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Hearthstone photo

Hearthstone plays just as great on the iPad

It's my preferred platform
Apr 10
// Chris Carter
As a general rule, I don't play a game excessively during its beta stage. I don't particularly like getting invested in something that may utterly change after the full release, and Hearthstone is no exception. Although ...

Review: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Mar 14 // Ben Pack
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentReleased: March 11, 2014 (Mac, PC) / TBA (Android, iOS)MSRP: Free-to-play (with microtransactions) Hearthstone was announced at PAX in 2013. The concept was simple: it was a trading card game based off of the characters of World of Warcraft. It entered a closed beta, then an open one, and finally on March 11th it was officially released. Hearthstone is free-to-play, and fortunately it means it. The game doesn't feel like it’s pay-to-win at all, and even some of the top players have never put a penny into it. I went into the Hearthstone knowing “it played sort of like Magic but with WoW characters” and nothing else. Having not much experience with either properties, I feared that much of the game would go over my head. You're started off with a tutorial. You play as the mage Jaina Proudmore, one of the game’s nine different hero classes each with their own unique ability and cards. The rules are simple: use your mana crystals to summon minions and cast spells to reduce the enemy hero’s health to zero. Each turn you get a little more mana, so by the end you can theoretically summon your most powerful cards. Hearthstone walks you through the simple premise in a very (almost too) step-by-step way. The basics are easy to understand, but where the real fun comes in is figuring out how all the different cards of your deck could work together. After a few matches that you can’t possibly lose, you are set up to unlock the other eight classes or play against other players in standard matchmaking. On top of that once you unlock a class you can level them up by playing matches, unlocking class-specific cards to build a more powerful deck. You’ll want to unlock the characters, and ideally level them up so you can find which class works best for you. Like other card games you can play a hero like the Hunter, and go for early “death by numbers” wins or you can play a class like the Druid and go for late-game “control” wins. You will spend hours upon hours building and tweaking your decks, and when you get new cards you might even decide to rebuild it from scratch. The best part is it always feels like you are making progress. There is a lot of variety there and it really feels like you can win with any strategy as long as you’re able to pull it off. Of course, it being a card game, luck is involved and it can get frustrating when you can’t pull “that one card that totally would have let you win.” I personally enjoy playing almost every class, each of them having a different style. The priest is all about stealing cards or minions from the opponent, the paladin is all about keeping himself alive so he can unleash tons of late-game damage. You might think you've found “your class” right away, but make sure to play around with all of them and you’ll be pleasantly surprised like I was. Once you have unlocked all the heroes you have the majority of the game open to you. You can play ranked or unranked matchmaking, build your deck, buy packs, or play in the arena. The matchmaking is quick -- it takes about 10 seconds to get matched up and usually matches take 5-15 minutes. Players have 90 seconds per turn, but you hardly ever need to use that much time. There is no player chat, but you can use six built-in emotes ranging from “greetings” to “threaten.” The ranked matchmaking starts you at rank 25, forcing players to work their way up into the higher “competitive” bracket. One neat thing Blizzard does is make Hearthstone feel like a physical card game. Your cards lift off of the table and physically ram into the target you are attacking and everything shakes a little bit when they collide, and the way you open booster packs is reminiscent of actually opening up a physical pack of cards. As you play you complete daily quests, such as “win three games with X class” or “cast 40 spells.” Completing these give you gold, which you can use to either buy booster packs or buy entry into the arena. You can, of course, buy booster packs using real money. Two packs will cost you $3, or you can pick up 40 packs for the low low price of $50. Each pack contains five cards, either neutral (usable by all classes) or class-specific and is guaranteed to contain at least one card that is rare. The arena is my personal favorite part of Hearthstone. After gaining entrance by paying either 150 gold or $1.50, you choose one of three random heroes. Once you have chosen you are presented with three cards. You choose one, it goes into your deck and you are presented with three more cards. You do this until you have a full deck of 30, and then start battling other random opponents. The cards you are presented with aren't always great, but that’s the fun of the arena mode because chances are that the person you are playing against had the same problems you did. There is, of course, the chance that they got super rare cards known as legendaries and will completely crush you but at the same time they never might draw them. Everyone is on a (somewhat) level playing field in the arena. As a newbie you feel like you have a shot at beating even the most experienced players. After you lose three games with your deck you win prizes based on how many wins you managed to rack up. You get at least a deck, and either some gold, random cards, or dust for crafting; so it makes sense that instead of buying decks you should spend your gold on the arena. While building your decks you can also craft any card you want from dust. You get dust by winning it in the arena, or destroying cards of your own. You can have at most two types of any card in a deck, so it makes sense to get rid of all your spares. The game doesn't do a great job of explaining how the system works, so if you don’t do a little research on the subject beforehand you might craft some crummy cards or accidentally destroy some of your good ones. Hearthstone has some other problems when it comes to explaining mechanics. There is only so much space on a card for text, so a lot of time it’s hard to figure out exactly what is going to happen when you do it. One example is that there are certain “statuses” that minions can have, causing them to act differently. One of these is “stealth,” which means it cannot be attacked until it attacks first. Another is “taunt,” which means you have to attack that minion before any others. What happens, then, if you give a stealthed minion taunt? Well it makes it so you can attack it, but you would have no way of knowing that until you tried it. Another shortcoming is the humor, or lack thereof. Hearthstone tries to be funny in the tutorial, and it is if you’re the kind of person who thinks Charlie Sheen references are funny in 2014. In the rest of the game there isn't much humor at all, which makes the places that try and fail even more noticeable. It does do a good job of keeping to the source material, though. There is a legendary card named “Leeroy Jenkins” after the popular WoW meme. Blizzard has come out and said that it plans on supporting the game for a long time. It's working on “adventures,” which are single-player campaigns that will feature new “boss” characters and upwards of 100-200 new cards total. If the studio treats Hearthstone any way like it did WoW, then this should mean there will be plenty of content to come. Also, Blizzard has committed to consistently balancing the game through patches. Overall Hearthstone is a lot of fun to play, and has potential to be a game that stays around for a long time. While it may not be as complicated as an actual collectible card game, or have the appeal of showing off your collection to your friends, it is a great videogame that has minimal issues and is in a neat package, so it would be foolish to try to compare it to something it’s not trying to be.
Hearthstone review photo
Blizzard's trump card
I never got into Magic: The Gathering. Plenty of my friends did, but I couldn't afford countless booster packs or starter decks, and my mom wouldn't drive me to the seedy local comic book store to play aga...


Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft in open beta now

In North America at least
Jan 21
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Attention North America! Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is now in open beta. Blizzard has opened the doors, and best of all they won't be doing anymore wipes, encouraging players to amass their collection. The open beta will...
Warlords of Draenor photo
Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard toying with idea of selling level boosts in WoW

'We’ve been evaluating ways to make that possible'
Jan 17
// Chris Carter
Blizzard is all set to drop its new expansion for World of Warcraft --Warlords of Draenor this year. Late in 2013, they dropped a surprise promotion for the add-on, noting that if you pre-order the game, you can choose o...
Warcast photo

Warcast: Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper lead Warcraft cast

Dec 05
// Steven Hansen
Duncan Jones' (Moon, Source Code) Warcraft movie, recently pushed back into March 2016 to avoid opening alongside the new Star Wars, finally has casting news. Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, The Messenger), Travis Fimmel, Paula Pat...
Warcraft 3 Orianna mod photo
Warcraft 3 Orianna mod

League of Legends' Orianna modded into Warcraft III

Modders are awesome
Dec 03
// Joshua Derocher
Modder Cokemonkey11 has created a mod that lets you play as Orianna, the Lady of Clockwork from League of Legends, in Warcraft III. Cokemonkey11 says that this mod has "over a thousand lines of code," so this wasn't an easy ...
Warcraft photo

Legendary pushes its Warcraft movie to 2016

Won't be up against Star Wars now
Nov 27
// Jordan Devore
The last date we had for Duncan Jones' Warcraft movie was December 18, 2015, which might as well be an eternity away at this point. What's another year? Variety has learned that Legendary Pictures and Universal have pushed th...
Warcraft movie  photo
Warcraft movie

Warcraft movie a 'dark, dirty, and gritty' origin story

Just how I like my coffee
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Some new details on the December 2015 Warcraft film have come out of Blizzcon. According to Joystiq, it will be an origin story told from both the human and orc perspectives as both sides spiral into large scale warfare. A mi...
Warcraft photo

Blizzard looking to update Warcraft 1 & 2 for modern PCs

'...we'd love to replay those games for sure'
Nov 11
// Jordan Devore
At BlizzCon 2013, World of Warcraft production director J. Allen Brack responded to a fan request for the company to make Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness compatible with modern PCs. "So, we actu...
Heroes of Warcraft photo
Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft headed to Android/iPhone

Even more ways to play on the go
Nov 09
// Wesley Ruscher
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Blizzard's upcoming digital card game, is now making its way to Android and iPhone devices in the second half of next year, according to the company's chief creative officer Rob Pardo. The new...
Warcraft RTS photo
Warcraft RTS

Modder creates World of Warcraft RTS with StarCraft II

Yeah, really
Oct 30
// Joshua Derocher
Steven Luo didn't have access to World of Warcraft when it came out nearly nine years ago, so he decided to make his own game using Warcraft III's editor tools. This year he ported the mod idea fully into StarCraft...

