Heroes developers answered your questions about ranked, matchmaking, and balance yesterday and here’s a summary of everything we’ve learned.
AMA Schedule (Source)
We’ll have another AMA dedicated to Art & Design on April 4th followed by a Hero Design AMA on May 9th.
Ranked Play & Balance & Matchmaking AMA
March 6th // 10:00 AM PST
Art & Design AMA
April 4th // 10:00 AM PST
Hero Design AMA
May 9th // 10:00 AM PST
Ranked Play & Balance & Matchmaking Highlights
The team’s working hard on merging Hero and Team League. It will hit live servers with the next major patch. The first glimpse of the new League will come in as a Preseason, followed by the full roll-out after.
More XP changes will be announced in the near future.
The top priorities for the game right now are fix the broken AI and roll out Ranked Play improvements as soon as possible.
They’re not particularly happy with the time it takes to fix the broken AI, but it needs proper testing and the hotfix must be made so that other things don’t break.
They’d like to find a way to rectify long queues for new players.
The team hasn’t still decided if they want to show MMR. Many developers are questioning the benefits, pros and cons still need to be discussed internally.
Call of the Nexus feature introduction led to increased queue times and match quality, but some players experienced a very significant increase. To solve this, the plan is to add a prioritization system for team compositions:
“While the matchmaker is determining a fair match up, it will try to enforce the team composition that launched with Call of the Nexus for a certain period of time. After a duration of time has passed, it will then allow the existing Quick Match Team Compositions.” (Source)
Another idea they’re evaulating is allowing the player to determine if they’re willing to prioritize meta comps over queue times.
With the upcoming Ranked Play updates, you will be able to select your primary and secondary preferred roles (new roles + flex) on the Ranked screen during draft.
Loss Forgiveness has undergone significant development, but they still need to polish a specific scenario, where a player is disconnected for a significant portion of the match. It’s not slated to come out in the next update though.
HGC termination led to more liberal balance changes.
Chen’s rework is teased as “staggering”. New trait, maybe?
No major Malthael reworks are planned, but Tormented Souls could use a new functionality.
The team’s closely watching the Esports scene, they’re interested in finding ways to help promote and nurture it.
With combined Ranked, the plan is to restrict the queue to people who have 16 or more Heroes and are player account level 50. They’re also enforcing restrictions on ranked spread in queue. For parties of 2, 3, and 4, they’re limiting the party to a 2 league spread beween highest and lowest ranked player. For parties of 5, you can do what you like, but anyone that is more than 2 leagues lower than the highest ranked player will have their MMR and rank ignored for matchmaking purposes.
The role rework is finally coming in the next major patch.
Something’s planned for ARAM, but they’re not ready to reveal anything specific just yet.
Clans are still a very real possibility. It’s just a matter of passion and prioritizing.
Still no details about a public API.
Tassadar will be reworked to match his Legacy of the Void opening cinematic fantasy, but it won’t be that soon.
With the new single Ranked queue, they’re looking to change the rewards structure for the first full Season.
Performance-based matchmaking won’t return in the near future. They still want to use the gathered information to help inform players on areas where they are performing well or what they can focus on to improve.
In the new Ranked League, they plan to apply decay to all players regardless of whether or not they play.
Valeera has a bunch of talents that focus on only 1 opener and that’s not ideal. She will be reworked, but not anytime soon.
There are no plans to implement an Avoid Teammate feature.
What is the current timeline and plan to merge TL and HL and how do you plan on generating the new rank / MMR of the combined mode?
Our feature team has been working crazy-hard to get the new combined Ranked mode stood up and ready to launch. I am extremely excited to say that the framework for it will be coming in our next major patch. That said, we have a lot more work to do in order to polish and get all of the additional features complete, so the first glimpse of this new League will come in as a Preseason, followed closely by the full roll-out soon after.
As for generating a player’s MMR, we plan on taking the highest Ranked Mode (Hero or Team League) MMR from your profile, normalizing and then clamping it in order to seed the new league with a good initial distribution of skill levels for all players. From here, we should have an accurate starting place for players to begin competing in the new Ranked Experience. For players that have never played any Ranked mode before, we will be using a skill estimate based on information we have about those players from other modes (if we have it) but it will also be clamped to a specific maximum division equivalent.
Its been said “the framework” for the new ranked exeperience will come this next patch. Can you confirm after 2019 Season 2 finishes in a few weeks will we go ahead and enter the preseason for the new combined ranked experience later this month? or will HL/TL standard 2019 Season 3 standard begin later this month?
The new combined Ranked Mode will come with the season roll in a few weeks ?
GGG is the #1 player in Team League right now with a 93% win rate because she plays with 4 other bronze smurfs. Therefore she tricks the system into matching her with silver/gold players. Do you have any plans on making it so we can only queue with players that are within our division?
I have answered a very similar question here, which I hope covers your concerns.
Are you looking at altering the XP changes at all? Would you ever consider reverting the XP changes, or even reverting the game back to 2017?
We’ve got some additional thoughts on it that we’d like to share with everyone shortly!
What are the highest priorities for the game right now?
We have some immediate things that we want to do to get the game stabilized, including fixing the AI that we broke recently and delivering the Ranked Play improvements being outlined by the team here today. From there, our ongoing focus will continue to be around making improvements, changes, and additions to the game (design/balance/content/technology) that keep it feeling fresh and fun, as often as we can. As the team settles and we get through some of these urgent endeavors, everyone on the team is empowered to be asking themselves what the most impactful thing they can do for the game and for our players is each day. And we’ll do as many of those things as we can, as quickly as we can. Your input continues to be critical in our plans, so thank you for being a part of this, /u/czechonesauce!
