BlizzCon 2016 Overwatch Q&A Panel Transcript

This is a full transcript of the BlizzCon 2016 Overwatch Q&A panel. The panelists directing this event were the following game developers:

  • Jeff Kaplan (game director)
  • Geoff Goodman (lead hero designer)
  • Michael Chu (lead writer)
  • Bill Petras (art director)
  • Timothy Ford (lead software engineer)
  • Nate Nanzer (global director, eSports)

Overwatch Q&A


Narrator: Welcome to the Overwatch Q&A.

Jeff: This is the Overwatch Q&A panel, and we are here to A the Qs. We want to do a quick recap of all the things that we have announced at BlizzCon, so nobody forgets before the Q&A.

First up was Sombra. As you guys might have heard yesterday. Sombra is our 23rd hero. We think she is awesome. Hopefully, you guys have played her a bunch.


We hear that she is really balanced when you play her 6v6 Sombras. That I heard on the showfloor. No issues there. Then there’s the one guy called Winston who wins against everybody.

We announced the arcade which is our next big feature. That features all the new game modes like Mystery Duel, 3v3 Elimination, we have the No Limits, Mystery Heroes, and All Brawls.


We talked about Ecopoint: Antarctica (which is Mei’s base), where we are going to use it as our first arena map. So we are going to use it for smaller skirmish type game modes, and we have a lot more ideas besides the 1v1 and 3v3 coming in the future on Ecopoint Antarctica.


We also talked about Oasis. This is the map that is coming, hopefully, early in 2017. It should be on the PTR in December. This is a control map that takes place in the Arabian Desert.


And lastly, we had a big announcement about the Overwatch League which is putting our foot forward and really making a statement about what we believe in for eSports and Overwatch as a competitive game.


Lastly, I just want to say congratulations to South Korea. I don’t know how many of you watched the World Cup, but it was amazing; and I only imagine Overwatch League carrying on the tradition of the World Cup, and more. So that is a quick overview. We should introduce ourselves.

Jeff: I am Jeff. I place the health packs, and micromanage anybody who misplaces the health packs.


Geoff: That’s actually true, by the way. I am Geoff, and I am lead hero designer.


Hi, I am Michael, and I am the lead writer on Overwatch, and I will be getting all my answers like Bastion from the animated short.


Hi, I am Bill Petras, the art director of Overwatch,


My name is Tim Ford. I move little cups (with Pharah on them) around.


I am Nate. I make Power Point slides and I talk about them.


Jeff: We are ready for questions. The awesome part is I have no idea how this is supposed to work, so I am just assuming somebody does.


Overwatch Q&A

Hi, my name is Taylor. I am a main, and proud. My question is about the overall world of Overwatch, because we know that you created this rich story, and all these characters have so many personalities. When are we going to get a story mode that we can actually play through, and actually get some more background with Tracer and, obviously?

Geoff: You guys hopefully played through Junkenstein’s Revenge, recently. We put it up during the Halloween event. That was sort of a little bit of test to see if you guys were really interested in some PvE content with the PvP set-up we normally have. We are definitely open to it. A lot of us worked on World of Warcraft in previous games where we were PvE geeks ourselves, and we’d love to do some sort of PvE content. Especially with more story with the world involved. We got to fit it in somewhere.

Michael: I would love to do some more PvE content. I think that sounds great.

Competition is a huge part of Overwatch; I was wondering will there be a competitive 1v1 and 3v3?

Jeff: I think that is an awesome question. It is funny, because we put the arcade in as kind of a way to go and blow off steam, and when we first started testing the different modes in there, it was very fun, and unique, and kind of lighthearted; but at the end of our test iteration cycle, it has sort of become a very competitive thing for us now. So we kind of want to see what happens when you guys get your hands on the arcade, and what direction you want those modes to go in. I think with Mystery Duel and 3v3 Elimination, there is probably some rule tweaks we are going to need to do, to kind of get a feel of how the community approaches the modes, how you guys play them; but over time, if there is a real strong desire from the community to make those modes competitive, we’d love to do it.

Your animated shorts are beautiful, they are wonderful. Are we going to get one for every hero? In particular, Mercy, because we don’t know much about her since launch.

Michael: I think it would be amazing if every hero got their own short. We basically, I think our approach is that we take it one at a time. Luckily, we have all these other different ways that we can get some of these stories across. Mercy in particular is one that we are really interested in, but I don’t have anything to announce right now; but I think you can definitely expect to see and learn more about Mercy in the future.