Legendary Pictures' Warcraft movie coming December 2015

Oct 01
// Dale North
It seems like previous predictions were right on the money. Well, at least the year was right. The latest tweet from the Warcraft Twitter account confirms a release date for the Warcraft film: We’re pleased to announce...

Preview: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Aug 27 // Chris Carter
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (iPad, Mac, PC [previewed])Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentReleased: TBA 2013MSRP: Free (with microtransactions) Understanding Hearthstone is simple -- at least, at first. Two heroes face off on a giant board across from one another, with one deck of cards each, and a mana pool that grows one point per turn. In the top left of each card, there's a mana cost associated with it -- usually this plays out where weaker cards cost lower, but not always. There are two types of cards: minions, and everything else. Minions can be played on your side of the board, and assume either a defensive or offensive role, depending on what you want them to do. In addition to mana costs, they have two additional stats: damage, and life. Minions can't attack the turn they're played (for the most part), but when they're ready, they can strike at either an enemy minion or the enemy hero. Both cards match up damage and life ratings, and if damage overcomes life in either instance, those cards disintegrate. Minion battles can go on and on as long as you wish, but when the opposing hero's life is reduced to zero, you win the game. Once games get rolling one mistake can mean the difference between a few more turns and the end, as your mana pool is slowly growing to accommodate more and more powerful cards. I like this system, as it gets straight to the point and keeps games from running into the half-hour mark -- most of my games lasted anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. As both a massive Warcraft fan (both the real-time strategy series and WoW), I was impressed with the amount of care that was put into the game, and the attention to detail. Most of your favorite Warcraft characters are here, and there's a decent selection from Warcraft I-III, and World of Warcraft. When used, cards often make the sound of the spell or character played, right down to the exact clip used in the games. If you're not a quick learner, Hearthstone is accommodating -- it features a very helpful, comprehensive tutorial that'll ease you along in the best way possible. Everything is taught step by step. I had a ton of fun playing, and before long, I lost track of time flicking away -- I can easily see myself wasting hours on the iPad on it. Cards are extremely animated (and so are spells, which fly out of the cards), and both heroes in play will engage in some trash talk to help add a bit more character to matches. Each playfield is also designed around a Warcraft realm, and you can click on select setpieces to make fun little things happen if you're bored. At first, Hearthstone feels rather elementary as it teaches you the basics of throwing out minions and attacking an enemy hero. Then you start to get hero abilities, cards that modify other cards, special rules, "taunt" cards, and more. At that point, Hearthstone shows its true colors, and really gets going. There are a myriad of modifiers to keep up with on certain cards. "Taunt" is a special characteristic that forces players to attack minions with the taunt rule before they attack anything else -- whether that's an enemy hero, or other minions. Placing out weak minions with taunt rules on them can be a valid strategy, as those cards can sacrifice themselves to waste an attack from a powerful foe. Of course, your opponent can just use a spell card (like the Arcane Explosion card that does one damage to all enemy cards) to destroy your taunt minion in an instant, so you have to plan accordingly, and think multiple moves in the future. Once you add in cards that have the "charge" ability (which can attack the instant they're put on the board), things start to get much more complicated. Heroes all have different powers as well. For instance, the Paladin class (represented by the famous Uther the Lightbringer) has the ability to summon a 1/1 card every turn for two mana. Mages can use spells, Warlocks can use life tap for more cards, and so on. In the beta, you can unlock new classes as easily as beating them in practice mode, which is a nice touch as it allows players to get some games in before braving online matchmaking. Speaking of matchmaking, it's as easy as pressing a button and playing online. I had little issues getting into games in the beta, and found a decent mix of both new and experienced opponents. I won most of the games I played with my basic Mage deck, and I can only hope that the full game will be that fair to players with only the most basic of decks. The jury is still out on whether or not Blizzard will skew the game towards buying more $1.50 booster packs with powerful cards, preventing players who don't wish to spend money from winning in a competitive environment. But right now based on what I've played of the beta, Hearthstone is a deep, rewarding card game that gives you plenty of leeway to learn how to play. I just hope the finished product is balanced.
Hearthstone beta photo
Remember Zul'Jin? He's back! In card form!
Blizzard has finally done it. Rather than experiment in all of its successful franchises with elements of free-to-play or full-on microtransactions, the company has gone ahead and made a completely free-to-play game from star...

