BlizzCon 2015 Overwatch What’s Next Panel Transcript

 

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Panel Q&A

 

Panel Q&A

Audience person: Beta keys?

Kaplan: Beta keys? I thought you said manatees and then instantly my mind is racing like I think Arn could come up with a manatee character…

Arnold: Oddities

Kaplan: Oddities? I think we have a Winston, he’s from the moon — alright are we ready with questions?

Tsang: “Manataur, his friend!”

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Hi, I am happy you guys announced the console versions of the game but there is no Mac version announced right now. I wanted to know if you were going to make one and if you’re not, why not?

Kaplan: It’s a great question, as you know Blizzard has supported Macs in the past and we’ve always had a rich history of that; currently with the technology behind Macs and the way Overwatch runs it’s just too challenging for us at this point to support it and our focus right now is entirely on PC, Xbox 1 and PlayStation 4.

 

Hey guys, thanks for making from the game first of all, quick question; have you thought about adding different modes into the game where you could lock it down so you could switch a character or maybe a three or four times or not at all, different modes?

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Geoff: We are experimenting with new modes all the time and we have a bunch of internal stuff we play with, some is very hit or miss. With our hero line-up it can be pretty tricky to do new modes. We’ve tried a lot of classic modes. You guys have probably seen a lot of other games like Catch The Flag, but that one in particular for example– it’s been really tricky because if it was Tracer allowed to carry the flag, that seems kind of the same: “Can she blink?” Maybe she can’t blink, but then that seems weird. So it’s stuff like that. We are looking into other modes possibly in the future. We plan on supporting the game as long as people are playing it. So we definitely have more surprises on the line.

 

Hello, my question is because the game is made for consoles and controllers are you going to have a company make a controller that works for PC?

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Geoff: Yeah, you can use a controller or gamepad right now on PC. Actually right now in the beta it is supported, and there’s full rumble support and everything in there.

 

I was kind of hoping for maybe a specific one for just the game.

Geoff: Oh, I don’t know. it’s a cool idea.

Kaplan: It’s a great idea, we would love it.

Tsang: I’d buy one

 

Hello, most characters have like their utility ability on (E) and their movement ability on (Shift), like Junkrat he puts on his mine and moves, Reinhardt — he charges on (Shift) but you guys flip that for Mei where like the wall that actually moves people is on (E) but her invincibility (her ice block) is on (Shift); Are you guys planning on keeping the status quo or you guys flipping it up a bit?

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Geoff: She doesn’t have a movement ability per se. Her (Shift) makes her not able to move. That’s an ability. I guess in the same way that Bastion (Shift) is his movement ability in that he kind of locks himself down, that’s kind of where the parallels were drawn I think; but yeah that’s great feedback and if we get that kind of stuff often– in the past we’ve actually swapped a few buttons, I don’t remember which ones; Jeff has actually. Roadhog used to around and Jeff was like almost every day: “You got to change this. You got to change this.”

Kaplan: I kept trying to hook people and then you start to huffing and thing. Not good.

Geoff: It’s still possible but that’s great feedback.

Kaplan: One of the questions that comes up a lot about the way that the keys are bound, you can you can totally re-bind your keys; and then a feature that we want to add that has been requested a ton is eventually (I don’t know exactly when we are going to get to it, but eventually) we’re going to add a per-hero key-binding, so you can switch your keys around like if you just want Tracer’s (Shift) to be her (E), you can just switch it for Tracer.

Geoff: We also want to add per hero options to that as well so you can have– because I know a lot of people have trouble playing Widow because they’re used to toggle zoom instead of hold zoom, so we’ll have that kind of option as well.

 

Hi, I’ve been playing the game at home and for all the people who are watching in the home what you announced earlier today about buying the game and getting the heroes, I just wanted to confirm that if you buy the retail release do you get all the heroes now and forthcoming or do you have to buy all the heroes after the 21 that you get?

