The fans asked and Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan answered, participating in an impromptu Ask Me Anything session on Monday afternoon. Among other things Kaplan answered a few questions about Overwatch’s early development, even revealing a fun detail about Tracer.
According to Kaplan, Tracer was the first hero “implemented” into Overwatch, but early on her attack options were slightly different from the fast-moving, dual-wielding hero that players have come to know and love. Early on, as Kaplan reveals, Tracer shot lasers from her eyes because the Blizzard team had yet to add gun or animation models yet.
Obviously, Kaplan is not suggesting that Tracer was originally some sort of superpowered hero, but is speaking to the limitations of early development on Overwatch. Without any of her trademark guns, and likely without her look finalized, Tracer still needed to give some semblance of an attack, and that turned out to be laser eyes.
What stories do you have that you can share from the initial development of Overwatch?
The first hero we implemented was Tracer. We did not have any animations or gun models. So she shot laser beams from her eyes.
Some might remember that it was Torbjorn who inspired the design for Overwatch, specifically its aesthetic, but apparently Tracer was the first character put into the game. That makes sense considering Tracer has become one of the game’s official mascots, taking center stage on everything from Overwatch’s box art to comics.
The AMA includes some pretty interesting development details from Kaplan, who some may know worked on Blizzard’s Titan MMO before it was eventually cancelled. After that, Kaplan and his team was given 6 months to pitch ideas to Blizzard and if none were picked up, then the devs would be distributed throughout the company, working on popular projects like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Heart of the Swarm.
We were working on a game that got cancelled. We had 6 weeks to pitch new game ideas to the studio. If we didn't come up with something compelling, our team was going to be redistributed to work on other projects (WoW, HS, HotS, D3 etc). Arnold Tsang was drawing these amazing characters. And during some of our game idea sessions Geoff Goodman was pitching really cool class ideas for a class-based MMO. We merged these concepts into what was to become Overwatch.
Given that Blizzard has finished revealing all of its teased characters with the release of Orisa, there are a lot of questions about what’s next for Overwatch, but unfortunately Kaplan didn’t have much to say there. Really, this was a chance for Kaplan to open up to the community, and offer some stories that maybe they might not have heard before.
It’s interesting to consider how close Overwatch was to never existing, and how the pressure of dissolution helped push Kaplan’s team to create the hero shooter. What’s more impressive is that the game isn’t just a suitable second option; Overwatch is a game of the year award winner.