jeff kaplan

Overwatch promises to reduce duplicate item rewards in lockboxes

Since the only real form of progress in Overwatch involves skins, there’s nothing more frustrating than opening a few dozen lockboxes and seeing every rare skin be the same one… for a character you don’t even play. The latest development update from director Jeff Kaplan notes that the team is aware of the problem, and steps are being taken to ensure that the number of duplicate items received will be dramatically reduced in the future.

You don’t need to worry about losing out on the buy-anything credits, though; the credits you get from loot boxes will also be increased, so you should find yourself getting more credits even as you get fewer duplicates of things you already have. How well this will map out in particular remains to be seen, but it’s an effort to mitigate the randomness that’s always underpinned the game’s lockbox structure. Kaplan also discusses ongoing improvements to the highlights feature; you can watch the full development update just below.

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Overwatch begins booking trips to the moon on June 20

Next week Joe and Jane Gamer can secure their own ticket to the moon itself — granted that they are playing Overwatch. Blizzard is opening the airlock to its Horizon Lunar Colony on June 20th, and the team couldn’t be more excited about it. It’s the first map that the studio has built for the game that is 90% indoors.

Citing both a strong character hook and story hook, the devs said that the lunar colony was at the top of their most-desired locations list. The map allows players to visit the origin of Winston, the super-intelligent gorilla, and get some insight into what went on at this remote science facility. Of course, how much lore you’re going to soak up while bunny-hopping your way at lightning speeds down corridors is debatable.

“We were always inspired by the fact that Overwatch was a universe future enough and expanded enough that there could be a colony on the moon,” said Game Director Jeff Kaplan. Get a full map preview after the jump!

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Blizzard has been ‘doing a lot of research’ to thwart Overwatch toxicity

You can easily count me among those who’ve been historically unimpressed at the way toxicity is managed in Blizzard games; the studio has a public history of insensitivity, and I doubt I’m alone in having a pile of anecdotes about its failures to uphold its own policies and rules when it comes to in-game behavior. But as Blizzard has branched out into new genres, that attitude has matured.

Or so Jeff Kaplan’s implied, anyway. In the middle of a forum conversation about “leavers” — people who quit matches intentionally and ruin the game for those who are left behind — he says Blizzard is laser-focused on this particular problem.

“We had a lengthy meeting about this yesterday. We’ve been doing a lot of research on the problem for months now,” he writes. “We think we have some good solutions. We still need players to help us by reporting people. We do both manual and auto detection on our end, but player reports are the most immediate indicator that point us in the right direction. We also discussed the need for more feedback for the person doing the reporting so it doesn’t feel like your report is going into the void.”

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Overwatch teases new character, shuts down hope of solo campaign

There has been a development in the world of Overwatch that may point to the debut of a brand-new hero.

Blizzard posted a lore update today in the form of fictional emails and blueprints regarding the fate of lunar colony. The messages mention a gorilla outbreak on the moon, with two specimens still unaccounted for: Winston and Hammond.

This could be a prelude to a new playable character, something that Game Director Jeff Kaplan recently confirmed was “on the horizon.” Rumor is that this hero will be Doomfist, which would make this lore piece an origin story of sorts.

Meanwhile, the studio shut down any hopes that a single-player story campaign is in development. “We don’t have any plans for that right now,” Blizzard said on Twitter.

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How Overwatch was born in the ashes of Blizzard’s Project Titan MMO

A new piece out on the PlayStation blog is picking at MMO players’ Project Titan scar.

Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan explains that after the seven-year Project Titan MMO collapsed, its dev team was partially scattered, the remainder tasked with coming up with a new game — in six weeks. Kaplan’s team whipped up three pitches: two MMOs (one in a Blizz universe, one in a new one) and a shooter, which ultimately became Overwatch.

The magic, Kaplan argues, came from taking MMO class concept art from Titan and turning the subjects into fully formed individual characters.

“‘[Chris Metzen] lit up to the idea that they were no longer classes but heroes, characters, people,’ says Kaplan. ‘It wasn’t the sniper; it’s now Widowmaker, and she’s a cold-blooded killer turned by Talon who used her to assassinate her husband. That was a way cooler story than just, hey, it’s the sniper, pick what nose you want and if you want the long or the short hair. It was a character, a human being. So Chris instantly said, Yes! This is what we should do.'”

The rest, as they say, is history; Blizzard went forward with the Overwatch pitch. Still, I can’t help but wish we’d gotten to see those other two MMOs.

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Overwatch releases a comic about the past; next hero is far along in development

The backstory of Overwatch could probably be a game in and of itself, considering that the game takes place after the eponymous organization formed, made waves, disbanded, and is almost somewhat reforming now. The latest comic about the game looks back at the organization later on in its lifespan, when Lena Oxton (better known as Tracer) was first joining the team. It’s a look back at her earliest days and perhaps a hint about what’s coming next for the game… or perhaps not.

Whatever’s coming next, it may not take long to arrive. Director Jeff Kaplan stated in a recent interview that the game’s next hero is not far off; an exact timetable hasn’t been announced, but the 25th character is in testing, getting art, and so forth. Heroes beyond that are still in the prototype stages. There are no hints just yet about who this next hero will be, but it’s enough to know that it’s around the corner.

