Interview: Discover the inside design approaches on Warcraft Rumble’s massive Season Six content update


  • With Warcraft Rumble’s Season Six update we’re seeing massive new additions to the game
  • Find out the inspirations behind the Stormwind siege and more as we chat with two designers from the team
  • Game designer Alejandro Arreola and senior animator Carin Huurnink give us their thoughts

With Warcraft Rumble’s latest update last week, we’ve seen a whole host of new content. Whether that’s the new sieges and co-op raids, or the addition of fan-favourite Ragnaros and the Cenarion family of miniatures!

Warcraft Rumble, the MOBA-RTS take on the classic Warcraft universe, has proven to be an interesting spin on the series that’s made for mobile first. But like always, you may be wondering about the story behind the scenes.

What inspired the new sieges? How did the team’s love of Warcraft inform the animations and design of these new interpretations of Warcraft’s iconic units and characters? And why exactly is Innkeeper Alison chucking Moonberry juice at you?

Well, don’t fret because we’ve got all the answers right here. Because we got the chance to put these questions, and more, to some of the team at Blizzard who developed this hit mobile spin-off.

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We got the chance to ask senior animator Carin Huurnink and game designer Alejandro Arreola about season six of Warcraft Rumble, and a little more about the game itself. So without further ado, let’s dig in!

Can you tell us a little about the sieges, which are taking place in many iconic locations from across the Warcraft universe?

Alejo: So our first siege is going to be in Stormwind, I think most people are familiar with it, it’s the human capital city. And in this siege, you’re going to have three bosses. The way we approached it is that I looked back at my days in vanilla Warcraft when I would just join a random group and we would raid the capital cities and try to take out the main leaders of those factions.

In Stormwind, you’re going to be taking on General Marcus, which will take place on the bridge. He sees you coming, sets up barricades all over the bridge, and you’ll see that the fight’s already been going on for a while, which the art team did an amazing job of showing. And Marcus will just push back on your offence.

Once you’ve managed to beat Marcus you’ll move on into the city and take on Innkeeper Alison in the Gilded Rose Inn. She may not have been known as a major leader of the faction but we wanted to put our own little Rumble spin on it, so we thought innkeeper Alison would be the perfect boss and the Gilded Rose would be the best location for it.

And that’s just like a big tavern brawl, there’s a lot of stuff happening left and right, wherever you look.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of fan service here, like with the Hearthstone tables in the Gilded Rose that you can see in the previews and boss fight. Was that a major consideration for you guys?

Alejo: It’s a little of both, we’re inspired deeply by Warcraft, we love the universe but we try to put our own spin on it as well. Innkeeper Alison was sort of a labour of love and an example of that. Concept art of Innkeeper Alison for Warcraft Rumble
Carin: That was exactly my answer, it’s both fanservice and dev service. Because we also really love working on these iconic elements. I used to play a lot of World of Warcraft and just being able to make a siege on Stormwind and the Rose Inn where Innkeeper Alison is, and in my case make animations for her to make her this beefy innkeeper that you don’t want to mess with, it’s just a lot of fun.

There’s also the Valley of Heroes, that’s such an iconic place to be in. Like when you start your journey in World of Warcraft and you first walk into Stormwind and you have these giant statues next to you. We made it in our own special Warcraft Rumble way, I’m not gonna spoil who those statues are or what they look like, that’s something for the players to discover.

Yeah, I think another example we can talk to about is that in World of Warcraft, if you go speak with Innkeeper Allison a couple of the items that she sold were ice-cold milk and Moonberry juice. 

And you would actually see that reflected on that level because that is what she’s actually using. It’s not something players can purchase obviously, because our game functions differently, but we do love putting in those small bits and details from the game.

So Warcraft was, of course, originally an RTS, and in an inverted way Warcraft Rumble is sort of a return to form for the series. Did you take a lot of inspiration in terms of design, animation etc for this new entry in the Warcraft universe?

Carin: I can speak a little bit to the animations. It’s definitely based on Warcraft, World of Warcraft, or just the Warcraft universe in general. But the biggest difference with Warcraft Rumble is because our characters are so tiny on your screen, we have to really amplify everything. 

