BlizzCon 2018 Overwatch: What’s Next Panel Transcript

Concept Art

Arnold: Yeah. So Ashe was a really special character for us, because this is one of the unique times where we get to realize as a character created from story and franchise development into our game. We had something like that with Brigitte, where we took her first from the comic into the animated short, and then into the game. We kind of armored her up.

 

Well, with Ashe this is really the first time that we took the character directly as she was designed into the game, because we were so excited early on seeing those storyboards, seeing those concepts by the artists, and making sure that because they were so exciting to see that all the feedback we were given was like: “Yeah, this character might make it into the game.” This is like– when we first saw B.O.B. — we were like “Oh, this is like so cool. I wonder what kind of abilities he would have; or Ashe, what kind of weapons she would use?

And just making sure that everything we did with those characters would make them great heroes in the game as well. So that’s true for Ashe, and our character artists… we were able to bring her into the game looking just like she does in the cinematic. Maybe some small adjustments here and there; but she’s fully in the game now.

And then of course there’s also B.O.B.

 

Arnold: So B.O.B. actually… sharing your excitement here, the artists on the Overwatch team were also very excited hearing that B.O.B. was going to be the ultimate for Ashe; but we were also a little bit apprehensive, a little bit nervous; because this is really the first time we had literally two heroes or two characters in the slot of one hero.

In the game of Overwatch, it’s 6v6, and not to get too technical into it, but we kind of have a budget for each character that for performance of the game (not to break the game); and for us to put two characters in the game, it was a new thing for us.

We kind of had Wrecking Ball with the hamster and the Mech, and we had D.va with the pilot and the Mech, but this is the first time having like a full-fledged character. I mean B.O.B. is pretty much as big as Reinhardt-sized. Ashe is as big as just as any of our other heroes; and fitting that into the budget was huge a challenge; but one that the character artists, and the engineers, and the Overwatch team really, really took to and just you can see here that we were able to recreate B.O.B. just as faithfully as we could.

It was great that he was almost perfectly symmetrical, except for a little two pieces of tape over there. There’s another element like on there asymmetrical… I’ll let you guys find that one; but yeah, we were able to recreate B.O.B. in the game and everyone’s super excited; and the next challenge for us was how did we literally bring him into the game.

 

Now that he was in there, we wanted for the gameplay for him to appear very instantly, because this was a very important gameplay mechanic where Ashe summons B.O.B. — sometimes as an escape mechanic, you wanted to just knock out the person that’s right in front of you. So it’s imperative that he appears very quickly.

And early on, we kind of brainstormed all these different ideas, we were thinking like: “Oh, maybe he comes to a portal; or like maybe the kind of phases in like hard light (like in symmetra’s turrets)-–

Michael: Or coming out of the ground like a mole.

Arnold: And maybe drops down from a dropship, but all those things just didn’t feel like things that a biker gang or like a gang in the American Southwest would do. They all felt too techie, or too sci-fi. So we took inspiration from other parts of the game. What if he was like more like Doomfist’s meteor strike, where he just kind of jumps up… it comes right in.

So we have B.O.B. just like leaping in from a very far distance. Here’s a movement concept from our concept artist Ben Zhang… just kind of illustrating ideas on how we can have him appear on screen. Originally, we were thinking maybe we need a giant dust cloud to kind of hide the fact that he’s coming real quick; but actually ended up turning out really, really intuitive; and actually, he kind of moves… comes in really smoothly, and kind of exits really smoothly.

 

So I would like to see how he kind of got integrated into the game. The next thing we want to talk about is the Viper. Jeff talked a little bit about this, but we really wanted to recreate Ashe’s gun as authentically as possible from the animated short. So making as little adjustments as possible.

One thing we had to fine-tune a little bit is– with the new reload mechanic that Jeff designed, we really wanted that reload to feel really good, and have like a nice little port for the bullets to go into. Again early on we were brainstorming different ideas that she could kind of reload quickly, because the reload has to be pretty quick to get like how many shots you have like 20?

 

Geoff: It is 12, right now.

Arnold: I believe 12 bullets in there. So we’re thinking (at first) maybe she needs a speed loader, or something; but again, that ended up feeling a little bit too techie; and there’s just something about like that visceral sound of putting the bullets in by hand… it feels really good.

Another thing that the artists and game designers worked really hard on is getting that alternate fire to just feel really, really good. We have a lot of very passionate first-person shooter players on the art team, and on the design team; and I just remember this moment where you guys were all just huddled around a desk like fine-tuning the FOV (the field of view), and like that depth of field like help you know how to blurry the background, or just like fine-tuning the size of the gun on the camera just making it feel nice.

They’re getting that old fire mode, and it feels awesome. I can’t really wait till you guys get to try it for yourselves. The next ability is the Dynamite. So here we have a lot of different versions we actually did a lot of exploration early on because the ability really started off as a cluster bomb right?

 

Geoff: Yes, originally some of the earlier playtesting we just had to do a big explosion, but some of the powder refining was if you want to do much damage to tanks, or to just people behind barriers, it’s kind of hard, because the explosion wasn’t that big at the time, and you needed to throw it so high you couldn’t hit him.

So we tried to design where you hit it, and then it would like rain in a cluster bomb, so you could like that shoot above people and rain on them; and then it was kind of really cool visually; but I kind of had a problem where it was like this extra delay shooting it; and then the other things fall and then those have to explode, and it’s like the games are so fast it usually didn’t work out that well unless you just got really lucky; but so we ended up going back to adding a bigger explosion fire and everything.

Arnold: Yeah. So again, our early concept artist Ben Zhang took a pass. You’ll see the top row, those are more of the cluster bomb types; and then we went back to the more single dynamite design; and on the left side; and it was kind of reading a little bit too high-tech again, and then just turning it red though gave it that classic dynamite read from afar; but also looking closely it has a nice kind of sci-fi Overwatch feel to it.

NEXT: SKINS

BlizzCon 2018 Overwatch: What's Next panel transcript
1. Story2. Cinematics3. B.O.B.4. Abilities
5. Concept Art6. Skins

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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.

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