actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

ScienceI'm Martin O'Leary and IamA scientist on Project MIDAS, which has been tracking the trillion-ton iceberg A-68 which just calved off the Larsen C Ice Shelf, Antarctica. AMA!

Jul 14th 2017 by mewo2 • 53 Questions • 28 Points

My short bio: Hey reddit! I was hit by a car while on my motorcycle 2 years ago and as a result I tore several of my nerves at the braquial plexus. I broke my radius and ulna, lost all movement in my right arm, and since then my life has changed forever.

In February 2016, after 6 months of fruitless therapy, I had nerve surgery in Mexico where 25cm (~10 in) of nerve was removed from my right leg to be inserted at the braquial plexus and several other points in my arm to promote nerve growth and regeneration.

Since then, I've been attending physical therapy daily and have seen veeeery slow changes over the course of this year. My doctor said that it will take about 3-4 years after the surgery for me to see what movement I will have for the rest of my life, but it all depends on how much work I put into my recovery.

In this time I have continued my bachelor's degree, struggled with depression, tried to continue pursuing my interests (especially music), and maintained an incredible relationship.

Ask me absolutely anything! :D

My Proof:

Sketch of the crash: http://imgur.com/a/0Qoro

Album of the crash: http://imgur.com/a/ETsYy

Pics of me today: http://imgur.com/a/ang5R

Reddit thread on r/motorcycles: https://www.reddit.com/r/motorcycles/comments/4bsj5j/hey_guys_i_made_a_post_about_a_bad_crash_i_was_in/?ref=share&ref_source=link

EDIT: Wow, the responses almost duplicated overnight! I'm answering questions today too.

Q:

Is 95% of this iceberg underwater?

A:

Are you ever planning on making more stats available for players? Stuff like highest ranking ever achieved and in which season, most played class, class winrates, etc.


Q:

Will you continue being a rider?

A:

Not quite. For an idealised iceberg made of solid ice, it would be about 91%. However, most real icebergs (including this one) have air bubbles trapped inside, which add to the buoyancy and make the berg sit higher in the water. Based on our best estimates of the air content, I'd say A-68 is around 80-85% underwater, probably more so at the northern end, less so at the southern end.


Q:

Yes. I don't really like "profile" pages, but I want to do this in a different way. Hopefully more details later this year. Although, I'm not sure it will be handled the same in every region.

A:

Yes, definitely.

I see motorcycle riding in a completely different light now, but at the end of the day I know that someday I'm going to get back on the bike in one way or another.


Q:

On the news they say that scientist are not too concerned about this. Why is this?

A:

Hi Ben! Do you have any plans for improving the spectating experience? Almost every tournament I've ever watched seems to involve some kind hatchet job to get around the limitations of the client.


Q:

My son was born w a brachial plexus injury from birth. We have been to specialists most of his life and they say nothing can be done. How severe are your nerve injuries and what kind of surgery are u having

A:

Well, I usually think we need a good reason to be concerned, so I guess the question is why should we be? I think we should be concerned either if an event is evidence for something bad, or if it is likely to have bad consequences.

Icebergs this size are an infrequent but natural event. Ice builds up on ice shelves over time, both from glaciers which feed them, and from snowfall. All of that ice has to go somewhere! Either the ice shelf grows and grows, or bits have to break off. In this case, it's a particularly large bit, but that's just how it goes sometimes. We can't completely rule out climate change as a cause of this, but we don't have an obvious connection either.

On the other hand, we can look at the consequences. As far as we can tell, this isn't going to have any major negative impacts on the ice shelf. If the berg had been a bit bigger, it might have reduced the backstress on the glaciers behind the ice shelf, which would have led them to discharge more ice into the sea. This would have had some small (maybe a few mm) knock-on effects on global sea level. However, we don't think this is likely, given the new shape of the ice shelf.

So this doesn't look like evidence of anything bad, and it doesn't look like it's going to have any negative consequences. So we're not concerned about it - we already have too many things to be concerned about without worrying about this.


Q:

Do you have any plans for improving the spectating experience?

Yes. This is definitely a place we have a lot of room for improvement.

A:

I had a nerve transposition surgery, and my nerve damage was pretty severe, according to the doctor.

I'm not sure how similar it is to a birth defect, however. I'd be glad* to put you in contact with my doctor, if you wish. PM me.


Q:

Hi Martin! :) Who has inspired you in life, and why?

A:

In your opinion, which card is most guilty at limiting future card mechanics?


Q:

My sons nerves they say are completely pulled from his spine. It's his left hand and arm also. His left diaphragm is also paralyzed due to the injury. I will definitely PM u later so I can get more info

A:

That's a tough one. I'm not really the sort of person who's inclined to hero worship.

A lot of people in my field will talk about the explorers of the early twentieth century - of those I'd say that I really admire Ernest Shackleton, because he cared deeply about the safety of his men. It saddens me a little when we celebrate people like Scott, who ended up killing himself and all of his men. I understand the drive to be the first, to take risks for it, but in the end none of this is worth risking people's lives over.


Q:

Stonetusk Boar

A:

I'll be waiting!


Q:

What will likely happen to A-68? Where will it drift? Will it melt?

A:

Hey Ben!

On behalf of /r/hearthstonecirclejerk, I have a genuine question for you. What is your favorite Hearthstone meme or copypasta that the community has created?


Q:

What light do you see it in now?

