A Commentary About Blizzard Entertainment’s Recent Game Design Philosophy

Blizzard has been often criticized for making their games to be “unoriginal” and “watered down” versions of the other games in the genre. With the recent release of Overwatch, many people have been criticizing it for its similarity to Team Fortress 2. Hearthstone was widely criticized as a Magic the Gathering ripoff, Heroes of the Storm was labelled as a heavily dumbed down version of a MOBA, Diablo III was considered to be too simple by many Diablo II players. Despite all of these critcisms, all of these titles are still performing well and it is clear that the obscene levels of Blizzard polish is making their games shine. It makes you wonder how these so-called “unoriginal” and “watered down” games could possibly be successful. I won’t comment on Diablo III because I haven’t been a long time fan of the series however for the rest of the games, are these criticisms really justified?

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Scrapping Mechazod into REKT-azod in Hearthstone Tavern Brawl

I’ve always wondered if there could be 2v2 battles where you can pair up with another player to battle another pair. Although the “Unite against Mechazod” Tavern brawl isn’t exactly a PvP 2v2 game mode, but it’s an epic PvE 2 players vs Boss battle, but I still liked the 2 player cooperating aspect of it. There’s definitely a lot of replay value which I find lacking in many of the previous tavern brawls because once you defeat Mechazod, you might as well try it with another friend. I’m a bit disappointed but I just can’t help but ask, can we please have a heroic mode? Pretty please, Blizzard-senpai!

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The changes to Hearthstone that Blizzard needs to make

After playing Hearthstone for a few weeks and registering over 200 wins and countless losses. I’ve noticed a few bugs with the game which haven’t been addressed, and some minor inconveniences that could be easily fixed. I won’t go through the balance issues the game currently has, however I will go through the annoyances I encounter when I play the game. There are also some features that are not present however it will improve the game and hopefully Blizzard will implement them in the future. Here are the changes to Hearthstone that Blizzard needs to make.

Bugs and Glitches

When you disconnect from the game, and reconnect you’ll notice that the in-game name of you and your opponent is to “UNKNOWN” instead of reverting back to the usernames. This issue doesn’t appear in StarCraft II, so why should it appear in Hearthstone? This bug really needs to be addressed. A few bugs that occur when you’re in game such as the mysterious card that the opponent seemingly just holds out in front, and occasionally it might return to the hand and the End turn button will still be visible on your turn if you click it too early. I once  had a problem in which that it  was my turn and yet I couldn’t make a move and I had to wait until my turn timed out and my opponent to have their turn before I could make any moves. While these bugs are not particularly game breaking, they still need to be fixed.

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It’s my turn and the opponent is still holding the card in my face.

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Dude, what the heck?

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I ended my turn and the end turn button is still displaying.

While not really a bug, all the screenshots are saved to the desktop, which is annoying to clean up after you’re done snapping away at all your epic plays and epic fails. There should be an option to have the screenshots saved in a folder at a certain directory on your computer so that you can dump all of it there and don’t have to worry about filling up your desktop and having to move them every time.

Social features

The only way to communicate is to use the preset quotes of your hero and the private chat. Given that the number of quotes are quite limited, it’s also not a viable method of communication. The only people you can chat to is with your friends, however it’s quite a hassle to bring up the textbox. There needs to be a chat feature and not just personal messaging.

A few other features would be to ability to form groups, parties and clans. If you want to organize a tournament having to manually talk to everyone one at a time is inconvenient, so if you could have everyone join a group then it would help greatly. You could have temporary groups for certain events or have the group be a permanent chat channel for like-minded individuals.  A clan would be a specialized group, once you join you have a clan tag beside your name and you have the features a clan would have.

There also should be a way to observe a match that is taking place. Playing the game is quite fun, but watching somebody play live is also very enjoyable in itself. By forming a party, you can get 2 people to battle it out while the other people in the party watch. We could see more of the cool strategies other people use and talk about how one of the players got wrecked. Hell yeah.

Deck Customization Features

The 9 slots is already suffice for players who main a few classes, however what if I want to play all of them? I’ll have only 1 slot per class, but if I have a friend who isn’t as skilled as I am, I won’t be able to verse him/her without modifying a pre-existing deck and then changing it back after I’m done. Sure I could use the basic deck however, even that deck can be too weak at times. If there were more slots, at least 3 slots per class making it a total of 18 slots then that would be more convenient. A few other useful features would be

  • The option to resize the cards on each page so you can display more or less cards on one page
  • The ability to mark the cards you use often so that they appear on the front page for easy access.
  • Display the Minion/Spell ratio of the deck so you can easily keep count.
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Deck building could easily be more fun if Blizzard makes some slight changes.

PvP/eSport related features

Currently in the game there isn’t a way to randomly select a deck and it would be quite nice if Blizzard added it to the game. Sometimes you just don’t want to decide what class or deck to play so you let the game choose for you. You could set which decks you want to include in the random selection pool, and then when you play just fire away.

