BlizzCon 2016 Overwatch Q&A Panel Transcript

Overwatch Q&A (Part 3)

Question: I was wondering what your plans are for the next competitive season regarding skill rating because I find that even with the win rate above 50%, I can’t gain noticeable amount of SR unless I go on a win streak, but I would lose 5 – 10 SR if I win a game and then lose a game, and I’ll lose a lot of SR if I play against a hacker a few games in a row.

Jeff: That is an excellent question. I am going to answer partially, but also highly encourage you guys on the Overwatch forums, there is a competitive section, and it doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and there is a really great hardcore community who goes to that competitive forum. Scott Mercer has a post sticky at the top that really goes into detail more on this question, but I will tell you about some of the changes for Season 3 that are going to happen.

First of all, Season 3 is going to start on December 1 depending on where you are in the world, we are only going to have a week break between Season 2 and 3 this time. The feedback last time was it was too long. We had 3 weeks, and players got bored and wanted stuff to do. We are also in between season 2 and 3, we will have competitive practice mode available. The card in the play menu that used to be competitive mode will allow you to queue for the competitive rule set so it will work just like competitive with time bank happening and all that, just with no skill rating gain or loss, and no competitive point reward.

Those are some cool changes I think that are happening, it will help bridge competitive players between 2 and 3. Skill rating, I don’t know the diplomatic way to say this, but we screwed up. We screwed up in Season 2, in particular with placements. We compacted the player base too much between season 1 and season 2, and when people did their season 2 placement, they came out very compacted.

Our skill ratings are supposed to be a bell curve, but it is a very compact bell curve. We also misplaced way too many players into platinum and not enough players into gold and silver. So for season 3, we want to move more of the player base into gold and silver, and so far when I mentioned this to everybody there like “damn straight, way too many people in platinum, got to get those scrubs out of platinum.”

I have this fear, like I am going to have a Nostradamus moment right now of the rage that is going to come as we move lots of players into gold and silver, because everybody tends to have that attitude of like: “Yeah, I am the platinum guy, but these guys down here, we all know like silver, silver, bronze, silver. Oh, you are gold, Nate. Anyway, we really need to improve on skill rating, also the reason that so many people were getting very slight games up and dramatic losses when they would lose a match is because we had misplaced people, and the system is trying to calibrate them lower.

So we are looking at their MMR, and skill rating is very closely attached to MMR. MMR means matchmaking rating. It is a hidden number. It looks weird and mathematical, and only Tim can see it in the metrics; but when we have miscalibrated on skill rating, there is more of a chase that needs to happen with your MMR to your skill rating, and that means that a player might have placed too high. We know by their MMR they are actually a lower skilled player.

So if they win a lot, we can’t give them a lot, because we know that they don’t actually belong there, but for you the individual it just feels terrible. So for season 3, our biggest hope is to recalibrate, and then also redistribute players across that curve in a better way; and if it is wrong, we will work on it, fixing it more. It is going to be perfect this time. The 4th time is the charm.

Question: I had a lore question that all my friends and I argue about whether certain characters are actually amputee,s or whether they just have sort of a mechanical thing on their arm. Mainly, we were talking about Lucio, Symmetra, Pharah and Hanzo.

Michael: Yes, I can do this. Lucio no, Symmetra yes, Pharah no, and Hanzo no (he has delicate ankles). I am going to regret that answer. Right as I get off here, I am gonna think, you know what? Story idea.

(audience laughs)

Question: You mentioned there are jump pads in the new map, and I just wanted to know if you experimented with those in the existing maps, and to also let you know that if you kick Symmetra’s teleporter on its side it would function like a jump pad, and use that in the rework?

Geoff: Oooh, a portal jump pad?

Tim: That is a really cool idea.

Geoff: Originally, we had talked about a character that could build jump pads. It still might be possible somewhere. It is a little tricky. It is kind of hard. It is just like a core ability like build jumppad, and it is like: “Okay, what do I do with that?” like it really in certain maps, it has to be more like an inclusive kit involved in the whole character.

Symmetra is an interesting character, we said just recently we are looking at revisiting her a little bit. Pretty recently, we did some tweaks to D.Va so that her defense metrics is on alternate fire now. It has a resource system instead of a cooldown. So that was a pretty significant change to that character. I was hoping when we started working on Symmetra maybe we will do some similar tweaks and stuff, but as we started tackling her problems, it was like we kind of want to do some more serious stuff here.