It looks horrible that you have left the AI broken for so long. It makes it seem like HOTS is just not a priority for Blizzard – since clearly a bug that hurts gameplay so much would be fixed immediately in Overwatch.
Actions speak a lot louder than words. Or, lack of action in fixing this bug tell us more than carefully-written words in an AMA.
Please fix this soon, as it ruins so many games.
We agree that the way the AI broke is unacceptable and have been working very hard on a series of fixes that are in test. It’s really important to us to fix this without introducing new issues or exacerbating the current issues, so the testing process is more involved than other changes that we make to the game. As you’ve probably seen from our past missteps, rollbacks and fixes are usually much faster and easier to turn around than this one, and we’re really disappointed that things got to this state and are taking this long to rectify. We’re eager to get this fixed – thanks for sharing your thoughts, /u/nonosam9.
How about remove new players matchmaking pool?
I heard that new player Quick Match queue time is so long.
Waiting long time for one match that’s not good experience obviously. Also It makes very hard to start and learn the actual game.
If over 10 minutes queue time is actually happened, I would rather to just remove specialize player pool than long queue time than that.
We are tracking queue times and match quality spread for our quick match queue and we have also noticed that newer players face longer wait times for their games due to our current game count rule. It is something we are looking to rectify and we have looked into ways of relaxing these restrictions. We want to make sure that new players have an easy and fast queuing experience, but we also are aware that there will be players with thousands of levels who would prefer to play with other players that have thousands of levels.
Hi and thank you for this AMA. Are you still planning to show mmr? Who would see it? What about merging mmr and rank? What are the pros and cons according to the team?
Hey there Neva_d!
Great question – in fact, it is so good I still don’t have a real answer for you! I am personally leaning towards showing MMR to players, but I have a very intelligent group of developers that are cautioning it and while we are very openly considering it, we still need time to discuss the pros and cons a bit more in-depth internally.
However, this is a major topic that I would love to hear the community’s thoughts on – should we show each individuals MMR and how would you want it to be exposed? What are your concerns about us potentially making this change?
So, a couple months ago you introduced a new quickmatch matchmaking, guaranteeing a tank, a healer and at least one ranged assassin in every match. Before christmas you (seemingly) reverted this, since it cause long long queue times for anything that wasn’t a tank or healer.
What are your thought about these changes in hindsight? Were they mistakes? What would you change about them, if you wanted to reintroduce them?
Hello! Great question! When we released the Call of the Nexus feature, we knew that queue times would increase as our simulations demonstrated this. However, match quality went up for almost the entire Quick Match population. It’s also important to note that majority of our players did not experience a large increase in queue times, however those that did, experienced a very significant increase. Since the community was asking for the Matchmaker to ensure Quick Match had better team compositions, we felt this was a good trade off. I wouldn’t say these changes were a mistake as it addressed what the community was currently reaching out to developers for. We are still planning to bring this back and are considering some additional changes.
A prioritization system for team compositions: While the matchmaker is determining a fair match up, it will try to enforce the team composition that launched with Call of The Nexus for a certain period of time. After a duration of time has passed, it will then allow the existing Quick Match Team Compositions.
Putting the control in the players hand: Another idea we are considering is allowing the player to determine if they are willing to prioritize meta composition over queue times.
Ranked: Do you think it could be useful to have roles icon near our names in draft to show what we are willing to pick during draft?
Thank you for the question, Elitesparkle. This is a great idea and we’re excited to share a good news with you. The team has been exploring some ideas to enhance the drafting experience. With first come first serve pick mode, pre-pick communication has become more important than ever. And yet, lots of players are still shy about expressing their preferred picks. With the upcoming ranked mode update, you’ll be able to select your Primary and Secondary Preferred Roles on the Ranked screen, which will be visible to your team mates on the draft screen. I hope that this feature help the players initiate the conversation and pave the way for their great victory!
This sounds great! What roles did you make available for that, main tank, solo lane, assassin and support? Or the roles from the new role system?
You will be able to choose among new roles plus Flex.
Are there any plans to give Unranked the same draft format as Team League?
We can certainly discuss it. I believe providing similar experience in Unranked draft is important so that players can practice in the same way as Ranked draft. On the other hand, I know some people prefer to pick in order. What do you think? Would there be any downsides of using first come first serve mode in Unranked mode?
When the initial matchmaking fails, it would be nice to automatically rejoin the queue, and not having to manually do it. This is especially important with longer queue times for matchmaking.
Is this QoL feature in the works?
Hey Konokrad, thanks for addressing one of the bugs we also find frustrating!
The engineering group has a large list of tech improvements we would like to make and this issue is on there. While I can’t give you a date, it is on our radar and we hope to get it fixed.
Seriously though, how can we help?
Fitting name, /u/Altruism7! There’s a lot you can do to help.
Play the game. Bring a friend or four. Try some healers and tanks more often, if you aren’t maining them already. Keep telling us what you love and, more importantly, what we need to do better. When we make something you think is awesome, spend your Gold or Shards or Gems on it. Be kind to each other and have fun together, because that’s what this is all about.
Thanks for your support!
Do you plan to implement a loss forgiveness mechanic for being matched with AFK/Disconnected players in ranked?
Hello Midnight7_7:) Firstly I’d like to let you know that the The Loss Forgiveness feature has undergone significant development, and is something we still plan on delivering. However, there are quite a few edge cases that we need to consider when developing this feature in order to make sure it provides the best experience for you, the player. Let’s break this question down into a few scenarios:
A game completes while a player is disconnected: A leaver penalty is already applied to the account and the user is no longer able to participate in ranked matches until they have played the required amount non ranked matches. This scenario is already handled.
A player is disconnected for a significant portion of the match: This is the Loss Forgiveness feature that we would like to polish.
