BlizzCon 2014 – Overwatch Unveiled Panel Transcript
This is a transcript of the Overwatch Unveiled panel held at BlizzCon 2014. Panelists were Jeff Kaplan (Lead Game Designer) and Chris Metzen (SVP of Creative Design & Story Development).
Overwatch is a team-based shooter centered in a futuristic Earth where robots took over the world, and a special world strike force was pooled to counter that global threat. Thirty-years later, Overwatch fell apart, and a new threat is looming. Heroes must band together to deal with it. Below is the transcript of the panel, which explains the characters, map locations and gameplay roles in the game.
Kaplan: Did you guys play yet? Are you already back from playing?
Metzen: This is madness, we don’t not have a catch phrase yet. Like watch out, we need like a kool, we don’t have one but we need one.
Kaplan: INTERNET GO!
Metzen: INTERNET GO! No, No. Internet stop. Guys, Thanks for coming out to the first Panel Inaugural panel for Overwatch.
Metzen: Sighs! So, What do you guys think of the trailer? So much fun, so much stupid fun it’s almost a possible level of epic. Hmmm, it’s a lot of love that went into that thing. We went hard on Overwatch, amd we love it a lot.
Kaplan: Actually, let’s hear it for Blizzard Cinematics and Jeff Chamberland for that movie.
Metzen: Absolutely! Guys we want to start the panel off, Jeff is really gonna take you through the nitty gritty of the game. He is going to kinda describe the shape of it. I wabt to start off and talk a little bit about the world. Coughs! I’m going to start coughing the whole time. Cough, cough. I got the black lung, pop!
Kaplan: Send it my way.
Metzen: Yes. Overwatch may be obvious from the trailer. It is set in a highly fictionalized version of “Future Earth” — said that fast. We looked at the franchise we have been building for years, right super Sci-Fi of StarCraft, the high-fantasy of Warcraft, the high-fantasy gothic vibe of Diablo.
We wanted to do something fresh. Wanted to do something new. We always loved the idea of potentially getting to kinda fictionalize “Earth” one day.
The story took place like sixty years in the future. Far enough in the future where we can have flying cars and rayguns and all the technology that we would ever want to have; but it is not far enough where it feels like too exotic, like Karazhan.
It is a near future. So that we can build global locations, that you know– “Ohh, there is the Eiffel Tower. There is the Spinx. There is a kind of the landmarks and areas in the world that you can go: “Awww, I get it.” It places you there. It has context immediately, which was something that was very-very important to us.
The story goes that– [how do I do this? The math is a little weird] If the present day of “Overwatch”, is something like 60 years in the future then, “Whoot”, thirty years back from that point, there was a global crisis. And of course, it was robots, and robots are just bad for everybody.
In Overwatch, we call robots– or very specific type of robots– we call them: Omnics; and robots have become very very common throughout the near future. And at some point they went totally crazy, and they attacked the cities all over the world, and everyone was like what is going on. These guys were all just chilled, now they are eating up all our cities.
And so the different nations of the world sent their best soldiers, their armed forces, their great localized technologies against these Omnics. Then ultimately, the wars that resulted was called the ‘OMINIC CRISIS’ and so it was huge in shaping the landscape of the future of Overwatch, and while the different nations of the world could not really do much against this problem in their backyard, the nations decided to pool their resources and put together a strike force of the best of-the best of-the best technologies and soldiers from different nations around the world and that was the original Overwatch Strike team.
And this strike team did great. It took out the [not going to spoil it] whatever was causing the OMNIC CRISIS, and they handedly dealt with it, and they saved the world. And the world loved it. And so, for the next thirty years this strike force really becomes an institution.
Overwatch becomes this international coalition where their successive years of graduating classes and kinda new agents coming in and cycling out; and it was something that really exemplified just the greatness of people regardless of where you are from and regardless of who you are, the different walks of life that everybody came from.
Overwatch represented just “Heroism,” and “Sacrifice,” and “Nobility,” and it really did make a great difference in the world and a big turn came– again if you figure that the present day of Overwatch– something like five years ago(?) [pretty recent]– Overwatch began to fall apart.
To this date, [coughs, pardon me, except for Jeff and I] no one really knows why Overwatch fell apart. It is probably a number of things [and I’m totally suspicious immediately] since someone took over Overwatch out, but for whatever reasons it fell apart the world has darkened in the last five years, and the hook of the whole idea is as the world darkens again, it still needs heroes. And can this ideal, this vibe that Overwatch really represented everybody– can it come back when the world needs it most? So that is the essential fictional hook of Overwatch.
I’m spitting a lot up here. You ok?
Kaplan: It’s a little misty, but I’m ok with it.
Metzen: ♪Misty!♫ Ok. The hell are we doing? Umm, excellent!
Kaplan: Alright, let’s talk about– (laughs). That’s our say word. We rehearsed that many times. So, we mentioned in the opening that Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer shooter, and this is something we were super super excited about and we were worried– we knew we would be sharing this with our closest fans, not only you guys here today at Blizzcon, but everybody who is watching the livestream, everybody who is watching it on DirecTV has probably a lot of nerves also. Like: “OMG! What is Blizzard doing. Do they know how to make a shooter?”
Metzen: Yea, what were you thinking?
Kaplan: Ohh, we made one. But we remember– I can flashback to– I remember on 2002, when I started working on World Warcraft, we got a lot of comments, what business does blizzard have being in the MMO category, you guys don’t know– you are the RTS Company.
But we figured it out, with you guys’ help, and we spent a lot of time, and we plan to do that same thing with the shooter so– we really want to talk to you guys today about what is going to make this game distinctly Blizzard.
As I mentioned earlier, what we like to do is look at genres that we love and we sort of revere; and think all the ways we can bring out the best elements of the genres.
Even as I am looking at that screenshot that is up there, I don’t think there is a lot of shooters out there that look like that today.
Metzen: It’s pretty much going off. Jetpacks and giant mutant gorillas, and … yea!
Kaplan: Mutant gorillas that talk.
Metzen: That talk. With lightning guns.
Kaplan: It makes sense, because he is from the moon.
Metzen: And he comes from the moon.
Kaplan: We have thought it all out you people don’t have to worry about anything.
Metzen: Enjoying the exhibit? By the way, I have been banned from doing any voices in the game. So let’s just jump on top of that one.
Kaplan: Alright, he says that, but there is a certain robot in the game–
Metzen: One that they let me do.
Kaplan: –that is somebody famous. Anyway, what does Blizzard have a lot of experience at? If you look at this slide behind me there is somewhat of some amount of experience in making multiplayer PvP experiences.
Some asked me why is Diablo not on the slide. Diablo is an amazing-amazing multiplayer game, but the point we are trying to make was “WoW, we have been doing PVP for a long time and looking at the way you guys give us comments and feedback on the pro-gamer stage down in the Arena, and the Hearthstone stage over there– we know you guys love competitive PvP games, and we want to deliver another one to you. We feel like it’s something that we can do well.
Metzen: So we wanted to talk about also, we were building the idea of Overwatch, which is kind of how are games are; we try to make them very inviting, and try make them accessible for a broad gamut of players, if your hardcore or casual, we like building products for everybody and at all levels of play which isn’t all that easy.
So, approachability is very important to us. Hmm, I guess I’ll riff a little bit on the approachability of the world. There are lessons we learned building World Warcraft. How many of you all are WoW players?