So unfortunately for her, it is taking a little bit longer for her, but I give you guys a little bit of insight into what we were thinking about Symmetra stuff. Some of the problems we are looking at is how interactive and how fun really is she especially with that shield ability to place shields on people. It is definitely a powerful ability. I have seen her a couple of times we actually had to nerf it, even though we nerfed that ability, it doesn’t seem like it works that much; but statistically it has changed massively if you just change that one thing.

So it is not a great ability, it is a really powerful ability that doesn’t feel good. We were like Okay, that is not great. We should do something about that ability. So we are looking at that. Another thing that comes up a lot is: you see a lot of people play Symmetra on certain points, especially if you are playing an assault map, and you are defending point A, and she is really great, and you are hoping she works out, you are ready to set up your teleporter, and they take the point, and you are like: “Well, I don’t really want her for point B. The teleporter doesn’t seem very good at point B.

We are looking at maybe trying to solve that problem as well, to make her more viable across more maps, and especially within even a single map, so you don’t feel compelled to switch off often times. I hope that answers your question in a roundabout way.

Jeff: He asked about jump pads too. We have the Oasis jump pad coming, we are kind of just taking a step into it. We didn’t want to make a map that had 50 jump pads, and if players didn’t like jump pads, now we are stuck with this map that no one likes. So we want to see how players interact with the one that we add, and if it is a really cool fun thing, then we are going to add more of them. It can be awesome.

Question: Hi, I am Jessie. I have kind of a hard question about eSports, specifically the Overwatch League. In an eSports experience, it’s great, people are cheering for both teams, the announcers are saying when things are awesome for both teams. In the traditional American sports experience you have got the home team who everyone is cheering for, and the local announcer isn’t really saying things are awesome if the away team is doing them. How are you going to make it so that the American sports cultural experience doesn’t sort of leak into the current eSports experience? I want to be able to cheer for either team without people around me feeling like I am betraying my hometown.

Nate: Good question. As we think about having the teams based in the cities, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we will have home or radio announcers disparaging other teams. We still want to create an awesome experience from the content standpoint, in celebrating both of the teams. The fact that we haven’t thought about that as being a problem makes me think that we will make content that never goes down that path. At the end of the day, this is about making sure that we are celebrating our players, celebrating the teams, creating an awesome experience for fans; but I will keep my eye on it.

Question: Can you make it possible to have Hanzo pin people to the wall when they get shot by an arrow kill style? Number 2: On the kill feed rather than just the generic die death whatever, could you have weapons icon to see if it can kill them; and number 3: damage numbers when you hit someone you see some numbers?

Jeff: Damage numbers, we had damage numbers for a while super early. It is a very contemptuous point.

Tim: Hanzo pinning them to walls? I think it might jeopardize… it might be a little too violent, I think it is a short answer to the first question. I am not going to make any judgements.

With respect to the kill feature Jeremy is looking into trying to give a little more context to that so you will understand credible shots, what ability was used, even we have spoken about Mercy resurrect. That is actually a really important piece of data for the kill feed for the players. It is also good for eSports too, just to give more data for you to understand why that team is back now.

Jeff: The last one was damage numbers. As I mentioned before, we had them in a real early build for a while, and it is hard when you are talking about in-game information that it is this constant fight between on the one hand we want more information, we want damage numbers, or health bars all the time; and then we also get on the other hand like the game is too cluttered on the screen, I can’t see what is going on.

So we want to get information out that is as sort of clean as possible, and a very easy way to understand and see it without blocking the action, because you really need to see when a rocket is coming towards you. You don’t want to miss that. So we are always kinda fighting that, and if it is possible, it can come back some day.

Question: I was wondering if in the future there is going to be more hot keys for status updates. For example, when I am playing Mercy and there are people saying “I need healing,” but I am dead. I think it might be helpful to have a key that says: “I’m dead” or “I am on the way?”

Geoff: Actually, I don’t know if you guys noticed, but there was something we had a little while ago as a healer, I don’t know if you played with this, but you could actually target an ally through the wall, or something, and you could tell them to come back for heals. It was like my own personal thing. Like stop going around the corner! Just comeback, you are dying! Come back here!

So stuff like that, we are definitely trying to help communication as quickly as possible.