The current version has too many ranged mage heroes. A large proportion of the total damage output is of ability damage. Now the DPS contest is more like an exchange of abilities. Valla, Tracer, Greymane and other heroes become less playable, and they require much resources from the supports. Is there any plan to adjust this in the future?
This is a fantastic question. Honestly we haven’t discussed the parity between Basic Attack heroes vs. ability based heroes at length recently, and I think it is a discussion worth having. I cannot promise any changes right now, but I will bring this up to the team and see where we stand in this regard.
Has the suspension of HGC influenced the development team on the hero/map balancing?
I answered a similar question from Simsala91, so feel free to reference that as well for additional insight.
The short answer is that the change is still relatively new, though we are currently experimenting with being more liberal with our balance changes, and have been making more changes that in the past we would have seen as being too risky with a constant competitive league running. Our focus with our changes is still to make the most fun game possible, and while we will always look at high level play, we are looking to be more bold with our balance changes in the near future.
Please feel encouraged to give us feedback on whether or not you like this shift in our balance patches, as this is not something that we always have to do, even if it is what we want to experiment with for now.
Is there any plan to rework Kharazim’s Transcendence and Insight builds? I can’t but help feel that the requirement to land free punches in order to function as a strong healer is less about the player’s skill and more about whether the opposition chooses to let you do it, either through negligence or lack of coordination or whatever.
We don’t have any plans to drastically rework Transcendence or Insight. While we think there’s some small changes we can make to his Talents to allow him to be a little more consistent with his ability to Basic Attack in general, statistically Insight and Transcendence have comparable winrates, and while Iron Fists is the most picked at high level, the other two are still close.
We try to walk the line with Kharazim between making Transcendence and Insight a meaningful portion of his power pie, without making the healer feel like he can’t heal unless he can manage to punch people an entire fight.
Will Chen ever get to see a rework of some sort or balance? Can we have some spoilers?
I don’t want to give away any specifics, but so far the results have been… Staggering.
With HGC ending, did the focus of the balance team change drastically? Are non official competitive games something you consider when you are balancing a hero?
I wouldn’t say that the focus of the balance team has changed drastically, and we’re still a bit fresh with this change so I don’t want to speak for the entire team, but this is my perspective:
Personally, my main objective now and going forward is primarily to maintain the best balance possible while also making the game the most fun for the most amount of people. As you have probably seen with our recent balance patches, there has been a focus on having more viable builds, more fun talents, more viable heroes, and more cool hero interactions. I don’t think there will ever be a world where we aren’t looking at the top level of play, including competitive games, but right now my focus has been on making cool stuff, which I’ve been taking a lot of joy from in the last few months.
Is there any plan to rework malthael tormented souls and/or buffing “passive” build? Or maybe even reworking him again?
Good morning Tomo00!
We don’t have any plans to rework Malthael. However, while Tormented Souls is performing appropriately compared to Last Rites, I agree that it is a little simple and could use some love functionally to make it more interesting. I’ve made a note to see what we can do to spruce it up sometime soon ™.
Does the HotS team have any intention to support the 3rd parties that are trying to carry on HotS esports?
We saw the TeSPA games on the official HotS Twitch account; would you be willing to utilize the follower base of the HotS Twitch account to help supplement Heroes Lounge Division S? A “passing of the torch” would inevitably help the scene, even showing one Div S series on the official twitch account and then hosting the Heroes Lounge Stream would be amazing.
Hi, /u/pineconefire! Our team is closely watching the esports scene that’s been growing and we’re interested in finding ways we can help promote and nurture it. We also recognize that we don’t have all the answers or even visibility into the challenges and opportunities, so I encourage the organizers and community to be vocal about ways our team might be able to help. I can’t make any promises as to what that our support will entail at this point, but the desire to help this scene is very strong.
Hey Kaeo ❤️ everything you do for the team.
One of the things that will really really help for community run tournaments is removing or rising the prize cap for them. I think 5.000 USD is the current cap and it doesn’t really work for longer tournaments… why would you compete for months if you can’t even pay the rent on the first month you’re competing?
Let the community amass tens thousands of dollars in prize pools, at least, raise the cap to 25.000 USD which is a more meaningful prize for all players involved.
But to be honest, I can’t fathom a reason why that prize pool cap even exists.
Thanks, /u/ExpertFudger! Some changes to the Community Tournament License giving more headroom for sponsorships and prizepools were made alongside the HGC announcement – please see the community tournaments site (click on the Heroes icon) for more details on the revised Heroes limitations: https://communitytournaments.blizzardesports.com/
How do you feel about the state of weirdest heroes Chogall, Murky, Lost Vikings, and Abathur? It looks to me like one of them is too popular and the others are too unfavored.
We meet again Senshado!
This is somewhat of a difficult question to answer, as I believe it is a complicated issue.
I really enjoy the weird, unique heroes that our game has to offer. I play the heroes that you listed a lot and enjoy them immensely (just ask any of the other Balance guys who are in this AMA). That being said, in my experience it’s extremely rare that these kinds of fringe characters exist in a space where they enjoy a lot of popularity while also being enjoyable to play with and against. I’ve found this to be true not only in our game, but in just about any game. While I’d love to live in a world where these characters are fun, balanced, feel good to play with and against, while also retaining their full flavor and unique space in the game, I think that it would require an unreasonable amount of work and would have a very high chance of failure. I also believe that, inevitably, most attempts to make these characters more mainstream would result in stripping away more and more of what makes them unique, as their special traits are directly at odds with what makes them unfun to play with or against in the first place.
