The Hearthstone panel at BlizzCon really reinvigorated my interest in the game. I really enjoyed it when I first got into the beta, but I hadn’t even played it since the reset. Without having friends playing it, and with all the PVE content finished, I just lost interest. After seeing all the thought that went into the design and hearing about some new features coming, I started playing it again almost immediately. I can’t wait for some of that content, too!
BlizzCon attendees and virtual ticket holders get a Golden Elite Tauren Chieftain card. The coolest part of the card is what it looks like when you play it. Of course, it plays some cool music too! It looks like a fun card. In addition, it wasn’t the only card shown that made a big entrance.
I really enjoyed hearing about the evolution of some of the aspects of the game. For example, they discussed how standard drafting became the arena mode that’s currently in the game. My summary here misses a few intermediate versions, but here’s the idea. At first, they had normal drafting. You take one card from a pack of how ever many cards. (Let’s say eight.) You pass the remaining seven to the next player and get seven from another. You keep doing that until you’re down to just one card, and then you keep it. This works in physical games, but it would mean possibly waiting for a long time in a computer game.
They came up with an asynchronous way of doing something similar. You get seven cards and choose one to keep. You swap your six cards with the cards in the envelope with the “6” label. You keep doing this until you have just one card, and you keep it. After trying this, they realized that it was still most fun when you had a few cards from which to choose that were all applicable to your deck. However, sometimes you’d have only a couple choices and none would be right. They eventually decided that three choices was the most fun. They gave players three cards that were all applicable to that player’s deck, and that’s the version that made it into Hearthstone.
Because it was so different from the idea of a draft, they renamed it “Arena.” They felt it was no longer recognizable as drafting. Honestly, when I first tried that mode, I immediately saw it as a type of draft. Yes, the way you did it was different, but it very clearly accomplished the goals of drafting. I really like it.
I particularly liked the ideas of adventures. These are single-player, PVE matches. They could be a single boss or a series of bosses, and they’ll unlock cards as you play through them. It seems like a similar idea as raid decks from the World of Warcraft: Trading Card Game possibly (although single-player). I suppose the current tutorial series of matches is basically an adventure. I wish they would have teased some ideas for the adventures will be, but it might be too early for that. Regardless, I’m excited.
There were two people on the Hearthstone panel – Lead Designer Eric Dodds and Technical Designer Ben Brode. As soon as Ben Brodes began presenting, it was immediately apparent that he was excited for the game and truly loved it. He had so much enthusiasm and energy and was a great presenter. I decided to talk to him on Twitter.
And then I realized something about his name and the fact that I currently live in Irvine, I went to school in Irvine, and Blizzard is in Irvine.
It’s a small world.