Enjoy these Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft music samples

Aug 20 // Jayson Napolitano
[embed]259767:49948:0[/embed] Eric Dodds (Blizzard Entertainment)Role: Lead DesignerPast Works: A 16-year veteran at Blizzard Entertainment, he's touched nearly everything On the team's approach to the game's soundtrack "We wanted to make sure the music in Hearthstone perfectly complemented what we were trying to do with the game. I think everyone working on the direction for the music was on the same page in that we needed music that was familiar, and at the same time had its own unique feel and signature. Ultimately, we wanted the music to convey three important things -- Warcraft, whimsy, and warmth -- to reflect the lighthearted nature of the game, and to make players feel as though they were sitting in their favorite tavern from Warcraft. I would love to say that I brought something special to the mix, but I think that right from the start everyone was on the same page about what the game needed." On bringing in composer Peter McConnell to score the music "Working with Peter has been fantastic! When we first started working with him, we gave him the assignment to create music that combined Warcraft themes with something whimsical and mysterious.. He delivered a sample track that captured that, and we were very excited to move forward in that direction. Then the magic happened, and when we started working on the final music, Peter took it in an entirely different direction from the initial tracks. In the end, we felt that this new style -- which is what you hear in the game now -- really nailed the combination of themes we were looking for. We think Peter really knocked it out of the park. The team has listened to a lot of different variations of what could have been our music, and we are really happy with what Peter came up with." On why fans should care about this soundtrack and about a soundtrack release "For us, the focus has been on making great, fast-paced, energetic music that complements a game intended to be played in shorter bursts. Releasing that music in the form of a soundtrack is really just a cool bonus for the community. In the end, if you’ve been playing the game for a while, and you’ve been enjoying the music the whole time, then I would chalk that up as a win. I think Peter has delivered music that’s well-suited to that." Jason Hayes (Blizzard Entertainment)Role: Trailer music, in-game singersPast Works: StarCraft franchise, Warcraft III, World of Warcraft On "Hearthstone Revealed" [embed]259767:49949:0[/embed]"The moment I saw the trailer, with the inclusion of all these classic heroes, I knew the team was going for something that would evoke a sense of myth, magic, and limitless adventure -- the promise of a Warcraft experience. At least, that's the way the beginning had to feel. But at the end of the trailer we wanted to pull the rug out from under the viewer, and reveal that all the buildup is just about having fun playing a collectible card game. We wanted it to have a decidedly more lighthearted tone than some of our other epic gaming experiences. "It was a challenge trying to figure out the logistics of how the surprise twist with this music would take place. We knew that the shot in the tavern would be the pivotal moment, when the dwarf says, 'But of course, you could forget all that and just have FUN!' The question was how to express musically that this was a stark departure from the expected. We decided that the logical choice was to switch to a type of 'tavern music,' but we also didn't want to lose momentum as we headed to the final scene. So I kept the tempo going at the same speed, and left in part of the orchestra in the form of some rhythmic strings and brass to carry the viewer through this moment with energy. To achieve a huge contrast, I added in the sound of an accordion, a hard drum, and the very piercing signature sound of a penny whistle. When you hear a jaunty melody played on that instrument, it immediately connotes a fun traditional Scottish feeling and sounds right at home in a tavern. "I had a lot of fun mixing in a couple of Warcraft thematic elements into the music, albeit in a somewhat hidden way that might not be obvious. First of all, I used the climactic motif from the piece 'A Call To Arms' during the tavern scene. And on the last shot when the cards fly in the box, the lead french horn melody from that same theme plays right before the logo appears. Even if it's not consciously detected by everyone, I think that touches like this add a nice continuity that puts this trailer in the Warcraft universe."In addition to the trailer, I worked on numerous musical stingers for Hearthstone along with Glenn Stafford. These are short pieces of music that last about five seconds each, and happen when you play 'Legendary' cards in the game. Peter McConnell did a great job setting a nice bouncy mood for the music in the game, as if you are hanging out in a tavern with some friends enjoying a casual card battle. But because we still wanted a sense of importance when you cast big spells or summon powerful minions, these special card stingers infuse the gameplay with moments that feel satisfying and add a little extra epic punch." Peter McConnellRole: ComposerPast Works: Sly Cooper series, Brutal Legend, Psychonauts, Grim Fandango On "Bad Reputation" [embed]259767:49950:0[/embed] "When I first started to work on Hearthstone, there were lots of discussions with the team about music style and direction. We eventually honed in on the idea of a small ensemble, capturing the feel of a bar band that might actually be playing in the tavern where the game is taking place. At the same time, we didn't want to be too literal about this, because the music also needed an ambient quality to support the mood of the gameplay without overpowering it. "With all this in mind I had to answer the question: What sort of sound and instrumentation is really going to get across what it feels like to play Hearthstone? Beyond the fact that I knew there would be some pub-friendly instruments like guitar and fiddle, I thought a lot about the attitude I wanted to project -- tough guys and bar-room brawls with a round of cards in the tavern twist. This led me to come up with the unlikely pairing of celtic and early instruments, and blues rock. Like what if ZZ Top or Golden Earring had been transported back in time to the Middle Ages? What would they play? The music would have a swagger, and an attitude, and a certain groove -- a bluesy-ness without being overtly the blues. "So I started riffing around with a triplet guitar groove, and 'Bad Reputation' was what I came up with. The piece has a Celtic flavor, especially in the instrumentation with the guitar, fiddle, and harp, but the Celtic triplet rhythm is transformed into more of a steady blues groove. The wind instruments, especially contrabassoon, give an ancient flavor, and the piece also has a lot of space, so that you have time to feel the mood without being overloaded by melody as you play the game. When bits of original Warcraft themes do appear, they are meant to work like little cheers, as if they are from the player's faction, or taunts from the faction the player is facing. 'Bad Reputation' really set the precedent for the whole score, including the game's title music. "This score has been a wonderful opportunity for me to play instruments I love -- guitar and violin -- and in a spirit of fun, to pay homage to music that I greatly admire. To me, it feels like a jam in my living room that ties into a larger world we all love."
Hearthstone music photo
Exclusive tunes along with commentary from the sound team
It's been a while since we've talked about the Warcraft card game spin-off, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Blizzard Entertainment is currently taking beta sign-ups, so I thought it would be a good time to find out what's go...