My perspective now with these kinds of heroes is that am not eager to overhaul them, but I would instead massage and tweak them to be better versions of themselves over time. The recent changes to Cho’gall are an example of this, where I was looking to just make the hero more fun to play and have more interesting and competitive choices in their talents. I think we can make these heroes a little more mainstream and fun to use, but it’s important to me to keep their uniqueness as much as possible while doing so, unless they are a large problem at some level of play. If they are creating a huge amount of disruption for many players, then I think it’s more warranted to remove some of their uniqueness in the name of a better play experience for everyone.
I hope this adequately answers your question!
Actually a Design question: Will you rework your wording to allow less confusion of sub-roles?
Having a “Mage” is extremely confusing for new players since they think “Nova can’t be a mage because she has a sniper rifle”.
Also, you have a word (Mage) for Spell Damage Dealers (which doesn’t discriminate between Melee Spell Damage or Ranged) but you don’t have a word for Ranged Basic Attack Damage Dealers which is a gigantic mouthful. Why hasn’t this been properly researched and implemented?
Thanks for the feedback! I’ll bring this up to the designers before we rollout the UI for expanded roles role in an upcoming patch.
Assuming the ranked modes will eventually be combined as previously discussed, how will group matchmaking work? Using the MMR of the highest player? Using a team average-based MMR?
How do you feel your plans will affect:
a) Smurfs that currently frequent Team League
b) Groups of friends that have legitimately varying skill that wish to play ranked together
This is something we have talked about extensively during our work on combining the ranked queues. We want to make the queue welcoming and for everyone, but also make sure that smurfing is discouraged. With that in mind we are restricting the queue to people who have 16 or more heroes and are player account level 50. We are also enforcing restrictions on ranked spread in the queue. For parties of 2, 3, and 4, we are limiting the party to a 2 league spread between highest and lowest ranked player. For parties of 5 you can do what you like, but anyone that is more than 2 leagues lower than the highest ranked player will have their MMR and rank ignored for matchmaking purposes. This will also be true for anyone who is currently unplaced playing with anyone who is placed. We are hoping that this will mean that the matchmaking and game experience is the best that it can be. We will be closely monitoring the pre-season and will welcome any and all feedback for this as we head in to the first season.
As a question back to you (and anyone interested in this), what do you think other ways are that we could implement to both allow players to play without restrictions but also project players from facing smurfs and having a degraded matchmaking experience?
Rlly like the changes here. Thank you! But I think instead of limiting the party to a 2 league spread between the highest and lowest ranked player, I think the lowest ranked player should just play at the highest ranked player’s rank. I think this would not restrict the players playing together and at the same time people can play with whoever they want but will face tougher opponents.
The reason why I am saying this is because, my team captain for heroes lounge is master and he plays the game quite frequently whereas I am gold. I am more than happy to play with players at master level but with the new implementation of the rank changes, I would not be able to play with my team because of the restrictions. In terms of accumulating the points, if I win or lose a match, it should just be the same if I was playing against gold players.I know you might argue that we should be a team of 5 but sometimes we are a team of 4 so this makes it a bit difficult. I am not sure if I am coming across clearly. :S
TLDR : I won’t be able to play with my heroes lounge team to an extent as we have quite different ranks..
Thank you for the quick feedback on this, /u/AuntieLiLi!
Being unable to play with your masters friends when you’re a party of 4 is a valid concern. This is also something we can definitely track: If the number of parties of 4 in our ranked queue goes down for example and is not filled back up with parties of 5, then we know that we’re losing some players from the queue because of our change and we can very easily change this configuration. We’re not about to say “Well just make more friends, el oh el”, but we needed to start with a baseline of restrictions and we can use them as a basis for refining and getting to a point where everyone can play.
These restrictions seem to lack a minimum hero level cap to play.
I’ve noticed many players come to TL in a group of 2-3 and pick heroes under level 5. It seems they are using TL for its bonuses (XP/Gold/Draft/FastGames).
I understand wanting to make it welcoming, but doesn’t this reduce skill in ranked and also make smurfing much easier?
I’d favor minimum hero level requirement over amount of heroes owned. This at least enforces a standard of experience on that hero. Account level is important too to ensure a standard of game/map knowledge.
Thanks for the quick feedback, /u/az4th!
So, yes, we have currently shifted the idea of having specific hero levels required to play to having a total account level. This more closely mirrors Team League than Hero League.
We need to have a 16 hero requirement as 6 bans + 10 heroes means that a player must be able to have every hero they own picked or banned and still be able to play.
As player level is a sum of all of the hero levels, we feel that having player level 50 would mean that if you had those 16 heroes, you would on average have them all at level 3.
We will be looking at how this plays out during pre-season. If people find that this allows too many smurfs in or means people end up playing heroes they don’t know how to play too often then this is definitely something we can change. Now (and when the league is released) will be the time to tell us these things, because we can do whatever we need to make this as enjoyable and rewarding an experience as possible!
New class roles, are they still in the works and planned to be released ?
Starting with the new ranked season, you’ll be able to use the new roles in game. Furthermore, we have added Preferred Role UI on the ranked screen where you can express your preferred roles to pick in the Ranked draft lobby. Please check out my answer here.
So with the coming merger of HL/TL, there is obviously some design reason why they are not working as standalone game modes. What have you guys learned are the problems with competitive modes and why do you believe merging the two queues will create an improvement?
Good morning hybrid_remix!
This is an incredible question and probably deserves a much longer and stronger answer than I have time for. The question is doubly-difficult as the modes have changed rules over time. Here is my best condensed answer:
These two modes were created due to looking at the game from a top-down perspective. Hero League was originally designed to allow one or two players to play together in a competitive atmosphere while Team League was made to be a ‘full-five-man-team’ group of friends to do the same. From the moment we decided to design the game around team-levels and not individual ones, we knew that the most fun way to play the game was going to be with a group of friends. However, the influx of other MOBA players had two major pieces of feedback we felt we needed to address:
Hero League should be about me and how I perform. Plus I don’t like trying to rank up by myself when I am facing duo-groups that often include ‘smurfs’.
