Overwatch Dev Tracker

15 Dec

Hi there, I’m Kenny Hudson and I’m a hero producer on the Overwatch team. Creating a hero is one of the most satisfying and challenging things we do in Overwatch. We hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to making anything that goes into the game, and heroes like Mauga are no exception. In this post, I'll be outlining the journey we took to bring Mauga from a short story to the latest addition to the hero roster.

Ideas for new heroes can come from anywhere. Sometimes, we draw inspiration from a cool piece of concept art. Other times, it comes from an ability experiment that's been hiding in the background of our development data. And sometimes, as in Mauga's case, the inspiration comes from the appreciation of great lore in our universe. As the short story “...

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As the snow begins to fall this holiday season, the matches in Overwatch® 2 will heat up! Winter Wonderland is back with your favorite winter-themed event modes, fun new cosmetic rewards, and a cool way to earn rewards as you explore the Winter Fair!

Chill out in the Arcade

Winter Wonderland brings festive ways to play Overwatch 2 this holiday season with four returning event mode favorites! If this is your first holiday season playing, keep reading to find out how to play these cool game modes in the Arcade.

Tactical elimination and silly strategies await in Mei’s Snowball Offensive. Armed with snowballs that will knock out the opponents with a single hit, you’ll need to defend yourself with Ice Walls and Cryo-Freeze to avoid getting eliminated. If you miss, find fresh snow to vacuum up and reload your shot. Go on a frosty frenzy when you launch your Ultimate and rapid-fire several snowballs in succession. Play with a team in a 5v5 Elimination R...

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12 Dec


Originally posted by Haatreacties

Ana has been a hot topic recently, with this being only amplified by Mauga. Ana is currently needed to keep some of the current tanks in check. How are you planning to curb Ana's complaints and incredibky high pick rate while making sure some of the tanks currently being held back by anti dont profit too much from ana nerfs?

Or are currently no Ana changes on the horizon? Or are you planning to nerf some tanks in the same patch as the patch with the Ana changes?

Anti-Heal is a useful mechanic for the overall health of the game as it helps to ensure that healing never gets too far out of control. The complaints around it feeling oppressive are understandable (as debuffs are never something players enjoy being affected by) and we'll be looking for ways to soften its impact while keeping Ana a viable hero.

The simplest solution here is just decreasing the duration of the effect though there is certainly a point where it swings from feeling OP to not useful enough if the time is too low to really capitalize on.

The reaction around it does also suggest that healing is probably too impactful overall so we'll be looking to address that in the near future as well, whether that is handled in the case of individual heroes like Roadhog Take a Breather or more systemically.


Originally posted by Lichtboys

How is Mauga performing in each rank? Higher or lower then expected? Granted it is very early, but I’m just curious

Throwing this on here late, but is it intended that health packs don’t stop maugas burn? Considering it stops other damage over time effects it kind of throws me off

Very well at all rank thresholds, one of the reasons we are putting out some initial changes today to lower his damage output (which also affects his sustain).

During the BlizzCon trial Mauga was actually performing much better than community perception, but there were some issues with his survivability and things like his head hitbox size. We pushed him a bit further with the understanding that we would act quick if things weren't in line with our overall balance goals. Today's nerfs should give us a better look at where he will end up once he enters Competitive.


Originally posted by ParanoidDrone

Mauga seems very feast or famine at the moment -- when he works, he works really well, but when he doesn't work, he's basically useless. He also demands a lot of attention from his support line, to the point that it feels like you have to healbot him or else he'll evaporate the instant you look away. Has the team noticed similar patterns in their data?

The way Mauga was designed invites players to get up into the thick of the fight all together with his team. Overrun encourages players to land directly on top of their opponents and his dual-fire mode is more effective at close ranges. Cardiac Overdrive and Cage Fight invite his teammates to stay close to him to take advantage of their defensive benefits. This can cause Mauga's to go into a lot of situations that are more precarious and will result in him struggling if his team isn't on the same page. Mauga's abilities are versatile and have uses in situations where they don't get full value. Overrun, for example, lets players run away from a fight with damage resistance, so they can poke from farther away with alternating his single-fire chain guns. As time goes on and players explore Mauga's kit more, more nuanced uses of his abilities should hopefully make playing as him less polarizing. His abilities also have a lot of tuning points in regards to both how he helps himself and ...

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Originally posted by starfieldnovember

What hero has the most amount of final blows on Mauga?

Two Maugas enter a Cage Fight, one leaves? both leave? There's a lot of Mauga right now, more than any other hero. He's responsible for many deaths, even his own.


