Aleco is attending BlizzCon and he had a chance to sit down with Game Designer Dave Kosak and Senior FX Artist Hadidjah Chamberlin on Rastakhan’s Rumble, the single player adventures and general Hearthstone stuff!
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Dave Kosak & Hadidjah Chamberlin
– Free single player adventures started with KFT, and I really think they started out on high note there. However, it seems like you guys have somehow managed to outdo yourself with the single player content each successive expansion . Larger focus on single player campaign or getting better?
Kosak: The missions team is relatively new. It has grown in numbers and gotten better. They experiment and redefine what single player is. There is a panel on single player missions on Saturday.
– When you look into these mission do you start their design process from a thematic perspective?
Kosak: Yeah, the main goal is to express the theme of the expansion. For example, Rastakhan’s Rumble is about Nine epic teams that fight against each other. So we try to convey that fantasy in the missions.
– Seeing as HS is fundamentally played in a 2D space, what’s the secret to making successful graphics in effects that are visually compelling without distracting from the core gameplay experience of operating on a game board?
Chamberlin: Blizzard’s main value is known to be gameplay-centric. The design process of these graphical effects is fantasy driven, they are there to make the gameplay more exciting and they are not too distracting. We want to show how cool and powerful a card is and make its idea come across clearly. We try to balance all of these, but mostly the graphics are centered around the mechanics.
We get to design these stuff quite late in the whole card creation process, meaning that what the card does is already fleshed out. The art team check with all the other teams like the sound and the design team.
Kosak: The board space is 2D, but everything else in Hearthstone is 3D. In Rastakhan’s Rumble, you will be able to summon a powerful Loa, monsters will pop out the board or chomp on your opponent. The game feels like it is coming to life.
– Have you ever thought of rotating the camera angle of Hearthstone to give it a truly 3D feel?
Chamberlin: We want to maintain the board game fantasy of “looking down at the box”. The fixed camera is there to keep this illusion.
– Let’s talk about in-game rewards. Adventures have given packs, random legendaries, card backs, and even heroes. What is the process of assigning rewards in single player campaigns?
Kosak: We want to be careful with this. Our main motivation is that the most rewarding part of the game is for players to face against other players. We don’t want to give something too good so people feel that they have to play single player. However, single player missions still need to be fun and offer a reward so there is an incentive to play them. It’s something we are constantly talking about.
– We have cards that swap hands, cards that swap decks: what’s next when it comes to crazy effects? Could we swap boards or take control of our enemy’s turn?
Kosak: We try to be not too mean with Hearthstone, apart from Azari, the Devourer but it’s something you can see coming. There isn’t something too over the top crazy in Rastakhan’s Rumble, apart from perhaps Hi’reek (revealed in the Hearthstone: What’s Next panel). There are definitely many kinds of crazy effects, for example, Whizbang the Wonderful is a bonkers card.
In Rastakhan’s Rumble, we have some minions with interesting effects, the Spirits and the Loa. Spirits are build-around cards, they go well with the Loa. The Loa are going to feel very legendary.
Chamberlin: When you blow up those combos between Spirits and Loa, you will feel pretty rad!
Both: This set is all about winning with style and flashy cards. The Overkill mechanic also emphasises this thematic.
– Do the Spirits and the Loa interact graphically too?
Chamberlin: They don’t have special interactions with each other. We wanted to play up the team spirit across the entire set. So they use the same colour palette, textures, visual elements. They are two parts of the same whole. It was fun playing up these class and team identities in this set.
– I have noticed the timing difference between the release of an expansion and the release of the single player adventures. Is that so players focus on the multiplayer?
Kosak: That’s exactly it. We released simultaneously in Kobolds & Catacombs and players felt that they couldn’t decide on what to do. We decided to space it out with The Witchwood. In Rastakhan’s Rumble, you will only have to wait a week since the Christmas holidays are near the release.
– There is one new Hero card coming in Rastakhan’s Rumble. What are your plans for Hero cards given that the Death Knights from Knights of the Frozen Throne will be rotating out soon?
Kosak: Thematically, they made sense for KFT and they may come back again. We don’t feel that every class needs to have a Hero card.
– When you think about all of the animations and the graphics done for cards, do you feel that there is any weird origin story that needs to be told? Or something really challenging?
Chamberlin: Azari, the Devourer was a pretty big sequence. Curious Glimmerroot was pretty crazy too to get right. For this set, Loa are cool and different, pretty elaborate to make. Their animations took probably a day or two for most of them. Thankfully, there were a lot of references from WoW to borrow from.
– For our last question, what’s your favourite little detail or perhaps Easter egg in Hearthstone?
Kosak: Sulthraze, which was shown on the reveal announcement, was the first ever epic weapon that I got in World of Warcraft. It was huge to see it in Hearthstone.
Chamberlin: I am super fond of flavour texts, they crack me up!
Kosak: There is a lot of trash-talking between the Troll champions in Rastakhan’s Rumble and it is exciting to see how people receive this.