Hearthstone is one of the most popular card games in the industry. It is available on PC, Android, and iOS and has over one hundred million players as of November 2018. Recently, I was able to interview one of Hearthstone’s initial game designers, Chadd Nervig on VGA4A, one of the leading Arabic gaming websites in the Middle East. I asked Nervig the following question: What is the process of making a card in Hearthstone? In short, we can say that it takes a lot of time and effort.
The process of making a card in Hearthstone is pretty long
We create an expansion which has over a 100 card in it usually. A lot of this comes in large batches of course. The process of adding a card is about a year from start to release. We start on a new expansion set and start brainstorming what are themes with the story, what the flavor is for the expansion, what mechanics we want to have as far as like-new keywords or common card effects and what like deck archetypes we want to play with for different classes. Then, we get down to making individual cards. We brainstorm a ton of cards, the number of cards we iterate on then cut is hundreds and hundreds of cards for each expansion. The only best 135 or so that actually make into the expansion.
Now, we will get into the process of making a card in Hearthstone. In the interview, Nervig followed with:
The process involves a lot of testing, design something through brainstorming, implementing it, testing it, and play-testing it in different decks. Then once we are moderately happy with the design, we start working on the flavor as well as writing name for it, art description, voice lines, figuring out what VFX should look like for the card and that art description goes to our art team who assign it to an artist and comes up with sketches for that art. We start reviewing the different potential sketches then picking the one we liked and the artist continues with that and iterated until we get final art piece. That art piece goes to the golden process where we create a golden version of the card’s art and there’s a whole separate step for that.
After that comes voice lines and VFX
We’ve written voice lines and those get handed off to our sound team who start figuring out what voice actors we will use for each card. Then we start doing voice recording, designers will sit on that as well to help to direct the meaning of these voice lines are. Those all get recorded, VFX start happening. Sometimes cards require additional programming support and our team works on that. That’s 90 percent of the way. Afterward, we have to release the card and start having the press, localization, and whole a lot of different steps. Community teams get on board like the revealing of the cards goes to this creator or website and such.
When it launches, it doesn’t really end there
We can clearly see that so much goes into making a card in Hearthstone.
We still evaluating the balance after the first few days or weeks or months — whether we should adjust the balance afterward or not. It’s an over a year-long process to release card. I am sure I’ve forgotten something, there’s sound in addition to voice lines. There are also sound effects of minions hitting each other and music that happens when they get played. So much goes into a card.
That’s the whole process. It is a lot but that’s what makes Hearthstone a special game for millions of people.