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As many people are probably aware, the recently-renamed Heroes of the Storm is being shown off at BlizzCon 2013. With playable demos and related panels occurring all throughout the event, there's a lot to cover. But first, here is StarCraft: Legacy's coverage of the first Heroes of the Storm panel, called "Heroes of the Storm Overview".

Dustin Browder comes out, followed by Alan Dabri, Sam Didier, and Chris Sigaty. They take their seats, and Dustin Browder stands up to start the panel.

He starts by listing some of the core philosophies of the game: it's about teamwork, playing with your friends, working as a team, playing on different battlegrounds, using new strategies on new maps, and it's about paying homage to the community, which spurred the fighter-brawler genre back in the days of Warcraft III.

Chris Sigaty then takes the mic to talk about how the genre began. The powerful editor that was in Warcraft III allowed players to use the massive number of Blizzard-created assets to design their own games, such as Defense of the Ancients, and then allow other players to experience vastly different experiences to the base Warcraft III game. Alan Dabri comments that Blizzard realized that the editor was capable of incredible potential, and made improvements upon the Warcraft III editor and then went on to create an even more powerful StarCraft II editor.

The talk transitions back to Dustin Browder, who noted the nervousness that was felt at Blizzard that the StarCraft II editor might not be powerful enough for the fans, but was relieved to see that that was not the case. Changing the topic to Heroes of the Storm specifically, he mentions that he felt confused during the early years of development. He voiced concerns that everything didn't fit together, that the different franchises clashed with each other. At the time, he went to Sam Didier to ask how in the world everything was supposed to fit together, and Sam Didier showed him an art piece for a previous BlizzCon, with heroes and villains of each franchise posing together, and how well they meshed together.

In the end it was decided that BlizzCon would be the "world" in which Heroes of the Storm takes place; BlizzCon has always been the event that combined the spirit of every franchise into one entity. Dustin Browder says that the BlizzCon experience was really inspiring for the development of the game. With regards to inspirations for the game, Chris Sigaty comments that Hearthstone was very inspiring because it represented a mixture of themes that, ultimately, led to a great game, and that it also represented Blizzard's ability to make great games in an already-crowded market. Dustin Browder agrees, and adds that Hearthstone looks simple and easy at first glance, but as a match progresses, players get sucked into the intensity of struggling to survive those crucial, upcoming turns in order to win. He wanted this "easy to learn, difficult to master" mentality to permeate Heroes of the Storm as well.

Dustin Browder passes the conversation over to Samwise Didier, mentioning that the art team has toiled over the development of the game to fit all the characters into one setting. Commenting specifically on Warcraft and Diablo, Sam Didier says that meshing the two art styles wasn't much of a stretch because of their fantasy-genre roots. He does say though that the art style of Diablo and StarCraft characters were changed to have a more comic-book aesthetic in order to mix appropriately with the Warcraft art style.

Giving an example of a playable character in the game, they bring up a screenshot of Arthas, and Dustin Browder says that players should feel like they are controlling the deadliest of villains when controlling Arthas, because the deadliest of villains was the essence of Arthas and especially of Heroes of the Storm Arthas. Arthas is explained to be a slayer, a powerhouse, a killer that roams the map looking to slay enemies across the battlefield. An idea being played around with in development is the idea of allowing players to choose their own "heroic powers" for each hero, what are called "ultimates" in other MOBAs and brawler-fighter games. This allows Heroes of the Storm Arthas to either summon an ice drake onto the battlefield or summon undead minions to form an army.

Skins became the next topic, with Sam Didier saying that, art-wise, characters can have skins of how they looked in the past, such as Arthas back when he was still princely and blonde. The Elite Tauren Chieftain is mentioned to appear in the game as well, as a playable character with high mobility, self-healing, and several fun abilities that suit the style of the Elite Tauren Chieftain. Abathur also makes an appearance, and Dustin Browder explains that his role is to stay back away from the fighting and help allies by "infesting" them and firing abilities off of them like a form of long-range caster. Since Abathur is terrible at fighting enemies head-on, he relies on teammates to make the moves, and instead waits for opportunities to support the team. The design philosophy for characters is specifically stated to be making each character feel different from one another, as different as possible. An Abathur gameplay video is shown, where Abathur's team gains control of key objectives thanks to his great map control capabilities.

Going back to skins, several variants to characters are shown: there is a Vampire Hunter skin for the Diablo III Demon Hunter, a Murloc skin for Diablo, a "Glamrock" Elite Tauren Chieftain skin, a Terran Medic Uther skin, and a Judgment Armor Uther skin. Sam Didier reminds everyone that these skins have no lore basis; they are in Heroes of the Storm because they are fun skins, and they feel that Heroes of the Storm is a great place to let loose with the crazy non-lore ideas. Heroes of the Storm is, in essence, where anything can happen.

Dustin Browder takes the mic to go over how matches of Heroes of the Storm will feel. Having fun with friends is the main goal of Heroes of the Storm, with design decisions that allow players a chance to play with buddies in fun, interesting superhero teams and battle the enemy. The game is designed so that each game averages ten to fifteen minutes, so that a losing game isn't an extremely long experience, and to allow players to wait only a few minutes for a friend's game to end so that they can play together. Another game mechanic that really supports the idea of "playing together" is that there are team levels; each team has a level that is the level of every character on that respective team. Support heroes don't have to worry about stealing kills, or trying to catch up on levels; there aren't games where one player just one-shots the entire enemy team, and every other player in the game sits around for twenty minutes for the game to end; specialist heroes don't need to be on the frontline to become strong or be strong, they just have to help the team win. These are the elements of Heroes of the Storm that motivate teamwork over "carrying".

With the massive fan desire for interact-able maps that arose from the Wings of Liberty Campaign, Dustin Browder says that Blizzard felt it was fitting to have changing, alterable elements in Heroes of the Storm. After hearing players ask for multiplayer versions of dynamic maps like the ones seen in the Wings of Liberty Campaign, the maps of Heroes of the Storm will incorporate objectives and areas that play a central role to how the battlefield plays out. Sam Didier explains that the world of Heroes of the Storm is "the Nexus", a place where all three Blizzard franchises could coexist. This means that the battlegrounds, aka maps, could have any theme, any objectives, and any mechanics that came from any of the three franchises. Making teamwork-focused challenges and mechanics was their main goal while creating these battlegrounds, and each map was designed to be different from one another so as to provide variety. In addition, the map pool could be altered and changed over time, much like the StarCraft II ladder map pool, when needs or game changes arise.

Some examples of playable battlegrounds are given, such as Blackheart's Bay, where players collect cursed doubloons from chests and creatures around the map. The players then bring these doubloons to Blackheart the pirate to try and earn him as a temporary ally. When players meet enemies that are carrying doubloons, those enemies can be beat up, thus forcing them to drop their doubloons. Another battleground is the Haunted Mines; players venture underground to collect skulls, which then are used to summon a giant Grave Golem that marches towards the enemy base. Each team gets a Grave Golem at a specific point in time, but the number of skulls collected for your team determines your team's golem's strength and size. These golems are able to be killed, but when the time comes again, they will revive at the same location they died, creating a tense tug-of-war feel. 

To wrap up the panel, two example fights are shown and shoutcasted by Dustin Browder, which show the importance of capturing objectives and ambushing enemies as they capture objectives. Afterwards, the panel starts its Q&A.

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