The Petras Act was disbanded in Overwatch, but in the King’s Row attacker spawn room there is a Petras brand champagne. What is the relationship there?

Michael: That is a great question. We have a luminarie here to provide the answer.

Bill: First of all, if you are on a Dev Team, and someone says: “Hey, can we use your name for something”? — you always want to get a little bit more details about it before you say yes; but yeah, it was really early on. I guess on the early cinematic. It was just a couple questions that Michael was just pitching at me, but yea that has been named after my last name. yes.

Jeff: Our biggest hope is that in the Overwatch League (and Nate is going to kill me for saying this), but we want there to be a Pittsburgh team and then hopefully someone names it the Pittsburgh Petras.

Hello, gentlemen. My name is Dr. Legend, and my question is: There was a feature that was available in beta that suddenly was dropped at the release of the game, but made a return in a crippled form, so what I wanted to ask is: When are you guys going to bring back true 21:9 ultra-wide monitor support?

Tim: We spent a fair bit of energy trying to dig out what works for the 21:9 with respect to fairness of the game, FOV, performance constraints we put on the artists, and we had to take all those trade-offs together; and the solution that we wound up with, the one that is in the shipped game right now; and it is the one that we think is the best to take all those trade-offs into account. It is entirely an unsatisfatory answer, I can tell by your face. I am assuming that if I waited out, you would ask me about matchmaking, and then we can just go deeper into that as well.

Hi, everyone. I am Joe, and my question is about Hanzo, and Roadhog, and other heroes who have very important abilities that functions strangely from time to time. So Hanzo’s arrows don’t necessarily actually hit you, but they hit you. Roadhog hooks you over roofs and down to the floor on the other side. What alternate solutions do you have to those, because I know you tried something with Hanzo one time, and it didn’t work out well. So what do you have if anything that can improve upon that?

Tim: I think if we could do the Lumberjack skin for Hanzo, so that he shoots wooden logs, then the clarity would appear. That is the big thing: it is just clarity. I don’t know if we could replace Roadhog’s hook with a giant cage.

Geoff: I suggested a trans-dimensional hook. It’s good. (laughs)

Tim: We have been iterating on that a lot. Jeff and I in particular we might ping back on each other on this. For Hanzo (again I’m going to use the trade-off keyword again. I will fall back on that excuse multiple times during this Q&A. So bear with me), we make those trade-offs between what is fair for the person shooting the arrow, and what is fair for the person receiving the arrow. I imagine we will continue to balance that (with Hanzo in particular). For Roadhog, we are investigating. We already have plan out what we are calling Hook 2.0 or iHook (if you are Apple-branded). That involves looking at what it feels like to be Roadhog, what it feels like to be hooked by Roadhog, what we can do with the game mechanics themselves. We look at those things together, trying to make something satisfying for you guys. A thing to note about how we make all these abilities is some of them are really fishy, and we have to make concessions to effects and latency, and all the other fun stuff. The ones you don’t complain about are the ones that we have been sucessful at. The ones you guys do bring to our attention are the ones that we need to work on. We are listening to you, and we will work on that.

Geoff: The Roadhog one is coming pretty soon, hopefully. We are looking at that.

First of all, I wanted to thank you guys so much for making this game. I did have a question about Sombra in the Los Muertos gang. They have been working together since Sombra was little. The Los Muertos gang and the Junkers have obviously bumped into each other from the Soldier: 76 animated short. So does Sombra (since she worked with them) know about Junkrat’s treasure? Is she after it?

Michael: Obviously, Junkrat and Roadhog robbed the bank (the Banco de Dorado). It’s funny, because while Junkrat and Roadhog are definitely members, and they come from the Junkers, I sometimes think about them as just something completely different. I would think that they probably had some interaction during that time maybe with Los Muertos.

In competitive if you take the first point as the attacker within the first 2 minutes, there is always the fear that someone on the defending team will quit because they think it is a loss, and it turns into a frustrating experience. Is there any way you guys can fix this?

Jeff: It is definitely something we need to fix, we haven’t figured out a way to fix it that makes the leaver situation not bad in the majority of cases. So that situation is pretty rare as we’re seeing it. So even though it is not a good issue, and it is definitely something we need to fix, it is not happening that frequently, and right now our bigger concern is to thwart leaving as much as possible. So it is one of the downsides of the leaving situation in general is that the more heavy-handed we are, the more of the time that is going to open the door for some of these non-abuse cases to feel punished by some of the rules; but we will continue to talk about it, because it does blow.

Next: Overwatch Q&A (Part 2)

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of 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.

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