Overwatch: Ein AMA mit Game Director Jeff Kaplan

Overwatch: Ein AMA mit Game Director Jeff Kaplan
Overwatch: Ein AMA mit Game Director Jeff Kaplan
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Zur Überraschung vieler Spieler veranstaltete der für die Entwicklung von Overwatch verantwortliche Game Director Jeff Kaplan vor einigen Tagen ein komplett spontan organisiertes AMA (Ask me Anything) in dem Subreddit dieses Hero Shooters. Während dieses interessanten Events beantwortete dieser Mitarbeiter von Blizzard Entertainment dann eine Vielzahl von Fragen aus der Community, die sich beispielsweise mit seinen persönlichen Vorlieben beim Gaming, der Entwicklung von Overwatch, der Konsolenversion dieses Titels, dem Bezahlmodell und dem bereits vor einigen Jahren eingestellten Projekt „Titan“ beschäftigten. Wer die beinahe 3000 verschiedenen Kommentare in diesem Beitrag auf Reddit jetzt nicht selbst durchsuchen möchte, der findet weiter unten in diesem Artikel eine Auswahl der interessantesten Antworten von Game Director Jeff Kaplan.


(Hier findet ihr das komplette AMA. Die Antworten von Jeff Kaplan wurden als „Blizz_JeffKaplan“ verfasst.)


Die Übersicht der interessantesten Antworten:

How did the idea for Overwatch originally come about?

We were working on a game that got cancelled. We had 6 weeks to pitch new game ideas to the studio. If we didn’t come up with something compelling, our team was going to be redistributed to work on other projects (WoW, HS, HotS, D3 etc). Arnold Tsang was drawing these amazing characters. And during some of our game idea sessions Geoff Goodman was pitching really cool class ideas for a class-based MMO. We merged these concepts into what was to become Overwatch.


What stories do you have that you can share from the initial development of Overwatch?

The first hero we implemented was Tracer. We did not have any animations or gun models. So she shot laser beams from her eyes.


Wasn’t Tracer a character from the game that was cancelled? That game has a lot of history and was in development for a very long time. Wasn’t it 10 years? While it’s disappointing to see most of those ideas go, I think Overwatch definitely was worth the wait and development time.

Titan was started around 2007. I just remember we were working on The Burning Crusade at the time. It was in development until May of 2013.

Titan was a class-based Shooter/MMO and one of the classes was called the Jumper. The Jumper wasn’t a specific character but rather an avatar (like warrior in WoW). Most of the concepts of the Jumper were male… we did some female ones as well. The playble version in the game was male.

Blink, Recall and Pulse bomb were all designed for the Jumper… as well as dual wielding machine pistols (at the time I was playing tons of CoD: MW2 and my loadout was M16 primary/ G18s secondary… the Jumper guns were my G18s)

But because Titan was an MMO the Jumper started getting tons of progression abilities… you know covering a whole level up system… so the jumper got shotguns, and knockbacks etc… it was very cluttered and confused.

When we simplified for OW, we chose only the abilities that worked well together and then created a HERO rather than a class… Tracer had a personality, an origin etc.. That’s what made her work.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the heroes in OW were not in Titan.

Tracer had elements of the Jumper Reaper was Reaper (he did have a crossbow at one point in Titan) Widowmaker evolved from a class called the Ranger Bastion also evolved from the Ranger Soldier 76 evolved from the Ranger Symmetra and Torbjorn evolved from the Architect Reinhardt evolved from the Juggernaut, although he is completely different… just the idea of „big guy with shield“ is all that stuck Genji/Hanzo evolved from the Assassin


Who is your favorite hero?

This is going to sound canned but I fall in love with a different hero each week. I think that’s one of my favorite parts about OW. I totally get „maining“ and I have heroes I play more than others… but I’m constantly discovering new things about different heroes on different maps… and then of course there is their backstories etc…

Also, every time Hanamura comes up I will only play Hanzo on defense. Because… roleplay… meet me on the porch, Genji


What is your favorite part of working with Blizzard?

I love the people I work with — truly love. They are amazingly smart and talented. I learn so much every day. I love being surrounded by people who are 100% driven and dedicated towards their passion. I feel incredibly lucky to work here.


Can you talk about the hero development, like their old abilities, Geoff said Sombra could hack the payload/points, Torbjorn doing friendly fire, etc, there’s more excluited abilities for any other hero?

The hero who had the most changes was Bastion. We used to tease that Bastion had the „ultimate of the week“… He had grenades, he had a remote mine, he could shoot through walls… yes BASTION COULD SHOOT THROUGH WALLS… he had an artillery volley… we just never could get it right. We were really pleased with the tank though. Transforming into another form really fit the character. It was way more work than any of the other abilities but it was worth it.


What are your personal thoughts on Team fortress 2 and what’s your reaction when someone says Overwatch is a copy of TF2? I seriously would like to know this.