A:

Icebergs in this area tend to drift with the current north along the coast, then curve to the east as they enter the open ocean. There's a map showing the path of two large icebergs (A47 and A48) here: http://www.projectmidas.org/assets/iceberg-track.png

It'll probably take a year or two for the berg to get that far, and it will be melting a little as it goes. It's also very likely to break apart - a smallish chunk has already broken off the northern end: https://twitter.com/adrian_luckman/status/885788884986191872


Q:

Who doesn't love memes? I'm actually working on a "meme review video" of my favorite memes. If I have to choose, I have a special fondness for 4 mana 7/7.

A:

I see how pointless and stupid it is to ride one. There are minimal benefits to be obtained and a substantial amount to be risked by riding one. You'd have to be crazy to want to get on one despite knowing all the risks.

But I fucking love it, and I don't know why. I've come to accept that.And I don't mind being an idiot if it means I can ride again.


Q:

Are there any penguins on A-68? :O

A:

What is the official end date and time of the double quest gold?


Q:

I would disagree that the benefits are few. I can go the same distance on 16L of fuel in my bike as 70L in my truck. I am glad you plan to ride again though. I just got home from work and 20minutes on my bike in stifling heat beats 20minutes in my truck with AC.

A:

Nope! Penguins live an amphibious existence - they need to be able to hop in and out of the water. The edges of Larsen C (and now of A-68) are vertical cliffs, at least 20m high. The penguins might be able to get into the water, but I wouldn't rate their chances of getting out again.

In general, there's not a lot living on ice shelves or icebergs. Some weird microorganisms live in the snowpack, but that's about it. On the other hand, there's a lot of ocean life in the water below - melting glacial ice is full of all sorts of nutrients that can feed an ecosystem.


Q:

You know, I'm not sure. I kind of feel like Ragnaros has got a big head about the whole thing. Someone needs to take him down a peg. Like, c'mon, chill out, man.

A:

There are many benefits, but to many critics these are not enough to outweigh risking your life every day.

I get what you mean though, I live on the border and crossing is a breeze on the motorcycle. Believe me, I miss it.


Q:

I love your Twitter bots, like the fantasy map-generator, and the accompanying interactive write-ups! Do you have any plans/ideas for more of those?

This really is more of a motivational statement, disguised as a question… :P

A:

Hi Ben! Something I've always thought could be utilized more, especially on the pro level, is an increase in cards that focus on board position. Flametongue and Meteor are fantastic cards that can actually be more valuable if you put some thought in during previous turns.

Do you all expect to use this basic mechanic of Hearthstone more in the future, or maybe even in KotFT? Why have there been so few cards focusing on minion placement in previous sets?


Q:

Do you mind me asking where you are?

I'm currently in FL, a state with no helmet laws (as far as I'm aware, it might've changed, but I've seen helmetless riders since ive been back ).

I've actually been witness to seeing a guy get scraped off the pavement, for not wearing his helmet, both here and in South Carolina, where itm not sure of helmet laws for the latter.

In both cases, it was heartbreaking. In SC, I saw the EMT give up on the rider, her look of desolation and sadness in her eyes won't ever leave me.

More power to those who try to stay safe, and for the love of God, anyone else, you should try too, as a rider, and those in cars, be fucking careful of the ones on any kind of bike!

A:

Thanks! Glad you enjoy them. No plans right now, but when the inspiration strikes, I'll probably do something.


Q:

Yep, there will be more minion-placement cards. Glad you like the mechanic!

A:

I'm in Texas, and yeah I totally get what you mean. Riding without a helmet seems insane to me.


Q:

Know any glaciologist jokes? ;)

A:

Mr. Brode, greetings friend.

I want to express my concerns about the lack of a legendary Totem in Hearthstone.

We have a legend card for every race except for Totem race.

When would you bless us, the Totem Shaman players, with a legendary Totem card??

Thanks for doing this AMA, Mr. Brode.

And thank you very much for the Un'Goro totem card. I love it!!

◥█̆◤ TOTEMIC YOUR MIGHT ◥█̆◤


A:

Most glaciology humour involves sniggering about "big cracks", "wet beds", "sticky spots" etc.


Q:

This is a gross oversight on our part. I will see what I can do.

Also, long time no see! Welcome back!

A:

nice


Q:

What is your favorite pizza topping?

A:

Hey Ben, will the collection manager get more attention? Big part of the game for me is just collecting the cards and I'd love to see more features for the collection.

Also can the card reveal livestreams show the non golden version of the cards? Makes it easier to see what class the card is for and helps the color blind amongst us.

Looking forward to the expansion! Cant wait what you guys have come up with to fill the end of summer with!


Q:

Did removing nerve tissue from your leg result in impaired function in that leg at all? It seems like a lot to take out.

What do your physical therapy exercises look like, if you're willing to share? I'm currently doing vestibular rehab for chronic motion sickness, and have progressed from slowly turning my head from side to side, to doing the same with my eyes closed. It sounds unimpressive as heck, but it's actually really exciting and useful progress for me. I'm wondering what the paralysis recovery version of that is.

A:

I like a good pepperoni or other spicy sausage. At home I usually whip something up with mozzarella, chorizo and some sweet red peppers on homemade dough.


Q:

Ben, will the collection manager get more attention?

Yeah - We recently added way more powerful search functionality (i personally love searching for 'extra'), and deck copying/exporting. We'll continue to add features and refine current ones.

can the card reveal livestreams show the non golden version of the cards?

