Hearthstone's chess board concept

If you're a fan of game design, or are simply curios about what exactly goes into the creation of a Hearthstone Adventure, you're in luck as Blizzard has just recently posted a rather interesting article on just that topic. It concerns the most recent Hearthstone Adventure, Kharazan, and its most memorable boss - the chess encounter!

You can read the full article by heading over to the Blizzard website. However, if you're still not sure all of this is worth your time, here's a small snippet that goes over the very first version of the chess encounter and what exactly the team tried to accomplish with it:

"We wanted the encounter to feel like chess . . . but what does that mean? Unlike World of Warcraft, Hearthstone is already a turn-based, strategic game, so we needed to find some of the core differences with chess that we could use. The first one was pacing: chess is a much slower game than Hearthstone. In each chess turn, you only make one move. Chess also involves completely open information and is deterministic, whereas in Hearthstone you draw random cards. These were our starting points: one move per turn, and drastically lower randomness.

Friendly-Hero-Power-Description02.pngIn our first implementation, we designed the chess pieces in this way: pawns were cheap and had Taunt, Bishops healed their neighbors, Rooks were stronger, Queens were the strongest, and Knights could ignore Taunt. Your deck contained a normal chess set (8 Pawns, 1 Queen, 2 of each of the others) and there were two special rules. Instead of drawing each turn, you Discovered a card from your deck (so you looked at three and took one). Second, only one piece could attack each turn. 

We also had a bunch of extra things: each player’s hero power gave one of their minions Attack until the end of the turn; each deck had a number of special spells—like Pawnstorm, a spell that let all your Pawns attack this turn; and every time something bad happened to the enemy (they lost a bunch of life, lost an important piece, or a few other triggers), they would cheat in some dramatic way, like killing one of your minions or resurrecting one of theirs..."

I don't know about you, but I absolutely love being able to peel back the curtains in order to see how a game is formed. There's nothing quite like reading about a whole series of failed experiments, each of which ended up propagating a small part of itself into the next version - all the way to the very end! Not only does it give you an idea of what works in the context of the game, but it also gives you a deep insight into the developers themselves, as well as their vision for the game. If this makes absolutely any sense to you, then go ahead and read Blizzard's article - there's some really intriguing stuff in there!

Here's to hoping the Hearthstone team will do these 'behind the scenes' articles more often, because let's face it, Hearthstone is in dire need of some developer <-> community interaction right now.