Team Fortress 2 is one of the greatest games ever made. It’s in my top 10, without a doubt. At the time that it came out, I felt like there was no purer example of elegant, masterful game design. Everything existed for a reason. And the game had so much flavor and color. I had played Team Fortress since the original quake mod and loved it. I played TONS of TFC. I was one of those fanboys who was eagerly awaiting the „WW2“ Team Fortress game. So I was just blown away when TF launched.

When we were planning the announce of OW at Blizzcon 2014, I really pushed the team to have 12 heroes and 3 maps complete. My reason was that if we had 9 or fewer heroes, we would only be compared to TF2 — players and press would map each hero to a TF2 equivalent. But I knew if we had more than 9 and we had enough maps for people to really play on and experience the game, they would quickly realize that while there was an obvious inspiration from TF2 in the game, we were clearly something different.

Also, no hats.


(console player here) How the idea of making a console version of a FPS (and from Blizzard, which is mainly familiar with PC kind of games) like Overwatch came up and how hard was to make this version?

From day 1 we wanted to be on consoles. We designed the game to be PC and console from the very start. The funny part was, we did not have a signed contract with Sony or Microsoft until very late in the process (right before we finally announced we’d be on console — Blizzcon 2015)… but we’d been working on it since 2013.

We enjoy the challenge of being on 3 platforms. It’s not too hard from a tech or design standpoint — we’re the type of people who enjoy that type of work. The thing that’s been hardest for me to adapt to is not being able to release stuff or change stuff as frequently as we could on WoW (and still keep all 3 platforms releasing on the same schedule).

For example, we’re still working on getting reporting working on consoles. It’s coming… but not as fast as we would like.


Jeff! What is your favorite Map? Thanks for doing this!

I love Hanamura. I know the players don’t. But I love that map.

I love Eichenwalde and Dorado for the height differences and flanking routes.

I love Nepal because of the hero mix required to successfully play all 3 points — same with Lijiang really.


Typically, what do you not like to hear from the community?

I don’t like when you’re mean to each other. I don’t like when you’re mean to the people I work with… especially if you call them lazy. They are the hardest working people in games. I also don’t like when people say „x hero needs an overhaul“ when they really mean the hero needs a slight balance tweak. Generally, I don’t like toxic behavior or hyperbole.


You guys obviously have a lot more background information on heroes when it comes to their use in game and such, when you’re looking at that information, how do you all decide which aspects of the characters to nerf/buff? In the past, you all seemed to make huge sweeping changes all at once, but these last weeks or so on the PTR, you’ve been making small changes since what happened with Bastion, is that plus the huge upswing in D.Va caused you all to change your standard procedure for what you’ll tweak in buff/nerf per character?

I always describe our approach as the „triangle“. I feel like there are 3 key factors that guide us: The players, statistics and… us… our own feelings as players.

It’s very rare that all 3 of those factors align. Often, we have to ignore one or two and make a change. I think the „overhaul“ to Symmetra was a good example. According to the stats, she was fine. But both the players and we agreed that she felt underwhelming. We made changes to make her more fun to play in spite of that stats telling us that she was fine. Honestly, the same thing for Bastion recently.

We play the game A LOT. We play on live all the time. And we play internal builds of the game constantly. We’re always trying big changes to heroes internally… lots of these never see the light of day… or PTR.

Honestly, we can’t win on the PTR. If we make big changes and they go live, we get heat for it. If we make big changes and pull them back, we get heat for it. We have to just trust our own instincts at this point and own our mistakes when they happen.

The play behavior on the PTR is not super helpful for balancing. Average playtime of those who log in is usually around 16 minutes. Most of the time, someone logs in, wants to try the „changed“ hero and logs out. People don’t play traditional comps — they just want to try changed heroes. If they don’t get the hero, they leave the match. You have people who have less than 20 minutes play time on a hero testing that hero on the PTR and then giving feedback based off of 1 match.

Historically, the balance feedback has been very unreliable from the PTR. It’s still good to hear how people react and what their perception is. But the reality of „quality matches“ doesn’t happen too often in a test environment.

Internally, we have a „competitive“ playtest that’s helpful to get good feedback from Diamond+ players who work here. We’re also very fortunate that the Pro Players will often invite us to watch scrims on the PTR.

None of this is perfect… but we try hard to listen to feedback and keep the game balanced.


I’m doing a project on Jeff for my business class, I’d love to have some more busniess related info on him as there isn’t much on the Internet.

It’s hard for us to release too much business related information. We’re a publicly traded company so we’re held to some pretty strict guidelines by the SEC. I know this isn’t the answer you’re looking for but this is the best place for that kind of information:


I will tell you this, the biggest different between making games in the WoW era (2002) to the OW era (2013) is how much as a game designer you need to be ALL IN on the design of the business model. We never used to talk about business models but it’s a whole new world we live in now.




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