PAX: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft card game announced

Blizzard announces a new CCG 'for everyone'
Mar 22
// Jim Sterling
Blizzard has today lifted the lid on Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, "a fast-paced strategy card game for everyone." You hear that, gay people who want to get married? You too can join in on the fun!  Hearthstone hopes ...
Warcraft movie photo
Warcraft movie

Sam Raimi on what went wrong with the Warcraft movie

Suggests mismanagement on Blizzard's part
Mar 07
// Jordan Devore
Years ago, Sam Raimi was set to direct Legendary Pictures' film adaptation of World of Warcraft. He left the project quite some time ago, and more recently, Moon director Duncan Jones signed on to fill the vacancy. Speaking t...
Warcraft director named photo
Warcraft director named

New director signs on for Legendary's Warcraft movie

You enjoyed the film Moon, right?
Jan 30
// Jordan Devore
Legendary Pictures' big-screen adaptation of Warcraft has landed a new director, Duncan Jones, according to Hollywood Reporter and later confirmed by Blizzard Entertainment. He's best known for directing Source Code and Moon,...

A Warcraft mod for StarCraft II is in progress

He needs more farms
Jan 18
// Chris Carter
Warcraft III is one of my favorite RTS games of all time -- and I've been playing the genre since before the original Command and Conquer in 1995. There's just something about how it perfectly blends all of the best elements...

Blizzard is suing Valve over DOTA trademark

Feb 10
// Jim Sterling
MMO leader Blizzard has filed against Valve in an attempt to stop it trademarking DOTA, claiming the name has been used in exclusive association with the Warcraft series for more than seven years. It was filed late last year ...

BlizzCon 11 photos, part deux it again

Oct 23
// Tony Ponce
The parade of hi-res orgasm fuel continues with the second day of BlizzCon 11 photos. I can't pretend that I'm all too familiar with Blizzard's repertoire, but I can appreciate like-minded geeks coming together to make any ol...

Day one photos from BlizzCon

Oct 22
// Victoria Medina
Blizzcon kicked off on Friday, and for everyone that can't be there, enjoy these very nice pictures. There is cool cosplay, miniature Warcraft action and a three monitor set-up. There is some other stuff too, but the whole th...

Blizzard trademarks likely name for WoW Expansion

Aug 03
// Daniel Starkey
Cataclysm has only been out for a few months, but a trademark filed for "Mists of Pandaria" suggests Blizzard may already be starting work on its next World of Warcraft expansion. For those that don't know (basically me, abou...

What the hell? Blizzard theme park 'Joyland' for China?

