GDC 2013 Sessions: Blizzard Entertainment Speakers

gdc-2013

The 2013 Game Developers Conference will take place in San Francisco, CA through March 25-29 (Expo dates: March 27-29).

The Moscone Center
747 Howard Street, between 3rd and 4th streets
San Francisco, CA 94103

Blizzard Entertainment has a strong presence at the GDC, as usual, with several developers from all three franchises.

Those who wish to visit the Blizzard Entertainment booth it may be found at the Business Center (North Hall) booth BMR101. It’s always a good idea to bring resume, portfolio and demo reel of your work to the event. Blizzard Careers have been at the GDC Career Pavillion in previous years.

Floor Plan


Speaker: Brian Kindregan (Lead Writer)
Title: How Hard Could It Be? The Story of a Cinematic
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Description: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm embraces cinematics as a high-level storytelling tool, a tactic that has been under fire in the games industry in recent years.

This panel will examine the strengths and weaknesses of that approach by tracing the story development of one particularly difficult cinematic. By showing multiple versions of the animatic, we will track the differing speed of cinematic production vs. game design, the feedback we received, the choices we made, and how they impacted the story.

We will cover the obstacles that we overcame, those we didn't, and the lessons we learned.

Takeaway: Attendees will gain insights into the pros and cons of cinematics as a storytelling tool, and the tough choices that go into story-oriented cinematics. They will learn about the nuances of communication between the development and cinematics teams, and hear about the challenges and solutions in the cinematic process.
Intended Audience: Mid to lead designers who are learning to work with a cinematics team. Writers who are attached to either a development team or a cinematics team. Cinematic artists and directors who work with a game team. No prerequisite knowledge is required.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Main Conference Pass

Speaker: Erin Catto (Principal Software Engineer)
Title: Physics for Game Programmers
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Description: Game physics engines are used to create games like Angry Birds, Half-Life, Tomb Raider, Red Faction, MotorStorm, Limbo, and Diablo 3. Games would be far less compelling without the realistic physics simulation that engages the player's intuition and stimulates their motion awareness.

Physics has become a staple of the modern gaming tradition as we try to re-create and re-interpret the world around us. The Physics for Programmers tutorial brings together speakers from Blizzard, Dtecta, Havok, NVIDIA, Sony, and Valve. Topics include collision detection, continuous simulation, constraint solvers, and demos.

The focus is on rigid body physics and real-time simulation in games. There will be a mix of introductory topics, recent algorithms, and practical tips. Time is reserved for Q&A.

Takeaway: Attendees will learn fundamental elements and practical considerations for using collision detection and rigid body physics in games.
Intended Audience: Intermediate to advanced programmers looking to learn or build upon their math, collision detection, and physics skills. Knowledge of vectors, matrices, and some calculus is expected.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Summits, Tutorials & Bootcamps Pass

Speaker: Wyatt Cheng (Senior Technical Game Designer)
Title: Through the Grinder: Refining Diablo III's Game Systems
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Description: As with all Blizzard games, Diablo III went through many iterations before the final product was released. Wyatt will describe different game systems that were attempted, explored, and then ultimately removed. We'll go into detail about the pros and cons of each system, what worked and didn't work, and how the team used each failure to bring them closer to success.

1. Health Recovery: From Regenerative Damage Shields to potion dilution, where potions become less effective as you drink them, many different health recovery mechanisms were tried. What were the major issues with each of these systems and how did it lead to health globes in the end?

2. Controls. At Blizzard, control is king. Although simple on the surface, a number of iterations were required to polish the Diablo III interface, in order to provide the player with tight and responsive controls.

3. Skill System: The skill system underwent multiple revisions. Early systems involved different variations of point spending, an evolution from Diablo II. Later systems had runes, with multiple rune ranks that dropped as items, which could be used to modify skills.

Takeaway: Blizzard has a number of game design values. A postmortem on the development of Diablo III gives us an opportunity to see these game design values in action. Values such as "Control is King," "Avoid the Grand Reveal," and "What is the Fantasy." Ultimately these values are driven by iteration.
Intended Audience: This talk is intended for anyone who is interested in concrete examples of the iterative design process. It's particularly aimed at those who aren't afraid to peek behind the curtain to see failures, as well as successes. Portions of the talk will delve into technical detail, but nothing too scary.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Main Conference Pass

Speaker: Joe Rumsey (Principal Software Engineer)
Title: Network Serialization and Routing in World of Warcraft
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Description: Online games need robust, easy to use network APIs. No one should still be struggling with how to get their data from one place to another. JAM is World of Warcraft's inter-server serialization and routing layer.

This talk describes how JAM came to be, and how it is used today. Real world sample code from WoW and other Blizzard projects are used to illustrate key concepts, such as machine generated code for serialization, and dynamic protocol negotiation. Comparisons to similar open-source projects will be made.

Takeaway: Attendees will learn how World of Warcraft solved network serialization and routing issues. Code at both the application level and the internal networking level will be shown. Open-source alternatives will be presented, and the trade-offs will be detailed.
Intended Audience: This session is intended for programmers dealing with network serialization and routing in online games. Basic knowledge of networking practices and some experience with C++ is assumed.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Main Conference Pass

Speaker: Matt Schembari (Senior Software Engineer)
Title: Cutscenes Everywhere: The Tech Behind StarCraft II's Storytelling
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Description: This session will present how the new cutscene editor and its underlying engine were built in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. The talk will review the design process, and how having a user-focused approach shaped both the tool and engine alike.

It will then provide an overview of the technical design and architecture of these systems. Finally, the talk will discuss the emergent workflow that resulted in having the artists so heavily involved in the development process of their tool.