I will pass your message along to the folks who set those up!

Looking forward to the expansion!

ME TOO!

A:

That was my main concern too, but no, not at all. The only effect is that I kind of can't feel my ankle and right side of the foot. Just a weird, tingly feeling.

I go to 2 physical therapies: The first, at a hospital, consists of exercises and electroshock therapy to stimulate various crucial movements of my arm as well as the accompanying nerves. The second is a a gym, when I perform exercises using more common equipment, to trigger bicep and triceps growth, specifically. I have a physical therapists help me do the exercises I can't complete on my own.

If you want more info, PM me :)


Q:

Do you have a favourite glacier? If so, which one and why?

A:

Do you have plans for reducing costs of dust for wild cards,? it's painful to craft any wild card just because you can only use in one mode.


Q:

I gave myself radial nerve palsy in my left arm just from passing out inebriated in my computer chair for just a couple hours, if that. I had to wear a cock-up wrist brace for a little over a year and it was agonizing how slow of a recovery it was.

I remember being so ecstatic when after a few months I could lift my thumb a couple solid millimeters.

The estimated average recovery for nerve damage I read is about one millimeter a day.. applied to the entirety of what's damaged. Do you think this is about right, considering the damage you've sustained to your nerves?

Don't be alarmed at the loss of strength, it will come back when you can do what you can do. Thanks for doing the ama!

A:

I'm a big fan of Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier, in south-eastern Greenland, if only because of the terror in undergrads' eyes whenever they have to pronounce it. It's also a glacier I studied a lot as part of my PhD work - if you've catalogued a few thousand satellite images of a place, you'll end up either loving it or hating it.


Q:

There is already a perception that your cards reduce in value over time because you can't use them in Standard. I think that's not a healthy perception for the game - and this kind of change would exacerbate the problem. We are going to bring back Wild cards for sale, which should make Wild more accessible.

A:

Yep, that's what all the doctors say. That's why the recovery is 3-4 years. And yeah, it is excruciatingly slow, which is why it's so taxing on the psyche, so I completely understand.

Thanks!


Q:

Would you rather fight an iceberg-sized penguin, or be impaled by 10,000 penguin-sized icebergs?

A:

Well met indeed! Thanks for being so present on the subreddit recently.

A while ago, arena rewards were discussed, and how getting common cards is such a "feelsbadman" reward. Is this still being looked at, and what are some of the reasons (maybe things we as consumers don't think about) for including such cards as rewards?

What are your thoughts on the current affordability of Hearthstone? It feels, as a player, that the real thing that locks us out of certain decks is the high numbers of epic cards. The fact that a dusted legendary gets you one epic is a very expensive trade. How was this ratio decided?

I've heard suggestions such as more cards in a pack, maintaining these higher gold, and increasing dust/reducing crafting costs. Do you think any of these ideas will make it into the game?

Thanks for your time, A fan


Q:

I've got a hereditary palsy where the myelin doesn't regrow at a normal speed. Had drop foot for about 8 months.

A:

10,000 is a lot of anything to be impaled by. I can't really see a way back from that one. I'll take my chances with the penguin, but the stench would be incredible.


Q:

A while ago, arena rewards were discussed, and how getting common cards is such a "feelsbadman" reward. Is this still being looked at?

Yes, we are planning on making a change in an upcoming patch. Details to come.

What are your thoughts on the current affordability of Hearthstone?

It's something we continually evaluate. We're currently seeing some players getting large collections without paying a cent, and that's pretty awesome. We've recently made big changes to the way Legendaries drop in packs, as well as giving everyone a free Legendary Death Knight Hero in the new expansion.

A:

Thank you!


Q:

Will the Halley VI Research Station be okay and be populated again?

A:

Are you going to do another rap?


Q:

Does it get frustrating having to write with the left hand? Or were you already left handed?

A:

Fingers crossed.

As I understand it, the plan is to reoccupy it as soon as possible in the Antarctic spring. It will probably need to be moved again - that whole area of the Brunt Ice Shelf is looking a bit sketchy these days. I'm not privy to the British Antarctic Survey's plans, but I have every faith in the people making those decisions - they know what they're doing and they don't want to put any lives at risk. It's a terrible shame that so many long-running experiments and measurements were interrupted, but none of that data is worth putting people in harm's way.


A:

I was right-handed, so yeah it was annoying having to learn to write with my left hand.

Although since I was forced to use my left hand all the time immediately after the crash, it didn't seem so frustrating. Just necessary.

It sucked when I had to take written exams, though...


Q:

Why?

A:

Hi Ben!

Big fan going back to your first Voice of God announcer duties at BlizzCon. My question is: what is your favorite brand of flannel shirts?


Q:

How much has the use of your left arm/hand improved? Is it up to where a dominant side would be or still not as much? I'm curious about how the non-dominant hand learns when it is put into regular use.

A:

Why not?


Q:

J. Crew

A:

Since I used to write like shit with my right hand anyway, it's hard to draw a good comparison.

In terms of handwriting quality, I think my writing is a little better now than before but that's because I have to focus a little more and pay closer attention.

Because of this and also because I can't hold the fucking paper, I write somewhat slower than before. If I have a stable paper and surface, I write almost as fast as I used to with my right hand, I think.


Q:

Is it possible to "mine" it for water?

A:

Brode, what's the takeaway of the team regarding Un'Goro? Why do you guys think it was so successful and what did the team learn from it to make the next expansions even better?