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Overwatch hypes its upcoming server browser

If you’re an Overwatch player who enjoys creating and jumping into custom games, then you are probably salivating over the news that Blizzard is preparing a server browser to facilitate these matches.

“There are a lot of times when players want to try different things and play the game in different ways, and it’s not really viable for us to put up a matchmaking system where we could feed everybody into everybody’s different possible custom games,” Game Director Jeff Kaplan explained in the newest Overwatch dev update video. “For that reason, we need to give you a way to look at the different custom games that are out there and decide for yourself, ‘Do I want to partake in it?'”

Get your full developer update after the jump!

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Overwatch team lobbies against using a mouse and keyboard on its console versions

If everyone can’t have it, no one should. That’s the stance that Blizzard is taking when it comes to using a mouse and keyboard to play Overwatch on consoles, as those players presumably have a huge advantage over controller users in response time and precise action.

On the official forums, Game Director Jeff Kaplan wrote a terse post a few days ago stating the studio’s position: “The Overwatch team objects to the use of mouse and keyboard on console. We have contacted both first-party console manufacturers and expressed our concern about the use of mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices. We have lobbied and will continue to lobby for first-party console manufacturers to either disallow mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices or openly and easily support mouse and keyboard for ALL players.”

As Kaplan points out, there is no official support for keyboards and mice on these consoles yet, although that hasn’t stopped some from figuring out a workaround. VG247 notes that many of the top players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 use a mouse-and-keyboard setup via special converters.

Source: Official forums, VG247, Slashdot. Thanks Sally!

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Overwatch strives to rebalance Symmetra

Overwatch players who avoid Symmetra like the plague might find themselves gravitating to her with an upcoming patch. Lead Designer Jeff Kaplan sat down with the community to announce a full-scale revamp of the playable character. Apparently Symmetra was being used too situationally and needed some strong quality-of-life improvements to make her more viable and desirable.

One of the most exciting changes coming for Symmetra is that she will be the first character in the game to get a choice of ultimates, with two such abilities available at all times during each match. When her meter fills up, she can either plop down her current teleporter or build a shield generator with a huge range for her team.

Get the low-down from Blizzard on all of the Symmetra changes and the new Osiris map after the break!

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Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan on team size and development time

There are around 100 developers working on Overwatch right now. That number comes from director Jeff Kaplan directly in a thread on the game’s official forum, where he answers two big questions about the game’s development and how the process of developing and refining the game works. The developers on the team are further supported by other “shared” teams across Blizzard, such as the merchandising department and the animation department, both of which help create the various associated pieces of merchandise and animated shorts (respectively).

Kaplan also talks about the development pipeline when it comes to implementing new features, which is more complex than it might seem at a glance. There are some features that seem simple but have technical barriers, but there are also features that are easy to implement (what Kaplan refers to as “low-hanging fruit”) that can overwhelm developers if you try to get too many of them implemented at once.

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Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan discusses future plans and competitive mode

A new Kotaku interview with Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan has shed new light on the state of Overwatch — you know, the game everyone played before Pokemon Go eclipsed the sun.

The interview focuses heavily on the game’s competitive mode, which evolved from a planned pre-made 6v6 matchup to one that allows solo queuing, with rank rewards alotted accordingly, but he also talks future plans. “We’ve talked about tons of basic stuff like getting rid of the coin flip and adding time bank to the payload stuff, but we’re really talking a lot about skill rating and trying to recalibrate how players think about skill rating for season 2 meaning right now,” Kaplan said. “We feel like a lot of the things we did in the UI and the numbers that we chose make players think if skill rating as a leveling system.”

He also rejects the idea that Overwatch is a MOBA and says Blizzard is working on toxicity, leavers, new levels, and new modes. “My dream is that we could do something cool each month that felt not just like a balance patch, but actually felt like a meaningful content or feature delivery each month and somehow the heroes and the maps are kind of cycling as parts of those things in addition to other stuff.”

Source: Kotaku

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Blizzard is quietly fighting Overwatch toxicity

If you’ve started to notice that the community in Overwatch has started to turn vicious in the past few weeks, you’re not alone.

In an interview last week, Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan acknowledged that the longer a PvP game is out, the more some players’ “dark sides” start to emerge. The good news is that steps are being taken to combat this developing toxicity and to encourage community togetherness.

“There are some systems that under the hood we’ve been tweaking as well,” he said.
A lot of this is very black box — and for a reason. We don’t talk about it because if we talk about it too much, players can exploit behavior.”

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Overwatch expects the new competitive play to change after release

Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan took to the forums yesterday to share some of the plans for the game’s continued development.

Primarily on the table, of course, is the competitive play mode. Kaplan said that Blizzard is hoping to get the feature on test servers prior to release, and even when it comes out, it probably will change over the next year or so. “We’re working very hard to make it awesome at release but there are some things you need to see and feel along with a large population before you can properly sign off on the feature,” he wrote. “I anticipate competitive play will require a few seasons’ worth of iteration before we’re in the place we want to be.”

What else is on the docket, according to Kaplan? New heroes are being made, including some prototypes that may never see the light of the day. More maps are a given, and he mentions improvements to spectator functionality, brawls, custom games, character progression, and social features.

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