Originally posted by Icedmanta

There's a lot of discussion right now around the way that Mauga was buffed coming into the live game, specifically how he became more oppressive against his good matchups, and still gets shut down with relative ease by certain heroes in the cast. I personally find this balance philosophy dangerous, as it sidelines possible adaptation against bad matchups in favor of enabling the "hard counterswap" mindset. I don't think there should be no counters, having varying matchups is what makes a balanced game fun, but it feels a little extreme right now.

I'm really unsure what changes could alleviate this issue - what tools does the balance team use to evaluate matchups between heroes, and which knobs do you twist to change the way a game feels from each hero's perspective?

An important aspect of our hero design philosophy is that heroes should have clear strengths and weaknesses to create more varied and interesting gameplay. When we look to buff a hero for example, we want to keep this in mind and typically try to focus on a heroes intended strengths rather than clearing away their weaknesses.

We do want to avoid counters being too easy and effective without adequate counterplay options. There is a broad goal of making sure every hero choice is viable in some capacity and feels good to play, while hopefully not feeling too unfair to play against.

Some direct matchups are not reasonably close, like Winston vs Roadhog, but we don't strictly balance off of 1v1 matchups as Overwatch is a team game (Winston has a good chance to win by going after everyone that is not Roadhog for example).

Generally we've found that when the heroes are balanced closely enough, individual player performance and teamwork has significantly more impa...

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Originally posted by Spedrayes

Can we get more details on the hero bans system you are looking at? Would it be a single ban per team? Or would we get one for each role? Would there also be protects? I've always loved the idea and I think it's great you're giving it a chance!

Want to clarify here that the first time we do this it will be for a limited time as an experiment. With that said, we're still discussing how exactly it will work in the match flow and where we put this experiment. Should everyone get a ban against one hero in their role? Should this experiment actually run in competitive for a weekend or should it get its own queue? How long is this phase before you select heroes, how much time does a team need to feel like they are strategizing but not so long it significantly increases the match length?

Those are the sorts of questions we talk about in our design meetings around this. I think any sort of ban system in Overwatch has the chance to be fairly polarizing, especially when your main gets banned. The point of the experiment will be to gather some initial feedback and make sure that if we ever move forward with permanently adding bans, we've covered all our bases.


Originally posted by DreamPolice2235

Thoughts on potentially swapping his miniguns from ammo to a heat system like Orisa?

Right now, there's not a strong desire to potentially make such a swap. Heat systems give significantly more damage uptime compared to traditional ammo systems. They're functionally just a constant reload you can cancel at anytime, unless you hit 0 ammo. The reload time gives players a window of opportunity to avoid his fire.


Originally posted by darthnick426

Idk if this will be seen but, I know it was mentioned that there are a certain number of heroes that the team is looking at for reworks or kit tune ups. You mentioned Wrecking Ball as being at the top of that list. Is Reaper being looked at for a rework at all? I love his current kit but he does seem prime for a rework since he has an available ability slot.

And then on an unrelated note: any plans for a Talon Heavy themed Mauga skin? I would love to have that one.

Thanks for taking the time to do the Q&A!

Reaper is also on that list! Had our first brainstorm and have aligned on our overall goals for what we want to see with Reaper's abilities. One of those goals is modernizing Reaper's kit, Shadow Step and Wraith Form standing out there.

We may also explore some new abilities for Reaper (on the right-click), but don't want to take the space just because it's available. If we add something there, we'll want it to give him slightly more decision making in-combat than he has currently.


Originally posted by hello_biscuit

mauga's ult is pretty interesting in that almost nothing can escape from it- afaik, the only ways out are sym TP and lifeweaver pull (also emp if you count that as "escaping")- how does the team determine which abilities can "counter" which ults? is it more about consistency between ults, the power levels of each ability, the heroes that are likely to be played in matchups, technical limitations of the game, or is it a little less premeditated and a little more played by ear?

This is usually trying to be consistent with game mechanics. We do make exceptions when necessary for the sake of game balance, but the less often we need to do that the easier it is for players to learn and understand these many interactions across multiple heroes.

Mauga's ultimate tethers are applying what we internally call "Mobility Lock" which disables movement skills. Other things that use this mobility lock are Junkrat Steel Trap, Cassidy Magnetic Grenade hinder effect, Zarya and Sigma ultimates. For gameplay consistency, you should be able to use Symmetra Teleporter and Lifeweaver's Lifegrip against those abilities.


Originally posted by KrustiBread

What are the team’s thoughts on Mauga’s Cardiac Overdrive currently? It often feels like he is too tanky when the ability’s active but too fragile when it’s inactive/countered, along with the visual effects being hard to discern at times.

We are reducing his damage, and those changes went live in this morning's hotfix patch (https://overwatch.blizzard.com/news/patch-notes/). This change will inadvertently affect how much life steal he receives during Cardiac Overdrive, making him a little less tanky.


