Samwise Didier Talks Heroes Of The Storm, Hair Metal (Interview)
Blizzcon 2013 isn’t the first appearance of Blizzard’s don’t-call-it-a-MOBA online brawler, Heroes of the Storm. Under the previous name, Blizzard All-Stars, the game started as a demonstration of the mod tools available in StarCraft II is 2009. Since then the devs have been incorporating player feedback and refining the game for its BlizzCon 2013 debut. And what they presented has all the hallmarks of a Blizzard game: polished, playable and fun.
First, a 30-second primer: Heroes of the Storm is a 5v5 League of Legends-like MOBA with three lanes, turrets to destroy, minions to mow down and an opposing base to destroy. Presently it comes with 18 playable characters drawn from some of the most recognizable characters in Blizzard lore like Diablo, Raynor and Illidan. These characters fall into recognizable roles such as melee and ranged, damage and support flavors as well as a unique few specialists classes.
Battles are designed to be short, around 20 minutes, and three different maps are available with different objectives, control points and progression mechanics to keep it interesting. Beta sign ups started yesterday.
If all of this sounds standard to a new MOBA, it is, but Blizzard insists they’re creating something that, as Dustin Browder put it yesterday during the Blizzcon opening ceremony, will “challenge the genre”. We’ll have to wait to see if this comes to pass, but to find out more about the game as it exists today, we spoke with Senior Art Director and Blizzard concept artist legend, Sam Didier. He had a lot to say about hair metal bands of the 80s, Rock ‘N’ Roll Racing and Friday the 13th movies. You know, the kind of influences you’d expect to go into a MOBA, right?
What is your role on Heroes of the Storm?
I’m the art director on the project. Surprisingly we don’t need a lot of concept art for the characters because over the past 10 to 15 years almost every character has been refined already. So I’ve been trying to work with the team to work on the other models in the game: the siege giant and the minions and the towers. All those elements are what makes these battlefields feel like World of Warcaft zones.
What have you pulled in from outside Blizzard’s history for inspiration?
We have borrowed the Elite Tauren Chieftain [as a playable character] from our Blizzard in-house band. We’ve replaced his totems with a giant guitar on his back. A lot of the influences he has are from actual rock stars from hair metal bands of the 80s. He has a pink beard goatee that Daryl, the guitarist from Pantera had and on his back his has a flying V guitar with polka dots from Randy Rhoads who was Ozzy’s guitar player. We also created a skin, Glam Metal ETC, and he looks like someone right out of Warrant or Poison or Twisted Sister.
For Stitches, who is our big abomination, we have a skin called Psycho Stitches, which is based off the Friday the 13th sort of horror films: the hockey mask, the dirty overalls, the machete and the pitchfork, your classic horror movie things. And Uther has a skin with the Judgement armor set from World of Warcraft, arguably the most popular Paladin armor in the game so we made that as one of his first skins.