The ‘Hearthstone’ Team Can’t Escape Its Director’s Laugh

Jeremy Ray
Games Blizzard
Games Blizzard PC Gaming

Friends, if you haven’t already been introduced to the hearty guffaws of Hearthstone game director Ben Brode, then you’re in for a treat.

We were lucky enough to spend some time with executive producer Hamilton Chu and technical director Steve Shizimu at Blizzcon. We touched on a few serious topics, such as balancing the new cards in Kobolds & Catacombs, the new Dungeon Run mode, and the nature of randomness in competitive card games.

Thoughtful stuff. But I noticed they hadn’t smiled in a while. We shifted gears into how competitive the team gets when playing the game. That got ’em.

Shimizu then told me the team has “a few traditions” not based on winning or losing. They’re still interesting though — when you see a Hearthstone developer in the wild, make sure you get them to say the word “donuts.”

Preferably around their peers.

Hearthstone Hamilton Chu Steve Shimizu Kobolds and Catacombs
Steve Shimizu (left) with Hamilton Chu (right)

But who’s the best at trash talk?

Again, not exactly a straight answer, but an entertaining one. We all knew Ben Brode’s laugh is legendary, but can you imagine being in an office with it all week? I actually think it’d be fantastic.

Day9 clearly thinks the same, as he specifically set out to make Brode laugh as much as possible on the Kobolds and Catacombs reveal stream. Not exactly a hard goal, but absolutely a noble one.

Balancing 135 new cards injected into the game is no small feat — especially in a game with such small numbers. Often mana costs, attack or health ratings, and other variables are single-digit integers. The Hearthstone team can’t lower a mana cost by 0.1. It’s just not a balancing option it has.

But Blizzard always manages, and it’s with a mostly hands-off approach. We’ll have those answers to you soon. For now let’s enjoy the deep, meditative, bellowing chortles of Ben Brode throwing his head back and releasing a seemingly infinite supply of glee.

Jeremy Ray
Managing Editor at FANDOM. Decade-long games critic and esports aficionado. Started in competitive Counter-Strike, then moved into broadcast, online, print and interpretative pantomime. You merely adopted the lag. I was born in it.
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