Team League is too hard to find games because not enough five-man parties are queuing.
As we evolved, changes were made to address these pieces of feedback, which ended up with HL in an okay place but TL consistently suffered. This was disappointing to us because, again, the game offers the most engagement and fun when playing together with buddies. So the recent changes to TL were made to allow all party sizes to queue, and low and behold, after a few months the reverse had happened – TL was now thriving and HL was suffering.
At this point, we knew the dual-ranked-mode model for our game just wasn’t going to work. At the end of the day, most players just want a good match and to have some fun while competing to win. The new TL had created that for them and so our new combined mode is looking to embrace that philosophy while adding so much more!
Will it be possible to have fixed teams per seasons (with a Team MMR instead of a personal MMR and special rewards) in the future?
It is definitely possible! In fact, the original launch of Team League was designed to do this exact thing. While we ultimately changed that design direction, we have very recently started early talks about potentially bringing it back in some form. We all know how incredible and rewarding the game is when played with a static group of friends and we are looking to prioritize the features that would most dramatically help players find and play with their buddies!
Do you plan on improving the party finder (specifically for TL)?
I would really like a system like overwatch’s with at least the game mode and average rank of the party displayed. Add in roles (real role, not IG class) and TL would be that much better?
We’ve actually done some development on a Party Finder feature, and it is something I am personally very passionate about. While I cannot give you a date on when this will be delivered, I can share with you that the team is looking to see where we can fit this in! Our goal is to provide our players the ability to find other players of similar skill level, desired game mode, while communicating what role they wish to play.
I would love to know what’s still coming. The role rework is nearly complete, right? What’s next after that?
Any plans to expose player MMR?
Any plans to add all of the ARAM maps to the custom games map list?
Is in-game clan support still a possibility?
Any hope for an in-game tournament mode?
Will I ever be able to spectate a friend’s match?
Is the public API still in the works? Will we ever be able to read ‘official’ stats instead of relying on incomplete data collected by fan sites like Hotslogs?
I just want to know what to look forward to next ?
Good morning Vambaqe!
We are discussing the pros and cons of exposing MMR and have asked for the communities thoughts about it ?
There are no current plans to add the ARAM maps to custom games, but we do have some plans for ARAM in general that are under development.
Clans are still a very real possibility. It’s all a matter of passion and prioritizing, and I know this is very high for both the community and us as developers.
Tournament Mode is something we have always wanted and we have discussed finding a way to make it a reality. The infrastructure for creating teams (what Team League originally was) is still around, and could be the starting point to automating tournaments. That said, there are so many questions to answer and development time costs to examine.
The ability to spectate has been explored and is not impossible, although there are some significant technical hurdles that would have to be solved. Pat talks about that a bit more in depth in another post.
A public API is something I would love to get to the players but I don’t have any current information on it to share.
You mentioned that you intend to make MMR visible in game. Is this something you are planning to expose in replay files as well?
In regards to showing MMR, see our other answer here.
Since we haven’t made any hard decisions yet on whether or not to show MMR, I don’t think anyone has considered whether or not to add it to the replays but it’s definitely something we will keep in mind!
Is there any chance for a Tassadar rework? I hate being flamed for playing my favorite hero on QM.
Absolutely! While we’re not ready to share specific details yet, I can say that we’re steering him towards the spell caster fantasy and play-style you would expect of a High Templar.
Man this is the most exciting thing I’ve read in here. I love tassadar but I wish you’d just remove the shield ability, it doesn’t fit his fantasy whatsoever. Also his trait is just weird and isn’t a high Templar ability. Put power into his damage and make him the mage he should have been for years now.
I will say that we’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the Legacy of the Void opening cinematic and hope to capture the fantasy it invokes.
Do you think this will go live by April 21 (Tespa spring finals)? This could have a major impact on the competition.
We don’t have a final release date yet, but it won’t be that soon. ?
(Ranked Play) Would you consider giving ranked rewards for certain amounts of won games in a season as opposed to giving them for achieving ranks?
I feel like, it would encourage people to queue more, as opposed to just do their placements and sit on their rank, because many people feel like there is nothing more to achieve as soon as they hit master. What if the epic ranked mounts were given to those with 100+ ranked wins, or something of the kind?
(Balance) How do you feel about Nova’s place in the game? Are there any plans to change her once again?
At the moment, she is massively outclassed by the other mages, due to her lack of proper escape tools and waveclear. Is it due to her stealth abilities occupying most of her power budget? If so, would you consider weakening her stealth, in order to let her have waveclear or an escape. She does play into the fantasy of a stealthy sniper girl, but in reality there is no logical reason to ever pick her over Li Ming, Hanzo or Zeratul, since those do everything she does, but better. Can she possibly bring something, that the others can’t?
I can answer some of this!
With the new single ranked queue, we are looking to change the rewards structure for the first full ranked season, which will add an emphasis to continually playing/winning vs simply placing and going AFK for the rest of the season (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE). We are hoping that the single queue with rewards for continual engagement will improve the experience for everyone.
What would you like to see as rewards for this? We have an idea of what we will be rewarding for, but we’re also interested in what you would think on this as well!
What are your thoughts about a role queue for ranked play?
