Designer Insights with Ben Brode: Consistency
On the official Hearthstone youtube Ben Brode has been releasing Designer Insights videos to better communicate to the community Blizzard's design methodology. This video focuses on how the design team approaches consistency with Hearthstone card text. Check out the video or jump to the summary. Reddit user Xinhuan has also posted a transcript taken from the youtube captions.
In the fourth Designer Insights video, Ben Brode candidly addresses community concerns around card text consistency, specifically with Druid of the Claw and Ancient of War (and other choose-one effects). He starts off with a caveat - the team isn't sure consistency is a major problem, but don't hold them to that assertion.
Historically, Brode says, the decision to word Druid of the Claw and Ancient of War in the same way was mostly to make it "easier to parse" the options on the card, despite having different effects. They were able to do this because, while consistent wording is extremely important in a physical game, a digital game has a "judge following you around" and the system prevents invalid play even if the implementation of the card varies from the wording of the effect.
He notes, however, there are contextual clues to the player to distinguish between these effects. Specifically, the color of the health number and the on-hover list of buffs help players realize that even though the choice on the cards was worded the same, they interact differently with silence or bounce effects. The real dilemma, Brode explains, is if they gain more in making cards easier to read or by focusing on consistency. With basic cards, he feels that the "parsability" (ease of reading and understanding) trumps consistency as it makes the decisions on the card easier to compare and comprehend.
In digital, Brode remarks, it is arguable to prefer parsability over consistency and allow for edge cases to exist where implementation differs. However, he recognizes that there is an undesired side effect when players are analyzing an unfamiliar card and may not realize the actual effect. He comments that the team is very sensitive to making changes (especially with cards in the classic set or base cards) but could see changing some of the choice cards in the future for better consistency.