Overwatch Hero Design. From Data to Concept. Part 1 - Analyse Existing Universe.
09 Dec 2018
Reading time ~4 minutes
This article is the part 1 from series of articles. Other parts you can find here:
- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4
While I am waiting the response for my application at Blizzard Internship, I decided to test my self on not simple task: To create a new character for Overwatch.
If we start to think “what is the new hero should be?”, we would probably start to think “What is the exactly Overwatch game?”. And the best way to describe it, I think, it’s Blizzard company main values:
- Gameplay First
- Commit to Quality
- Play nice; Play Fair
- Embrace your Inner Geek
- Every voice Matters
- Think Globally
- Lead Responsibility
- Learn & Grow
Blizzard puts a lot on gameplay part, as we could see from the first value. Especially in case of Overwatch - eSport Game.
Each hero in Overwatch is unique in case of lore and game mechanics. Overwatch team says that if they do something that they already have, if they repeat themself, they stop it and try to redesign a hero.
So the task here is to design a hero that would have unique game mechanics, such that not copy existing ones. Of course, there are heroes that have similar game mechanics, but still they have some significant differences.
And of cause one of the main reason why players love Blizzard Company - beautiful universes with detailed lore.
I can’t just create hero with random story behind of him(or even just without story). I can design game mechanics but it should sound with hero personality. For that I have to analyse the lore of Overwatch game and understand where there is potential for new hero and do not break the existing universe. For me this one is the hardest part, I think.
As I work on this project with some iterations, I decided that it’s better to devide it on few separated articles according to specifics of the work. Here I just want to share my experience and I don’t want to say that this way is the only one and the right one. I hope this articles will motivate you to work on your own project,regardless of what the type of project is.
Step 1. Collect the data
If I want to create a new unique hero I need to find gaps where existing mechanics are not cover some aspects of the game.
One of the way to cover is to combine or change existing mechanics. As an example: Orisa shield is the same shield mechanic as Reinhardt or Winston Barriers, but it’s more appropriable to use for defense cause it cannot be moved(except on pillow) and it has different form.
I decided to create a sheet where I wrote some “classificators” that could be applied in general to any hero, cause they are based on Overwatch main mechanics.
You can see full table here. It’s open for comments.
Numbers as reload time and damage, actually, were written just in case of future balance analysis, but I don’t think that they are neccessary for understanding of hero specific.
I want to describe few importants fields from this table for each category and why I choose them.
For understanding story of the hero. Actually we could see that Overwatch has heroes from each continent!
- Health, Armor, Shield.
Some heroes have different specifics because of amount of armor and shields. As an example: Zenyatta.
For weapons it was important to answer on questions:
- What is the type of weapon?
(projectile, beam, hitscan…)
- Does the hero have other weapon?
What is the type of it?
- Are there any additonal effects?
As an example: Mei slows enemies.
- Self Damage? Rocket Jump effect?
Rocket Jump could affect on hero mobility. Heroes with self damage weapon can’t fight in close combat.
- Doest it affects on Barriers and Turrets?
Abilities - the things that make Overwatch not a simple shooter. I separated ultimate ability from others. Abilities that could be defined as secondary weapon (Lucio, Soldier 76), I counted usually also as an ability.
The list of classificators is big, so it’s better to follow the link and watch them.
I really appreciate if you left me some comments about data in table and classificators! Any comments about mistakes, missclassification are welcome!
Step 2. Polish the data
Next, I copied all data on separated list and changed the data to one format. As an example, I rewrote amound of damage from weapon to format “damage per shot” and “rate of fire” in format “shots per second” for more simple calculation.
Also, I have to recheck some data in the game because some points were not obvious from descriptions of the abilities. For instance, maybe it would be obvious for some Overwatch players, but all melee weapons deal damage through barriers.
List of the polished data placed in the same document on the next tab.