The support class of heroes in Overwatch is undoubtedly the most important, particularly those with healing abilities. Enter a competitive match without a Mercy, Lucio or Zenyatta, and feel the wrath of the opposition.
The development of these heroes, as is the case with every character in the game, has been a long and ever-changing process.
Back in March, lead writer, Michael Chu, spoke briefly about how the narrative aspect feeds into the overarching creative process behind the heroes.
Chu explained that heroes “come from a lot of different places”, suggesting that different heroes have different starting points in terms of why they’re added to the character roster.
“But mostly,” Chu explained, “from one of three places: art, design, or story (or some combination of them).”
That provided an interesting insight into how a backstory is evolved, but what about the actual technical and mechanical elements of hero design?
In a fantastic video from IGN, Overwatch game director, Jeff Kaplan, sat down to talk about each support hero, with some unseen development footage to boot. Here are some key points to take from the video, which you can watch below.
This recent addition to the Overwatch roster was previously called “The Alchemist”, a hero that could brew potions and what-not to influence the playing field.
Designer Geoff Goodman had actually intended her to be a sniper, but the team was worried she would interfere with Widowmaker’s claim as the game’s one and only long-range specialist.
It was once Goodman tweaked her to be a healing-sniper that she was finally added to the Overwatch roster.
Lucio is the most interesting in the bunch here, because his early development stages made for a very interesting ultimate.
He used to be able to slow down time for every player in the game, both teammates and opponents. The footage in the video below shows Lucio wielding a Symmetra-type weapon, which appears to be an automatic rifle of some sort that spews bullets similar to Soldier.
Lucio could move freely during his ultimate, allowing him to pick off opponents that are stuck in a slow time warp. The problem was that it was annoying for teammates, who would suffer from the ultimate while trying to rush back to the objective. This led to it being scrapped.
Her name was originally “Angelica”, which came from her real name of Angela Ziegler.
Interestingly, Mercy’s codename during development was actually used for Pharah, who went through several name changes, including Rocket Dude, Rocket Queen, and then finally, Pharah, which left the door up for “Angelica” to be renamed “Mercy”.
Symmetra’s teleporter ultimate initially needed to be built at both the exit and entry points. The goal was to allow players to create interesting paths, and to perhaps sneak through maps to surprise the opposition.
The problem was that teammates often struggled to find the entry point, and the whole idea ended up being too complicated. As such, Kaplan and co. decided to reduce the complexity, and instead have the entrance automatically load at the spawn point.
Zenyatta used to be called “Cyber Monk”. Designer, Scott Mercer, created Zenyatta as an alternative to Mercy, who may not otherwise like venturing to places mobile characters like Tracer or Winston can get to. That opened the door to a passive healing “orb”, which allows Zenyatta to heal from a distance and not have to follow the character around to undesirable areas of a map.
Check out the full video below.