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Heroes of the Storm dev issues a challenge to fans: Share your Deckard Cain designs

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Blizzard is looking for inspiration for one potential future hero

This is artwork of Deckard Cain from Diablo 3. In the art, the elderly Deckard Cain is seated at a table, bearded face turned to be in sight. He is surrounded by books, both on the table and in large piles on the floor. Blizzard Entertainment

As a game that pulls in characters from across all of Blizzard’s extremely popular franchises, Heroes of the Storm inspires some passionate fan debate. Even as the game has continued adding new playable heroes at a breathless pace, rising to nearly 60 choices in 2016, there are still dozens of popular Blizzard characters fan are clamoring to see.

Among the most commonly heard requests, Heroes of the Storm hero designer Nathan LaMusga listed three that pop up constantly: the Warcraft universe’s Kel’Thuzad, StarCraft’s Arcturus Mengsk and from the Diablo universe... Deckard Cain.

For those unfamiliar with the Diablo series, Deckard Cain is an elderly man who serves as a sort of prophet and storyteller, helping to divulge background lore while pushing player characters along on their journey to fight evil. You might recognize Cain as the source of that classic Diablo line, “Stay awhile and listen.”

As an extremely old dude whose main function in the game is talking, it’s hard to see how Deckard Cain would fit into the fast-paced action of Heroes of the Storm. Then again, this is the game where Blizzard made a character controlled by two players at once in Cho’Gall and made a character who doesn’t directly engage enemies in Abathur. If anyone can figure it out, Blizzard could.

So will it? LaMusga says maybe, but right now he wants to know how fans would like Cain to play.

“I love reading hero pitches on our main Heroes of the Storm forums and on Reddit,” LaMusga told Polygon in an interview at BlizzCon last week. “If you’re a community member reading this right now: Send me your Deckard Cain pitches. Make a Deckard Cain. I’d love to see our community’s pitches on that one.”

LaMusga said that Cain has been discussed as a potential Heroes of the Storm addition at Blizzard for a long time, but the team has struggled to figure out a design for him that is fun and engaging.

“He is one of the hardest heroes to think of design,” said LaMusga. “When you really sit down and think about it, he’s a guy who loves to read books. What is he doing? Not to say it’s not possible, but it is one of the harder ones. Maybe he plays Hearthstone or something like that.”

Though Heroes of the Storm offers a lot of variety in hero choices, fans have criticized the game for relying too heavily on the Warcraft franchise above all else. Currently, it features 13 Diablo characters, 13 StarCraft characters, and a whopping 29 Warcraft characters (plus two from Overwatch and The Lost Vikings from ... well, The Lost Vikings). Two additions to the Heroes of the Storm roster were announced at BlizzCon, both from the Warcraft universe.

LaMusga said balancing the different franchises is a concern for Blizzard but not its primary concern.

“It’s this big, elaborate jenga tower,” he said. “It’s not just the IP, but it’s the role. We might need a solid support hero, but there’s no one really good for that role from StarCraft, but we’ve got this Warcraft hero who would be a great support. There are other factors. We have a big hero design team, and some of them are really passionate about certain heroes. This is a good thing; when a designer is passionate about a hero, we get their best work. We try to slot things in where the best designers for that hero can handle them. We eventually figure it out, but we have to balance a lot of things. We still try to hit all the IPs as evenly as we can.”

Heroes of the Storm’s newest hero, Varian Wrynn, is now available on the game’s public test realm, where players can attempt to uncover bugs and balance issues prior to his official release. The next playable character, Ragnaros, will hit the test realm some time in December. And Deckard Cain? We’ll just have to wait and see.