Q:

Can you just plop your dead arm down on the paper to hold It? When I paralyzed my left hand and still had to count money i would stuff the stack of bills in my lame hand and it at least helped a tiny, little bit because it was clamped into a useless fist otherwise.

I didn't lose the use of my dominant hand though so I couldn't have been nearly as frustrated as you've been.

A:

In a sense, sure. You could go there, break off a chunk, melt it, and you'd have some pretty clean fresh water. But that water would still be just off the coast of Antarctica.

I think what you're probably suggesting is something more like "towing" the iceberg to somewhere where there's a water shortage. This isn't going to work. The iceberg weighs about a trillion (1012 ) tons. By comparison, the entire US navy weighs about three million (3 x 106 ) tons. This thing is going to go where it wants to go, and there isn't a damn thing you or I can do about it.

That said, I do know that there's been some research done on the feasibility of dragging much smaller icebergs to places where the water would be useful - mostly funded by various Middle Eastern governments. It's never really been economical - desalination is cheaper and easier.


Q:

One of the biggest things that helped was the rotation. I think adding the Hall of Fame and hitting those 6 cards allowed us to see the "freshest" meta yet. This is a bit more of a challenge for the last set of the year. I think if anything, we could have gone lighter mechanically, and saved some of our new mechanics for set 3 of the Year of the Mammoth.

But I think the team did an awesome job on the set, yeah. Dinosaurs!

A:

Haha that's exactly what I do! The problem is that whenever I put my arm on a surface, it immediately starts sweating, which wets the damn paper.

I'm sorry that happened to you. How did it happen?


Q:

Hi Ben, what are your thoughts of Hearthstone being too expensive for the average player? Will there be some sort of compromise to keep the game affordable and player numbers healthy? Thanks!

A:

I was an idiot and got black-out wasted and then fell asleep in my computer chair. My arm was pinned between the chair arm and my body for a couple hours and when I woke up I tried to shake the blood back into my sleeping hand and it was what I can only relate to having a phantom limb.

I was wiggling both hands and my left one just slowly curled up into a fist. Fortunately when I called my dad he immediately knew what it was and my research began that very morning to recover.

It's so exciting getting that first little wiggle back into your thumb. I remember showing everyone I could that I could wiggle my thumb just a tiny bit.


Q:

We are definitely seeing players compete at high levels without spending any money at all. If you want literally every card in the game, that's tougher to do, but we are listening to community feedback here. We recently made pretty big changes to the way our Legendary drops work in packs, and are giving everyone a free Legendary Death Knight Hero with the new set. There will also be a lot of opportunities to earn packs of the new set, through some upcoming events and through the single player missions that will be free with the new set.

A:

Haha I bet! Congratulations on your recovery!


Q:

as a director of Hearthstone, what has been the most difficult job you had to do while being in charge?

A:

Hey, first off, I'm so so sorry about what happened to you. My family was in a really bad car accident almost 14 years ago, and both me and my sister had this same injury. I'm mostly recovered (if you know to look for some kinda derpy stuff on my left arm, it's definitely noticeable, but I can function pretty normally in day to day life), but my sister's arm is still totally paralyzed, nearly 20 surgeries later.

This brings me to my question - what led you down the path to seek out this specific treatment in Mexico? My family has tried countless things to help my sister recover at least some function in her arm, including transferring an entire muscle and all the accompanying nerves, blood vessels, and whatnot from her leg into her arm, but it didn't work. If you find that this surgery actually gets you to a mostly functioning arm, I'd love to get more information about what exactly you had done, as well as your doctors. Wishing you the best of luck in your recovery!


Q:

Trying to figure out how to be a Game Director. It's kind of terrifying.

The advice Dodds gave me: "Don't fuck it up"

A:

I will PM you with the details!

EDIT: To answer your question, it was because my parents are Mexican and my insurance is through them. I went to several doctors who all pointed me in the direction of my current doctor.


Q:

Hi Mr Brode! Thanks for answering some questions. Feel free to answer any/all of the following:

  1. What's the reason for announcing an expansion and not revealing new cards in the following weeks only to dump ~40 cards a few days before the expansion is released instead of having a steady stream of reveals?

  2. In the past you mentioned cards that have been previously nerfed might be un-nerfed and moved into the Hall of Fame in the next standard rotation, what is your/Blizzard's current stance on these cards, specifically Molten Giant? #HoFMolten2018

  3. Has the team ever considered creating a set of free cards that rotates weekly? These cards would be usable in casual and maybe have a crafting discount.

  4. Has the team thought about releasing a few (1-3) cards each month to help keep the game fresh in-between sets? This would provide Blizzard with the opportunity to print hate cards like Golakka Crawler or Eater of Secret earlier or to support decks that did not pan out as you guys had hoped and could serve as "balance patches" in less severe situations.

  5. Can you confirm that each class will have a hero card and a legendary minion in Knights of the Frozen Throne?

  6. In the previous live stream you mentioned that a new ladder experience was in the works, can you share any progress on that?

  7. What's your favourite card in the game?

  8. What are the odds of Hearthstone coming to console?

  9. Rotate Ice Block when?

Edit:

  1. When's the collab with Dre?
A:

I know you're getting a lot of questions and appreciate you doing this. A friend of mine had almost the same injury to his arm from a motorcycle crash where a car crossed his path illegally. He has never regained use a decade later. Did the Mexican doctors use any techniques not accepted in the United States?