There aren’t many stats such as your win/loss ratio against certain classes, your previous rankings aren’t displayed anywhere, whenever you win 3 games, you get 10 gold but the only way to know where you’re up to is to play a game to the end. The more detailed the information there is available the easier it is to accurately keep track of your skill level, strengths and weaknesses.

A replay feature would be a great way to share your games, go through your mistakes and find ways to improve your gameplay. The replay could be played step by step, turn by turn or possibly advancing at the pace the exact amount of time each player takes to make their moves if you choose. When the game is playing, you can view both players’ hands or take the perspective of one player. Replays are an important part of eSports as studying them will help players become more skillful at the game.

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Screenshots don’t tell the entire story. Especially this one in which I almost got run over by all those minions.

Other features the I personally want to see happen

The features in this list are what I personally want to see however they may not happen.

  • Joining a clan could have benefits such as free monthly booster packs or slightly elevated gold and/or experience earnings.
  • Save one deck to your mobile device, and carry it with you so you can go up against other people offline. (Just in case a wild Hearthstone player appears)
  • Character portraits that you can change such as Drunken Garrosh, Uther Marine, Nova Jaina, Happy Reaper Thrall, Infested Hunter etc.

With all that said, I wish Blizzard all the best in improving Hearthstone.

Good Luck, Have Fun!

– Haiji Onii-san

I’m addicted to Hearth of the Stone and I just can’t stop!

As a kid I used to play ‘Yugioh’, was never good at it, and I knew about ‘Magic: The Gathering’ but never really got into it. Since I stopped playing during my early years at high school I never touched a trading card game ever since then, I lost interest in playing them.  Trading card games take too much commitment to play and a whole lot of money to get the cards you actually want. Most of the people I’ve played against had more pocket money to spare than I did, so naturally they had better cards and combined with my own incompetence, I never won a single game. When Hearthstone came out, I lacked any interest in playing it as I thought TCG’s weren’t my thing, but when I gave it a spin, I was hooked.

+2000 Hearthstone EXP
– 9001 Productivity

gg procrastination. ;___________________;

The game released on Windows, and Mac, and just recently it was released on iOS. When it finally comes to Android, I don’t think I’ll be able to get any work done so I’ll be playing the game on my buggy as hell Nexus 7 Android Tablet (2013 edition) for hours on end. I’ve played all classes except Warlock, and I can’t wait until I get all the basic cards and some really nice ones from those Expert packs.

Getting Started and First Impressions

I first joined the Hearthstone Society (HearthSoc is currently hosted at UNSW, and the male to female ratio is worse than Engineering Degrees) and then I started up the game for the first time and breezed through the tutorial. After that I got my ass kicked when playing Unranked (aka Casual) and only won one game. I just continued playing after that to try out all the classes.

This game seemed simple enough to understand and I can play it with one hand so, when I’m taking a break between StarCraft 2 sessions, I can play Hearthstone while eating a food. It’s impossible to eat while playing a game of StarCraft 2 unless I use Bronze League Heroes level macro skills (shout out to Husky) which is beside the point of laddering.

I liked the simple and intuitive gameplay, and it’s a card game that’s basically free and no need to go in store to buy physical cards and potentially lose them. The atmosphere of this game is also a plus, when you log in the voice of the Innkeeper hails you like a legend and welcomes you to a cheerful atmosphere with the sounds chatter of the guests of playing in the background. It’s the sort of atmosphere you would want to get drunk on while laughing everything away with a few mates around a table. This makes me smile everytime, kudos to Blizzard for this nice addition, it’s simple yet it makes the game just so much more enjoyable.

One week later…

I’ve had a go at playing all the classes except Druid. I started off using the basic decks from Icy Veins because of the lack of skill, cards and arcane dust. Icy Veins has many decks you can use for reference if you’re just starting  out however I would recommend checking other sources as well so you can get a clear idea of what to do.

Click here to go to Icy Veins

Haiji Onii-san – Play Hearthstone.
Spear_Of_Odin – No I don’t want to get back into card games.
Haiji Onii-san – DO EET.

I played a few with a friend who I’ll refer to as KuroKitsune from the Anime club at USYD  (shout out to SUAnime and Anime Sydney) and had a great time. On the last game I used Paladin and he used Rogue, I was dominating him until he made a last minute come back and won the game, damn it, I was very close to winning! It’s actually more fun playing against someone you know rather than playing against someone Casual/Ranked games online. I found that I was using too many cards and by the late game, my hand would be almost empty so I started to conserve cards, learnt about card advantage, and played more carefully. My main deck currently is my Mage control Deck which I’ve gotten input from the awesome people from HearthSoc after I acquired my first legendary card from a card pack.

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Infinite Fireball Works.

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Still far from finished. I’ll need to play more Arena to get more dust and card parks.

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I really need to stop procrastinating…

Now it’s time for me to get back to work and get cracking on my homework and assignments. In the future I’ll be playing more, and getting more cards to pump up all my decks.

Good Luck, Have Fun!

– Haiji Onii-san