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Kaplan: Right now there are only 21 heroes in Overwatch and you get them all and that’s all we are focused on right now. We are really focusing on the remaining content and features that we want to add for our Spring launch; and at this time we feel like the 21 heroes is really robust, the gameplays really as well. It’s sort of a future decision for us of whether or not Overwatch supports more heroes and if so in what way shape or form will those be introduced to the players. We want to see the game not only in beta, but in launch be healthy and not be overwhelming to people first before we even cross that bridge of what new heroes are coming down the line.

 

Hi, just a follow up to that question; I love the design of the characters, almost every character feels unique, every situation is different. You can switch between them. What goes into that design? Do you guys look to put in characters that can bring a new element to the genre, or the game? So what is the initial design behind that?

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Geoff: Well from the design perspective, absolutely! We are trying to create new design space and design opportunities for the gameplay side as well, but having the concept guys are– half the time they are just drawing awesome stuff and we are just looking; and like: “That’s amazing! We got to put that in somewhere.”

Tsang: I mean… the ideas really come from anywhere. Sometimes you guys have the cool idea, sometimes we have the cool idea. So whatever is popular or whatever the team is really loving is what we push up to the surface.

Geoff: Plus ninjas.

Kaplan: More ninjas.

 

Sort of a follow-up question to that one. Were there any elements either aesthetically or gameplay-wise that you guys played around with but weren’t really able to make work?

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Geoff: Oh man, absolutely! That’s kind of almost the mantra of our studio. We are all about iteration. We try so many things. You guys have already seen last year we announced Bastion had one Ult, and even now he’s got a different Ult; and that was just one thing that you guys have seen, but what you didn’t see is in between those two. He had like 5 other Ults that we tried. He’s throwing grenades up in the air at one time, he’s literally flying around at one, he was a little crazy.

Tsang: Shooting through walls.

Geoff: He was a little crazy, but yea! All kinds of crazy.

Kaplan: Genji’s katana too, having the katana on primary was fascinating because we would do a play test and he would just murder everybody with it.

Geoff: This feels great. I love it!

Kaplan: Yea. The only person who played Genji was like it’s the best thing ever and everybody would complain so we would re-tune it and then I remember having a tune to these points where it was like you’re hacking on people and it’s like a couple seconds later like I think Genji needs a break and stretch a little bit and just going to hack on people before they die so that was another one where we said to scrap it.

Tsang: At one point I think he even like hung on to the wall and stuff and then you see these things just hanging out up there and then he kinda drop on, and go slashing at you. Shoot him in the face.

 

Hello, I was wondering how modern friendly will this game be, like say if I want to make my custom skins, custom gameplay, custom maps, would I be allowed to do that or is it just you play like this?

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Kaplan: Blizzard’s studio philosophy I think– if you look back in the history of Blizzard, we support modding whole-heartedly. We’re very big believers in it. World of Warcraft had its customizable user interface, and we saw some incredible creations come from that. DOTA would not exist if it were not for Warcraft III’s modable map system which we thought was fantastic; and they’ve added that too on StarCraft II as well. So philosophically, we are absolutely believers in modding, and we would like to figure out how to get more of that happening with Overwatch. Right now our focus is on our Spring launch, and I do not think we will be able to have a lot of mod ability to the game by the time we launch; but it is of value for us to keep pursuing it. A big question is: “How do we make our tools and our code accessible to people?” … and really, niceing and sort of a good-player-facing version of our tools. It’s something that we would like to explore, probably not by launch; but we’re going to be supporting this game for a long time, and we absolutely believe in modding.

 

Hey, just before I ask my question: I’m not a gamer. I’m a Blizzard gamer and that’s a 1000% because you supported Macs from day one so that’s important. I’m curious as you diversify above 21 heroes like in WoW kind of one thing that happened is that people started saying “oh they’re sort of like this homogenization of roles and abilities and like: “Is a destro-lock that different from a fire mage?” As you expand that cast, how do you continue to keep each character unique?