Takeaway: Attendees will gain insight into how the StarCraft II editor team employed a user-focused approach to build a new editor. In addition, they'll be provided with a technical design and architecture, so they can begin building their own cutscene editor or related tool.
Intended Audience: This talk is aimed primarily at tools programmers and others involved with the technical aspects of their team's art pipeline. Some experience as a tools or engine programmer is recommended.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Main Conference Pass

Speaker: Brian Schwab (Senior Software Engineer)
Title: Working with Designers: Scaling Your AI Both Up and Down
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Description: As game designs lean on AI more and more (finally!), there is an increasing need for a tighter interface between AI programmers and game designers. While much of this relationship is about communication, there are other important considerations that AI programmers can address to make their life with designers easier.

The first part of this lecture will offer suggestions on how querying designers can correctly help the programmer to design an architecture that will scale up to handle the inevitable feature expansions that spill out of design throughout production. The second portion of the session will present methods to gracefully scale down AI systems as needs change.

This includes "killing the baby," which is when a programmer is forced to cut out their wonderful, clever, elegant, amazing, best AI feature ever because it doesn't fit the overall design, or simply isn't fun.

Takeaway: This session will present practical, concrete, from-the-trenches advice on how to think ahead in the design of your AI, so that you can expand or contract as needed.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Summits, Tutorials & Bootcamps Pass

Speaker: Keith Self-Ballard (Art Manager)
Title: Art Director and Lead Artist Roundtable
keith-self-ballard-next-gen-mmo-art-manager2Description: The Art Director and Lead Artist Roundtable is an open forum intended to provide its attendees with both insight and information pertaining to the management, leadership, and direction of game development teams and studios. This session is devoted to the exchange of experience and approaches to the most pressing issues facing art directors, artists, and art culture.
Takeaway: Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with industry peers and listen to accounts of how different studios have dealt with similar problems. The purpose of this roundtable is the sharing of experience and the contrasting of ideas. Those with an eye toward future management or direction positions will have an opportunity to pose questions to the roundtable. Ultimately, one of our prime goals is the growth of art leadership and art culture across our industry.
Intended Audience: While this roundtable is understandably art-centric in its focus, it is open to attendees from any discipline who are eager to gain insight into how an art department functions. Attendees are not required to be current art leads or art directors; they are however, required to have an interest in how art leads and art directors identify and respond to challenges in our industry.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Main Conference Pass

Speaker: Andrew Vestal (Senior Localization Producer)
Title: English Is a Localized Language: Translating Diablo III
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Description: Items in Diablo III can have one of 400,000 possible names. How do you translate and test this huge pool of randomized content? By developing flexible systems up front that work for every language - including English.

This presentation outlines the development pipelines that allow localization to support Diablo III's high level of replay value and randomization. Special focus is given to conversation implementation, and the randomly constructed item and monster names.

Blizzard's internally developed localization tool will also be shown. Stop translating whatever the developers hand you, and start thinking of English as another localized language!

Takeaway: Attendees will learn how proactive localization development practices can improve the quality of all languages, and how Blizzard's internal localization tool supports both translation and QA.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Summits, Tutorials & Bootcamps Pass

Speaker: Blaine Whittle (Senior Software Engineer II, Team 1)
Title: Under the Hood of Blizzard's Internal Build System

Description: Game sizes at Blizzard and other game companies have grown significantly over the years. This has led to a situation where most game build systems are I/O bound, making it difficult to maintain fast build times.

This session will present Blizzard's in-house distributed, multi-platform build system, which was designed from the ground up to minimize disk and network IO, and to maximize scalability. Blizzard used this framework to reduce Starcraft II's build time from 6 hours to 30 minutes.

This session will cover the technical architecture of the build framework, and present a number of the scheduling algorithms involved.

Takeaway: Audience members will learn a number of strategies and techniques for scaling existing tool chains.
Intended Audience: This session is intended for tool chain programmers or programmers involved in cluster computing. Knowledge of existing build tools such as Make, Jenkins, Ant, etc. is recommended.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Main Conference Pass

Speaker: Jay Wilson (Game Director)
Title: Shout at the Devil: The Making of Diablo III
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Description: When building any game, but especially when it's a sequel to the beloved Diablo series, it's critical that you have a series of core design goals, or pillars, that you can use as a guide to making decisions and defining what you want the final vision of the game to accomplish.

In this postmortem, we'll explore the pillars that guided Diablo III's development and how well we felt we accomplished each of them. We'll focus specifically on the ones we feel we struggled with and the game design lessons we learned during those struggles.

Examples of specific challenges of living up to these values will be provided, prioritizing them against one another, and evaluating how well they were accomplished after Diablo III was released.

Takeaway: Attendees will receive insight into the value of defining the core design elements that will drive their game development. In addition, they will learn the importance of measuring their game against those values, and using that knowledge to iterate on the final product, both pre- and post-release.
Intended Audience: This talk is intended for a general audience, including those who are interested in game design as well as project leadership. Project leads of all levels will also gain the benefits of good lessons learned on driving and iterating a game's vision. The intention is for the talk to be general enough that specific knowledge of the Diablo series is not necessary, but such knowledge will be beneficial.
Eligible Passes: All Access Pass, Main Conference Pass

Originally posted: February 5, 2013

PAX East – Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Press Kit

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Blizzard Entertainment Rob Pardo announced at PAX East a team of 15 developers was created exclusively to develop Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft planned to launch beta testing this Summer.

No one expected Blizzard to announce a free to play CCG game.

The game is slated for beta this summer and will be released later this year (2013). It will be released in PC and Mac first with an iPad release coming shortly after. No current plans it seems on Android or other mobile OS.

