Ultimates: Heroicism at its Finest

My my, good to start every day with a neologism.


This comes from a recent contest I entered on The Hive Workshop (regrettably one of the few active Wc3 Modding websites), a Hero Contest (#6 to be exact).  Though I was intensely busy with Real Life, I chose to enter to further my own nefarious schemes personal projects.  I tried reasonably hard, and came up with someone I felt reasonably proud of.  Fair enough.

Afterwards, the results were judged in a huge poll (which I failed, miserably; only 12% of votes), and then judged by a pair of judges.  I expected to do poorly in the polls, but I was hoping my prowess would shine through to the judges.  In all, I did well enough…  But not as well as I had hoped, and things seemed to plead for a response.  So I wrote, and below is the pertinent part of the response:



Originally Posted by Maker
The ultimate could have benefited from better design and execution.

The ultimate is a bit underwhelming. It should be more powerful. There isn’t that great feeling of getting to cast it.

Sign of the Bloodmoon spawns a unit that is not positioned where the victim died, and it does not look like the victim actually became a worgen.

The ultimate is very useful for crippling tough enemies but as units are not guaranteed to die while the buff lasts, part of its usefulness can be wasted.

I had to sit and ponder this for a while, what exactly went wrong with this ability. In a “local variable/relative minimum” sense, I realized this hero failed to deliver; he had an awexome model, a different take, simple, elegant abilities (In My Humble Opinion, lol), and then… Nothing. An ultimate with a cool name that it didn’t live up to. Basically just a minorly-modded, melee-range Parasite; didn’t even deal damage, just slowed down. And all it made was a dinky wolf-buddy (good for the Passive, but still).

This guy is so visceral and powerful and heroic-looking, that he needed something interesting for the ultimate. For that, I apologize.

However, I realized something else; part of what made me pick this ultimate (because I did put a deal of thought into this, surprisingly :P) is part of a mental mindset or philosophy regarding Hero Ultimates that I have sickeningly nurtured and kept alive for months now, which is evidenced in several other places. I love making Heroes and at this point, consider myself at least ‘decent’ at doing so. However, this lesson escaped me, in a more “global variable/absolute minimum” sense… A deeper poison had taken root in my modding practices.

Basically, when one looks at the regular Heroes and their ultimates (Resurrection & Mass Teleport; Reincarnation & Earthquake; Death and Decay & Inferno; Tranquility & Metamorphosis; etc), there’s a lot of diversity. Some deal damage, some affect large groups, others affect merely one individual… But across the board, they are all AMAZING! Like you said, they make you excited to reach Level 6 and use the ability. Even among the Neutral heroes, the standard applies. Things are flashy, things are exciting, things are ULTIMATE!

In order to make heroes that fit in with standard heroes (my usual goal with my projects), I of course couldn’t use anything they already had. I, however, thought to make things different & thought myself better for not “giving in” to the idea of flashy spells & such. Several times I would have a spell for an Ultimate and think “OK, this isn’t that powerful or flashy, but it has a lower cooldown than most… It’s meant to be utility!… It has lots of potential!…” and other such rationalizations. Rationalizations on the path down to modding hell, more like it. :P

Your comments sparked my thoughts. Get this:

The list I used to Theorycraft this

Mass Teleport

Big Bad Voodoo

Animate Dead
Death and Decay
Locust Swarm


*#Storm, Earth, Fire

  • In regular TFT warcraft, there are a total of 24 Heroes (4 in each race, and 8 Neutral Tavern heroes)
  • Thus there are 24 Ultimate abilities.
  • Out of those 24 Ultimates, 12 (only 1/2) don’t involve more than one unit (i.e. AoE-type abilities)
  • Out of those 12, 5 of them are Summon abilities (Phoenix, Inferno, Vengeance, Storm,Earth,Fire), which usually end up affecting units in an AoE anyway.
  • Also out of those 12, 4 of them are “Self-Enhancing” abilities (Avatar, Reincarnation, Metamorphosis, Robo-Goblin).
  • That leaves 3 (Charm, Doom, Transmute; all Tavern abilities, interestingly) which affect specifically One Unit Only (not AoE).
  • Thusly, not counting “Self-Enhancing” Ultimates, a mere 1/8th (3/24) of all Ultimates in the game affect only one unit.

And guess what! All of them result in the unit’s (immediate/eventual (but certain) demise! That’s right, whether it’s “kill-summon a demon” or “kill-take control” or “kill-get gold”, all of them Kill. Which means if you’re making an ultimate, and it affects only one unit (and that unit isn’t itself)… You better be serious about it.
(note: I believe this is due to Wc3 being a “soft counter” with a definite focus on smaller, squad-like armies; as opposed to a larger-army, “hard counter” game like Red Alert 2 or Age of Empires or what-have-you. In those games, killing a unit (instantly) isn’t really a big deal; in Wc3 it’s huge.)

Thusly, I come to “Sign of the Bloodmoon”; what is it? An autocastable, single-target Ultimate. What does it do? Not even damage… Just an intense slow. And like you said, while it’s obvious the player will focus-fire that guy, it’s possible nothing will even happen! And when it does, all they get is a paltry wolf (Doom Guard, anyone?).

Anyway, I say this all to say: Thanks. I am taking a long look at some my most long-standing Hero designs and tweaking them to come to this realization; my project(s) will be all the stronger for it.


Tell me what you think.  Am I correct in my analysis?  Do my points accurately reflect the way the game is made (and thus how one should make theirs)?  Isn’t it amazing what we can talk ourselves into?  :P



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