Queuing as a role in Heroes of the Storm is something we have thought about for a number of reasons:
Potentially better matchmaking experience
Potentially less work for the matchmaker
More chance for players to specialise
In MOBAs where lanes/roles matter, it is much easier to get away with doing this. Heroes doesn’t always have that luxury: Some compositions are map specific, some teams/heroes work better with certain combinations, and we have the ability with talents to nudge how a hero down a different path. By allowing queuing as role, we can restrict some of these freedoms and the matchmaker must decide how many of each role is allowed into a game (this is then similar to our Call of the Nexus situation in Quick Match, see Zues’ answer on the matter). We then have the question of:
Do we only allow people to pick from heroes they have selected as their roles? (This effectively sets the meta and I don’t think it’s up to us to set the meta! – See Call of the Nexus again)
Do we allow people to select from any hero? As this is not really a “preferred role” thing, but a statement “I will totally play as this kind of hero, honest guvnor”. If we do, does this reduce the impact of doing this?
In the end, our current feeling is that we don’t want to get in the way of you making up your own strategies, metas, and play styles. If that means you all decide that 3 healers and 2 specialists is your jam then you can do that. I’m not your Dad.
What we are looking to do is a “preferred role” system (Juno has commented on this here. This will allow you to set some roles that you would prefer to play, which we hope will go some way to allowing people to more easily specialise when they play ranked.
We are very much interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter for this one, though. What do you think?
Education seems like a major bottle neck. We have a steep learning curve between QM and draft modes, with teams conditioned to playing in QM comps not understanding the more strategic elements of maps and comps.
In particular QM mostly assassin comps encourage:
Playstyles that do not require as much teamwork with the front-liners landing CC that the backliners follow up on.
Completely ignoring map control. Teams tend to tunnel vision and avoid camps/soak.
From one perspective this is just fine. People play what they want and QM is fantastic for casual play against real people.
From another perspective this creates an issue in ranked that limits effective strategies to the high ELO population.
In my opinion, it is a bottleneck like this that creates two separate player bases. When the pro-game is so different from the casual game, what incentive is there for casual players to watch pro-games? In my opinion mitigating this bottleneck directly increases the number of people interested in high level play, because it is closer to what they play and not as distant.
The QM role enforcement change was a great attempt at addressing this. Obviously it had population issues. Any chance we can get a check-box to “Wait longer for a more balanced composition.”?
I am curious if there are other ideas for addressing this education gap.
Performance Based MMR was raised as something that might be only used to educate players. This seems to have great potential but may also be something so highly detailed it takes too much time to debug.
Any other ideas?
You’re right, the education is a very complex problem that cannot be solved just by enforcing some rules. Still, having a balanced match would be very beneficial in understanding how the roles, team comps, and map strategies work.
Speaking about the Quick Match (QM); in ideal world, players pre-pick whatever they want, and the matchmaker finds a perfect match for them in terms of skill and team composition. Everybody would enjoy playing the game the way they want, or exploring new heroes without worrying about counterpicking or team synergy. All the team compatibility heavylifting is done by the matchmaker. In the real world, there’s just too many things in the way of that, such as a limited player pool, and the fact that the tanks/healers/others ratio is far from 20%/20%/60%. Increased wait time is the cost of having proper comps in QM.
Giving people a choice of matchmaking speed (with role mirroring) vs match quality (with enforced team comp) in QM, like you mentioned, sounds like a good idea. We’re exploring some options there, but there are some questions that need answering, such as:
Do we want to segregate QM population into two separate queues, one with enforced comps, the other would keep the current role mirroring rules?
Should we move people from enforced-comp queue to role-mirroring queue if their wait time is too high?
We see the Draft lobby as a preferred way of starting a match. The downside is, even Unranked Draft puts a lot of pressure on new players, forcing them out of the comfort zone of QM’s pre-picked heroes. One potential solution could be some kind of Light Draft mode, such as Blind Pick, which will allow players to customize their own team knowing the map they got and whatever their teammates choose to play. This could be an easier ramp-up between QM and Draft mode, and would allow players to get better at building compositions and learning how to play correctly.
Performance-based Matchmaking is probably not something that will return in the near future. There’s definitely a nice educational aspect there though! We’re exploring some other related ideas, such as a “Personal scorecard”, a kind of post-match report summarizing your in-game performance, emphasizing your key stats and giving out a total numerical score, and maybe some advice on how to improve it.
Will the next update finally let us not lose ranked points in games where someone disconnected at the beginning of the game?
The Loss Forgiveness feature is not slated to come out in the next update, however it has undergone significant development and still requires a bit more polish before it’s ready for our players.
Now that there’s no competitive scene to worry about, does the balance team have more creative freedom than they used to? Are we going to see reworks or even new heroes that push the meta boundaries again like Abathur and Cho’Gall?
It’s still a bit early to say, as there are people out there who are playing Heroes of the Storm competitively.
What I can say that right now we have been exploring being more liberal and less scared to make bolder changes in our balance patches, which you’ve seen over the last couple of months. I personally feel that these changes make the game feel more fresh and fun, and would love to continue doing more of these kinds of changes going forward.
I would like to pose the question you all since you own the game just as much as us. Do you like the direction that we have been going recently with larger balance patches that include more functionality changes and influence more heroes compared to what we have in the past?
In the last balance update it was joked that “we’re going to make you want to pick Aether Walker”. Why not make it so that the mana reduction part of it is always active and only the CD reduction is based on when you last took damage?
I like the way you think.
Are there are plans to change how rank decay functions? It seems silly to me that your rank only starts decaying after finishing placements. If you took two players who were the same rank side-by-side going into a new season, and one of them played fifteen matches, while the other played zero, the one who played zero after two months would be considered a higher rank by the game. Does this make sense to your team?
In the new ranked league, we are actually considering applying decay to all players regardless of whether or not they play. There would likely be some measures taken to avoid causing undue stress to players such as a grace period at the beginning of every season. That said, there are some technical challenges we still need to solve so we don’t expect these changes to be ready for the initial launch of the new ranked mode.
