Heroes of the Storm

Consequential Ideas on a Budget

I'm fully aware that in all likelihood I'm wasting my time trying to post a worthwhile thread on reddit. Nonetheless, it doesn't hurt to try.

People always had and continue to have excuses for shooting down ideas. If they were part of the development process there would be no game and after there was a game it wouldn't change. Anyway, when a game is in an "ok" state I suppose it's practically ok for ideas to be brushed aside, but Heroes of the Storm has clearly experienced a dramatic decline to the point of being allotted few developmental resources by its company. It turns out sometimes there's a price to pay by developers for willfully surrounding themselves by inert positivity like the content of this subreddit. So, ironically, one excuse for shooting down ideas nowadays is that the failure of past developers with substantial means to implement consequential ideas has deprived the game of current developers and substantial means to implement consequential ideas. It's like an episode of Yes, Minister.

However, the game hasn't been entirely abandoned:

We still plan on regular gameplay updates, and will continue to experiment with ways to make Heroes a better game, so you can count on that still happening.

The game's relatively few remaining players continue their proud tradition of lacking a clue, as do its current developers evidently, so humor me.

Fixing Troubled Battlegrounds

One of the things this game has going for it are the various battlegrounds. Not only do different settings evoke different feelings, there are gameplay differences too. Battlegrounds bring a refreshing quality to the game as a whole. One particular subset of battlegrounds has been defiantly unsuccessful – the dispersed objective battleground. In particular Garden of Terror, Blackheart's Bay, and Haunted Mines. This is highly unfortunate because a dispersed objective gives players more flexibility, more choice in where and what kind of fights to pick. Theoretically these battlegrounds should add dynamic gameplay, yet in practice they have and had been the most boring to play. Garden of Terror was standardized, Blackheart's Bay is not playable in ranked, and Haunted Mines was removed from the game entirely.

Fixing them requires logic, not originality, creativity, great effort and resources, or any other type of nonsense. The less effort in implementation the better given the circumstances.

Garden of Terror

  • Revert map back to shambler camps, shambler bosses, and player-controlled Garden Terror
  • Seed counts reset after each night phase
  • Shambler camp sizes vary and/or potential shambler camp spawn locations are increased

Professional players used to avoid fighting, split seeds 90-90, simultaneously grow a Terror during the next night phase, and then even mirror their pushes. The battleground was blamed for the scared and passive way in which they played it that rendered it boring. The solution isn't to make it like other battlegrounds, it's to tweak it into forcing teams to engage. Seed counts not carrying over alone could induce fights, but if that is insufficient then reasoned randomness gets the job done. Growing a Garden Terror is a zero-sum game – it doesn't matter which team may be closer to an imbalanced distribution of seeds as long as it can't easily collect 100 seeds. The point of an imbalanced, uneven, or skewed distribution of seeds is to prevent both teams being willing to split the battleground and thus induces fighting.

Furthermore, if teams were splitting the battleground top and bottom when their natural sides are left and right there is an implication that they knew the timing of the objective and were team-splitting their little candy-asses accordingly. Making the timing randomly variable could reinforce a lane-split or dispersal-split dynamic different from the usual team fights.

Lastly, the "vehicle" objective is too rare and there is no reason to replace it. I take it that the developers had already addressed the pot-dropping and running around.

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Blackheart's Bay

The state of this battleground is borderline tragic as the brightness and fanciful nature of the battleground makes it one of the most uplifting in the game.

  • Mercenary camps yield no doubloons (excludes skeletal pirate camps)
  • Once picked up doubloons are only recoverable by teammates of slain heroes and expire after some time period of not being recovered
  • A third treasure chest with five doubloons is spawned at the turn-in location

On this battleground professional teams would clear camps and again avoid fighting. Somehow they managed to turn in doubloons in the process. The battleground could also really snowball as collected doubloons were dropped upon death to be picked up by anyone. Contesting a second turn-in could be impractical. No opinion on how the bombardment works at the moment, don't see it as the central problem.

Haunted Mines

  • Dramatically increase the area of the middle 2/3rds of the top level or introduce a Town Scroll/Portal "mechanic" that allows heroes to teleport to their forts and keeps (could even be an on-demand two-way waypoint for reentry into the mine)
  • Undead Army remains are scattered at all mercenary camps, one minute before the Undead Army in the mine awakens the Undead Army on the surface awakens and slays all mercenaries, disabling their camps until all skulls in the mine are collected

Woop-ti fing-doo. Problem solved in less time than several years.

Greatly Expanding while Monetizing Hero Access

I'm embarrassed to write that it has taken me this long to understand exactly what Blizzard did with its "HotS 2.0" monetization changes.

  1. Stuffed the game with low effort content in the form of banners, sprays, announcers, voice lines, emojis, and portraits.
  2. Introduced loot boxes that due to the degree of dilution (further augmented by the deliberate fragmentation of formerly whole skins and mounts) and control of yield types would not be means for players to get what they want but would serve to draw player attention to the game's Shop, which was amusingly renamed to "Collection". This is why, counter-intuitively, you can't buy loot boxes except as a disproportionately expensive gold sink. Blizzard know they are crap-filled; they deliberately filled them that way themselves. The loot boxes aren't the star of the show for once; they are meant to get you looking at the Shop and waste the gold you've been accumulating for years (the rerolls are pretty hilarious too). They are meant to give you the impression of being rewarded without really being rewarded. I bet someone or some people think they're super clever!
  3. Greatly reduced the buying power of gold through its conversion rate into shards relative to shard buying power and introduced a third purchasable currency to replace gold. The point was to reduce the capacity of veteran players to obtain things through the only currency that had previously existed and they had accumulated with playtime.