For example, Grom is not just angry, he is super angry. You see that in his celebration animation. So really it was about distilling the essence of each character that we already have in the Warcraft universe and finding a version that works in our game. So that it’s clear who they are, what they do, and what their abilities are. That’s been the most fun challenge, I would say, for me as an animator. 

Alejo: For your question, the short answer is yes. The Warcraft RTS has always been our main inspiration and what has really been the guiding light for Rumble. The main goal that we strive for, right, is providing the same sort of challenges and strategic moments that you would see in the RTS, but in our own flavour. 

And with Molten Core we’re seeing the introduction of Raids as part of the update. Now for me and I think for everyone raids are an iconic part of the Warcraft brand. Perhaps not the first to do it, but when I think ‘raid’ Warcraft is what comes to mind. What do you hope the players’ reaction will be to it?

Carin: I think overall one of the most important things for us is to add more fun to the game and more game modes. This kind of co-op is completely new and we’ve never done something like that in the world of Warcraft Rumble.  Screenshot of the new modes in the menu of Warcraft Rumble

During our playtest, I had so much fun playing with my partner who was playing with me, just coordinating. Like, “Which leader are you going to use and which units are you going to take”? Oh, “I’m going to be a bit more healing” or “I’m going to focus on Raids.” So from my perspective just that coordination between two players adds so much fun, and a whole new dimension to the game.

Alejo: What Carin said initially was spot on. Our goal is always, first and foremost, to provide more fun, engaging experiences, apart from what’s already there. 

There are a couple of things I want players to take from the addition of co-op. The first is I would love it if they see the thought and care that we put into it and all the little designs that the team put into it, or the little tiny details; everything from the flavour text of a boss to the way that they function and stuff. 

Because there are a lot of throwbacks to World of Warcraft and Warcraft in general. I would love for players to just have fun taking on the new challenges with a partner because it is a very different experience than something like Onyxia, which is currently our endgame boss. 

They’re both technically Raids, but the fact that Molten Core and Sieges are done with a partner, it’s almost like comparing apples to oranges. They’re a very different sort of challenge. 

Can you tell us a bit more about the Cenarion family of units and leaders being added to the game with this latest update?

Carin: I’m personally very excited about this family because, as I think I mentioned before,  I really enjoy the healing style of families. Cenarion is very much focused on bringing healing and defence and utility to bring that to your game board, as it were. 

Of course, we’ve got Earth and Moon. That’s going to be our first Nairn spell that’s going to be released, which is you can cap the Entangling Roots and Starfall. They alternate between each other and they’re very good at supporting your army. 

For instance, if you have a push of Murlocs running up to the base and they don’t have a tank, you can use Entangling Roots and your Murlocs are protected because they’re rooted in place. And that brings a whole lot of utility to your tactics. 

And you can of course mix and match that with existing leaders as well if you want to have a Tirion leader with a bunch of Cenarion units in his army that support his play style, that’s entirely possible. 

Alejo: As she mentioned, the Earth and Moon really bring a versatility that is necessary. I feel, and mostly what excites me most about Cenarion is that it is an army that really fits my playstyle a lot more. Concept art of the Earth and Moon unit from Warcraft Rumble

When I play Rumble, I don’t tend to just spam units as fast as possible. I like to hold resources back and really plan things out, and I feel like Cenarion really caters to that style of play.

What would you single out as being a major stepping stone in the way you’ve improved the game since launch that you hope to continue with going forward?

Carin: There are a lot of things that we’ve been doing the past couple of months. Of course, we have a new mini every single season. We got the DarkMoon faire, we’ve got Blingtron. Those are both brand new. The XP gains from Quest and from XP gems in the store have increased, so it’s easier to level up your units. 

We’ve done a bunch of UI improvements, like filters for your army and what relics affect your army in dungeons. You can now see, for example, how many tanks you have in your roster and that makes it a lot easier to organise your army. 