Are there any balance changes coming for valeera? As a long time valeera main I love her to pieces but I feel forced to pick a similar build every game (sinister strike + ambush build), and she feels like she could use some tweaking.
Blade Flurry especially feels like a waste of energy in fights, and using it almost always reduces my effectiveness. 40 energy is very steep for an ability that doesn’t deal all that much damage, and doesn’t help you stick to your target like sinister strike does.
I would also like her scope of usefulness to be expanded a little. I very rarely get to pick her in draft as she’s so niche, and even in those situations where she can work, i feel a nagging feeling that I could be having a higher impact on other heroes (Like varian in the anti dive role, or most other melee assassins if you’re drafting her in a stitches comp or something to blow someone up). In my experience the most uniquely powerful thing she can really do is shut a hero like butcher or artanis down almost permanently with the insane blind uptime from level 13 onward.
Ambush build is her best right now, because it allows her to actually secure kills, and because the CDR on vanish is so important. She basically just has to spend her time waiting for imperius to land a Q or kerrigan to land a combo or something like that, then jump on the target and delete them with the team. Easily the most effective way to play her. But not really something exclusive to valeera. Death from above’s CDR means you can swap targets more effectively, run away sooner if you need to, and even ambush a second time for even more damage. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with CC so you feel kind of forced into ambushing. Not because it is most effective, but because it gives you CDR on vanish which is just that important. Valeera really misses nightslayer. I’ll say that much.
The seal fate + sinister strike build basically relies on hunting down people who are wandering around alone late game which won’t happen if your opponents have brains, so it really falls off. The teamfight power of this isn’t strong enough. She is very bad at diving the enemy team as her damage isn’t hard to heal off, she has mediocre escape tools, and she isn’t good at switching targets mid fight. She’s more like “jump on someone, dump everything on them, and hope they die” which she again isn’t really good enough at to play her in that role. Her stun is not long enough to set up kills like other heroes can unfortunately. Being teleported BEHIND the target is often more of a curse than a blessing, as it means you’ll be in the middle of the enemy team and easy to punish (another reason why death from above’s cooldown reduction is so important, without it you can’t even attempt to make a play like this safely, but with it you can do it once in a while). Because of this, she really cannot be the one to initiate on the target, and when your tank is isolating someone you’ll get the most out of ambush build to maximize your damage.
Her anti-dive power is really limited to shutting down a single diver. Illidan, butcher, genji, and so on can be shut down, but you can only shut down one at a time. She can peel reasonably well against one hero, and that’s really it. A coordinated dive with anub, etc, genji, kara, and so on will leave you unable to really do much. She’s more of “anti one diver” than anti dive.
Hey ridleyfire, thanks for your question!
I think we’ve mentioned this in past AMAs, which unfortunately reminds me that we haven’t been able to get changes for Valeera out to you all in a timely manor. I’ll try to give you what our current opinion of Valeera is (at least right now):
Having a bunch of Talents that focus on only 1 opener isn’t ideal, since it discourages you from ever using the other openers
She’s always towed the line between viable and frustrating, mainly due to having burst and CC on the same kit.
One of our original goals for the Hero was to be the “anti-carry”, being able to really shut down the throughput of 1 particular character. Obviously there are challenges to make this dream come true without being frustrating if you’re the chosen prey of Valeera, so we’ll have to see how that goes as we refine her place in the Nexus.
Avoid Teammate? A button you can click when you dislike a guy but not enough to get him banned. A soft avoid that doesn’t make matchmaking harder.
We don’t have any plans at this time to implement an Avoid Teammate feature. There are a host of potential issues with this kind of functionality, and no matter what kind of implementation is used, it will impact matchmaking in some capacity, particularly at the highest and lowest MMR’s. I don’t think such a feature is completely off the table forever, but it’s not one of our priorities at this time.
Do you guys have any plans to convert Brawl Mode into a fix Aram mode?
For the foreseeable future, our Brawl maps will cycle the ARAM map pool. A full ARAM queue is being discussed, but no concrete plans on what we will do with that as yet. We are aware that some of our Brawl maps were very well received and some missed the mark. What are your thoughts on this? If we made Brawl into an ARAM queue, would you miss some of the other brawl maps?
We haven’t heard about PBMM in a long time. Is the team still running it in the background for data collection? If so, what are you guys learning from the data? Any interesting trends you can publicly share? Is it proving successful at determining good play vs. bad play?
The underlying system does continue to run in the background; however, we currently have no plans on using the resulting data to inform MMR or Rank. We do still want to use that information to help inform players on areas where they are performing well or what they can focus on to improve.
Our designers have jammed on a design for this but we don’t have an ETA on when it would land.
When you do placements it is now only possible to place in gold for new players. Do you cap MMR also? Or does MMR start at 0 and just increase or decrease over time independent of league/placements
There is no hard cap on the rank that is possible for new players the first time they place; however, there is a limit to the MMR that a player can start with. When a player first queues up for a ranked mode, the system attempts to give them a fair rating based on what it knows from their history in unranked modes. This translation will never be completely accurate due to the many differences between game modes, thus there is a limit on how high of an MMR they will be assigned. The limit placed on MMR does mean that in reality, there is a limit on what rank someone can achieve after completing their first placements.
So, to directly answer your question, the only hard cap that is applied is when the player is first assigned an MMR.
( Balance ) Why is block based on the number of times attacked instead of a timed amount such as a magic defense buff. I feel the talents that utilize block are easily negated by rapid attacking heroes such as lucio, Dva, and Genji. Am I missing something here, or would this not be a better way to go to make block a more useful talent?