Feb 07
// Dale North
Never would I have combined the two random thoughts to come up with the idea of a Blizzard-themed theme park. It doesn't quite compute in my head, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. Of course, if there was to ...

Prepare your Zerg cosplay, BlizzCon 2011 dated

Feb 07
// Nick Chester
Blizzard Entertainment's BlizzCon is always a massive success, so the fact that there's another one schedule for this year isn't a shock. Now you can mark it on your calendar, though: BlizzCon 2011 is taking place October 21 ...

Oh, WoW! BoneCraft makes fantasy gaming naughty

Jan 24
// Neranjan 'Venom' Bissoon
Those crazy guys behind the sex adventure game BoneTown have released a trailer for BoneCraft. BoneCraft is an upcoming fantasy/sci-fi game parodying the famous Blizzard money-makers. The game will have elf prostitutes, horny...

Amazon deals on PC games today

Nov 15
// Conrad Zimmerman
Amazon is gearing up for the holidays with their Prelude to Black Friday event. All week, they'll be posting deals on videogames so you might save a little dough on your gift purchases this year and get it all out of the way ...

Destructoid Interview: Riot Games on DotA trademark & LoL

Sep 24 // Tom Fronczak
Thanks for this interview, and more importantly, thanks for being partially responsible for the tower defense craze that’s still gaining more and more fame and fans each month after all these years of updates. In my opinion, DotA styled tower defense games offer 5v5 strategy and excitement that no other form of online gaming can deliver. The past few years of the DotA scene have been fascinating to watch as you and Riot Games brought League of Legends to online gaming, and S2 Games launched Heroes of Newerth. It’s refreshing to see game companies move so quickly with free updates for their community that turns a single game purchase into a multiplayer experience that changes and lasts for years without ever getting stale or costly. Before we move on to League of Legends and current tower defense matters, let’s first take a look at the past. What do you think were Steve "Guinsoo" Feak's most successful additions to the DotA mod in the past? Steve "Pendragon" Mescon: If I had to choose two things, I’d say they would probably have to be the item combination system, and game modes. Adding tiers of items added a significant amount of depth to the DotA gameplay, and really made the game more interesting and exciting throughout the early, mid and late game, and the addition of modes such as allrandom went a long way towards retaining users that had varying play preferences, which really helped to grow the audience. To help our readers get a better idea of what Riot Games is like, what’s the current size of your staff? Also, which career positions on your team are you planning on expanding over the next year? Pendragon: We currently have more than 100 employees at the company spread over two offices – most are here in our Los Angeles office, which is our global headquarters, and there’s almost a dozen at our European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. We are looking to hire new software engineers, new Web developers, customer service representatives and new artists to continue to develop and enhance League of Legends.  Okay, let’s get to the crux of the tower defense (TD) community’s concerns. Even though gamers are able to play all of the popular TD games currently being updated each month, and there’s nothing limiting them to playing just one of these games, the mindset often seems to be that one of these TD games will “win” and the rest will fade and disappear. They think it’s like a modern day version of the battle between the NFL and AFL for the “official” football league, except that it’s currently a digital war for the tower defense throne. What are your thoughts on this? Is this mindset warranted or not? Pendragon: There are benefits to currently being the most popular game in the genre, so we can see why people would want a clear-cut “winner”.  For example, League of Legends has been selected by the WCG for their Grand Finals and the ESL for their Major Series, which we think is partially because of our rapid growth and wide popularity.  However, as long as other developers in the space bring unique innovations to the table, multiple games can exist. With Valve and their humongous budget hard at work with IceFrog on an official release of DotA, what will happen if fans’ hopes and worries become true? What does Riot Games plan to do if the majority of the TD community all migrates to Valve’s DotA after its launch? Would Riot Games change its current strategy and approach towards the TD community? Pendragon: Having a developer of Valve's caliber recognize the genre that we have been working in for years is exciting.  We are eager to see what innovations they can bring to the genre.  However, not knowing what their game will be it is hard to speculate on what will happen when it comes out. We just hope that they let the DotA community continue to dictate the future of the name because we believe the game belongs to the dozens of community members who contributed to DotA. We’ve got some really amazing updates in the pipeline that will further change the way people play the game, continuing to evolve the genre. We think we’ve got some great content that will continue to attract new players and keep veterans returning for more for years to come.  We’re focused on continuing to provide the best possible game and experience to our users and believe that if we continue to keep doing what we have been doing, we will continue to have success.  