Say what you will about Hearthstone — it’s too random, it has too many unbalanced cards, that one deck always beats me — but you have to admit Game Director Ben Brode isn’t shy. He puts his face out there on videos and his words on Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms. It’s a tough job, made even tougher by Brode’s willingness to take on all comers, especially of the “angry gamer” variety.
In a recent interview on Glixel, Brode covers a wide range of topics, starting with his communication policy — mainly that he has one. While nobody agrees with every decision a game’s dev team makes, at least understanding why your favorite class got nerfed or why an encounter is suddenly harder — rather than just reading a single line about it in the patch notes — can go a long ways toward soothing frayed nerves. As Brode puts it:
“If you don’t understand why we’re doing “A” versus “B,” maybe the only thing you can come up with – the only reason we would do “A” is because we’re idiots, or because we have some nefarious reasons. And often, that’s not true. Not “often” – [Laughing] we’re never nefarious – but that’s just not true!”
So, there you have it! The Hearthstone developers aren’t idiots, nor are they nefarious. But that’s just what you’d expect a nefarious idiot to say …
The rest of the interview mostly covers how Brode and his team tweaks the meta, balancing it between Standard and Wild construction, casual and competitive. But to me, the most interesting thing is Brode talking about his high visibility and how he doesn’t see any drawbacks to being so open. Communication is easy. Having the willingness to do it, to explain your reasoning to a potentially hostile crowd that may not always agree with you, is the challenging part.