Official website revealed as well the beta signup page: https://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/

As someone like myself who has played Magic: The Gathering since 1998, I can tell you that this game looks like an absolute blast. The MTG video games they have recently are quite fun and this seems to be along those lines. This game looks like something for casuals as well as competitive gamers. The booster packs are expected to cost around $1, but you’ll also be able to earn them – kind of the same way League of Legends and other free to play games work where you can slowly earn what you need or go ahead and pay up front.

We have an interview tomorrow for the new game. If you have any questions you’d like to see us ask add them below in the comments!

ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO

FACT SHEET

Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-play strategy card game for Windows, Macintosh, and iPad. Designed to be deceptively simple and epically engaging for players of all backgrounds, Hearthstone features quick and lively duels that evoke the spirit of a friendly match played beside a crackling tavern fire.

Each player’s card deck centers around a hero representing one of nine iconic Warcraft classes, customized with a set of minions, spells, and/or weapons based on individual strategy and available cards. Players will be able to hone their skills in practice matches against the computer, and when they’re ready for the challenge, they can take on their Battle.net friends and other players in friendly duels. To further develop their decks, players will be able to acquire cards by crafting them and by winning or purchasing new card packs. With hundreds of unique cards to choose from, the potential card combinations and possible strategies are endless!

Game Modes

  • Play Mode: Duel opponents online to boost your medal ranking and earn packs of cards. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran, curious newcomer, or fall somewhere in between, our matchmaking system will pit you against worthy competition.
  • The Forge: Put your skills to the test in this mode where deck-building is half the fun. You’ll be presented with a series of card choices from which you must forge your deck, and then you’ll bring that deck into battle against other duelists. In addition to having a chance to win card packs as prizes if you duel well, all participants will keep the cards they selected for their Forge deck.
  • Practice Mode: Hone your skills and test out new deck ideas against basic or expert AI opponents, and unlock eight playable heroes in the process.

Key Features

Collection Manager: Peruse your ever-expanding card collection and build a variety of custom decks to suit all kinds of strategies. If you’re new to deck-building, you can also get guided help here on how to fill out your deck for competitive play.

Crafting: Disenchant those extra cards in your collection to receive arcane dust, the building block used to construct Hearthstone cards. You can then use this dust to craft the cards needed to complete one or more of your decks or your overall collection.

Friendly Duels: Want to challenge your buddy to a quick match (or just show off your shiny new cards)? Hearthstone is connected to Battle.net, so you’ll be able to fire up a game with a friend right from your friends list.

 

BETA TESTING

At the FAQ section below there are more details about beta. Beta testing starts this Summer 2013. You can sign up to participate in beta by going to the bottom of the page at the USA Heroesofwarcraft.com website or the Europe website.

Press Release

New free-to-play strategy card game for PC and iPad® lets you hang up your sword . . . and throw down your gauntlet

Hands-on demos at PAX East this weekend, beta test starting soon

BOSTON –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Pull up a chair across from an old friend at the tavern table and prepare for a few rounds of lively card-vs.-card warfare. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. laid its virtual cards on the table today with the unveiling of Hearthstone™: Heroes of Warcraft™, a new cross-platform free-to-play game for Windows®, Macintosh®, and iPad®.

In Hearthstone, players build card decks centered around one of nine iconic Warcraft® character classes and duel each other for fun, glory, and the chance to win awesome new cards. PAX East attendees are able to go hands-on with Hearthstone this weekend, and Blizzard will begin beta testing for the game very soon—no, seriously.

“We’ve always loved collectible card games at Blizzard, so it’s been exciting to bring everything we love about the genre to life in Hearthstone,” said Mike Morhaime , CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment . “We’re putting a lot of focus into creating a fun new game that’s easy to pick up and play, but also has a lot of depth. We can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

Deceptively simple in design but epically engaging, Hearthstone will be instantly accessible to players regardless of their familiarity with Warcraft or collectible card games. Whether players prefer to wield magic or arms in battle, strike from the shadows or head on—or have never given any of that much thought—they’ll be able to jump right in, create a deck, and get in on the card-slinging action.

In addition to honing their skills in practice matches against the computer and taking on their buddies via their Battle.net® friends list, players can challenge each other in two competitive game modes. “Play Mode” features traditional head-to-head battles, with players facing off for a chance to increase their medal ranking and earn card packs along the way. And for a different type of challenge, players can enter “The Forge,” where they start each match by building a deck from a new set of cards, and then use that deck to duel other Forge participants. Aside from winning new cards, players will be able to round out their collections by purchasing new card packs or disenchanting some of their existing cards to craft the ones they’re missing.

With hundreds of cards to choose from, featuring a wide range of colorful Warcraft spells, weapons, and characters, players will have limitless possibilities for developing and fine-tuning their deck-building strategies. Further details about Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft will be announced as development progresses. To learn more about the game, stay tuned to https://www.PlayHearthstone.com. With multiple games in development, Blizzard Entertainment has numerous positions currently available—visit https://jobs.blizzard.com for more information and to learn how to apply.

 

Official Screenshots

Video Trailer

Jason Hayes announced via twitter that he composed the The Hearthstone: Warcraft of Heroes soundtrack.

Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft – Fireside Duel

Hearthstone – Building The Fire

Blizzard employees/developers talk about the development of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and more about Team 5 and their role at Blizzard.

FAQ

What is Hearthstone™?

Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital strategy card game that anyone can enjoy. Players choose to play as one of nine epic Warcraft® heroes, and then take turns playing cards from their customizable decks to cast potent spells, use heroic weapons or abilities, or summon powerful characters to crush their opponent.

Why is Blizzard making Hearthstone?

