Art Directing in Blizzard

My name is Ben Thompson. I’m the art director here at Blizzard Entertainment on Hearthstone. Hearthstone is our digital card game set in the World of Warcraft universe because it was one that we felt was most inviting to the broadest number of players. My job as the art director is to assure that we’re always hitting that whimsical, light-hearted tone whenever possible, but to do so in a way that feels epically charming to the players who are familiar with Azeroth and even those who are not.

The art team is responsible for any of the visuals that you see going into the game. These take the place of the card, the spells, the visual effects for the game, for the user interface, especially when it pertains to being in the box, whether that means in a store, whether you’re opening a pack, whether you’re in one of the missions. So really, just anything that you encounter in the game from a visual perspective is where the art team comes in and puts their best foot forward. As art director, I’m responsible for overseeing all of the art that goes into the game, both from external sources, if we look at our freelance illustrators that do the card art for the cards themselves, as well as our internal team, who are responsible for doing everything from the boards to the user interface, when you’re in Adventures, what do the wings look like, how do the bosses interact, certainly the heroes that are in play, and, of course, all the minions and spells and everything that go into it from a visual effects route to just about anything that you see visually in the game itself. –

So I played other card games in the past, you know, like Pokemon and Magic and stuff like that. Usually in those types of games, they’ll have, like, different skins or full arts or, like, secret rares. Is that something you guys plan on implementing? – We do try to show the full art whenever we can. I mean, if you look at a lot of the new heroes, when they come in the store, you get the full art, it’s been goldenized so it’s animating and doing a lot of fun stuff. We also, at the same time, wanna be considerate to our players and their investment. So that being true, super rare cards that are only attainable by certain methods or means are not something that we try to lean too far into because of the fact that we do want it to be a game for everyone. We want you to feel as though, be you new to the game and it’s your first month playing, or you’re gonna celebrate your third anniversary with us, it feels like a game that you can get in and immediately make a deck that’s buyable, playable against friends, possibly even something that you can start to compete in some of your location Fireside Gatherings and really get to, you know, get some play from.