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Here is StarCraft: Legacy's coverage of the BlizzCon 2013 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive panel! Read below to see what was discussed, what info was revealed, and how Heroes of the Storm is looking.

The panel begins, with all the panelists walking on stage, and a short intro about the concept of Heroes of the Storm is discussed. With every Blizzard franchise combining together to form one experience, the development team had a lot of creative freedom as to art direction and game mechanics. As mentioned multiple times through BlizzCon, bringing the three franchises together means anything can happen.

To make the art of Heroes of the Storm cohesive, the art team mixed the styles of the three franchises; big bold colors were used like in Warcraft, attention to detail was used like in Diablo, and the grittiness of StarCraft made it into the game to give every character and every battleground that consistent feel. The concept art for the King's Crest battleground pops up on the screen, showing the medieval, green, neutral theme of the map reminiscent of Warcraft III. A fly-by video of the map plays, and the panelists point out the medieval motif that is applied to every structure, with a dragon statue model adorning the top of each structure. At this point, it is mentioned that there were goblins and ogres for mercenary camps originally, but this was problematic when Horde characters took the field and tried to kill these mercenaries; orcs fighting goblins all the time felt odd. Footmen were the blue and red minions that players killed in masses, which was odd when Alliance characters took the field and started slaughtering Footmen. So new mercenaries were created, one of them being the Siege Giants, the long-range siege creatures that are present in each battleground. Knights are the other mercenaries, also present in each battleground, that soak up damage for minions. Boss monsters are also present in certain maps, such as the Grave Golem in Blackheart's Bay. In King's Crest, however, a player can become the boss monster by taking control of the Dragon Shrine, turning into the Dragon Knight and destroying the opposition.

Moving on to Blackheart's Bay, the concept art flashes on the screen. The panelists say that everything on the map has to fit in with everything else; this means the structures, the mercenaries, and the environment are altered to fit with the theme of the battleground. The battleground is a nautical, cursed-pirate-themed map that has docks and naval mercenaries and boats. A massive ship was designed a long time ago, which was placed on the edge of the map and was controllable by players in order to bombard the enemy. The problem with this original ship was that, because of its position on the map, players didn't really focus on it or feel drawn to it. It was decided to move the ship to the middle of the map, but the problem was: how does it move and shoot around the map? The solution: make the ship into a ghost ship. The fly-by video of Blackheart's Bay plays in the background. On Blackheart's Bay, the objective is to find treasure around the map and bring it to Blackheart the pirate; bringing enough treasure means Blackheart will fire his ship's cannons at enemy fortifications and deal extreme amounts of damage. Treasure can be found in treasure chests and some mercenary camps, and players will have to pick up the treasures and carry them over to Blackheart. But if a player is killed while carrying treasure, they will drop all their treasure, meaning treasure-couriers feel like quarterbacks for their team. As for the alterations to mercenaries for Blackheart's Bay, Siege Giants fire cannons instead of throwing rocks and Knights have anchors instead of swords.

Next up is Cursed Hollow, an autumn, haunted-themed battleground. Concept art of the map flashes by, then the fly-by video of the map plays. The goal of this battleground is to encourage teamfights; "tributes" spawn at random locations across the map, and once three of these are collected by one team, that team gains a team-wide buff that increases damage dealt to minions and structures and prevents structures from attacking the players. Because these tributes spawn randomly, it creates variable strategies depending on when and where they spawn, guaranteeing that no two fights for tributes feel the same. A gameplay video of a teamfight over a tribute plays in the background.

Last but not least is the Haunted Mines battleground. The fly-by video plays, and the panelists explain that this map was aimed to create a competitive dungeon; players go underground to collect more skulls than the enemy team, so that they can summon stronger Grave Golems than the opposition. Once underground, players have to kill skeletons and the eventual mini-boss in order to gather the skulls they have. Teamfights can break out underground, pushes can be made above ground, and the battleground is very multi-faceted. Once all skulls have been collected (100 in total), both teams summon their respective Grave Golems, with varying strength depending on the number of skulls collected. These Grave Golems rush to enemy fortifications to destroy them. When these golems die, players can collect skulls again and once all 100 skulls are recollected, the Grave Golems respawn on the spot that they died.

The discussion changes for a moment to focus on how a 3D environment concept was made using their editor, which seemed to resemble the SC2 editor. The accompanying video showed the textures for the ground being laid out, the doodads and structures being placed on one side, a cliff and a mine entrance being placed on another, and a small graveyard at the corner of the "map". The panelists noted how easy and fast it was to make a sample map.

Now that all the battlegrounds were elaborated upon, it was time for hero design talk. The development team asked themselves some central questions before making each hero: What is the fantasy of playing these heroes? What should each character feel like to the player? What makes this character unique? Who is this hero for, beginners or experts? What is the hero's role on the battlefield, assassin or warrior? While mentioning these questions, they showed Raynor as an example of a hero for beginner players, and Abathur for experienced players. While Raynor was straightforward and involved using abilities to deal damage, Abathur involved having a lot of map awareness, switching attention between different allies to help in different ways, and move around the map so as to never get caught. Vella, the Demon Hunter from Diablo III, was mentioned as an example of an assassin, darting around the battlefield and hitting enemies while being careful not to be hit herself. Tyrael was an example of a warrior, someone who rushed to the frontlines to deal and absorb damage for the team.

The panelists showed the abilities of three specific champions, Stitches the abomination, Raynor, and Tyrael. Stitches was one of the oldest heroes created for Heroes of the Storm, and took its origins from the abomination in Warcraft III. He has Hook, an ability that can pull enemies towards him from long range, Devour, an ability that deals a lot of damage and heals Stitch, and Putrid Bile, which leaves a trail of poison behind Stitch that deals massive damage. A very interesting mechanic was the ability to augment base abilities to make them different; the given example was Hook, which could be augmented to become Fishing Hook, giving it much longer range.

Raynor was next, and he had the ability to call the Hyperion, making it help him in battle. When the ability is used, a shadow of the Hyperion appears on the battlefield, and units underneath it get randomly attacked by volleys of lasers. This ability could target structures, minions, and enemy heroes. On the other hand, he could summon two Banshees instead of the Hyperion, which gave him sight over terrain, gave him more direct damage to a single target, and made him a very powerful duelist.

Tyrael was last, and it was pointed out that Tyrael was an easy-to-execute concept because he perfectly embodied the idea of a heavily-armored defender of justice. One of his abilities shields an ally, making all damage dealt to that ally be dealt to Tyrael instead. This ability could be augmented to become Fire Chains, dealing damage to anything that came between Tyrael and the shielded target. He also has a dash ability, granting him near-instant movement over short distances. On top of that, he has Judgment, an ability that is a long-range, fast dash that allows him to rush into fights quickly and easily.

An example of teamfight potential was shown; a screenshot popped up on the screen, showing Tassadar as we walled off the enemy Illidan from escaping. Stitch was throwing his Hook, which was headed directly for the cornered Illidan. The panelists say that the teamfight potential of different hero mixes was something that made every hero stronger than they first appear to be. A tidbit of pre-match info that was given was that players could reserve their preferred hero before getting into a game, allowing everyone to play the way they wanted. There's also an out-of-game levelling system, which unlocks talents for heroes, new heroes, and other things as a player levels. As the panel wraps up, a slideshow of in-game skin screenshots play in the background while the panelists discuss the creative freedom in creating skins for the various heroes and mounts.

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