We looooooove collectible card games and have been playing them since our Silicon & Synapse days. Creating a digital strategy card game felt like a natural next step for us, so we put together a small team and have been hammering away at Hearthstone for a while now. We’re excited to be working on something different from our other games, which we’ve wanted to do for a long time. Same goes for creating a game for iPad® in addition to PC. It’s been a thrill to work on Hearthstone and to finally be able to reveal it to the community, and we hope everyone has as much fun playing it as we’ve had building it.

Do I need to know anything about strategy card games or Warcraft to play?

Not at all! We’ve designed Hearthstone so that anyone can get into it, no matter how familiar they are with the Warcraft universe or collectible card games. The game will teach you everything you need to know as you play it.

What are the key game modes and features?

Hearthstone’s key game modes and features include:

  • Practice mode: Hone your abilities and test out new deck ideas against A.I. opponents of basic or expert skill levels, and unlock new playable heroes in the process.
  • Play mode: Duel other players to increase your medal ranking—which indicates your skill level and the level of opponents you’ll face (resets weekly)—and earn new card packs along the way. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran or curious newcomer, or fall somewhere in between, Battle.net® matchmaking will pair you up against a worthy opponent.
  • The Forge: Put your skills to the test in this mode where deck-building is half the fun. Assemble a new deck by choosing from a selection of cards provided for the match, and then duel other Forge participants for a chance to win card packs. The cards you select to build your deck with are yours to keep and can be added to other decks in your collection after your Forge duels are complete. Note that you must trade in a certain number of card packs to participate in a Forge match (further details to be announced later).
  • Collection Manager: Browse your ever-expanding card collection, disenchant cards for raw materials to craft new ones, and build a variety of custom decks to suit your shifting strategies.

What’s the difference between “basic” and “expert” cards?

Basic cards are the “starter” cards that form the foundation of each hero’s class, and are earned each time you play a game (you can have up to two of every basic card in the game in your collection).

Expert cards are cards that can only be found in card packs or created using the crafting system (certain achievements grant them as well). They’re distinguished by their rarity—common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). Generally, the rarer a card is, the more complex it is . . . often providing you with new strategic options. You can have any number of expert cards in your collection, though only two of any common, rare, or epic card, and one of any legendary card, can be placed in a deck.

Both basic and expert cards have important roles to play in all decks, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or are a Hearthstone grandmaster.

What are the different types of cards in Hearthstone?

Once you’ve selected which hero you want to play as, there are three types of cards you can build your deck with in Hearthstone: spells, weapons, and minions. Each card falls into either the “basic” or “expert” card set (see below).

How much does it cost to play?

Hearthstone is free to play, and there are a number of different ways to acquire cards through gameplay. In addition, players will have the option to buy additional card packs through an in-game store using Battle.net Balance or other supported payment methods, such as major credit cards. However, there is no requirement to purchase card packs in order to play Hearthstone.

What are all the different ways a player can acquire cards?

Players will earn their first set of cards as soon as they start playing Hearthstone, and certain game modes and features will award additional cards through gameplay. In addition, players will have the option to purchase additional card packs through the in-game store using Battle.net Balance or other supported payment methods, such as major credit cards. Here are the different ways to get cards:

  • Practice Mode: Play against A.I. opponents representing different classes to unlock new heroes and basic cards.
  • Play Mode: By participating in traditional head-to-head matches, players have a chance to win card packs.
  • The Forge: Build a deck by selecting one card from each of a series of randomized card choices, and then play against other Forge participants. The cards you pick to build your deck are yours to keep—play well enough, and you could win even more. Note that you must trade in a certain number of card packs to participate in The Forge (further details to be announced later).
  • Crafting: Disenchant expert cards in your collection to receive arcane dust, and then use your collected dust to craft other cards of your choosing. Basic cards cannot be disenchanted.
  • Card Packs: Purchase card packs containing five random cards using your Battle.net Balance or a variety of supported payment methods. One of the cards will always be of “rare” rarity or greater; in some cases, you may find that one or more additional cards has also “upgraded” to a higher tier of rarity.
  • Achievements: Certain achievements in the game may grant additional cards.

How many cards are available in the game?

There are over 300 cards in Hearthstone. All of these can be earned, with some cards granted for dueling the A.I. or completing achievements and others found inside card packs that can be earned by playing in Play mode and The Forge. We plan to introduce additional cards over time.

Can I trade cards to other players or sell cards for real cash?

No, Hearthstone is not designed to support these types of transactions.

Can players choose to battle against their friends in addition to taking part in match-made duels?

Of course! You will be able to play against your friends via your Battle.net friends list.

On which platforms will Hearthstone be available?

Hearthstone will initially be available for Windows® and Macintosh®, with a version for iPad coming later.

What comes in a card pack?

Each pack comes with five random cards. Your chance to receive a particular card depends on its rarity: common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). You’re guaranteed to receive at least one card of rare or better quality per pack. Each card in the pack also has a chance to upgrade to a “Golden” version of the same card.

How do I apply for the beta test?

Just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account!

How will I get cards in the beta test? Do I need to purchase them with real money?

We do plan to test the in-game store during the beta test, and players will be able to purchase card packs using their Battle.net Balance or other Battle.net-supported payment methods. Players will also be able to obtain cards through Practice mode, Play mode, and The Forge.

The card pack price in the beta test does not necessarily reflect what the final prices will be at launch.

Will the cards I earn or purchase in the beta test carry over into the live game? What happens if I purchased beta card packs for real money?

