throughout (smack talk) because we are all sitting in the same area so you can just hear everybody and I kinda like had that reflective moment to myself of like: “What are we doing?”

This game is awesome and fun and we are enjoying it and we don’t need to be here right now, and that was a real breakthrough moment for me where I realized the team was making this game because the team loved this game and not because anybody told us what to do; but because we thought it was the most awesome thing ever and we couldn’t wait for this moment to share it with you guys was what motivated the team to work so hard. So that was pretty awesome for me.

(Crowd applauds)

We should probably give you guys a chance to ask us some questions. It would be really great to hear what you guys have to say, we have about fifteen minutes. While we are waiting for the questions to get set up, I want to give a big shout out to the mosh pit right here; we may not be Metallica but we have our own mosh pit going on here, they have the best seats in the house.

Question: How many of you guys have gotten to play so far? Do you have a favorite hero?

Kaplan: That’s awesome. I have a favorite hero of the week and it changes every week.

(Crowd cheers)

Metzen: As he dials in the design and makes himself more powerful.

Question: You guys played Reaper this week?

Kaplan: No one played Reaper; I’m just going to test something out real quick.

Question: Hello, I’ve been going to BlizzCon for like six years now and I’ve heard on panel after panel in previous years people going please we want more diversity and honestly it was so exciting to see Overwatch because there’s like five female characters; I’m super excited, I was just wondering can we expect more female characters, more POC’s, more cultural diversity, more body diversity in future heroes that we are going to see in Overwatch?

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Metzen: Yes. All of that, all. Often. I got to say honestly, just to follow up on that guys… it comes up every year especially in the World of Warcraft and we recognize that there are lot of people who want to feel represented and that is part of how we look at this product; we want to have these international cast of characters, we want everyone to come in play and we want people to feel represented and feel that there are characters that speak to them so we are putting a lot of thought and passion into that.

We came here with twelve characters this weekend, we have many, many more that we are already developing and there’s many more that we have concepts for but we are still working through the ideas so there’s a lot about this game that is seeking that as a very high ideal, to have people feel like they can be represented and feel like they can be part of this fictional event and that’s very important to us.

Question: Hey, I was just wondering if any of the characters from Overwatch would ever be integrated as heroes in Heroes of the Storm.

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Kaplan: That would be ‘freaking’ awesome, that would be the coolest thing ever, man I hope they do that, we’ll hope and plead with Dustin.

The way we see it right now is we have to earn that right so Overwatch isn’t out yet, this is our first experience. We can’t wait to hear what you guys have to say about it, we are really looking forward to your feedback and we hope that when we launch this game you guys deem it worthy that our heroes are allowed to be in Heroes of the Storm.

Question: Hey guys, first thanks for the twenty years of awesome, you guys are awesome, the company is awesome; I’m curious how long you’ve been working on the game? Obviously there are rumors about those twenty years of what you guys are focused on, where did the original idea come from, how long ago was it; how long has it been in development?

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Kaplan: I guess I am taking it. We’ve been working on this for about a year and a half now, so it came from I think the Summer of 2013. We had wound down our previous project and we had dispersed a lot of the team to different areas of the company; a lot of people went to work on Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Legacy of the Void and then we had a small core group starting on a new idea and we had a really fun ideation period where we kinda talked about various ideas and various directions we could go and you guys would be surprised how different they all were but it was a really magical moment where the team just kinda came together.

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You almost didn’t have to pitch this game; a lot of game ideas you have to spend a lot of time selling the idea to developers around you to get them excited about it and this was a weird one where you’d be like one sentence in on it and they are like “oh yeah I’m in, let’s do that” so it was a lot of fun coming up with the idea. It was very collaborative, almost the entire team who is working on it now was involved in the original idea so I think the team; the Overwatch team feels tremendous ownership over what it is; but it’s been awesome, it’s been one of the best development cycles I’ve ever been a part of.

Question: Hey, how’s it going? My name is Greg, I had a lot of fun playing yesterday, I think won a round three times; I think the question on everybody’s mind here is are there going to be any collectible hacks, or the end-game characters I am looking forward to hacks?

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Metzen: I was totally wondering that too, I think it was totally bothering me really.

Petras: Wow, I don’t know Arn do you want to take that one? You know what? That is a great idea, we are going to have to definitely discuss that for now but it’s a great idea though.

Kaplan: I think that’s kind of a wishy-washy answer to that hack question that is taking the internet by storm but sorry guys you’ll have to keep speculating.

Question: So this seems like first of the trailer and it has really made me feel the way I felt when I read Legion of Super Heroes as a kid. Is this going to be, in the story, turn into a big defending the world or the galaxy from unknown threats and parallels? I would love to see more story for this.

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Metzen: (exhales) Man I hope so! Awesome!

Chamberlain: That’s a good idea.

Metzen: Awesome! We should totally do that.

Kaplan: These guys are like buzzing right now hearing you say that.

Metzen: Here’s the truth; we got some hooks but where we are at today we are still just kind of… we are not quite that far out yet; but hell yeah! Every part of that, yes; I’m not committing to have you guys to having to do it, I’m just saying… I’m just saying that’s a really good idea.

Chamberlain: We’ll do it!

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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