One of my favorite cards in Hearthstone has nothing to do with its ability but rather its art. And it involves a top hat.
Cat Trick shows a picture of an adorable kitty sitting in a top hat. But once the Hunter Secret fires off, it creates a Cat in the Hat minion on your board. And the ferocious beast is wearing a top hat.
During the recent Game Developers Conference, Hearthstone designers Dean Ayala and Dave Kosak sat with a Hearthstone: The Witchwood mural behind them, and one of the characters in the artwork wore a top hat. Considering that these have appeared now in more than one card, I asked who one the design team loves top hats so much.
Ayala laughed. “Who doesn’t love top hats?”
This is where Kosak jumped in. He had brought the floppy-eared hat he wore during the silly Witchwood reveal, so we already know he’s fond of headgear.
“At the very outset we said, ‘Let’s not go too nuts on the top hats.’ But as you can see, it ended up on our key art.”
Ayala then talked a bit about what the design team considers when making a new set.
“When we’re making an expansion, something we still do now to some degree — something we always used to do, a lot of the designers would go in a room and we would say, OK, what are we excited to make? And then we would put a bunch of ideas on the board. I want to go Old Gods stuff, or Blackrock, or whatever. All those things bubble up. And eventually we got to Gilneas, a Victorian expansion. That was what we decided on. The followup to that is, what does that mean? Let’s think of key words, and the first one was Worgen, we gotta do Worgen [Warcraft’s race of wolf people]. The second was top hats. Oh, yeah.”
I asked, who said top hats?
“I think it was Matt? We love top hats. I just remember that moment so well, because it was so hilarious. Worgen? Yeah. Then top hats,” Ayala said. “After that we don’t know.”
Kosak then offered up a tongue-in-check approach to the expansion: “Top hats — ???? — Witchwood!”
I bet Kosak wishes he kept that last joke under his … hat.