Prior to launch your card collection will be reset, and any cards you acquired through a purchased card pack or earned during the beta test will be removed. However, any purchases you made during the beta test will be credited back to you in the form of new, unopened card packs at launch, equal to the value you spent during the beta test. Please note that these will not contain the same cards as those received from card packs in the beta test. Also, as a thank-you for testing out the in-game store during Hearthstone’s beta phase, everyone who purchased a card pack in the beta test will get a special gift.

I don’t live in the US; can I still participate in the beta test?

We hope to launch a beta test in other game regions after the initial beta-test launch in North America, but we don’t have any specifics to announce at this time. Stay tuned for updates.

Where will Hearthstone be available?

Our goal is to make Hearthstone available in the same regions supported by World of Warcraft, but we don’t have details to share just yet.

 

THE LAUNCH DETAILS (SO FAR)

When will Hearthstone be released?

We’re not sure yet—what we do know is that we’re going to take as much time as necessary to make sure Hearthstone is as fun and polished as possible.

How do I get Hearthstone?

Once the game is live, you’ll be able to download it free directly from Blizzard. We’ll provide further details, including how to purchase card packs, as we get closer to launch.

What ages are appropriate?

Hearthstone has not yet received its final rating.

On which platforms will Hearthstone be available?

Hearthstone will initially be available for Windows® and Macintosh®, with a version for iPad coming later.

Where will Hearthstone be available?

Our goal is to make Hearthstone available in the same regions supported by World of Warcraft, but we don’t have details to share just yet.

When will the iPad version be available?

Hearthstone will be available in the App Store as soon as possible after its release on Windows and Macintosh PCs.

Will Hearthstone be localized? Which languages?

We’re planning to localize Hearthstone in the same languages as World of Warcraft wherever possible. We’ll post the final language list as soon as we can.

I play World of Warcraft, too! Can I earn anything for my WoW characters by playing Hearthstone?

We’re looking into a few possibilities and hope to have more details to share in the future.

How do Hearthstone and World of Warcraft relate to each other?

Both games take place in the Warcraft universe, and World of Warcraft players will recognize a lot of aspects of Azeroth in Hearthstone. That said, you don’t need to even know what World of Warcraft is to have loads of fun in Hearthstone.

 

THE GAME MECHANICS

What makes Hearthstone different from other card games?

We’ve designed Hearthstone to be easy to learn so that anyone can get into it—but it’s also deep enough that even the most elite duelists will find it a challenge to master. Hearthstone is designed around short, action-packed duels that generally take 10–15 minutes to play.

How many players can play in a multiplayer game?

More than one, but fewer than three.

Which heroes are featured in Hearthstone?

You’ll be able to build a deck based on one of nine epic Warcraft heroes, each representing one of the original World of Warcraft classes: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior.

Wait, what about Monk? Where’s Death Knight?!

The roster of heroes represents the nine classes that were available at World of Warcraft’s launch. It’s still too early to discuss our plans for heroes aside from these, though the game will continue to evolve over time. So practice patience, young monk! And death knight, you’re immortal, so you can chill for now too, right?

Will additional content be available in the future?

We plan to add more content and additional cards as the game evolves, but we don’t have any details to share just yet. Right now, our focus is making sure the game is as fun and polished as possible right out of the gate.

How does Practice mode work?

In the game’s Practice mode, you choose to play against a computer-controlled hero of any class at one of two different difficulty levels. Challenging that hero will unlock it for play and expand the types of cards you’re able to add to your collection. Players will earn a fledgling Mage deck just by launching the game, but that’s only the beginning of the journey. . . .

Can I create new decks or modify my current deck?

Absolutely! Customizing the perfect deck to suit your play style or to counter a rival is a huge part of Hearthstone. As your card collection grows, the in-game Collection Manager will help you create, save, and edit multiple decks for whatever situation or play style you can think of.

What if I’m new at deck-building and need some help?

We want anyone to be able to get into Hearthstone and build a deck without having to understand all the nuances of deck building. To that end, we’re developing a feature that will examine your deck and card collection and provide suggestions for what you should add. You’ll be provided with brief reasoning behind these recommendations so that you can learn a little more about how to build a great deck.

What comes in a card pack?

Each pack comes with five random cards. Your chance to receive a particular card depends on its rarity: common (white), rare (blue), epic (purple), or legendary (orange). You’re guaranteed to receive at least one rare or better card per pack. Each card in the pack also has a chance to upgrade to a “Golden” version of the same card.

What is a Golden card?

All cards found in a card pack have a chance to be upgraded to a Golden card when the pack is opened. This upgrade will affect the appearance of the card but not its power.

Does Hearthstone support asynchronous play?

Hearthstone is designed to be a fast-paced experience. That being said, we recognize that players may want to play the game in short bursts with their friends over a longer period of time, so we’re looking into the possibility of supporting asynchronous play.

How does The Forge work?

You’ll be able to enter The Forge by trading in unopened card packs (further details to be announced later). These packs can be earned free in Play mode (or won in previous Forge games that you might have played), or you can purchase them from the in-game store. Once you are in, you will build a special Forge deck, choosing one card at a time from a series of card options until you have a full deck of 30. You’ll then duel with that deck against other Forge participants until you win or lose a specific number of matches. At the end, you keep all the expert cards that were in your deck—and depending on how well you performed you could win additional card packs.

How do I disenchant and craft cards?

Expert cards can be “disenchanted”—giving the player a resource called arcane dust but destroying the card in the process. Once a player collects enough dust, they can use it to create any card in the game, including Golden cards, permanently adding that card to the player’s collection. The amount of dust received and/or the cost of the card created depends on the card’s rarity (common, rare, epic, or legendary).

Only expert cards—that is, cards that come in card packs or are earned through playing in The Forge—can be disenchanted. Basic cards (i.e., cards with no rarity indicator) cannot be disenchanted.