Do you know what this is? It's a let's-milk-the-s-out-of-the-game's-dwindling-playerbase scheme. Blizzard saw the writing on the wall as the game was failing and pivoted. Smart halfwits get paid serious money to come up with destructive nonsense like this, and even get educated to do so! I wonder the type of things that exist in the so-called industry literature.

The hilarious thing is that if only these muppets had actual business acumen they could have identified a let's-not-punt-on-the-game-and-arrest-or-reverse-its-decline scheme. What is the one item in Heroes of the Storm that really has value? It's in the damn name of the game. Heroes. Gameplay.

Mediocre as these people are their idea of what to do with heroes is make them quickly obtainable to a new player, up to the point where they pull the bait-and-switch and it's time to show players how much they're missing without reaching deep into their pockets as the in-game currency accumulation rate is reduced and the cheap heroes are gone. The Free to Play model makes its money on the back-end by charging big time for the remaining individual items.

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In addition to acting cute/following the convention of this so-called business model they fail to realize their place in the big scheme of things. Many potential players have experience in League of Legends, Dota 2, and Smite. They are used to the gameplay and having large rosters. Given Heroes of the Storm's failure to compellingly differentiate itself they are not going to put up with the typical restrictions of F2P games. They want to be able to jump into the game with all the meta heroes at their disposal even as the meta changes and they want to have extensive reliable access to explore, experiment, and enjoy. This is a buyer's market.

As discussed here, introduce a currency – silver – that unlocks any chosen heroes for a month. $2 any 3 heroes, $5 any 10 heroes, $10 any 25 heroes, $15 any 50 heroes. Bundle this currency with the player's rough hero ownership money's-worth in gold – $2 2k gold, $5 5k gold, $10 10k gold, $15 15k gold. In other words rent-and-buy in a "coin purse". Won't be everyone's cup of tea but as Blizzard is keenly aware you don't make money off a game like this by having everyone pay. This idea is a sensible way to open up gameplay to anyone who isn't a broke bratty 12-year-old. Simultaneously players will be accumulating gold by playing and increasing their ownership pool of heroes.

Changing Abusive Chat

Due to the report-driven automation of this report category, the lack of accountability for false reporting, and the childishly lackadaisical behavior of Game Masters in the "appellate process" this report category has been undermining the game's playerbase for years. Things have gotten so bad players are routinely advised to mute chat or not participate to avoid getting suspended. This is not a My Little Pony niche success story of a game, you can't cater it to the sensibilities of 7-year-olds with post-traumatic stress disorder, although that may be one of the hiring criteria at the company. That and if you're a Chad who doesn't get having a public ladder in Call of Duty.

If initially nothing more can be done the penalty needs to be returned to silence-only rather than a suspension from ranked too. I believe it was former game director Dustin Browder's explanation that the penalty was expanded to suspension from the ranked mode due to being able to participate in the chat being so important to gameplay. Browder thought Heroes of the Storm was a game based on heavy communication. Most of us knew this was total nonsense even at the time but now the ironic absurdity of not communicating at all or even disabling the chat for protection against the system has become a reality. The reason for upgrading the penalty to including ranked mode suspension has been thoroughly discredited. Writing in the chat is clearly non-essential. Most people who play this game and/or have seen streamers play it know this. Stop killing this game in every way imaginable.

I've been thinking of a way to reform the system too. There are two key elements to my idea that separate it from the previous concept.

  1. Clear standards for what constitutes Disallowed Chat.
  2. Punishing players who falsely report other players.

The way this system would work changes at the enforcement level. Players would still be filing reports as before, although now it would behoove them to include an actual reason too, and a penalty would still kick in automatically. Under this system the penalty could still include a suspension from certain game modes. The difference is that upon filing an appeal the suspended player would immediately and automatically have the penalty be temporarily lifted pending review.

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The Game Master would then use the defined standards to check the logs of every game in which a report was filed. Three games with legitimate reports and the penalty is not only upheld but doubled – the appealing player has decided to waste time and resources for a review he or she should have known better than to invoke. Simultaneously the Game Master is assigning a strike to every reporter in a game in which no transgression occurred. The false reporting strikes will exist in the background. Upon three false reporting strikes the false reporting player is issued a warning. After two warnings suspensions for false reporting commence.

The idea is to eventually unburden the system by punishing everyone who decides to disrespect the system by not taking it seriously/understanding it. Players who commit chatting penalties would think twice about appealing and players who get other players in trouble just because they want to will start thinking twice about filing reports. Hopefully this would lead to a shared understanding of what is and isn’t allowed in Heroes of the Storm and to greater compliance without the current haphazard purging of players.

Standards for Disallowed Chat:

Insults directed at a person

  • trash, idiot, you suck, you can’t play, uninstall, x-league player, etc.

Vulgar language

  • including sexual, racial, etc.

Everything else goes

  • use the Mute button

This is a solid start. May be all that is needed. You penalize the purely derogatory and inappropriate stuff, leave people to chat otherwise. If someone still offends you or annoys you you can mute them. Even literal kindergartens are more permissive than the Heroes of the Storm status quo. What an embarrassment this company and its players have turned into. Something that should be an afterthought has been weaponized against the community and no one knows what to do. Over-sensitivity has hollowed out your brains and no adults seem to be in charge.

Expanding Core Gameplay

Even as it's abundantly clear that the game is failing there are myopic fools who maintain there is nothing wrong with it. Unfortunately they are also the survivors of the player exodus and the predominant members of its half-abandoned communities. Add in the maturity and intelligence levels and I might as well be picking a verbal fight at an elementary school recess in summertime. I don't even know who, or more accurately what, I'm going up against. It's the most hopeless kind of fight. So I don't even want to get into it. If you want to read about the idea you can do so here.

Source: reddit.com

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