Q:

What's the reason for announcing an expansion and not revealing new cards in the following weeks only to dump ~40 cards a few days before the expansion is released instead of having a steady stream of reveals?

We used to do a steady stream of new reveals of about 1 card a day, and it kinda dragged. The feedback we were getting was that hype was slowing down as we got closer to the expansion, and i think that's the wrong direction. Un'Goro had a dip in excitement, but ramped way up towards the release and used a similar strategy. Un'Goro felt awesome - let's see how this one goes!

In the past you mentioned cards that have been previously nerfed might be un-nerfed and moved into the Hall of Fame in the next standard rotation, what is your/Blizzard's current stance on these cards, specifically Molten Giant? #HoFMolten2018

I'm a little torn. I think there are pros and cons. The potential downside I'm most worried about is our ability to make Handlock really insane in Standard going forward with new cards, without pushing it into insanity in Wild. We'd like to make Handlock a thing again - and we can do that in Wild by moving the card that and buffing it, or by making new cards in Standard that are good in both formats. This doesn't mean we won't move/buff it, it's just something we're thinking about.

Has the team ever considered creating a set of free cards that rotates weekly? These cards would be usable in casual and maybe have a crafting discount.

Yeah, but I think there's some complexity there. There are goals you are trying to solve with that suggestion - we are looking at other options that I think hit the similar goals that are maybe a little less complex.

Has the team thought about releasing a few (1-3) cards each month to help keep the game fresh in-between sets? This would provide Blizzard with the opportunity to print hate cards like Golakka Crawler or Eater of Secret earlier or to support decks that did not pan out as you guys had hoped and could serve as "balance patches" in less severe situations.

Yes, we've considered that, limited-time cards that come back from Wild into standard for a while, and other crazy ideas to mix up the meta in between sets. I think it's one of Hearthstone's biggest opportunities. We took a stab at it recently with increasing the total number of cards each year. There are obviously downsides to that, and I think a lot of the ideas we've seen so far to tackle this problem have their own unique downsides. I don't think there's a silver bullet here, but we're trying some crazy things internally, like - what if we change the ladder format for the last month of a set? We tried "block constructed" and it wasn't as fun as we hoped, but maybe there's other formats that mix the game up in crazy ways that are really fun?

Can you confirm that each class will have a hero card and a legendary minion in Knights of the Frozen Throne?

Confirmed.

In the previous live stream you mentioned that a new ladder experience was in the works, can you share any progress on that?

We have a design that we are excited to try. I'm not sure it will be perfect out of the gate, but hopefully players will help us iterate into a great place. I wonder if just mixing it up is the right answer - like doing a new ladder format every 5 or so years. Once we know how long the feature will take to implement, we will start building it. There's a lot of iteration in that process, and once we start honing in on our final implementation, we'll communicate more about what we're planning. Our major goals here are: reduce the monthly grind for top-level players; increase progression for bottom 25% of players; get better match-making. We have another goal for improving the new player ranked experience - that's a separate change that's coming later.

What's your favourite card in the game?

Lord Jaraxxus!

What are the odds of Hearthstone coming to console?

If our players are playing a lot on console, it's the type of thing we'd consider. Right now it's pretty easy to whip out your phone or tablet anywhere - so it's not currently something we're considering.

Rotate Ice Block when?

We wouldn't be doing Wild Rotations out side of Hearthstone New Year. It's definitely a card that matches our red flags for cards that maybe shouldn't be in Standard forever. That doesn't mean we don't want combo decks or freeze mage - it's just that we want things to change each year!

Edit: When's the collab with Dre?

PLEASE IF YOU KNOW DRE, TELL HIM TO CALL ME

A:

No nothing like that, but the cost of a nervous surgery is a fraction compared to the price in the US.


Q:

Hi Brode, thanks for doing this. I have a question, is there a tournament mode on the works?

A:

Hi, thanks for sharing. Do you resent the truck driver for the things you've struggled with? Has it changed your attitude towards living and dying at all? What was the one thing that kept you going during the worst moments?


Q:

We've been thinking about it a lot. It's a feature we think makes sense for Hearthstone, but we have nothing else to say regarding it right now.

A:

Cool questions!

It was a car driver, and he(she?) fled the scene. They never caught him. No, I don't really resent him. I mean I know he caused the accident, then drove past me as I lay unconscious, but I never really gave a shit about him. Poor bastard. Do you think he wonders whether I'm dead or alive? I would...

Yeah, it has a little. I feel like I appreciate how fragile everything is, which is something everybody knows but we don't really feel it most of the time. All of a sudden I really get that I'm just a chunk of living meat waiting to die at any moment. But in a way, that's liberating. Sobering even. I'm in pain now, but I also feel very happy with my life. If I died today, I would die content.

My girlfriend probably. We were seeing each other before the accident and started dating a few months after. Of course, my family has always helped me and supported me, but she's the one who was with me during the worst moments. I really don't know where I would be without her, or in what kind of state of mind. She makes me feel normal again, and I thank her for it.


Q:

Can you give us an update on Hero skins? When I made my article about the progression in Hearthstone (or lack of thereof) it struck me as one of the features moving rather slow.

We are 2 years in since the release of the first skin, Magni and even now we are not yet at a point where all classes have one. On top of that it is not all of those we got that are available with Tyrande being locked behind twitch prime at a time when basically only NA had access to that. No good for EU players like me.