 

THE TECHNICAL STUFF

How do I pay for cards?

On Windows and Macintosh PCs, players will be able to purchase card packs within the game using their Battle.net Balance or any other Battle.net-supported payment method attached to their account.

On the iPad, players will be able to make purchases using the payment methods they’ve associated with their AppleID in the App Store. The exact process will differ slightly for each region. We’ll provide further details as we get closer to launch.

What are the system requirements for Hearthstone?

We’ll announce specific system requirements closer to launch.

Will I be able to add friends in Hearthstone and chat with people?

Yes! The folks in your Battle.net friends list (both BattleTag and Real ID friends) are available for games or conversation. Players will not be able to chat with anyone who is not on their friends list. However, players will be able to choose from a variety of emotes for basic communication during games.

How can I communicate with opponents during a game who are not on my friends list?

We have an emote system that lets you communicate in a safe way with random folks you are playing with online. You can thank or congratulate or threaten your opponent with the voice of the hero you are playing.

Are you supporting Android tablets?

Hearthstone will launch on Windows, Macintosh, and, later on, iPad. We’re looking into the possibility of supporting additional platforms in the future, but we don’t have any further info to share at this time.

Will Hearthstone run on my iPhone?

Hearthstone is for Windows and Macintosh PCs and iPad only.

Do you need a Battle.net account to play Hearthstone?

We’re still working out the details for iPad, but you will need a Battle.net account to play Hearthstone on PC. If you don’t already have a Battle.net account, you can create one at https://www.battle.net.

Do you need a World of Warcraft account to play Hearthstone?

Nay, ye do not!

Will there be parental controls for Hearthstone?

Yes. Parents will be able to use Battle.net’s Parental Controls system to restrict their child’s ability to purchase additional card packs within Hearthstone.

 

THE BETA TEST

How will I get cards in the beta test? Do I need to purchase them with real money?

We do plan to test the in-game store during the beta test, and players will be able to purchase card packs using their Battle.net Balance or other Battle.net-supported payment methods. Players will also be able to obtain cards through Practice mode, Play mode, and The Forge.
The card pack price in the beta test does not necessarily reflect what the final prices will be at launch.

Will the cards I earn or purchase in the beta test carry over into the live game? What happens if I purchased beta card packs for real money?

Prior to launch your card collection will be reset, and any cards you acquired through a purchased card pack or earned during the beta test will be removed. However, any purchases you made during the beta test will be credited back to you in the form of new, unopened card packs at launch, equal to the value you spent during the beta test. Please note that these will not contain the same cards as those received from card packs in the beta test. Also, as a thank you for testing out the in-game store during Hearthstone’s beta phase, everyone who purchased a card pack in the beta test will get a special gift.

Will my progress in the beta test—unlocking heroes, earning cards, my ranking—carry over to the final game?

No way! In the interest of fairness, everything will be reset after the beta test ends so that players can be on equal footing when the game launches.

How do I apply for the beta test?

Just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account!

I don’t live in the US; can I still participate in the beta test?

We hope to launch a beta test in other game regions after the initial beta-test launch in North America, but we don’t have any specifics to announce at this time. Stay tuned for updates.

© 2013 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. Hearthstone is a trademark, and Warcraft, Battle.net and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S., and/or other countries. Windows is a trademark of the Microsoft group of companies. Mac and IPad are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All other trademarks referenced herein are the properties of their respective owners.

 

Press Kit Artwork

Press Kit Minion & Class Cards Art

Press Kit Heroes (Full)

Blizzplanet – PAX East Coverage

Blizzard Entertainment invited Blizzplanet and other gaming sites to the PAX East Game Announcement Event. Here are some of our interviews and press media kit coverage.

PAX East 2013 Speculation – Warcraft Battles or Heroes of Warcraft ?

Kevin Carrillo (Sixen), Eldorian & DJTyrant (Blizzplanet), Eroldren and Medros (AllThingsAzeroth) have been brewing a barrel of speculations of what Blizzard Entertainment might be announcing today in barely 5 hours from the time of this posting.

pax-east-2013-speculation-march-22

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The first thought is Blizzard All-Stars. However, Blizzard Entertainment already announced this game at BlizzCon 2011, and attendees even played it. The press invite says Blizzard can’t wait for us to have this on our hands. Blizzard All-Stars has already been on our hands at BlizzCon, and second — why so much secrecy about a game that has already been announced? Unless it’s a brand-new game nobody has heard of yet.

Rob Pardo tweeted recently the announcement is Blizzard’s NEXT GAME.

rob-pardo-pax-east-2013-next-game-tweet

Considering Blizzard stated in the press invitation this (New Game) is not a sequel, expansion nor related to the Next-Gen MMO Titan — there isn’t a lot of room to speculate on.

The press invite also says “We’ve been working on a little something, different from our other games.” Now this one can be interpreted in two ways:

  • Different from [Diablo III, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II] — meaning a new IP, or;

  • Different from [RPG, MMO, RTS] — in which case, the options remaining are: First-Person Shooter (FPS), Handheld game (PS Vita), or Mobile Game (iPad/MS Surface/etc.)

Among some of the creative thoughts circulating among the scholars:

  • StarCraft: Ghost — The press invite says different to our other games. As stated above it could be interpreted as non-MMO, non-RPG, non-RTS. StarCraft: Ghost was an FPS game. StarCraft: Ghost was postponed (meaning: to put off to a later time). PS4 was just announced and Blizzard is supporting it with Diablo III (PS4).

  • Project Blackstone — either stand alone new game based on StarCraft, or part of StarCraft: Ghost.