As someone who has followed professional competitions such as Asia Dota Championship, David Vs Goliath, Electronic Sports World Cup, and World Cyber Games, I definitely empathize with TD fans’ frustration that professional DotA competitions are continually over shadowed by FPS and Madden tournaments. The intensely strategic and entertaining replay videos are out there, the Babe Ruth and Ali sized idols have come and gone, but the money still isn’t there to allow teams to play full-time and gain the attention they deserve. Riot Games is definitely leaping in the right direction by having League of Legends Season One offer $100,000 in player prizes. How long will Season One last for, and when will Season Two begin?  Pendragon: We haven’t announced when the end of Season One will take place, but people can expect that it will run for months. We want as many people to get into Ranked Games and get onto the ladders as possible, and since you have to be at least level 30 to participate, we realize it will take some players some time to get the experience. But you can definitely expect League of Legends and other games in this genre to gain in traction in the competitive gaming scene. As we mentioned, we’ve been selected by some of the top competitions, including the WCG Grand Finals taking place next month, and the ESL Major Series, to elevate the game to new competitive levels. We’ll also be holding smaller tournaments and events for our community to keep things fresh and give everyone a chance to win awesome prizes. Have fun and take a wild guess at when we’ll finally see a gaming championship of any multiplayer genre televised in the future. Pick a year! Pendragon: A televised championship would be cool but honestly I don’t think it’s really necessary anymore. The Internet is so powerful and has the ability to reach millions of people and it's where our audience is; in fact, we just had over 17,000 simultaneous viewers watching the League of Legends WCG USA Finals online and expect more viewers for the upcoming World Grand Finals.  Here’s another fun question. Your new Season One trailer was fucking awesome! Can we expect another badass cinematic video before the Season Two trailer? Keep ‘em coming! Pendragon: Thanks for the feedback. That trailer was a lot of fun to work on because we were able to bring some of our favorite characters to life in ways we had never thought of before. There will be another trailer, but I won’t spill the beans on when that’s coming. What content updates can we expect over the next six months? Any new maps? How many new characters, items, and costumes? Any changes or additions to gameplay?  Pendragon: Yes, yes and yes. We roll out with new content about every two weeks – that includes Champions, items, skins and balance tweaks.  We're also working on a new map, which we'll be sharing more information on soon. We’re also working on some more long-term League of Legends projects, but those things are still a secret. We’ll be sure to fill you in on those in the coming weeks and months as more information and assets become available.  Do you ever plan on adding more gameplay modes? Or even a mode that just increases the difficulty of games, such as including “denies” or other small tactics of DotA that you dropped in LoL? Pendragon: We are always thinking about gameplay options.  But we don’t plan on adding denies into the game – that was something we talked about in the game’s initial development but we felt that denies rewarded passive play, which wasn't as exciting.  Gamers who have played League of Legends love the fact that we don't have denies and are strongly in favor of us keeping our fast-paced play.  We’ve changed a lot of people’s minds on this topic and wouldn’t be surprised to see other games in the genre follow suit on many of the design ideas we’ve innovated.  What’s your stance on gameplay mods and interface mods? Pendragon: We are big supporters of the mod community – after all, we started out as modders ourselves. We think some of the best content and freshest ideas come from the community, which is one reason why we regularly ask our community for feedback on our game and ways to make improvements.  Do you think “leaver” punishment and player rating balancing has been perfected yet? What about online communications with friends and game hosting connections? What areas do you think have already been nailed by you or other TD communities, and which do you see as still a work in progress? Pendragon: Since we operate League of Legends as a service to our players and continually improve and refine the experience, we will definitely be adding features and making improvements to the product for a long time to come. For example we clearly didn't stop improving the game when we launched, and we've made significant improvements to combat leavers already, but recognize that there is more work to be done. Regarding the recent news of Valve trying to patent the “DotA” trademark, Steve Feak recently commented that “I was aware that trademarking the name was possible, but originally I had no intention of filing for any DotA-related trademarks because DotA is owned by the community. DotA is a mod that many of people have contributed to, not a single person or development team like most typical games. As soon as you step away and create a new game, like we at Riot Games did with League of Legends, it’s no longer DotA. After all, DotA wouldn’t be where it is today without the many contributions the community has made over the years. Neither Pendragon, Riot Games nor I have any desire to dictate the future of DotA.”  Pendragon: That is correct.  We welcome competition, but we think that there are legal and ethical questions here.  