BlizzCon 2014 – Overwatch Origins Panel Transcript

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Question: My big issue with the cinematic is that you have all these hero characters and they are fighting against each other and the same thing with the objectives; they are heroes but they are fighting against each other and there’s no real big villain, there’s no antagonist except for the other heroes. So when does the line get drawn to say these are heroes, these are villains and this is the objective everybody is chasing?

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Metzen: If I could summarize your question it’s more of like…. “what the hell?” Right!

(crowd laughs)

It’s interesting, Jeff and I had done a bunch of press yesterday and we are talking this through and having to explain it over and over, it’s kind of interesting; it’s a new honest response but at the end of the day let me hit this in two ways because I just want everyone to understand how we are approaching this.

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We made the decision very early, I’m after a big story, I’m after building big fun universes of ideas that we can just trip out on for years and just feel like we are a part of the flow of this thing and that’s very important to me.

We are talking about a number of kind of creative, newer ways to do that but the essential conclusion we came to very early in the project was… look, with a game like this, it’s 6v6, we need a lot of freedom in the gameplay; when you jump into a match and people want to play four Winston’s or whatever, if that’s the way you want to play we want to allow you to play how you want to maximize gameplay.

Conversely trying to shove a lot of story into the flow of these maps especially if you guys have played (like it moves very fast) and there is no time to stop and dwell on new ones or theme and things like that; taking kinda a moment to separate story in gameplay is typically not what we do as Blizzard, it allowed both aspects to really breathe on their own and really take the shape they needed to take. So I guess the next point is (well) where is the story? Where does the narrative occur?

We feel these spaces and it’s kind of cool, you tell me that this character comes from this city but where does it play out, where will we be seeing the context of these characters? We don’t have anything to announce yet, we have a lot of plans that way, obviously you guys saw the cinematic yesterday which is something we just absolutely love; well we want to do more of that, we want to have deep rich stories that are fun and tug on your heart strings and just literally kick butt and show you the bigger tapestry of this world and how some of these kooky characters relate; what they think about each other, are there enmities, how do the villains play into this whole thing?

We want to chase every part of that but obviously at this point it’s kind of disconnected from the reality of the gameplay such that Tracer and Widowmaker they are just very antagonistic.

Kaplan: They are enemies, obviously they are clearly enemies.

Metzen: They are enemies of each other but you can team up in a map; there is a kind of a suspension of what kind of story within the flow of the gameplay… so it’s a little kooky; it’s a little different than we’ve done it before but ultimately our reasoning is very, very strong, it allows both aspects of this event to really breathe and take the shape they need to take.

Kaplan: It also removes a lot of constraints like a lot of times when we go to directors like Jeff for the cinematics, we put these amazing constraints on them like “wow, level two is going to segue-way into level three and we want to move you to play in between but we need all these things to happen to set up like the player needs to be playing X, Y, and Z so set it up.”

What’s cool about this, by kinda letting the gameplay breathe on its own and letting the story breathe on its own, we didn’t put any constraints on Jeff when it came to making this movie. We just said make a cool story in the Overwatch universe and we’ll make a cool game in your movie story and that’s how we’ve been sort of approaching it.

Metzen: Does that make any sense? There will be more; what the hell? There will be more.

Question: Hi there, I got a chance to play the demo yesterday and I really loved it, great work but I saw something that I really wanted in that demo which is that arcade cabinet Fires of the Storm; there is a great little Easter egg and I wonder if there’s any more like that in the full game?

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Tsang: That’s my dream.

Metzen: There will be more.

(The developers laugh)

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Question: Hi, first of all just want to say thank you all for bringing on BlizzCon year after year, it’s been great growing up with the Blizzard franchises from the cinematics all the way through to the expansive gameplay so my question is in the future when you inevitably release more characters, will we be seeing things from the cinematics department such as to showcase the unveiling or is it going to be more bringing new characters into the expanding storyline and very well the answer just might be soon which is the rest of the trademark?

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Chamberlain: That’s a good question. Earlier on we were talking about how we would introduce characters and the first part of the meeting was well we should probably have a five minute thing that explains the origin and blah, blah, blah and I think Kaplan was the one that said “we should just do whatever we want, not what people expect from us” and so we talked about it a little bit more and obviously we are not ready to reveal anything big yet but we are talking about more than that I guess so look for more story.

Question: Hello, you guys do a really good job expanding each character and making them very distinct I was wondering and expanding more on the last question, I was wondering do you guys have any plans to have an adventure mode and explore more of their back story and where they came from?

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Kaplan: That sounds like an awesome idea, we would love to explore something like that; we don’t have any immediate plans for something like that but it sounds ‘freaking’ awesome to us.

Metzen: That’s pretty much big Jeff to make something like that happen so we’ll see; we’ll see how it goes.

Kaplan: We will try.

Question: I’m not going to ask about packs but are you going to have alternate skins maybe?

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Kaplan: That sounds awesome too, all I need to answer is yeah that sounds amazing; these characters look at them, they are beautiful and they are from the mind of Arnold and I can only imagine what Arnold would do if he started skinning these characters and how awesome they would look so hopefully something like that.

Question: Hi, love the demo. Mercy for days. I was wondering and I was talking to people on the floor; how are you guys going to avoid the comparison to a vertical TF2? I just heard it a lot.

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Kaplan: If anybody wants to compare this game to Team Fortress II, I would take that as the world’s greatest compliment. I love that game, I think it’s absolutely brilliant; it’s probably one of my favorite games of all time.

(Crowd cheers)

Those guys are geniuses: Robin Walker up at Valve; had the honor of meeting him. So I would take that as a tremendous compliment, I think though as you start to play the game you realize how different the game is from TF2.

Sure there are some similarities, there is a team-based objectives or whatever; but already at the show we have twelve heroes here and TF2 does something very different where they have their sort of roles; they have nine of them.

They look to be very customizable and so maybe your demo man is suddenly charging you with a sword so they are kind of going in a different design direction than we are right out the gate or I should say we are going in a very different direction than they are.

Also mobility just features hugely in this game, you’ve got Pharah flying, I know you said the verticality comment as well but I think the thing that you realize when you start to play Overwatch for those of you guys who’ve gone down there all of us have been conditioned from recent shooters that are out and I’m not saying this is a knock to those because I love them; I have prestiged numerous times in many of the Call of Duties.

So this is absolutely not a knock on those games. Overwatch is about these amazing hero abilities; it’s not about running around and putting people under your crosshairs and it’s funny we watch some of you come in and play Overwatch for the first time and maybe they come from a Call of Duty or Team Fortress background and they won’t hit the buttons at all.

They are only shooting the gun and you have this breakthrough moment where you show them like “no, press the shift button for Pharah and watch what it does” and suddenly you are flying and you start doing the abilities and I think that’s where you really start to see the difference, like ok this game is very, very different from what’s out there right now.

It looks like we are out of time because there are big zeros across the bottom of the stage; I figured somebody would come pull us off with the hook.

Metzen: Guys,that’s about it for our panel, thank you so much for coming out and being a part of this; it’s such an honor to share this game with you guys and just to see where we go from here so thank you and get out there and play Overwatch. Thank you.

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Check out our BlizzCon 2014 Panels Transcript archive.

Special thanks to rettep.

Transcriber: rettep
Editing: Medievaldragon

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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