A:

They could be plagued with guilt. Or they could be an alcoholic that doesn't fully remember what happened.


Q:

Can you give us an update on Hero skins?

We will eventually make a new Druid and Warlock hero. :) I can't spoil how we plan on making them available just yet.

Regarding Tyrande - our goal was to find alternate ways for regions that were not eligible for the offer to get access to Tyrande and we've been working with our regional offices to make that happen. We've already done it in many regions - seems like we haven't hit yours yet and I'll follow up on that.

A:

Or he could legitimately not give a shit.

We'll never know, so why bother thinking about it?


Q:

Hi Ben! What's the hardest thing to update in the hearthstone codebase that you would love to update? What are some stories/lessons learned deploying and maintaining the hearthstone app?

A:

There were no cameras or anything to track the car?


Q:

I used to do a lot of client engineering on Hearthstone, but I haven't gotten to do that in a long time. That's probably a better question for one of our Engineers, sorry!

A:

There was one witness, who wrote down the plate number. Unfortunately the registered owner was long dead.

Literally a dead end.


Q:

Do you play any other card games outside of hearthstone (gwent shadowverse eternal mtg etc...)?

A:

Does that mean it was a stolen car? Is it common to find cars with outdated registration in the US?


Q:

I have played so many card games in my life - Magic, Overpower, Wyvern, Netrunner, Pokemon, Battlespirits, WoW:TCG, the Mortal Kombat TCG, Rage.... I freaking love this genre.

A:

Yes, they said it was probably stolen.


Q:

what do you say we trade a foil Pikachu I have for the full set of next expansion??

A:

Does your mum help with stuff?


Q:

i have a foil pikachu already, no thanks

A:

Yeah, she honestly helps me a lot. Jokes aside, she helps me in whichever way she can, and I appreciate it. For example, she does the dishes whenever she can because she knows I hate doing them.


Q:

Can you spoil another Knights of the Frozen Throne card? Please?

A:

I nearly lost an arm to injury the summer before starting high school. Shoot out to mom for tying my shoes before school.
I had no extension in four of my fingers for two years. Then it took another year of therapy to make them useful. Keep on that grind.


Q:

Sure!

....starting on July 24th!! :)

A:

Thank you. Congratulations on your recovery!


Q:

What are your goals with the upcoming ladder rework? What are your biggest challenges? Any idea when you’ll have any news to share regarding this? Thanks! Love all the positive changes recently and look forward to many more!

A:

Does it take a lot of willpower to get in the work for the rehab? is it hard? How do you manage it?

I'm in a similar situation in some ways but I'm neglecting the work I should do for it.


Q:

What are your goals with the upcoming ladder rework?

1) Reduce grind for top-level players.

2) Increase progression for players stuck at rank 20-ish.

3) Get better matchmaking for bottom 25% players.

4) Make the experience better for new players.

We're hoping to make 1-3 better first. #4 is a separate feature for us and is coming later.

What are your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenging is making those things better without losing what we like about our current system. Our current system is SUPER clear about what you need to do to rank up, and I think that's upside. I'm pretty confident we can do both here, though.

Any idea when you’ll have any news to share regarding this?

We have a design we are excited to try out, once we know how it changes through implementation, we are going to announce the details. Hoping for later this year.

A:

God, yes...

Just the sheer amount of "free" time I dedicate to therapy is really frustrating. I think I use the fear of being paralyzed along with the hope of regaining full mobility to help motivate me.

I know how that feels...to be honest, one of the reasons I'm doing this AMA is because I've been kind of falling into a slump recently. This week I've barely gone to therapy at all, which is really rare for me. I just feel exhausted of this all. I'm tired all the time and I just wish things were easy again. Sometimes I just want to send it all to hell and just fucking quit...

But I can't afford that. And I assume you can't afford that, either. In the end we only have this one life, this one body, and one chance. If we fuck it up, it's over. So I know that if I slack right now I'm going to regret it for the rest of my life. You and I both know what we need to do, we just need to suck it up and just do it.


Q:

When will we be able to buy Naxx again?

A:

I can relate so much it hurts. How much time do you have to dedicate to therapy? I have SO MANY other things I need to do . . . all important, and I don't use that word lightly.

Well, I wish you the best of luck. Show that arm who's the boss.


Q:

Soon! Hoping for sometime this summer.

A:

Usually about 2 hours every day, with short 10 minute exercise bursts throughout the day.

Thank you, likewise!


Q:

Hey Ben your joy and passion for Hearthstone is infectious and I'm so glad to see the direction and energy you bring to the game (especially in the face of so much negativity both in the subreddit and the world at large)

What's been your favorite deck to play in hearthstone's history (including open beta)?

Also what kind of pizza did blizzard offices order most often when you delivered to them back in the day?

Thanks for your time and have a great Friday and weekend!!

A:

In similar situations as you (not that bad though). I get overwhelmed at the time spent in rehab and then the time after I recover to keep my muscles and nerves healthy. Consistency is a problem when your emotions vary from day to day. I'm also failing at time management so feel you bro. Need to eliminate time wasters so I can rehab 😅


Q:

What's been your favorite deck to play in hearthstone's history (including open beta)?

I've always loved Control Paladin. I also loved Yogg-and-Load.

Also what kind of pizza did blizzard offices order most often when you delivered to them back in the day?

