angrychickenhh.pngThe highlight of this week's Angry Chicken Podcast is Dean "Iksar" Ayala's interview! We have a few key points and a couple of quotes for you to browse over, but make sure to check out the full interview for a more in depth look at some of his behind the scenes look at Hearthstone.

Back to TopHighlights

  • Iksar thinks Yogg-Saron, Hope's End is "one of the more exciting cards we've ever made."
  • He actually had very little experience with card games before being hired and was slightly disappointed when he found out Pegasus - the codename for Hearthstone - was a card game.
  • We get a peak behind the scenes into the thematic designs of the Old Gods themselves. How much did WoW impact the design?
  • Iksar believes there's a 50% buff to Old Gods cards in Arena drafts.
  • Cho'gall used to give his effect for the entire game, but DOOM! into Reno Jackson was too popular and powerful.

Back to TopIksar Quotes

What's your job title?

"I am an Associate Game Designer on Hearthstone. Primarily working on final design which most people would probably consider as balance, there's a little bit more to it, but I work on final design in Hearthstone."

And what does that entail?

"The primary focus on the job would be looking at a lot of the card's initial design passes over [including] the flavor and the thematic direction of a set. And then we get the cards and we say, 'Okay, where do these work mechanically? What kind of costs and health and attack can we put things at so people are playing a variety of awesome new decks.' Of course there's a lot of implementation, we help a lot with thematics as well, but I would say the primary function is making sure Hearthstone is still varied for people playing the game on the ladder."

On balancing cards

"We playtested the craziest stuff. I think I remember the first design for Y'Shaarj was [something] like, "If this card's in your deck, you turn into Y'Shaarj." And Y'Shaarj has 15 health and some crazy new hero power and I don't know. It was totally crazy. Stuff that we would never actually do but we playtested a bunch of games of it to see what's fun and what's not."

On card rarity and arena balancing

"It's unlikely that you'll see a bunch of common, very powerful AoE spells that enter Arena in Mage or Paladin. We're aware of the Arena power levels, so we sort of adjust for that. A lot of rarity comes [from] complexity as well. If a card is very complex we're more likely to make that a Rare or an Epic card so people aren't opening it in packs quite as often. So when you open a pack and you see four common cards that are not like, "Do this crazy thing and gives you poisons and Dream cards and stuff. Like what is that? I don't know what's going on!" So the complexity factor is a big one, but we also think about Arena as well."

Hearthhead Question: What are some ways Blizzard is researching/developing to promote a bigger/better community environment in Hearthstone? Anything like chat channels in Heroes? Clans?

"That's a really tricky question because it's really about finding what is the best way for Hearthstone to do that. Obviously WoW has guilds and maybe guilds are really cool in Hearthstone [but] maybe they're a little bit more bloat in the UI than we want. Starcraft also has chat channels and places to interact with people and maybe that's the right thing for Hearthstone or maybe that's too much for our chat system to really handle from the UI perspective."

Later he says, "Right now I think we're doing smaller pushes like [spectating and co-op brawls] while we sort of figure out what is the big overarching plan for making the Hearthstone community better. We certainly talked about things like clans and chat channels so that's certainly not lost on us, but I think finding the right thing for Hearthstone is really the struggle there."

On The Angry Chicken #151 Hearthstone Designer Dean "Iksar" Ayala guests to talk about designing Whispers of the Old Gods, Arena, his favorite decks right now, and more! The regular trio also talk about the HCT EU Preliminaries, take a crazy game story, and enjoy some emails!

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Show Notes