  • World of Warcraft TCG Online — the Cryptozoic Entertainment World of Warcraft Trading Card Game has been very popular. What if Blizzard brings it to mobile games? Glenn Rane (Blizzard Art Director, Creative Development) recently joined a team of friends and launched a Kickstarter to develop InKarnate … a digital RPG tabletop or Roleplaying-Game Tool Set. What if … WoW TCG Online or WOW RPG Tabletop online?

  • In late 2012, Blizzard Entertainment claimed the domain name: HEROESOFWARCRAFT.COM and WARCRAFTBATTLES.COM (Mobile games?)

warcraftbattles-com-registration

heroesofwarcraft-com-registration

Heroes of Warcraft. Warcraft Battles. This title really sounds like a mobile game. Could it be something akin to Pet Battles, but instead of pets, it’s heroes? I know, that sounds a lot like Blizzard All-Stars, but that’s DOTA-style. I mean … Street Fighter-style. Mortal Kombat-style.

Just the other day, Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson were playing Samurai Showdown2 — for example.

chris-metzen-and-micky-neilson-play-Samurai-Showdown2

The community has certainly been pulling their hairs on this one ever since the Press Invite, and it just shows how much love and passion we have for Blizzard Entertainment and their video games. Whatever this new game is, it will have a lot of expectations and criticism. Something worth discussing throughout gaming websites, fansites, forums and social media.

IamDeflector shared via Twitter a nice bracket:

blizzard-game-announcement-bracket-byIamDeflector

Whether any of us was right or wrong, it doesn’t matter no more. The game will be announced within a few hours. Make sure to watch the Twitch Livestream to witness the official Blizzard game announcement.

Twitch Live Stream

The new game will be announced today March 22nd at:

New York: 10:00am EST
Los Angeles: 7:00am PST
London: 2:00 PM GMT
Paris: 3:00 PM CES

Make sure to check it out. Spread the word! Share the link to this page.


Blizzard Posted Franchise Development Producer Next-Gen MMO & other Job Openings

During the month of March, there were a series of new job openings listed to fill several positions including the Next-Gen MMO Titan, Blizzard All-Stars, StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, Diablo III expansion, World of Warcraft, and the Mobile Team. Follow the links to learn more and to apply.

blizzard-entertainment-lobby

Franchise Development Producer – Next-Gen MMO Titan

Blizzard Entertainment is looking for a highly organized individual with outstanding communications skills, proven experience in production, and a track record of shipping AAA products to help lead the efforts on its next-gen MMO.

Responsibilities

Be the key evangelist for producing products which expand the next-gen MMO brand outside of the gaming industry, ensuring alignment with Blizzard Entertainment’s overall brand strategy.

Be the key liaison between the development team and other functional teams within Blizzard Entertainment (e.g. creative development, licensing, marketing, legal) to create brand-extending merchandise for the next-gen MMO franchise, including:

  • Books / Novels
  • Action figures
  • Comics
  • Short movies
  • Apparel
  • Work with major consumer brands to facilitate product placement and licensing within the world of Blizzard Entertainment’s next-gen MMO that enhances the gameplay experience.
  • Direct strategic analysis of market trends and competition.
  • Build and manage internal and external partner relationships.
  • Work with legal team to define and conquer any legal hurdles necessary to execute the franchise vision.

Requirements

  • Demonstrated passion for computer games and related entertainment products / media (i.e. comics, movies, toys, etc.).

  • Outstanding communications, project management, and relationship-building skills.

  • A minimum of 3 years product management, licensing, or business development experience in the entertainment or toy industries.

  • Able to work well in a team environment with various internal groups such as Able to manage multiple complex projects simultaneously and meet deadlines.

  • Outstanding networking skills

  • Bachelor’s degree

(Apply)

 

Blizzard Entertainment Job Openings

 

PAX East 2013: Blizzplanet Arrives to Boston

After a 90 minute flight delay, @Miaari has arrived to Boston, Massachusetts. Thank God, sound and safe. We wish her to have fun at PAX East in less than 10 hours.

We will be gathering questions right after Blizzard announces the new video game for our scheduled video interview. Miaari is there to forward your questions. Stay tuned.

blizzplanet-miaari-arrives-to-pax-east-2013

Twitch Live Stream

Twitch will livestream the Blizzard panel where the new game will be announced today March 22nd at:

New York: 10:00am EST
Los Angeles: 7:00am PST
London: 2:00 PM GMT
Paris: 3:00 PM CES

Make sure to check it out tomorrow. Spread the word!

Watch live video from PAX East 2012 on www.twitch.tv

Blizzplanet @ PAX East 2013 – Countdown to Awesome: New Blizzard Game

Blizzplanet staff member Miaari is attending the Blizzard Entertainment Press Event at PAX East 2013 in Boston this upcoming Friday, March 22nd. Blizzard Entertainment invited a handful of Gaming sites and fansites to the event, including Blizzplanet.

There, Blizzard Entertainment plans to announce a new video game.

There are two things we want our visitors to know.

1. Miaari is taking video of the entire game announcement. Make sure to check us during the weekend for any update on when the video will be available or subscribe to our Blizzplanet Weekly YouTube Channel for an automated alert.

2. We are taking questions from fans to forward them to the developers at PAX East. You can ask bonafide questions about Diablo III (PS3) or about the new game to be announced. You can submit your questions below in the comments (can login with Facebook, Google or Disqus account), or you can submit your question at the following Facebook page or via Twitter using the @Blizzplanet #BlizzardPAXEast hashtag.

