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Heroes of the Storm lead Hero designer discusses Samuro's entry into the Nexus

In our interview with Kent-Erik Hagman, we learn how difficult it was to bring Samuro the Blademaster into Heroes of the Storm, the challenges his Heroic Ability 'Illusion Maser' created, and more.


Blizzard announced last week it would be adding the silent, but deadly, Samuro the Blademaster to Heroes of the Storm’s roster of Heroes. Samuro first debuted in Warcraft 3, and was quite the formidable opponent if placed in the right hands.

It’s been nearly 15 years since the reveal of Samuro the Blademaster, but his inclusion in Heroes of the Storm feels like a logical one considering his history with the Warcraft series. Samuro has always been a lone wolf of sorts as he fights for the honor of the Burning Blade. In Heroes of the Storm, Samuro is categorized as a melee assassin, which is extremely fitting if you’re familiar with his abilities from Warcraft 3, many of which he has kept with him for his upcoming debut.

With the reveal of Samuro, we were offered the opportunity to discuss him with Heroes of the Storm lead hero designer Kent-Erik Hagman. In our interview with him, we discuss his debut trailer, the work required to bring him into the Nexus, and the struggle of supporting Illusion Master.

Shacknews: Samuro's intro video is by far one of my favorites. What was the inspiration behind it? Also - are there any Easter Eggs Blizzard fans may not have caught the first time?

Kent-Erik Hagman, Lead Hero Designer: The trailers are made by our fantastic Machinima team, and they always have a strong set of limitations, such as very limited animations, and no support for face effects. So this time around, they wanted to try a stylized approach to make the most of the limitations, and try to pay homage to Kurosawa and old Japanese samurai films. It seemed like a natural fit to have Chen fighting Samuro, creating tense moments, but then ending with it turning out that they know each other quite well. It was also a chance to do a silent film, something the team hadn't gotten to do yet with these trailers. As for easter eggs, one fun thing is that the drinking animation Samuro uses at the end is actually his in-game Taunt animation, so if you're feeling saucy as Samuro, feel free to have a round in front of your opponents!

Shacknews: It appears the majority of Samuro's abilities are based on his abilities in Warcraft 3. Did it make it any easier to bring him to the Nexus considering he already had quite the established ability list?

Kent-Erik Hagman: Both easier and harder! We certainly had a strong base to start from, with Mirror Image, Windwalk, and Bladestorm, but there's always room we like to be creative, and show new things that a Hero can do. On the other hand, there's definitely a lot of expectation from our playerbase. I mean, if we showed a Blademaster, and he couldn't Critical Strike...well that's no Blademaster! But, we also wanted to play up the Mirror Images, and the idea of a Hero that's playing 3-card monte with his opponents. Can you find the Real Samuro? As a result, a hefty amount of work went into making the AI for the clones in such a way that a veteran Samuro player can know how to best fool their opponent!

Shacknews: Samuro has obviously received a major makeover from his debut in Warcraft 3. What iconic features did you feel you needed to include to make him look more authentic? Did anything from his original look need to be scrapped or updated?

Kent-Erik Hagman: Samwise Didier did a concept for the Orc Blademaster in 1999, we were dead-set on replicating that design in greater detail for Heroes. The Blademaster is a very simple but iconic character. I've always liked how unique his facial features are compared to typical orcs. We were really excited about the banner and braid translating to the new version with actual physics.

Shacknews: Samuro's original quotes were quite memorable. Did any of his classic dialog, such as "Wasaaabi!", make it into Heroes of the Storm? If so, did you tap the same voice actor to reprise his role or someone new?

Kent-Erik Hagman: We absolutely had to re-create some of his most memorable quotes! It's one of the most fun things to do with these old Heroes! Also, as it turns out, the Blademaster was voiced by our very own Samwise Didier, so it was pretty easy to convince him to reprise his role for this Hero!

Shacknews: We recall Samuro being quite the formidable opponent. Did you need to tweak him at all to not make him as powerful as he was in Warcraft 3?

Kent-Erik Hagman: In Warcraft 3, the Blademaster was excellent at guile and harassing, and I must say that we were able to keep that flavor in this Hero. Samuro has his own very set of unique challenges when it comes to balancing his power level. When a player chooses the Illusion Master Heroic ability, they are opting into a playstyle that can afford some of the craziest plays possible with a single Hero. It's something we'll definitely be keeping an eye on post-launch to see what he is capabale of in the hands of our top-level players.

Shacknews: Did you come across any other challenges bringing Samuro to the Nexus?

Kent-Erik Hagman: Samuro really pushed the envelope even more than the Lost Vikings when it came to allowing Multi-Select controls, when one chooses Illusion Master. Since it was something that was only sometimes allowed, it presented a unique set of technical challenges. Further, we kept finding that different players wanted different behavior out of the AI when using Illusion Master. After going back and forth for about 3 weeks on how it should work, we finally settled on allowing players to turn on or off the Image AI when they select that Heroic Ability.

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