This is Blizzard DOTA! Coming soon(ish)™. Seriously!"
- Original mod summary(src)
Heroes of the Storm, formerly titled Blizzard All-Stars, formerly titled Blizzard DotA, has had a long development history.
Heroes of the Storm can be traced back to 2010. StarCraft II had just released and the team wanted something to show at the 2010 BlizzCon. At the time, Blizzard Entertainment had concerns about the game's modding scene, whether the modding community from Warcraft III would make the jump between games, in spite of StarCraft II having a more powerful world editor. The idea was to use the game as a showcase for the abilities of the Galaxy Map Editor. Over a period of months, they designed a modified MOBA-type game in the editor. As the original Defense of the Ancients mod had begun life within the Warcraft III engine, Blizzard DotA would bring the genre back to its roots. Taking inspiration from an arcade machine on Blizzard's campus that showed heroes from Blizzard's three major universes, the decision was made to feature heroes from these universes in a single game.
In this build, heroes could use currency earned in battle to purchase upgrades in shops. They then fought alongside allied creeps for maximum efficiency and crush enemy towers and their bases. Two factions existed in the game—the Guardium and the Scourge. Each hero had a "good" (Guardium) and "evil" (Scourge) version. The evil incarnation usually wore some zerg armor. The game received a positive reception at the 2010 BlizzCon. Blizzard planned to work on the mod for a few more months then release it as a free addition to StarCraft II. At this time of development, only one or two designers were working on the mod, along with a few artists helping out in their spare time. Work was picking up on Heart of the Swarm at this point, and there was much enthusiasm within Blizzard for the mod. It was decided to invest more time and resources into the game.
As of July, 2011, the game had entered playtesting. By August of the same year, the game has undergone a complete reboot, the original version "flattened." According to Frank Pearce, the original version bore too much resemblance to its Warcraft III counterpart, where novice players were at a disadvantage. Blizzard seeks to redesign the game to make it "easy to learn, difficult to master. After another positive showing at BlizzCon 2011, the game had more passion inside Blizzard, and they began to discuss what they could do with the MOBA (or "hero brawler" as it was called internally) genre. It was decided to make the game easy to get into with a focus on team gameplay.
In 2012, the initial surge of hero designs came to an end, and work on the talent system began.
In light of Valve's Dota 2 game, a legal dispute emerged as to the title of the mod. Blizzard has taken steps to prevent any trademarking of "DotA" or any other acronymn of "Defense of the Ancients," maintaining that it should remain with the Warcraft modding community, from which the concept sprung. In May of 2012, both Valve and Blizzard reached an agreement—Valve would be able to use the term "DotA" commercially while Blizzard could use it in a non-commercial sense. The name of the Blizzard version was changed to "Blizzard All-Stars," which Rob Pardo stated "ultimately better reflects the design of our game." By this point, the team was wondering about the possibility of releasing the game at any time they wanted within the StarCraft game engine. It was intended that while still a part of StarCraft, there would be monetization options (such as heroes). By this point the team had grown to four to five designers, and between 10 and 20 artists working on the game in their spare time. They began to examine how they could turn the game into one with monetization options.
In June, 2012, it was expected to launch concurrently with Heart of the Swarm but was delayed, and would be released separately. However, in late 2012, a shift occurred. There was no BlizzCon 2012 due to the amount of projects Blizzard was undertaking. Blizzard All-Stars, now a project of its own, was evaluated by Blizzard's "strike team," a group within Blizzard that exists to give honest feedback on its projects, not holding back any criticism. The strike team loved the game, and told the developers that it couldn't be released as part of the StarCraft game engine. It had to have its own UI, ladders, profiles, etc., and if released as part of StarCraft, it would end up being "hidden." That, and while playing it, it 'felt' like a mod. Thus, in 2012, it was decided that All-Stars would become its own free-to-play, standalone game. Once this occurred, every piece of StarCraft art for the game was "torn out." This opened up more work for the game's art team, because they had to develop new art for the game, incorporating the artistic styles of Blizzard's main universes, each of which possesses their own art style.
With the release of Heart of the Swarm in March, 2013, the team working on Heroes of the Storm swelled significantly. Many of those who had worked on Swarm were transferred to focus exclusively on Heroes. It was clear to Blizzard at this point that they were working in a crowded genre; by this point, League of Legends and DotA 2 had grown into massive successes. With the "mod valve" off, the standards for Heroes had soared, and the team asked what could they offer fans that was unique. After the removal of the item/gold system, the design team began "attacking" every aspect of the game, intent on making Heroes of the Storm different from Blizzard DotA. However, there was a lot of concern within the development team that they were changing too much, arguing against shared experience and the concept of battlegrounds. During this year, there were 80-90 developers working on the game.