Those who attend PAX East, you should visit the Blizzard booth to meet @Lylirra @vaeflare @cm_zarhym @cm_phenteo @thelyns
 

If you didn’t watch our most recent Blizzplanet Weekly with host Chris Arnone, click the image below to launch the video. He discusses our speculations on what this new Blizzard game is. Could it be related to StarCraft II Project Blackstone? Warcraft related? A mobile game?

blizzplanet-weekly-the-bearded-gamer-pax-east-2013-speculation

Blizzplanet Weekly: PAX East – World of StarCraft? Project Blackstone Speculation

In this week’s Blizzplanet Weekly, our host Chris Arnone talks about several topics around all Blizzard Entertainment video games. Mists of Pandaria will see no additional 5-person dungeons, Major League Gaming (MLG) in Dallas is this weekend where 32 players will clash to the end to claim the victor prize, Diablo III developers are moving away from the Auction House, and finally — Chris Arnone enumerates what are all the facts surrounding the new game Blizzard is revealing at PAX East, and what it is certainly not.

Will it be something related to Project Blackstone? Maybe a revamped StarCraft: Ghost intermingled with the Heart of the Swarm story? Will it be an MMO or a Mobile game?

Everyone thought the Project Blackstone website was a promotional campaign for StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. However, there are still some unlocked content and absolutely nothing is mentioned about Project Blackstone in the Heart of the Swarm single-player campaign.

The Project Blackstone creator, Cameron Dayton (Senior Story Developer), tweeted recently “I think it’s starting to dawn on people that #ProjectBlackstone was more than just a promotional piece for #HotS – this story ain’t done yet” — hmm?

A few weeks ago, I remember Cameron Dayton revealed Project Blackstone’s story took two years in the making. This put me to rethink and ponder … does a website story and the ficticious characters tweeting each other on Twitter take two years to write? Or is there more to Project Blackstone than just a Free online short story? That’s a lot of time and manpower budget.

Watch today’s Blizzplanet Weekly with our host Chris Arnone speculating about PAX East new game announcement here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our BlizzPlanet Gaming YouTube channel and to like our video.

Note: Chris wears a different Warcraft, StarCraft or Diablo T-shirt on the shows courtesy of JINX. Get yours here.

blizzplanet-weekly-the-bearded-gamer-pax-east-2013-speculation

Confirmed: Blizzard Big Reveal @PAX East 2013 is a Public Event

Blizzard Entertainment today confirmed the big reveal event at PAX East 2013 will be a public event — not Press-only as many of us on the media side wondered, as the email invitation was sent to press only originally, not to Blizzard customers in general.

Those of you who are attending PAX East on “Friday”, read the details in our previous article. The event will be held on March 22nd at 10:00 a.m. EST.

Blizzard has a little something new, and they’re bringing it to PAX East! It’s different from their other games, so it’s not a sequel, expansion, or that rumored next-gen MMO. Be among the first to see what the legendary development studio has been working on in this presentation.
 

paxeast

Blizzard Revealing New Game at PAX East?

Blizzard Entertainment emailed several fansites and press writers a mysterious email inviting us to be alert to a special announcement at the upcoming 2013 PAX East.

Blizzard: “We’ve been working on a little something, different from our other games… It’s not a sequel, expansion, or that rumored next-gen MMO, but it’s something we’re excited for you to get your hands on”.
 

The public already knows that the Diablo III (PS3) will be playable at PAX East. There are demo stations for PAX East attendees to play the PlayStation 3 version of Diablo III.

Thus, this cryptic email is suggesting there is something else Blizzard Entertainment is planning to reveal at the upcoming event. It is not a sequel (rule out StarCraft III, WarCraft IV, Diablo IV).

It is not an expansion. (rule out World of Warcraft: The next-expansion-title, StarCraft II: X-title, or Diablo III: x-title).

It is not either the next-gen MMO. But it is something we will be excited to get on our hands. Hmm. So this seems to be the announcement of a new game that is secretly in development.

It could be Blizzard All-Stars, but since we already know that game has been in development, and 2011 BlizzCon attendees already played a demo — I lean to think this might be something new we haven’t heard about before.

The PAX East event where Blizzard Entertainment plans to make a mysterious announcement will be held on Friday, March 22 at 10:00 a.m. (Naga Theater @ PAX East).

UPDATE: Blizzard Entertainment announced Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft at PAX East. It was the mysterious game announcement mentioned in this article. Read more at our PAX East 2013 coverage page.

blizzard-entertainment-pax-east-invitation-2

Funko Announces a Series of Pop! Vinyl Figures based on Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo

It slipped under our radar that Funko announced a few months ago the 2013 collection releases during the 12 Days of Christmas. I found out about this new series through our Entertainment Earth affiliates who opened up pre-order pages.

Funko and Blizzard Entertainment have entered into a Blizzard Licensed Product agreement to get into your hands a new line of Funco Pop! Vinyl figures based on all three major Blizzard franchises: Diablo, StarCraft and World of Warcraft.

These are slated to ship on September 2013 for $9.99. So far you can now pre-order the World of Warcraft Arthas Pop! Vinyl Figure and the World of Warcraft Illidan Pop! Vinyl Figure.

I personally prefer to pre-order, and encourage our visitors to do so to secure a copy. That prevents missing a copy when they get sold out.

We haven’t seen yet images of the final product, but you can take a look at previous Funko Pop! Vynil figures for an idea.

Blizzplanet will update you once photos of the final product become available. I reached out to Funko to keep us in the loop. Stay tuned. Products linked below are the pre-order pages.

World of Warcraft

StarCraft II

Diablo III

Eldorian found at the Action Figure Insider a photo of the Funko 2013 Catalog given at the Toy Fair New York 2013 where we can clearly see the concept art of how the final product might look like. Tell us, are you looking forward to collecting all of them? What are your thoughts?

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