BlizzCon 2017 Overwatch: What’s Next Panel Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to the Overwatch: What’s Next panel.

Michael: Hello. How is everybody doing? Alright, Did everyone check out the Opening ceremony? All of the new stuff we are going to be talking about today. Obviously, we have a new hero: Moira. Yeah. We have got a new map: Blizzard World. That will be fun to talk about. Maybe a couple surprises. So we have got lots of talk about. So let’s start off. Get right into it. I am Michael Chu. I am the lead writer on Overwatch.

 

Arnold: Hi, everybody. I am Arnold Tsang. I am the assistant art director in Overwatch.

Geoff: I am Geoff Goodman. I am the lead Hero designer here at Overwatch.

Aaron: I am Aaron Keller. I am the assistant game director.

 

Michael: Alright, so let’s get started. Obviously, in the opening ceremony say you got to see a little short video of Moira in action.

 

Maybe some of you have had a chance to check her out on the floor, but Geoff promised… he said we had a little video for you in case maybe you have some questions about her story. Who this character– who Moira is. So let’s check it out.

Moira: We stand on the brink of a breakthrough in human evolution. I have dedicated my life to unravelling its secrets. I take risks that others would consider to be unwise, for all I do not share caution. Overwatch held back the pace of scientific discovery for decades.

They believed my methods were too radical, too controversial. They tried to silence me. But there were others in the shadows searching for ways to circumvent their rules. Freed from my shackles, the pace of our research hastened. Together we delved deeper into those areas forbidden by law, by morality, and by fear.

New patrons emerged who possessed an appetite for my discoveries. And with this knowledge, what new world could we build?

Michael: Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I got some chills there, and when I hear that voice I start getting a little nervous; because I have been victimized by her a little bit in the play test. So the question, obviously, is: who is Moira? Well, most importantly Moira is that new support healer character that you have been waiting for.

 

Now just to get into our story a little bit, what I think really is interesting about Moira is that she is a scientist, and obviously we have a lot of scientists in the cast already; and she is a little different because some of the other scientists are more interested in like creating inventions or–

Geoff: Conquering the world?

Michael: I think it was that song – -oh yeah sorry. OK So Moira is a scientist. She is not so much interested in conquering the world, even though she has allied herself with people who might have proclivities in that direction. She is really just into the actual science. She wants to understand the fundamentals of human life, and how they can be manipulated. She is a geneticist, and that is her primary goal, and that is all she wants.

But the thing that makes her villainous is that she doesn’t quite have like some of the morals that the rest of us have. Yes, she is very flexible. She doesn’t want anything to get in the way of her science. So when someone tries to stop her from doing something, or tells her that she needs to take more time, she has no patience for that.

She wants to plow forward, and find out these discoveries, and make these new inventions to figure out how humans are hard-wired. So the really interesting thing about her is that when we created Moira, we wanted her to have all these connections to characters throughout Overwatch history, through different groups.

 

So like we said before, she was recruited by Gabriel Reyes to be a member of Black Watch, and during that time she had relationships with the Black Watch crew: McCree, Genji… they all have their own sort of likes and dislikes for each other. Reyes wanted someone who could help advise him on some matters of genetics that he was interested in — shall we say.

Aaron: Very mysterious.

Michael: Very mysterious, yes. Almost maybe a connection there– yes, there is a connection there, obviously — and the other thing is that in the present day Moira has allied herself with Talon now that Overwatch is gone. When you think about Moira’s goals figuring out these building blocks of human evolution, and her need to like push forward science at any cost, that really it really meshes well with the goal of Talon; and so she has found new patrons like Doomfist.

So that is sort of the story background of Moira, and I am going to hand it over to Arnold now so he can talk a little bit about the development of her art.

 

Arnold: Thanks, Mike. So it is always interesting to think back on the ideation of a hero. How do we start? We get that question a lot, and with Moira it was a little bit of a game play a little bit of story. We heard your feedback. You guys wanted a new hero in the game. We felt the same way. So we really started there, and we have a lot of benevolent heroes in the game. We have an angel, we have a monk, a mother, and the most upbeat-like positive DJ that you have ever met.

 

So we felt like it was time for something a little bit more morally ambiguous, a little bit more shady. So we started there, and we started with these concepts, and already right away you can kind of see Moira there. There is that immediate kind of like androgynous face. That mysterious appeal that she had. So we really gravitated towards these concepts. We started with the one on the right actually with all the crazy tentacles, and everybody really like that concept.

 

Michael: I know it’s cool, I was like I don’t know how to use these tentacles.

Arnold: Yeah I mean, it is one thing for it to be a very unique and cool silhouette, but it is another thing to wrap gameplay around that. You really want someone that has tentacles, to have abilities that might reflect those visuals. So we try something a little more conventional, we tried to: “Okay, maybe we will just give her something a little bit more toned down. Maybe like a giant two handed spray cannon.

This is where we kind of started to layer in the science vibe to it. You could see some of the tube start to get in there, but it started to look a little… I don’t know… maybe it might be confused as Zarya on the battlefield — that same silhouette. So we wanted to come up with kind of something different.

