There’s no denying that a game’s developer should have a firm grasp on the balancing that goes into a complex and competitive game like Hearthstone. Even so, there’s no way they can anticipate every nuance of a full scale release: this is the realm of the player. For this reason alone, it would make sense that there would be no one better at suggesting tweaks for the game than an active and noted member of its community.
For those who are familiar with the world of Hearthstone streaming and competitive play, the name Ryan Masterson or “Realz” should ring a bell. Previously known for leading the team of players named Mana Grind, Masterson is one of the most recognizable names in the community. Now, thanks to that status, Ryan Masterson has accepted a job at Blizzard Entertainment as Associate Game Designer.
Hot Off The Press - I have accepted a position as Associate Game Designer (Hearthstone) with Blizzard Entertainment. A new chapter begins...— Ryan Masterson (@Realz_HS) August 27, 2014
Posted to his personal Twitter account, Masterson announced his acceptance of this position. As one of the most noted members of the game’s competitive community, he will no doubt be a useful resource in balancing both current and upcoming content. Take for example the recent Naxxramas expansion. While it has received a positive reception, given time there’s no telling how the game’s voracious community will manage to exploit the content that’s there.
It’s easy for the community to blame the developers for any exploits that may arise over time as ex-Blizzard chief creative officer Rob Pardo would likely be able to attest to. In this way, having a recognizable member of the community “behind enemy lines” could serve to quell at least some of the frustration that might arise. Speaking on Reddit regarding this, Masterson writes:
“This is a truly exciting opportunity for me, and (to rephrase the words of someone I have long admired, who once entered a similar position) I hope my association with the continuing development of Hearthstone will serve to comfort fellow ladder grinders, competitors, and players at large that “one of us” is behind the scenes looking out for the interests of the player.”
Given the recent controversy surrounding a male-only Hearthstone tournament, this news helps to cast a more positive light on the community. The game has inspired fans to make Game of Thrones-themed cards and stands as an exceptional take on the free-to-play model. Outlying flaws aside, Hearthstone has proven to be a massive success and looks to be continuing on a path that is truly beneficial to the title.
With a jump to consoles rumored and the game’s release on iPad, it is becoming harder and harder to avoid the allure of Blizzard’s card-based hit. It’s expected that a follow-up to World of Warcraft will be announced at this year’s BlizzCon, so it’s within reason to believe that Hearthstone‘s success will have quite the impact on this upcoming behemoth.
What are your thoughts on prominent players being hired to help work on the projects that they’ve become so close to? What changes would you like t0 see from Hearthstone in the coming months?
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.