Create a tornado to burn any obstacle in your path when the Fire Storm Heartrune arrives alongside Season One - Fellowship & Fire on March 28. We joined Combat Designer Josh Hurley for a glimpse into Fire Storm’s inspiration, design, goals, and challenges. Discover the story behind this ability’s development to make the most of its power.
“The inspiration for Fire Storm came from the Empyrean Forge Expedition,” Josh said. “The entire theme of the release is Fellowship & Fire and we definitely wanted to lean into the fire portion of it. We initially started by examining various attacks performed by the enemies within the Expedition to see if any of them would be a good starting point for what we wanted to achieve. For this one though, many of the enemy attacks weren’t exactly what we were going for or felt too similar to attacks or abilities that players could already do, so we leaned into coming up with something a bit more unique while utilizing the theme of fire.“
“During the early prototype phases of its development, we were unsure what we wanted to do with the animation, but after discussions with animators the concept of ‘fire bending’ popped up. We really wanted to lean into something fun and unique to signify the casting animation, and that is when the spin kick was brought up and immediately shined as the perfect way to cast this ability.“
“All of the Heartrunes are themed around some sort of AI boss or event, so the first step is to review the upcoming expedition or events that will be released along with that update to gauge what we want to do to make it feel like obtaining the Heartrune ties into the event that the player is participating in. The first aspect of Heartrune development is figuring out what roles are currently covered with existing Heartrunes, and what sort of gaps or missing functionality could be covered with a new Heartrune, and for this one, which role would fit the theme of fire.”
“Initial iterations of the Heartrune didn’t follow the terrain, and it would function similarly to the Void Gauntlet Orb Of Decay ability where it would just go off in the direction it was cast in until it hit an obstacle then it would stop. However, that didn’t feel great in more cluttered terrain. Even though there were some situations where kicking a tornado of fire into the air was fun, getting more consistent usage out of it was a better design choice.”
“The base movement speed of the Fire Storm is just barely faster than the normal sprint so players can actually follow the Heartrune and move within it, especially when using the Cunning variant with the Accelerating Storm perk.”
“I always thought it would be cool to treat the Fire Storm as a ball of death for players to follow as they charge into a fight. During a War playtest, I saw a Fire Storm immediately cast through broken fort gates. Right as they were destroyed a group of players rushed into the fort while inside the Fire Storm, creating the very fiery ball of death full of players that I envisioned during the early design phases.”
“The goal is to give each Heartrune a unique purpose and place. Some may be good for damage, while others may have more utility, creating situations where if you have any sort of gap in your build between your two weapons, that gap can be filled with a Heartrune. Fire Storm was shaped around a close-mid ranged situation with the ability, when using some perks, to potentially aid as somewhat of an engagement tool or casting towards an enemy that could be running away. However, much like a lot of the other Heartrunes, their functionality has variable trade offs depending on the perks.”
“For the power of the Heartrunes, we want them to feel strong, but not overpowered, and since Heartrune power is much more static that a player’s power, the goal is to make them useful, but not so powerful that they can be a make or break a combat situation.”
“The greatest challenge was from working around a slower projectile. The Fire Storm Heartrune is by far the slowest projectile that a player can fire, which created a number of issues due to how easy it is to watch the translation of the projectile compared to other ones in a wide variety of combat areas. The slower something moves, the easier it is to keep a closer eye on it, and the easier it is to keep an eye on something, the more issues can be perceived from it.”
“The most obvious way we addressed this was by adding in the ability for the Fire Storm to follow terrain. Prior to that addition it would collide with many objects in the world. If you casted it too high or on a downward slant it would float off into the air, or if you casted it too low or up hill, it would collide with the ground and end early. Getting the ability to allow a projectile to maintain a set distance from the ground was an absolute game changer for the development.”
How will you use the Fire Storm Heartrune? Let us know on the forums. Thanks for your support and we’ll see you in Aeternum!