But I think for most, something that’s not mentioned in any patch notes, because it is an iterative process, is how we keep working on load times. So the load time for a game, you want to be able to start up our game and jump into a match. We think it’s very important to minimise the time you spend looking at a loading screen.

Alejo: If I had to single out anything, I would say the DarkMoon faire event for sure. Just because that really kicked off a few things. It gave players more ways to advance their armies to earn rewards. But more importantly, I think that it really added to the social aspect of our game. 

It gave players another opportunity to work with their guildmates together to earn rewards and improve all of their armies. Every time you earn tickets for DarkMoon faire, you’ll be earning them for your guildies as well on certain weeks. 

So I think that really kicked off improvements to these social aspects of our game. And I think that’s something we’re determined to continue improving.

When you approached building Warcraft Rumble primarily for mobile, compared to other games in the Warcraft franchise that are mainly multiplatform, were there any major learning experiences that informed your design choices?

Carin: One of the examples I can give is our art style. We started off with a very realistic art style, akin to the original Warcraft. But we soon found out that on a mobile device where everything is this tiny, it’s very hard to see what’s going on, especially when you have tons of units with high detail. It’s not very clear whether they’re attacking or walking or whatever, so it just became a mumble of detail. And we really had to distil that style into something that is easily recognizable at a glance. Concept art of the Elite Footman from Warcraft Rumble

For example, we want you to, in one flash, see what your opponent is deploying to make the decision, “How am I going to counter this?” So we really honed in on the art style and we made sure to use clear colour blocks and shapes in our units. 

In the animation, we use a lot of squash and stretch. We would make smear frames like you see them in movies because of camera blur, right? But we simulate that by stretching out the character, so it looks like it moves really fast. And that helps your brain to process what the character is doing and how they’re acting.

Compared to how information-dense the mainline Warcraft games, like the RTS and MMORPG, can be, how did you translate all of that important contextual information into a more visual UI for Warcraft Rumble?

Carin: It pretty much worked the same way as we did the animations. With the UI, all the information that’s being presented to you as a player we built from the viewing point of a mobile device. You have to be able to process the information in an enjoyable way and it’s got to be clear. So we always kept that in mind.
Alejo: I want to actually highlight something Carin taught me on the project. When I initially designed Ragnaros, he’s of course this massive boss. And so I had him facing forward, downwards towards the player and he had one giant melee swing attack.  Concept art of Ragnaros from Warcraft Rumble

But when I took it to Carin for animation, then she came to me and told me hey, this is going to look really awkward and weird for him and it doesn’t read well if he has to turn to make his attacks. 

So she suggested what if we gave him two separate attacks, you know, split half and half and so immediately I was like, yes, let’s do that. So that’s one way that she taught me. This sort of approach is how we improve things for the mobile medium. 

Wrapping things up, is there anything you guys really want to talk about for what’s in season six, like a little more about Ragnaros?

Carin: Yes, Ragnaros is of course the new mini that’s releasing this season. You can earn Ragnaros by defeating him in the Molten Core. Screenshot of Ragnaros in the Molten Core Raid

Ragnaros is a very defensive unit so you deploy him on either your barracks or a tower that you have captured. He’ll act as a meat shield and take all the incoming damage. And when he dies, they will start attacking your tower or your base again. So he’s great if you want to cover your back but still be able to push.

Alejo: Yeah, I agree. He’s a great way to give your tower just a longer breath of life. Right. If your tower is about to go down you can have Ragnaros on there and he can start attacking from there and give you a little bit more time to really push back. Ragnaros is a lot of fun for sure. 

Finally, going back to the Stormwind siege, do you have any tips for players taking that on for the first time?

Alejo: I will say, without trying to reveal the solutions to the puzzles, that my favourite mini is the Bat Rider and she does shine on that map. 

There’s also the final boss in Stormwind to watch out for Bolvar Fordragon, he’s going to be tough. It’s going to be fun though, but very challenging. 

Concept art of Bolvar from Warcraft Rumble
Carin: I would say listen to the Arbalests. Those are the crossbow footmen basically that are with General Marcus right? When they get employed, listen to what sound they make.  Concept art of the Arbalests from Warcraft Rumble



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