We took a step back, did a few thumbnails to really dive deep into what kind of weapons does Moira use for healing, for damaging her opponent, and we tried a couple things. Ultimately, there is a couple things from these concepts I really liked, and on the one on the far left, you will see that that character already kind of has Moira’s outfit there. We really like that silhouette, and that dark vibe that really spoke to like a Talon character, or someone from Black Watch.

 

We tried that same red-haired long kind of like gaunt face on the second from the right, and we still really like that version of Moira, and then there is something on that far-right concept that we really liked as well; and if you guys remember last year when we announced Sombra we showed some of her early concept art. One of those was called the Omni blade — who later became Hanzo and Genji, but she had these like big sleeves with like these– throwing daggers. So this is my way of kind of-

Michael: –try getting that in there.

Arnold: –throwing dagger back into the game, but I really like the big sleeves, and I don’t know if you guys can see it from here, but she is got the purple syringes on one side, and she is got this yellow energy on the other side. That kind of kick-started the idea of this duality between her left and right hand. So taking those elements, we kind of meshed them all together to come up with the final concept for Moira.

 

We integrated all the elements from the concept thumbnails we just showed, and started to really kick up the more science apparatus vibe. Now we started coming up with the idea of: what if she is got the healing and the damage, and what if the tubes actually had this liquid that would change color when she used those different abilities?

So we tried to work that into the game. We even tried a couple of different hairstyles, but we ultimately liked the red hair on her.

Geoff: The tube is actually a great touch, because in gameplay she is draining people their energy and feeding it sort of healing to your allies; and you can actually see when that happens and tubes change colors like it is actually directly converting energy over to healing. It’s an awesome touch.

Arnold: And speaking of which, one of the things that really helped us flesh out that idea is because of the first person game. You are going to be seeing her hands a lot. This is one of the only heroes that shows both of her hands on the screen unlike Zenyatta , like Doomfist. So her hands are everything. Those are her weapons, and we wanted to explore how she could express herself to deal damage, and heal; and the animators did a really great job.

 

Like you will notice when you play her, when she is healing it is this soothing motion which is like… you know… “there-there, all right;” but then when she is using her decay move she is really just like grasping at you, and clawing at you, and trying to drain your energy.

So this is a concept from our senior concept artist Ben Zhang, and he really knocked it out of the park to get that duality in there; and there might even be a little bit of story behind why that hand is like that.

Michael: Yeah, how did her hand get messed up? Was it perhaps close proximity to another sort of genetic anomaly, or experimentation? Hard to say. I actually do remember that — changing the subject– that when we were really dialing the animations for the hands like… we were really concerned with like how that felt like– she is not that out of control when she is using her power. She is 100% in command of it, and so she is really just like that is how she shows her mastery.

Arnold: Very aggressive like just clawing and pulling, really, really like the idea of this leech hero. That life-sucking kind of vibe for her. Another thing we like to do on the concepts side is figuring out some movement styling (is what we like to call them).

These are sketches we like to do for figuring out both abilities, the VFX, the poses for animation. These are some early sketches for her ultimate ability Coalescence. One of the initial ideas like she had all of her liquid kind of swirling around her.

 

Geoff: Yeah. Her original Ultimate was all her abilities’s cooldown were faster, had like no cooldown, and she’d be in kind of hyper mode; and she also had this kind of beam attack that was kind of there also, and then we ended up kind of like all ending on the beam attack because that was kinda the coolest part of the whole thing. So we tweaked it as we went.

Arnold: So those are some of the concepts behind Moira, but it wouldn’t really be a new hero announcement if we didn’t show some awesome skins. Right, so this is the first one for Moira. This one is called Oasis. She actually has a kind of a connection with Oasis, doesn’t she?

Michael: Yes. So currently, in addition to her duties as a scientist for Talon, Moira is also invited by the ministers of the Oasis to become their minister of genetics; and so she is basically leading up their genetic research of the city, and this is I guess what she wears when she is over there.

 

Arnold: Yeah, this was also done by our concept artist Ben Zhang, and he did the concept for the Oasis Symmetra as well. We really love those visuals, and we couldn’t wait to use it on another heroin, and Moira seemed like a perfect fit; and the next one (my personal favorite).

Michael: So good, so good.

 

Arnold: This one we are calling glam, and it is a tribute to glam rock from the 70s, you know… when they wore these outrageous outfits, crazy makeup, super psychedelic colors, and the hairstyles were just out of control.

Geoff: I love the Lava Lamp tubes. It is a nice touch.

Arnold: Yeah, instead of the science liquid, she has got the lava lamp kind of effect on there, so this one is one of my favorites; but I am sure you guys want to know more about her gameplay, and how she works. So without further ado, I am going to head it off to Geoff.

NEXT: MOIRA GAMEPLAY

BlizzCon 2017 Overwatch: What's Next panel transcript
1. Moira Concept Art2. Moira Gameplay3. Blizzard World4. Blizzard-themed Skins
5. Community Q&A

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