Originally posted by Rotimi_Pika

Could you tell us some of the scrapped or early abilities you had for mauga?

Just like how you showed us illari abilities that were scrapped, I would love to see what ideas you had early on for mauga

Game design goes through a lot of iteration to find the most engaging combination of mechanics within the scope of our goals. We naturally try a lot of prototype variations even with a strong starting idea.

We tried a few alternate mobility abilities for Overrun. One of the first ideas was a short range dash that would toss enemies into the air behind him if you impacted them. It was fun to use but the transition from third person to first person and trying to turn around to shoot them wasn't easy, and solutions like automatically doing a 180 with the camera took away control from players.

The weapons had a couple alternates such as a flamethrower or incendiary grenade launchers. There were a few attempts at having two very different firing weapons in each hand, so one being hitscan like it is now and the other being a travel time projectile. It didn't play as well when trying to fire both at the same time unfortunately, especially in versions where they have differ...

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Originally posted by T_Peg

Have you considered retouching some of the visuals of effects in the game? There was recently a post showing an Orisa who was burned, nanoed, and at least one other thing and it was extremely hard to tell the difference at times. In addition to this Mauga's bullets tend to "splash" on the victim's screen and in addition to the burning makes it very difficult to see at times.

As we inevitably add more heroes to the game, with their own set of abilities and visual kits, we'll continue to look at past vfx and new vfx to make sure they all play nicely together.

We always strive for clarity but the Orisa post was a great example of how it can be difficult to read some of those stacking effects. Team is currently talking about solutions for that and hears the feedback on the readability for some of Mauga's abilities.


Originally posted by BEWMarth

I really enjoy Mauga’s “dual” guns gameplay. Setting people on fire with one gun and getting to crit with the other is very fun. Unfortunately it feels like the best way to play Mauga is to shoot both guns at the same time, making his interesting gameplay mechanic an afterthought.

Are there any plans to incentivize Mauga’s alternating gun gameplay?

We'll have to see how this develops over time as there's always a learning curve for new heroes. Shooting both guns is not always more effective due to the large spread and more random nature of it. Learning when to use each firing mode to your advantage is part of the fun. Generally if enemies are further than 15 meters or so you'll want to use the alternating primary/secondary fire.


Originally posted by gob384

With Mauga's release, there were a few other balance changes like Queen's tighter spread, and Rammatra's armor. Were these changes made with Mauga's tank busting in mind? (for example leaving Roadhog and Rienhardt unchanged to see match up data) Or independently planned changes prior to his release?

We wanted to lift up some other tanks that we knew would have a particularly hard time with Mauga, but the changes themselves weren't necessarily tied to their direct matchup with Mauga. The change to Doomfist's Ultimate for example was something we believed would help players engage with it more regularly, the change to Winston's primary fire helps him in a number of matchups.

For Roadhog, we saw internally that he had quite a hard time with Mauga so even though he had been performing quite well across our rank thresholds, we decided to hold off on any changes. How Roadhog slots into the meta will be made more clear with upcoming Mauga changes and Mauga's inclusion into Competitive.


Originally posted by SonOfGarry

What are some plans to curb back Mauga’s ability to punish enemy Tanks? It’s one of the less-interesting portions of his kit but also one of the biggest things making him so strong right now.

Mauga is intended to be an aggressive, high damage output tank as he offers less in defense to his team compared with other tank options and doesn't have great mobility. We're lowering Mauga's weapon damage in general which will help with some of this where it can feel extreme at times.

He has good and bad matchups within the tank role, which is great for creating some depth, so it's not necessarily a role-wide problem. Sigma/Dva match up well and have an advantage against him, Roadhog/Junkerqueen/Ramattra are fairly even matchups, Zarya/Rein can do decently but require more support from their team, and Mauga is strongest against the dive tanks and Orisa.


Originally posted by Dear_Structure200

Hello and thank you for organizing this AMA. I’ve appreciated the communication around Overwatch 2; it’s been positive. I have a specific query about Wrecking Ball. During Flats’ stream with Alec, there was a mention of ongoing changes for him. The past two reworks have truly improved gameplay, and as a Wrecking Ball main, I’m eagerly anticipating potential alterations. Could you provide further details on the timeline for these changes and perhaps delve into the specific plans for modifying his abilities?

We playtested a first round of Wrecking Ball changes last week and think it's off to a good start. Overall, we are looking at making it a bit easier to play alongside Wrecking Ball with various support heroes, increase Ball's options in combat, and implement some quality of life changes.

In terms of timeline, it depends on how far we go with some of the changes and what's required there. It could end up as a bigger balance patch, it could end up with giving Wrecking Ball a new ability. Right now though, I think it'll lean closer to the first and not need the same sort of support that Roadhog and Sombra needed. Hopefully get something out there in the next few seasons.