Developer Insights: Thrall
It’s time for another Developer Insights, where we bring you the inside scoop on heroes and their transition to the Nexus. This time, Game Designer Kent-Erik Hagman sits down to chat about Thrall.
Trikslyr: Thrall is an iconic character from Warcraft, and bringing him to Heroes of the Storm must have been quite a task. As mentioned in a previous Developer Insights, Rehgar now boasts the kit originally designed for Thrall. What sparked the change?
Kent-Erik: Well we had some initial problems with that kit on Thrall. We had this awesome Warchief, in epic looking armor wielding the mighty Doomhammer, and he's using all these support abilities. It just didn’t visually match. The original kit made more sense when Thrall was on a wolf, but we decided to incorporate a Mount System into Heroes, which in-turn required us to put him on foot again.
With these changes, we began to refocus Thrall into more of a Melee Enhancement/Elemental shaman, and let Rehgar fill the fantasy of a Restoration/Warcraft III shaman. It's important to us that when you look at a character, you have expectations of what that character can do based on what they look like. (Diablo looks big and imposing, and can take lots of hits. Illidan looks lithe and deadly, and does decent damage while dashing around the battlefield). So with this new look, it warranted a new kit.
TrikSlyr: Which of Thrall's talents should we be aware of before storming into the Nexus? How about his heroics?
Kent-Erik: With Thrall, we took a similar approach that we took with Jaina, which is an approach we intend to do with all our future heroes, and in our reworks of older heroes. We always want there to be a handful of viable options at every tier, with certain builds emerging from these new mechanics that the talents offer. For Thrall, you'll find builds that synergize the power of Chain Lightning casts, giving Thrall more power from afar to whittle his opponents down, before choosing his all-in moment. There are builds around Windfury and Feral Spirit that are focused towards a more physical nature, for a more ambush-oriented play style. We also focused builds around his Trait that allow him a fair amount of survivability so he can be in the thick of things longer, but gives up some real offensive power to do so.
For his Heroics, we really wanted to play up the Earth magic vibe of Thrall. In Warcraft III, his Ultimate ability was Earthquake, which we tweaked a little to match his new playstyle in Heroes. We also brought in the Sundering as a powerful engaging/disengaging tool that can let Thrall get the jump on people, or pin them in place so he can use Doomhammer with Windfury to finish the job.
TrikSlyr: Thrall was on display for all in attendance to play at BlizzCon 2014. @Lowellhots wants to know if there were any major changes from the Thrall he experienced at the event.
Kent-Erik: Thrall was received relatively well, and from our experience, there wasn't much else to change about him. We took a hard look at his trait (like Kerrigan's trait, it's one of those tricky traits that the number being simply 5 or 10% too high can spiral the character out of control), as we want to make sure his power level is in line with other heroes. We're definitely looking forward to seeing what you, the community, can do when you get your hands on him!
TrikSlyr: Mind sharing one of your favorite moments of bringing Thrall to the Nexus? We love to end Developer Insights with a fun story.
Kent-Erik: Early in the development process, we'll implement placeholder talents, so there's something to pick at each tier. For Thrall, one of the placeholders for Windfury, called "Huff'n'Puff," caused the attacks to do triple damage to Structures (obviously!). Well, we already gave him a super high attack damage (as a trade for his slower attack speed, to let Windfury shine as a more significant steroid), and when it was combined with a 300% damage multiplier, it caused some big bad problems for our Forts and the Core. Apparently we shouldn't let players three-shot Forts...
We leave the implications of comboing that with Vampiric Assault as an exercise for the readers. Oops. :-)
A huge thank you to Kent-Erik and the design team for chatting with us about Thrall. Keep an eye on HeroesoftheStorm.com for more news from the Nexus.