Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode continued his developer communication tour de force this past week with another published interview, a Reddit post, and an admittedly “cheesy selfie.” Here’s what you need to know:
I. Polygon Interview Goes Live on January 27th.
On January 27th, Polygon.com published a recent interview with Brode. The interview covered a lot of topics that have been touched on in other interviews recently but is a good recap for those who, understandably, might not have been able to keep up with the recent onslaught of developer insights and other communications. A few key points of the interview:
- The team is euphoric with the amount of classes seeing competitive play in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan meta but is unhappy that most of those classes are either Reno or pirate decks.
- The team is “starting to believe” pirates are a problem, and will continue to monitor them over the next few “weeks or months [to get] a better idea of when or how [they] would make a decision on nerfs.” Brode reiterated his prior statements that the focus of any nerfs would be Small-Time Buccaneer, not Patches.
- Brode again recounted–and, to an extent, expounded upon–the epic tale of Patches’ development.
- Brode discussed his thoughts on the standard format, the nerfs to specific evergreen cards before Standard launched, and their options going forward. However, Brode was not prepared to make any announcements at that time.
- Brode believes the tri-card mechanic is best left in Gadgetzan, at least at this time.
- Brode discussed how design space can be expanded upon with card complexity, but that the team prefers “strategic depth” to complexity for the sake of complexity. [Blizzpro note: Brode expanded upon this in his subsequent Reddit comment, discussed below.]
- Brode finished by stating that the team thinks spectator mode has “serious room for improvement,” but it is not their highest priority at this time.
The entire interview, including a few topics not touched upon in the summary above, can be found here.
II. Brode Announces Team 5 has been Working with Legendary Magic: the Gathering Designer Mike Elliott for “Weeks.”
A few hours after the Polygon interview went live, Brode posted a “cheesy selfie” with game designer Mike Elliot to his Twitter (click the link below to see full version of the photograph above, which is, indeed, cheesy). The body of the tweet read,
“Had the pleasure of working with @Elliott_Games over the last couple weeks! Thanks for the fun ideas, sir! (And for the cheesy selfie!)” (tweet)
For those who do not recognize Elliott’s name, Magic: the Gathering‘s Head Designer, Mike Rosewater, has called Elliott, “one of the most prolific Magic designers in the history of the game” and the source of many new mechanics and Magic mainstays, such as slivers. (cite) Elliott has worked on over 30 Magic expansions and an almost countless amount of other innovative games. (cite) Magic, of course, is the “granddaddy” of modern TCG/CCGs like Hearthstone, so if Elliott has been working with Team five for “weeks,” it is a good bet that some exciting new design ideas are coming down the pipeline.
III. Brode Takes to Reddit to Explain Design Key Terms and Team 5’s Design Philosophies.
A day after the Polygon interview discussed above, Brode took to Reddit to further explain some of the design principals that he touched on at the end of the published interview. He explained the difference between “complexity” and “strategic depth,” and explained that he thinks “the cards with the highest ratio of depth to complexity are the best designs.” (Briefly, and without trying to put words in Brode’s mouth, he seems to explain: “complexity” means the opposite of “simplicity,” whereas “depth” means “allowing many usages, including some that reward high-level thinking.” Brode gives the example of Acolyte of Pain as a simple, but strategically deep, card.)
Brode also defined “design space,” and gave examples of cards, and theoretical cards, that limit design space. He believes that limiting design space is sometimes okay for rotating cards, so long as the cards would not be broken in Wild. He also believes that at some point additional complexity might be necessary to expand the design space. However, he believes that point is still very far off if it exists at all.
Brode’s post does not include any announcements but is extremely interesting to people who want more insight into Team 5’s design process. The entire original post can be found here: link.