Gina's Pizza, in Irvine.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/ginas-pizza-and-pastaria-irvine

I get the Calzone, no Ricotta, Meatballs, Cilantro, Mushroom.

Also, get the Rasta Salad with Cilantro dressing. MMMMM

A:

Consistency is a problem when your emotions vary from day to day.

Man, I should print this out and frame it for how true it is.

Good luck with your rehab, we can do this!


Q:

Hi Ben,

Have you ever played Magic? And if so, what would you say are some things that exist in magic, that could eventually be incorporated into Hearthstone?

A:

Will $100 won through a certain spinner contest pay enough for your surgery?


Q:

Yes, love Magic. There's a lot to learn from a game that has a 20+ year history. Not many games manage that, and I'm hoping to grow old with them together. :)

A:

Yes


Q:

Hey Ben! /u/bbrode

Any advice for people looking to get into voice acting, specifically within video games? How would somebody go about applying with Blizzard for voice acting jobs/positions?

A:

Hey man its great you are seeing results, even when they are small. Have you tried rehab with Augmented - Virtual Reality? Ive read some good things about it, and it served as a base for a thing i did for a patient in nyc (you can check it at ourkidscandoanhthing in fb)


Q:

I have no idea!

I have never done VO for a game. /cryface

A:

No, I haven't but I'll check it out. Thanks!


Q:

Hi Ben

While very small hints of the death Knight and monk classes were found in the files of the game during it's release (vanilla, that is), with the introduction of the new Death Knight themed hero cards, the dream of the three missing classes ever being implemented into Hearthstone are all but dead. I know the previous stance on this was that it would be difficult to balance and, ultimately, unnecessary, but I would still like to know -

1) What is the teams current stance on additional, full classes? Has it changed at all with time?

2) Building on the first question- is the dream really dead now? Are Death Knights, Monks and Demon Hunters ever going to be able to represent themselves in Hearthstone?

Thank you for your time :)

A:

Driver & Rider here. So sorry it happened to your Triumph btw. What a perfect machine. It's my dream bike and I hope you get another when you're ready.

Post-accident, do you ever feel yourself now having a fundamental lack of trust of others on the road?

I've been the victim in two crashes that totalled my cars. one exactly like yours where they made a left like they didn't even see me and I t-boned them, and a worse crash where I was just driving along on a single lane 40mph road, and someone drifted across the center line and hit me head on and totalled my car.

Sold my bike between crashes to help with finances so I don't even have one now, but honestly I've lost all trust in other drivers and as much as I want to ride, just the thought of it gives me anxiety.


Q:

1) What is the teams current stance on additional, full classes?

A class needs unique "space" - i.e. things they can do that nobody else can do. Only Paladins get Divine Shield, or "setting Attack/Health", or 1-mana Secrets. Mages are the best at AoE and Blasty single-target spells.

I think we are already having trouble carving out awesome space for 9 classes. I want us to find more unique things for Warlock to do, for example. I think adding a 10th class makes this problem much more difficult, as we could be using that space to make our core 9 classes more fun.

Also, you would be less likely to open cards of your favorite class in card packs, the more that we have in the game.

Something I often think about - what is the 'perfect' number of classes? What would be too many? Is 15 too many? How about 50? I kind of think the number even be less than 9, except that we have some important fantasy considerations.

2) is the dream really dead now? Are Death Knights, Monks and Demon Hunters ever going to be able to represent themselves in Hearthstone?

I'm actually super excited about the way Death Knights are coming to Hearthstone! Making a Death Knight starting hero means making an ultra simple Hero Power.... but now we've been able to create much crazier hero powers.... and we've made NINE different Death Knights. I'm super pumped.

A:

Thanks for the good vibes.

Umm, no not really. I mean, all of the trust I had evaporated pretty quickly after I started riding. Now I'm just totally stoic when other people do stupid shit on the road. What's the point in complaining? It is what is it.

I'm sorry that happened to you, and believe me, I know what you mean!


Q:

Any internship opportunities at Blizzard/Hearthstone?

A:

May 13, 2005. The day my entire life changed forever. Motorcycle crash. C-4/C-5 fusion. Bracial plexus injury. Right bicep, right deltoid paralysis. Ended my naval career. I have the exact same injury. I wish the best for you. If you want to talk about it, feel free to PM me. It gets better. I have to ask a question. Can you tell me how you found out about the surgery in Mexico?

Edit: brachial, not biracial.


A:

I'm sorry about your injury.

My doctor had just given a conference about his nerve transposition technique in several cities around the world, and my previous doctor attended of these. He along with several other doctors, advised me to go see him immediately, as my injury was his specialty.


Q:

-When working on expansions, how much of it is done in advance? Do you work expansions ahead of the current set or even the upcoming set?

-Are there any card designs that you've either not been able to get to work (a la Patches in TGT) or that haven't found a place in any set so far? If so, could you share your favorite scrapped card ideas with us?

Thanks for doing this AMA Mr. Brode

A:

What exactly about music are you pursuing? Do you write songs or play instruments (with one hand)? I hope you do well with your rehab.


Q:

When working on expansions, how much of it is done in advance? Do you work expansions ahead of the current set or even the upcoming set?

We are nearly done with design on set 3 of the year of the mammoth. We are hard at work on the first set of next year, and are brainstorming ideas for the second set of 2018.

Are there any card designs that you've either not been able to get to work (a la Patches in TGT) or that haven't found a place in any set so far?