During development, a number of employees who had worked on Blizzard's Project Titan were shifted to work on All-Stars. As of August 2013, the game's development had reached "a significant internal milestone," and had entered wider internal playtesting.
In October 2013, the game was revealed in its current form as "Heroes of the Storm," a stand-alone product. The game received positive feedback. That "Heroes of the Storm" led to a "HotS" acronym (akin to Heart of the Swarm) was recognised, and even protested against. However, of all the names pitched for the game, "Heroes of the Storm" remained the favorite, and it stuck.
As of May, 2014, there are around 140 people working on the game. The game is currently in alpha, and receives a patch every 4-6 weeks. Post-alpha, Blizzard will begin implementing public test realm (PTR) hardware and integration into Battle.net. The technical alpha came to a temporar end on September 22, 2014, but has since resumed. Currently the game remains in technical alpha, and it is expected that this will be the final phase of alpha testing.
The game's classes were originally organized and described as thus:
- Tanks: Heavily armored, designed to soak up damage as they initiate battle and to control fights.
- DPS: Damage-dealers, and the hardest-hitting heroes, but tend to be more fragile. Teams will need to keep them protected.
- Support: Support heroes have abilities that can do a wide range of different functions in team fights such as healing, stuns, and other methods of crowd control.
- Siege: Siege heroes can attack from long range, making them ideal for destroying enemy towers. They also tend to have abilities that affect a wide area, making them useful for controlling space in team fights.
See also: Artifacts
In earlier builds, when a hero died, they revived at a goblin shop. Here they could buy items such as healing potions and other consumables, stat bonuses, and artifacts. Heroes would be able to use a simple array of items - Stat Boosts, Consumables, Items, and Artifacts. Rather than worry about recipes, many of these items started at Level 1 and could be upgraded to Level 3. While the list of items was much shorter than other MOBAs, the items available had very a specific purpose. Blizzard planned to incorporate more items without overwhelming newer players. Currency was earned through combat.
Items are no longer present in the current build of the game. There were people on the game's development team against the idea of an item shop and a gold system, arguing that these mechanics just allowed those in the lead to remain in the lead and crush the other side. This added a layer of complexity that might not be welcoming to new players. Justin Klinchuch argued that these mechanics were from Defense of the Ancients, and did not want Heroes of the Storm to be anything like that game. As such, the item shop and gold was stripped out.
Other reasons behind the removal included notion of heroes such as Arthas actually spending gold at a shop. Mechanically-speaking, it was because the buying of items did not suit heroes such as Abathur who operate from behind the front line, creating a need within players to get heroes to the frontline regardless of the hero's function. Items in past builds of the game include:
- Cloak of flames
- Health potion
- Health stone
- Mana potion
- Mana stone
- Soul token
- Tome of damage
Something called "soul currency" existed in the game's February, 2012 build.
The game originally took place on a cyber gaming planet, with heroes plucked from across time and space to provide entertainment. Other settings from Blizzard universes were considered for inclusion in later builds, such as Sanctuary. The idea was that various races from Blizzard universes had been thrown into the cyber world, and taken to future technology (e.g. cyborg ogres).
The aesthetics of the original Blizzard DotA map was based on chess and tabletop roleplaying games. Later during the development, the designers looked to locations from Blizzard's universes for inspiration—Tristram from the Diablo series, and Ashenvale from the Warcraft series for example. Both maps and the ethos behind them were canceled—Diablo became a playable hero (invalidating Tristram, where Diablo would have been an enemy boss) and in Ashenvale, it didn't feel right for Malfurion to be killing night elves, which would have been in the map. Hence, the Nexus concept was created, where heroes from existing franchise would battle in original locations. However, doing such maps in the future has not been ruled out, such as a Stormwind vs. Orgrimmar scenario.
In Blizzard DotA, minions from the StarCraft game engine were present. These included the marine (including an infested version), the stalker, and the zealot. It was recommended that heroes fight alongside them for maximum efficiency.
Visually, the minions of later builds were mass produced and "pieces of junk." Artistically, they had simple designs. "Mega-minions" would have also existed, but were still mass produced.
|Canceled Aspects of Heroes of the Storm|