We always wanted to forge our own path with League of Legends because we strongly believe that “DotA” is and always should remain owned by the community and that it’s far bigger than one person. You’ve also said that if you succeed in getting the DotA trademark, you’ll do nothing with it, which means not dictating the future of DotA could potentially be disastrous. With IceFrog working at Valve, if he stops updating the Warcraft 3 version of DotA, the community would be at a loss for who should take over, and the DotA WC3 scene could be hit with a dark ages, or even permanently disband. If you don’t plan on using the DotA name anyways, and there’s a strong possibility that the WC3 DotA community will crumble, then why fight for the trademark if you won’t even use it? Pendragon: We don’t agree with the idea the game will disband. We think that the DotA community is one of the most creative and passionate communities.  There are many people who have and still are participating in the development of DotA.  Just as Guinsoo took over for Eul and IceFrog took over for Guinsoo, it seems likely that someone will take the reins and continue to lead development if they aren't legally blocked from doing so.  Yes, but in the past it has always been a case of someone handing the crown over to another modder. This time -- patent or not -- it's IceFrog boldly taking his crown with him to Valve. I'd be surprised if anyone tries to step up and continue updating WC3 DotA when it would clash against the choices and changelog that Valve's "official" game would create under the guidance of IceFrog. Not to mention Blizzard's outdated WC3 Battle.Net software is a pain to use for DotA. Your defense in the past has been that “As soon as you step away and create a new game, like we at Riot Games did with League of Legends, it’s no longer DotA.” However, should IceFrog and Valve choose to change nothing in the conversion, then it still essentially would be DotA, and with more authenticity to its updates than the Heroes of Newerth clone can boast. If that were the case, then wouldn’t it deserve to use the DotA name? Pendragon: DotA is tied to the Warcraft 3 engine - the looks, the graphics, the characters and the mechanics are all built on top of that engine.  However, even if Valve is exactly able to copy the mod that so many developers worked hard to create, it doesn't necessarily mean that they should control the future of the name.  If a company aside from Bioware was able to duplicate Mass Effect exactly, that doesn't then give them the right to take the name Mass Effect.  The difference is the DotA community never protected the name for themselves to prevent another company from using it. It looks like the community -- or Blizzard -- should have protected themselves, because like it or not, the name is definitely up for grabs and is far too valuable to not fight for. It’s good to see that, despite the gameplay and legal differences between you and your competitors, all parties involved still seem focused on the fun development of the TD community. It’s great to see game companies that love their communities so damn much. Do you think Blizzard missed out on a great opportunity?  Pendragon: We have a lot of respect for Blizzard, and given their phenomenal success it's hard to second guess any of their decisions or their commitment to their community. Many players on Battle.Net feel as if Blizzard has habitually ignored their community, with a popular opinion being that “Blizzard doesn’t care about nonpaying customers.” With players needing to download extra applications to ban players, use bots to host a game, and use Web sites just to find available games to join, you can’t blame disgruntled DotA players for being frustrated at having to jump through so many hoops. Do you think the rise of LoL, HoN, and Valve’s DotA will cause Blizzard to finally go back and update the WC3 Battle.Net to the level that StarCraft II has seen? Pendragon: I don’t want to speculate on that.  Blizzard doesn’t deserve all of the negative spotlight though. How do you feel about the TD community, which is notorious for being one of the least noob-friendly multiplayer circles that the game industry has ever known? Not to mention their quickness to abandon support for professional DotA teams after each of their few but inevitable tournament losses. What would you like to communicate to the entire TD community about their responsibility in all of this for the ensured success of the game genre in the future? Pendragon: With League of Legends, we try to foster a friendlier community so that all players have a better experience.   We're continually working on building up and improving the League of Legends and so far the results have been very positive and our users has appreciated our huge focus on creating a friendlier atmosphere.  Okay, now for an easy question! Who is your current favorite LoL champion to play as? Pendragon: Right now my favorite Champion is Master Yi. I've gotten 3 penta-kills with him!  Thanks so much for your time today. In closing, are there any future secrets you want to announce or hint at? Give our readers a new detail or sneak peak picture to drool over! Pendragon: We think Valve is a great company, which is why their move to take control of the DotA name away from the DotA community is so puzzling.  However, we're focusing our efforts on the upcoming new map and further improvements of League of Legends for all players and will continue to do so for years. Okay, Dtoiders! Add your own opinions on these topics in the comments, and feel free to pose more questions of your own in case Destructoid can arrange a Valve, IceFrog, or S2 Games interview in the near future. And for the love of gaming gods, if you still haven't tried a top tier tower defense game yet, then what more are you waiting for?! High resolution League of Legends concept art wallpapers can be found in the gallery. Enjoy!

[Editor's Note: At the time of this article's publishing, no genre term had solidified for the DotA style games yet. The "MOBA" term was around but disputed, and in the past few years it has gained some acceptance, but Dota 2...


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