On a side note, I would personally like to see more cross universe skins, like the butcherlisk, goblin junk rat, and death wing dva. Just my opinion.
Thanks for your continued dedication and support for this amazing game!
Thanks for your question YeojSeyah.
We’ve traditionally made Block and similar Talents use charge based effects so that they were especially useful when trading. The idea behind them originally was that you could feel free to go in when your Block charges were available, and then back away when they were gone. There’s also something visceral about getting a high block value on a few attacks, as opposed to spreading it out over a duration. And if we were to try and create a really short duration high value Physical Armor, it would be noodley since it’s much more difficult to anticipate exactly when your opponent is going to Basic Attack you.
It’s true that it’s less powerful against fast Basic Attacks like Tracer or Tychus, but in general we think there are already plenty of counters to Basic Attacks so having Block only be effective sometimes is a positive.
In most redesigns and recent heroes, you’ve gone for the “apples to apples” philosophy which basically means that we no longer get to pick the direction of our heroes. Will that be changed?
To give an example with Zagara, before her remake she had a viable creep build but that was killed off entirely and now there’s basically no build at all for her. You can pretty much random the talents now as they end up doing basically the same thing in slightly different ways.
Level 1: You now do a bit more damage in PvE, regardless of what you actually need or want.
Level 4: Your auto attacks now do a bit more damage, regardless of what you actually need or want.
Level 7: You now have slightly better poke, regardless of what you actually need or want.
Level 13: You now gain a slight bit of survivability, regardless of what you actually need or want.
Level 16: Your Hydras are a bit more effective, regardless of what you actually need or want.
Level 20: Don’t even get me started, she has no level 20 unless you picked Nydus.
There’s basically no point in even having a talent selection system with a tree design like Zagaras, there’s no choice of direction at all apart from her lvl 10. The same theme can be seen in hero after hero, especially after being remake. Like Rexxar for example.
Will you revert the “apples to apples” philosophy as it basically means no choice of direction at all for the player?
Hey Paladia, thanks for your question.
Short answer: One of the core tenets of design is that by creating limitations, you gain greater freedom in all the areas where you don’t limit yourself, and can focus on making these areas awesome. We think the “apples to apples” actually allows us to make more interesting Talents and push the limits of what Talents provide as a whole.
Now the long answer:
Let’s start with the major goals of the Talent system, just so we have a common language.
To give a sense of growth to your Hero over the course of the game
To add replayability to a Hero by giving you multiple interesting choices that changes the way you play them from game to game
To add customization and ownership to your Hero that fits your preferred playstyle
Now, over time, we’ve played with a lot different styles of Talent trees all trying to fulfill these goals, and we’ve learned a few things.
95% of the time, if a large majority of the Talent tiers offer vastly different choices (aka apples to oranges), one of them becomes dominant. Healers want healing. Damage dealers want damage. While in a perfect world these would all be really compelling and awesome choices, it rarely works out that way even after considerable efforts at tuning post ship. In order for tanky Talents on Valla to be attractive one-off choices, we need to make them really powerful. And if those choices are on almost every tier, then there’s the option of Valla building almost exclusively tanky options, which would deviate from how we think the Hero should play.
Offering this much variance typically means we need to dilute the effective power of the Talents or remove synergies within them, because if Jaina could choose 6 Talent tiers that all augmented her damage in a synergistic way, there is a huge jump in the power that a Jaina can deal by the end game. So instead we try to concentrate the coolness of the Talents into less choices that can be really synergistic and awesome and BIG COOL WOW MOMENTS.
There are a few cases where “apples to oranges” does work, though we usually only do it on a few tiers. Continuing the Jaina example, at level 13 she can choose to take Ice Barrier (survivability), Icy Veins (damage), or Storm Front (something in-between). Now, we can make Ice Barrier a really powerful defensive Talent for Jaina that you can splash into your regular build, and have it feel like a meaningful change to the way you play your character. The most common place you’ll see these hybrid tiers are on our Bruisers, as they are hybrid characters to begin with, and often survivabilty = damage for melee characters (staying in the fight means more damage). But we try to only do these 1 or 2 times on a Hero, for the reasons stated prior.
Now, if you haven’t noticed, we’re always working on Talent trees. We can basically tinker with them forever to try and get them right, and we’ve learned so much over time from iterating on them. Some of the examples you bring up of Zagara and Rexxar have traditionally been difficult trees to get right, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t see some more work done on them as we continue (you could say that about any Talent tree to be honest).
We are trying to add interesting ways to play that are different. We just don’t want to take the easy way out and say that simply because Valla can get tanky, it’s a fun way to be different. We instead try to focus on more nuanced gameplay, like Hungering Arrow or Hatred Builds, and making sure that there are reasons to take each of these.
Very good design philosophy.
Has there been any consideration for talents designed to ‘soften’ a hard counter?
Example: a talent for Butcher that gives him move speed or other small buff when blinded. (You could even call it Blind Rage!) Talents that depolarize the matchup without removing the counter entirely. These can be placed in ‘important’ talent tiers so you must give something up to avoid the hard counter. Depolarizing these matchups seems a very desirable goal and I feel the talent system is uniquely suited to it.
We’ve talked about it in the past, but it’s an area we tread lightly. We like the cleanliness of having Physical Armor or Blind be the counter to Basic Attackers. Then saying you could take Talents that say “oh but wait it’s not”, creates a sort of arms race that isn’t something we’re excited to pursue.
Matchmaking: Will you ever stop taking Rank into account when creating a match? MMR is what matters.
This is an area where we have been discussing changes. Using two different parameters that can potentially conflict to create matches can be problematic. These conversations are still early though and we don’t have anything to share quite yet.