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Kaplan: Actually, we feel pretty good about the 21 heroes right now. I feel like we’re at one of our limits where 21 feels fantastic. They feel very unique and very diverse. There’s also the read of the game. If you’re like a new player coming into it, do you know what’s going on? Do you know what the other guy is doing on the other end of the barrel down there? At this point we’re pretty committed to 21, and we haven’t thought much beyond that; but we have explored (you know) what might exist with new heroes, like last year we had 12 and we added 9 over the course of the year. So you can speak to like what adding those extra 9 was like.

Geoff: Like I just answered in the last question, we’re trying stuff all the time, and a lot of stuff doesn’t work; and so we’re trying new stuff and throwing stuff out all time, but a lot of times we’ll have a really cool idea and it doesn’t quite work maybe just for that hero, but we really like the idea. So we kind of just save it off. We do have some sort of almost like this palette of really cool ideas that are still there that feel very unique. Personally, I feel like there’s a lot of design space to explore still, I don’t think we’re in any danger in that way; but I think our 21 hero complement each other very well.

 

Hi, I was thinking of Tracer here, are we going to get an alternate version of her or like a different skin because some people like her, another person like Genji with male or female for like different upgrades; are we going to be able to see different versions of them?

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Kaplan: Right now as we announce the Origins Edition of the game, it’s the first skins that we announced. So we are excited to see different versions of the characters. We haven’t thought about changing the genders of the characters necessarily like… if you look at the Tracer skin (for example) that we did, it is Slipstream Tracer — which is a story about how she originally went through that accident that turned her into this time-warping adventurer. So out the gate, I think we want as many of our skins as possible to sort of support the lore and the backstory. So we haven’t gotten into switching alternate versions, or genders of the characters at this point.

Geoff: I think we’ll leave the gender-bending to the cosplayers, because the males are already walking around somewhere. I don’t know if you guys saw that. It was pretty amazing.

 

I was wondering, when will the new characters be released for the beta?

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Kaplan: I think that all has to do with how much time the development team spends at the Hilton bar later tonight. I mean, most likely sometime next week. Probably.

 

Hi, now that the game is being released for PS4 and Xbox One, have you looked into doing a split-screen co-op for when they’re released?

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Kaplan: Split-screen co-op would be awesome. We don’t have plans to support it at this time, but it’s a killer idea.

 

You spoke earlier about rebinding keys, and other customization options that you are going to add like character specific things. I wanted to ask specifically about changes to the UI and how the game looks. Will you be able to turn off the UI entirely, scale down things like WoW? Change it a little bit. I think you can do that one.

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Kaplan: Actually, a lot of the things you mentioned you can already do. You can turn off the UI entirely. You hit Alt + Z just like World of Warcraft, and that works. We added the F.O.V slider (Field of Vision) based on your feedback. We heard you loud and clear; and then UI is an interesting one. We don’t plan to have a fully customizable UI like World of Warcraft; but we have an amazing UI designer by the name of Jeremy Craig, and his belief is that we could add more UI options rather than having a completely customizable UI. Add certain options to certain features. So an example that he gives is that there is a lot of desire for changing the radical and some people just want to change the shape or the color. It’s something we believe in. I don’t know when we’re going to get to it. It’s not something we want to drop everything we’re doing right now and make a whole radical system, but we’re not opposed to it either. So it’s something we believe in, but probably on a per feature basis in the UI; but we’ll keep reading the feedback and suggestions, and see what we end up with.

 

You talked about balancing characters which show some level of e-Sports, and my question really is: Are you going to be working on making a league for console and or the PC versions?

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Kaplan: We’re going to support e-Sports and console together, we haven’t announced what the big plans for Overwatch are in terms of e-Sport, but we really look at our 3 platforms as equal, and we believe in all of them. We know that there are players of amazing skill levels across all 3 platforms and when it comes to e-Sports we want to make sure that there is support given not only to PC, but to console as well. No official plans at this point. That’s coming at a future date. We have a lot in store for e-Sports in the future. Alright, that’s it for us guys. Thank you so much. Please come tomorrow at 11:30 am. We’ll see you guys later. Have fun and go play the game.

 

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Panel Q&A

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