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How Blizzard created and recreated Heroes of the Storm's talent system

The original system for customizing characters in Heroes of the Storm, developer Blizzard Entertainment's multiplayer online battle arena, was so generic that it forced the developer to nerf items so they "wouldn't break some heroes," according to director Dustin Browder.

Instead of an in-game store where players bought universal items that worked for all characters, Blizzard settled on creating customization options unique to each warrior. It was more difficult to develop but also more interesting to play.

"In the end, we decided that a 'one-size-fits-all' customization system was not the right approach for our game," Browder wrote. "We could do so much more by giving players unique customization choices per hero. Imagine a hero that you can customize to get +3 attack range, or an ability on a ranged character that you can customize to do damage in an area instead of hitting a single target. For Heroes, this level of customization was much more interesting than any of the systems we tried before."

The most recent update to Heroes of the Storm's technical alpha allows players to see their allies and enemies' builds, which is one component the game's director uses to customize his character.

"Before the match starts, I take a good look at the map, my team, and the enemy team, and try to make some determination about what I want to be doing in this game," he wrote. "This is before I know anything about how good the players are on either team. As I gather that information I will be changing my plans as I customize Muradin."

You can see the talent system in action in the video above. For more on Heroes of the Storm, be sure to read our hands-on impressions from PAX East 2014.

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