Info from Ex Blizz employee Fabien Serot on HotS and Blizz

Edit: added #17.

So these are just tidbits from the interview that Malganyr made with him. If you’re wondering why I’m only posting tidbits, it’s because the interview is 8 hours long, and I have a life. I’ll make a follow up topic if I ever get around watching the whole thing. (I watched about half)

Fabien was Event Manager among other things. He currently works as head of gaming operations for Cometh, a blockchain gaming studio.

Fun fact: In one of his first events, there was a shot in the video when Team Dignitas raises the trophy, where you can see the price tag on the trophy (They had forgotten to remove it). That was one of his first face palms :slight_smile:

Tidbits

1. A lot of people, teams included, had complained about the format of the events because they were unsustainble. There were qualifiers going on every week. You were doing qualifiers for the next event before having qualified for the first one. (and yes, teams could be qualified for the 2nd event before qualifying for the first one)

2. As Mamekan mentionned. There was a will to catch up with leading MoBAs number of playable characters. This clashed wih the vision they had for the game, as well as making the metagame very volatile, as it shifted with ever hero, which were coming out very fast. (Personal observation, but it also made players feel entitled to fast releases)

3. The priority put on hero releases came at the detriment of a lot of other things. Bans for example, were not added until much later, which was not fun for the players in a stun dominated meta (and stuns lasted longer back then) The draft system was so badly made, that it took 25 minutes between when the caster announced the start of the draft, and the game actually starting. (This was changed fairly quickly, hero draft timers for example were reduced from 50 secs to 30 secs)

3.5 As the E sports organizer, Fabien had to make rulings during the event. One time, the captain of Dignitas came to see him to tell him that there was a bug where a talent made Artanis’s Twin blades hit three times (no, not triple strike). Same thing if there was an issue with a map. But he had to do that knowing that every decision created a precedent, and if there was another event before the next patch, the same rulings would have to be applied to them.

4. Blizzard pays the production team, and production pays the casters. One time, the organisers asked for a specific caster to handle the finals, and production said, no. The reason was that prod had paid pretty high for one of the casters, so they wanted to maximize their investment by giving him as much screentime as they could. Needless to say, it created some fiction at the time.

5. Fabien mentionned he had to plan the game times, for example by having Korean teams play earliler, so that it would be prime time in Korea’s time zone and fans there could watch it when they came back from work. Same for other regions.

6. Fabien met with his boss to ask him to change the format of the Esports games to Best of two with loser brackets. He was told he would need two more days, but that they wouldn’t give him any more money. He said he would make it work (He didn’t know at the time if he could :slight_smile: ) This format allows you to know with more precision how much time the event would last. Easier planning, and better when you need to sell advertisement time.

7. Riot was inspired by HotS when they created Dragonsouls and the Herald. This was confirmed to Fabien by other event organisers and players. Blizzard (or rather Fabien) took the LoL format when they changed the Eastern and Western Clashes so that the winning theam would obtain an extra slot for their region.(Players previously complained that the event was disconnected from the rest of Esport.)
Same for the talents in DotA.

8. Every Blizzard employee had to do at least an 8 hour work shift at Blizzcon. No exceptions. Chris Sigati actually was in charge of bringing refreshments. This guy was in charge of Heroes and SC2 Executive producer

9. Blizzard employees do not get free unlocks, or free anything when they get a Blizzard game. They do get an allocation that they can use to buy stuff in-game, but Fabien noted that it wouldn’t even cover a hearthstone expansion. If they have technical issues, they have to go through customer support like eveyone else, they don’t get a backdoor or a shortcut. Their ticket is treated like every other ticket.
He said it teaches himility for the devs, as they don’t feel above the players, and the employees who handle tickets know they might be handling the ticket of a VP, so it encourages them to treat all customers fairly.

10. He noted that viewers might have seen some games where pro players on both sides made a lot of mistakes. That was because sometimes, the schedule forced them to have them play a LOT of games in a row, which the viewer would not be aware of, or have to play very late, or both. So the players were playing while exhausted.

11. Immediately after Blizzcon, there is often a period where not much happens, and significant issues (Like the Raynor Hyperion bug) are not addressed. That’s because there is usually a post Blizzcon break, where a lot of employees are actually on break.

12. There was sometime toxicity even within pro play in HGC. They had to expel people, ban people or give fines. Every subsequent offense saw the fine go up. So players who did not fix their behavior saw their salaries melt.
Trivia: During a disruption in a tournament (one of the casters plugged in a kettle which blew up everything) They disovered that if you are disconected from a game for at least 30 minutes, the servers will not let you back into the game no matter what. From that day on, they used dedicated local servers for organized games. (Also, on that day one team, MVP Black, said that they considered that they had won the game, and refused to replay it.)

13. To get broadcasting rights, content creators had to agree on contract to moderate their chat on Stream. But in 2018, it became moot, as Blizzard customer service employees actually moderated the chats during events.

14. The team that came out of losers bracket was disadvantaged because they had just played a bunch of games in a row, then had to face the top team in the finals. They couldn’t pause the event to give them time to rest. So Fabien decided to add an all star event, where players would vote for which players they’d like to see.
This gave the team a break, created something the audience would look forward to as well as having a higher quality for the final, since one of the team wouldn’t be exhausted. He took this idea from Riot. (Players taking part in the final would not be included in the all star)
Most of the casters weren’t big fans of the all star, because they were mostly interested in the finals. But Malganyr admitted it was a good idea when he was told why they did it.