Jeff: The communication wheel in general has been working out great. Players are using it a ton, and we got a lot of requests for also some customization on the wheel. Something we would like to look into in the future is can we give you a way to trigger more lines, or maybe you don’t like some of the lines that we provided for you, and they seem useless to you, so we can maybe swap in lines and swap out lines. That has been something we have really been actively talking about; and hopefully, we will be able to work on that sometime soon.

Question: Hi, I am Duncan, and I was playing Sombra earlier and her health pool feels really low. She gets totally shredded by Winston, and also we should give her some regenerating shields, so that she can have a little bit of a boost, but get it back if she gets damaged?

Geoff: So Sombra’s health feels pretty low? She gets shredded? That could happen, especially Winston. Winston is probably her hardest counter, or definitely one of her hardest counters, whenever you take damage by yourself that breaks, and you can try to escape using your translocator; but she can jump out and he can jump after you.

She is an interesting character. She is really tricky to play. I was actually talking to the guys earlier. She’s a tricky character that she kind of drops on you guys at the show floor, especially the people who played before we even did our first demo, and had no idea: “What’s going on!

I think the real trick to surviving with her is using the translocator really carefully and placing it, like we see a lot of people do internally was hack a health pack so only you can have it and then you throw your translocator on that health pack, and you can run around for 15 clicks and it cause all kinds of chaos. At any point you can hit that button, teleport right back on top of that health pack and you are full of health again. It’s almost like a mini Tracer spec there, so I think as players play her I think they will discover tricks like this, and we will have it on PTR soon. So it will be exciting to see what people come up with.

Jeff: One of the mistakes I was making as a Sombra player when we first introduced her is I would use the translocator almost like a Tracer Blink, like I am going to get in there, and I would also try to use the stealth as my get-away; and it is actually the exact opposite of how you want to play her. Occasionally, you can use the translocator as an aggressive instigate move, but I find more often than not it is more useful as a get out of jail card. If you haven’t set up your attack ahead of time you might be caught in a precarious situation. So I think just adjusting your play style a little bit will help too.

Question: The other thing is if she hacks somebody who is bionic or like Genji who has cyber agility it should shut that down so that he can’t double jump.

Jeff: Actually, we talked a lot about that. It is double jump. It is also Pharah’s jet boost. It is a couple of other characters. It is still possible to do that, generally the line has been drawn at passive abilities, and things that are sort of intrinsic to the character’s mobility/basic mobility like that wall climb is shut down and stuff like that are still allowed. There’s definitely where we could make a change, I think right now the way to think about the hack ability is kind of every time you see an icon at the bottom-right in the HUD, and you have all those ability icons, all those get shut off. So anything that is represented by an icon, you are not able to do anymore apparently.

… Because it is the Genji hate. Disabling the dash isn’t good enough. Can’t jump! (laugh)

Jeff: Sombra should just remove Genji.

Question: I asked this question last year and didn’t get a coherent answer because no one really knew the answer. It kinda plays off when someone asked about what happened to Ireland, thus far, during the Omnic Crisis. You were flushing out last year how certain countries did certain things during the Omnic Crisis. The Germans made the Crusader Armor, the Russians like in the Sombra cinematic you see they have the mechs that they made. Especially because you said the UK was hit the hardest, but you still haven’t explained what the UK did. Like what was their trademark, what did they do to survive the crisis itself?

Michael: That is a really interesting question. Maybe we will see something about that in the story in the future. I feel really bad about having to give the same answer two years in a row; but I think, yeah, maybe we will see something about that in the story in a future.

Jeff: We are almost out of time, unfortunately. I think we can take one more question, and we will try to answer it quickly, which means I shouldn’t answer it. Billy should answer the next on.

Question: I play Overwatch. It is my first first-person shooter because I get motion sickness, and I love it; but I can’t play Bastion because he rocks sideways and I was wondering why with all the accessibility options you have for Warcraft and even some in Overwatch, why don’t you have a camera stability option in your accessibilities?

Tim: You are not the first person to give that feedback about Bastion. So I think that is a very good suggestion. I will figure out a way to get that on the schedule. I think that is a very good insight.

Geoff: Even a few people on the team get motion sick. So I think that makes sense.

Jeff: That’s a great suggestion, we’ll try to do better.

Jeff: Thank you guys so much, and we got Weird Al coming out soon. So stick around. Thanks for everything, and check out the PTR this week. We need your feedback. Thanks, everyone.

Transcriber: rettep
Editor: Medievaldragon

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