This Is How Blizzard Video Games Are Made


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(dynamic music) - Today we're visiting Blizzard and I am freaking out. I'm so excited. Overwatch and World of Warcraft are my favorite games of all time. I am 100% fangirling out. - I been playing video games ever since Starcraft: Brood Wars came out, which was about, like, 16 years ago. - I've been playing games for well over 20 years. And some of the earliest games that I played were Blizzard games. I played Warcraft, I played Diablo like nobody's business. Blizzard has always been a huge part of my gaming existence. - I've been gaming since about six years old. Always seen BlizzCon, but never actually got to attend, so being here at the actual company is just amazeballs. (dynamic music) - My name is Lana Bachynski. I am an animator for Heroes of the Storm. I spend my days bringing life to characters you see onscreen. Heroes of the Storm is a team-based five-versus-five brawler. It's about your favorite heroes across all Blizzard universes and pulls them all into this place that we've deemed the Nexus. And they can fight each other in an epic battle for eternity. My typical process for animation starts off on paper. And it basically is a quick way of jotting things down and showing them to the team so that you get buy-in from all the different departments you have to work with to eventually get the final product. We will have many different props that we can use and take videos of ourselves doing these dumb motions. The animation itself is done on something that looks like this. This is called the rig. My job is done by taking these different pieces (group laughs) and moving them around. So it's just like a puppet. I like to say I play with these 3D dolls all day. The fun thing about our game is that we can adjust everything live. So I can show you an example. Let's say, for some reason or another, I wanted to adjust this. I could go into the graph editor. If I turn this on and I select all this, this animation actually looks like that. It's a bunch of graphs. I could take these controls and put them way up and be like, cool, that looks (group laughs) way better! And let's say, for some reason, that's what I wanted to see in-game. I just want to do a quick test so I can export it locally and it will immediately update live as soon as it's done exporting. See him start bouncing around like crazy. There we go! (group laughs) So I can immediately see my changes in-game. - How long does it usually take from start to finish to, like, get done with a character and put in a game? - Originally, some of the characters were animated in two weeks. Now our team's a little bit bigger. We have a little bit more luxury of times and so we're working typically around six weeks from start to finish. - My name is Ben Thompson. I'm the art director here at Blizzard Entertainment on Hearthstone. Hearthstone is our digital card game set in the World of Warcraft universe because it was one that we felt was most inviting to the broadest number of players. My job as the art director is to assure that we're always hitting that whimsical, light-hearted tone whenever possible, but to do so in a way that feels epically charming to the players who are familiar with Azeroth and even those who are not. The art team is responsible for any of the visuals that you see going into the game. These take the place of the card, the spells, the visual effects for the game, for the user interface, especially when it pertains to being in the box, whether that means in a store, whether you're opening a pack, whether you're in one of the missions. So really, just anything that you encounter in the game from a visual perspective is where the art team comes in and puts their best foot forward. As art director, I'm responsible for overseeing all of the art that goes into the game, both from external sources, if we look at our freelance illustrators that do the card art for the cards themselves, as well as our internal team, who are responsible for doing everything from the boards to the user interface, when you're in Adventures, what do the wings look like, how do the bosses interact, certainly the heroes that are in play, and, of course, all the minions and spells and everything that go into it from a visual effects route to just about anything that you see visually in the game itself. - So I played other card games in the past, you know, like Pokemon and Magic and stuff like that. Usually in those types of games, they'll have, like, different skins or full arts or, like, secret rares. Is that something you guys plan on implementing? - We do try to show the full art whenever we can. I mean, if you look at a lot of the new heroes, when they come in the store, you get the full art, it's been goldenized so it's animating and doing a lot of fun stuff. We also, at the same time, wanna be considerate to our players and their investment. So that being true, super rare cards that are only attainable by certain methods or means are not something that we try to lean too far into because of the fact that we do want it to be a game for everyone. We want you to feel as though, be you new to the game and it's your first month playing, or you're gonna celebrate your third anniversary with us, it feels like a game that you can get in and immediately make a deck that's buyable, playable against friends, possibly even something that you can start to compete in some of your location Fireside Gatherings and really get to, you know, get some play from. - I'm Don, I'm a game designer on World of Warcraft. Specifically, I make quests for World of Warcraft. So World of Warcraft is a fantasy massively multiplayer online game. You play with millions of people around the world in this epic fantasy. So I design the kind of adventures that players go on while they're playing the game. Part of the job is writing, part of the job is creating interesting characters, part of it is just coming up with cool moments. Are you gonna ride on a dragon here or are you gonna climb a mountain here or you gonna go down into a mine? That's a big part of the job. And then I also am responsible for executing it and putting it into the game using our tools. - With what you do and kind of, you have, I would say the coolest job on the World of Warcraft team, creating quests and stuff. How does one go about getting to that point in their career? - I've been a Blizzard for 11 years. I started in customer service, I was a game master for Vanilla WoW, I went to quality assurance, I tested WoW a lot for BC, Cataclysm, Northrend. So when I got onto the team, it was through an internal temp assignment. And it was a lot of studying what the developers were doing, playing the game a ton, really thinking critically about how the game was changing and what makes a good quest and what makes a bad quest, and really just trying to learn and have good mentors from within. - Hey, I'm Geoff Goodman. I'm on the Overwatch team. I'm lead hero designer, so I'm responsible for creating the characters and balancing them in the live game as well. Overwatch is a team-based shooter. It has a lot of over-the-top hero designs that everyone gets to play together on a team, six V six, and it's a lot of fun. So when I'm initially prototyping a hero, I'll take just a concept we have, like, we'll start with a bunch of designs on paper and kinda look through what we like and what don't like and what we wanna try. And then we can go into this tool and I can actually try to hook up individual abilities, like I can build a weapon, okay, it's gonna reload like this, it's gonna have this property, it's gonna feed this kind of fire rate. A lot it's just trial and error and scripting up a lot of these different abilities and weapons and trying them out. - At BlizzCon, you guys announced Overwatch League. So far, we haven't heard much about it just yet other than higher player salaries and stuff like that. But I'm hearing rumors of region-based teams and stadiums and stuff like that. Is there any more you can elaborate on? - Oh, man, I wish I could give more details. I mean, a lot of it's still kind of being worked out on our end. Unfortunately, I don't have any new info that way. - Do you know when it will officially start? - I don't have an official exact date right now, but I will say planning on this year. - Cool. - Meeting all the different people that work on all these games I played since I was growing up was literally life goals. - Blizzard has always been, like, one of those top companies I've always admired. It takes them a while to release a game, but it's cool seeing how much thought they put into creating the games. - It was really interesting talking to the designers of the games because just seeing where they drew inspiration, who they identified with, and what their favorite things were about those players, makes me wanna think about changing my players and changing my composition of how I wanna play them. - Something that surprised me was how much hard work and love gets poured into each of the Blizzard games. I was really surprised to see that something as simple as animating a character to walk just took so long. But you could tell that the team behind it was so passionate about the work that they're creating and they love the characters as much as we do. (upbeat electronic music) (whooshing) (creaking)