15. Fabien mentionned that, in his opinion, everything that blizzard was accused of, the bad behaviors described, the culture etc, is founded. He said it was in the company as a whole, but the worse of it was on the U.S. side. He beleives the entire company needs to be cleaned up.

16. Some people in upper management did not actually commit reprehensible acts, but protected those who did. (mike morhaime for example)

17., It was metionned that almost all the people that had committed reprehensible acts have left the company. So boycotting the company now mostly harms the employees, who have suffered harships already.

16 Likes

thanks for sharing a summary

5 Likes

Fun read. Post a link to that interview.

2 Likes

Thanks for the summary. I agree with how management in a way HOTS was ran to an extent, and how badly E sports was runned down.

I believe Blizzard won the court case on this due to not enough evidence, despite investigators going through track records, evidence and witnesses. At best, the evidence was speculative. Blizzard however, did pay a settlement just to fix and appease any victims and make everyone as happy as possible. Just as I mentioned before in post months ago, people/companies shouldn’t be treated guilty unless proven so and the judge hammers it down in declaration that Blizzard is guilty. However, that wasn’t really the case and The damage is done in reputation and good workers/execs leaving that knew how Blizzard worked inside out.

I think during that period, it’s just internal dating and hook-ups gone wrong during that time. If there were any true victims, hopefully any portion of settlement could put them at ease.

Actually, that reminds me of something Fabien had mentionned that I didn’t include. I’ll add it as # 17.

click bait.

Pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who thought there would of been tons of details on the game and the company instead 99% being about esports.

1 Like

Could you link the interview?

1 Like

I agree that sexual harrassment is bad and should be dealt with severely, but I couldn’t help feel a Depp vs Amber vibe going on when I first read about it. The problem was cancel culture was toxic and destructive ironically. Before the judge could could be presented evidence or declared guilty, people were walking out in droves and famous twitch players that played WoW and hearthstone quit and spread hate messages about Blizz etc. If the judge found Blizzard to be guilty, then I would’ve agreed with the cancel culture and would’ve supported their walk-outs at that point provided they did that after the verdict.

I also note that Blizzard’s lenient culture was similar to Twitters old culture, except Blizzard was more productive with it. It’s funny no-one mentions how bad twitters frat-like culture was running twitter unless its Elon ruining their ideal paradise

I mean Blizzard has multiple games and there’s been no crude or gross jokes that indicated anything of that sort. Like real gross sexual humour. Normally you’d find some form of those real bad innuendos indicating what type of Devs they are/were, but there really wasn’t any. The only thing they tried to claim on was the unreal expectations on female armor and bodies, but funny no-one mentions about the male being overly muscle and shirtless.

I’m also 100% sure that if Blizzard was found guilty from over-whelming or factual evidence, and not based on hear-say which seemed to be the basis of their case, then the accused people who left the company would be charged or bright to light as well.

It’s sad that the damage is done now Though. Blizz gave up on HOTS and almost on WC3. Ranked was almost completely gone on HOTS as well at that point for Australia. That’s one of the reasons why I started on Dota about a year ago. I still got some hope for Blizz games, but that might take awhile or until microsoft comes and saves the day.

Click bait?

Fabien Serot is Event Organizer, so of course there’s going to be a lot of info about E sports. There’s a lot more info, including info on the company but like I said, I only watched about half the interview. You’re welcome to watch the parts that interests you, the subjects and time stamps are in the description.

But honestly, I don’t see how anyone could be surprised that an interview with a HotS employee would cover a lot of E sports info.

Done. It’s in french however.

4 Likes

Merde! I don’t know French! I was hoping to put it on in the background.

2 Likes

You can probably put captions on it. Or ask your google pixel to translate it :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Yeah, but I wanted to listen to it while I did other stuff. Reading for 8 hours on youtube is not something I want to do, hehe. I could do it slowly, but that would take a month.

we want insight into design decisions.

Then do some reasearch and find it.

6 Likes

Thanks Phase for providing your summary and the link to the original interview. I underestimated the extent of the complications of running the E-Sports division. The price tag still being on the winning trophy is as funny as it is emblematic of the problems they were facing behind the scenes.

Please keep in mind that Depp and Heard are not at all representative of the majority of people who file complaints regarding assault (I’m just sticking to “assault” for these G rated forums). Far more assault complaints are never even filed by victims due to very valid fears they will often be the one on trial.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the majority of people in this situation don’t have access to the financial, legal and public relation teams that Heard and Depp have the privilege to employ. This is pertinent to the subject at hand, a Dev or other regular employee of Blizzard lacks resources to mount legal action, compared to Blizzard the company.

1 Like

To be clear, I was never saying that I thought men could never be the victims of abuse. I was saying we shouldn’t look to celebrities or other high status/profile cases to draw conclusions to how assault plays out in the general population.

Honestly I think nobody should look to Depp or Heard, they aren’t representative of the issues at hand and in general they are simply poor role models for humanity. I have a few male friends Froggy who have been the victims of abuse, so on my own individual level I never thought it this was an “impossible” situation.

1 Like

No ofc not. Each victim has its own story. Amber vs Depp was just the first civil case that got attention cause it was two celebraties that had alot of stuff to prove. And because Depp won it suddenly opened a new door for men to be heard more. If the case had been two normal people you would never heard of it.

And yes Deep is not perfect.

1 Like

Hope they are fine today and got help to deal with it.

Perhaps we should take this as a challenge for us to brush up on our French (listening) skills?

1 Like

Madame Minky, Bonne soirée et dormez bien.

And no I dont speak or write French. Just a quick Google translate.

1 Like