Yes

If so, could you share your favorite scrapped card ideas with us?

No

A:

I was mainly a bass and guitar player all my life. After the accident, I stopped playing entirely. I didn't even want to move my instruments, so I just left everything kind of as is.

Fortunately, I signed up for a music technology class that semester and I picked up the keyboard (which I already owned), while at the same time learning to use DAWs. Soon after I bought a synth, a MIDI controller, and a good looper pedal and starting getting into production kiinda.

Right now, I mainly practice making simplish songs/loops using the looper, the synth, the keyboard w/presets, and the controller, though I rarely write or record anything. I was also gifted a trumpet recently and have been relearning how to play, and it's been a lot of fun!


Q:

Do you play other blizz games like overwatch or wow? What is the relationship between the developing teams of different games?

A:

Damn. Haha I do hope you can play your guitar again! I wish you luck. Thanks for the AMA, I hope you can give hope to the other patients you go to rehab with.


Q:

Yeah, definitely. We are very close. I often have lunch with the directors of the other teams. A lot of people on the other teams meet up with each other to share ideas.

A:

Thanks! :)


Q:

My personal favourite card is Dreadsteed. Regardless of how good it is, what is your favourite card you and your team have designed?

A:

Sorry still curious, doesn't it hurt from time to time or don't you get random twitches/spasm of your arm?


Q:

Lord Jaraxxus

EREDAR LORD OF THE BURNING LEGION

A:

No worries, ask away!

I have like a general soreness. Imagine how you arm would feel the day after you did a bunch of exercise after a long time of doing nothing. I feel about 50% of that feeling, all the time.

Then I get random flashes of nerve pain that vary in intensity and duration, but usually don't last more than a minute.

And yeah, I also sometimes get twitches or spasms, though more frequently now than before.


Q:

Would you ever consider separating the mobile and desktop clients to make the desktop client more feature rich? Lobbies, Tournament modes, 2v2? Would love to see more features, would pay for them too!

A:

Wow, how much did the synth + controller run you? Hoping to get new ones of my own when The Budget allows. Got a soundcloud I could check out?


Q:

I don't feel like we have basically ever been restricted on cool new features due to the parity we shoot for between platforms. We have wildly talented UI Designers who are up for the challenge.

A:

Synth was a Roland System One (~$300) and the controller was a maschine mk1 (~$70). I got them both on ebay.

Haha I don't have one! But I'll make one in a bit and upload some stuff.


Q:

Hey Ben,

I wanted to ask why the decision was made to make Hero Cards of the hero (Rexxar, for example) behave in a way that ignores your alternate hero portrait?

I couldn't care either way, but I'm seeing many people have qualms with (or at least, questions about) the way it was handled. They paid $10 to hide Rexarr and rock Alleria, so I think they're a bit bummed that the card doesn't shift with the deck to become "Deathstalker Alleria" or something. Was it due to the extra work it would require? Would it cause inconsistency and/or confusion?

I think that Hero Cards are an astounding idea, but I can see where people are disappointed in this unique case where they're themed off of our hero entities (Rexxar/Alleria the Hunter class, opposed to say, Hemet Nessingwary as a Hero Card replacement).

Will these Hero Cards ever be non-heroes? Will they ever be depictions of Alleria, Magni, Medivh, etc.?

Thank you so much!!

EDIT: Also, has the team ever considered making "puzzles?" Certain scenarios you had to figure out a la Adventure Mode, maybe with small gold rewards or a weekly rotation like TB? For example, "how much damage do I need to win in one turn?" Thanks again.

A:

cool man don't give up keep making that music


Q:

Hero cards are a new thing that replaces your hero, not transforms them. It's a bit weird because these 9 hero cards feel like a transformation, but it's possible to turn from Anduin -> Jaraxxus -> Deathstalker Rexxar -> Jaina DK Hero -> Uther DK Hero, for example. (assuming you do some weird thoughtsteal shenanigans.) I think seeing the art of the hero helps you understand what's going on in the game, and what Hero Power your opponent is going to be using from now on. If you play Deathstalker Rexxar as Jaina and then it looks like Jaina still but with the Rexxar power... I dunno, that seems very weird to me.

A:

Thanks man!


Q:

Not to make light but have you given yourself "the stranger"?

A:

To my shame, yes I have. It was ineffective, to say the least.


Q:

I have a similar problem. May I ask how much it was for the surgery?

A:

I will PM you!


Q:

Was it your fap arm?

A:

Yes T__T


Q:

Have you tried masturbating with that arm? If so what's it like?

A:

To my shame, yes I have. It was ineffective, to say the least.


Q:

What was the most difficult thing you had to adapt to after your arm was paralysed?

A:

The most difficult? That's hard.

Sex, writing, and playing music was the hardest for me at first. After a while, you get used to everything.


Q:

Glad you lived and are making a recovery! Drove past this same type of accident yesterday morning. Unfortunately the motorcycle driver yesterday did not make it. Were you wearing a helmet?

A:

Full gear, ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time).

I'd be dead if I hadn't.


Q:

Anything you'd recommend to new riders? Taking my license in about a month or so, and will be doing ATGATT as well, having been in two minor solo wipeouts so far(once on a illegal 6 gear moped, second during first riding lesson, rider in front braked, I misread the situation and braked too hard on the front brake, and since I was an idiot on the only bike without ABS, down I went. It was very wet and slippery both times).

Locking up the front wheel in pouring rain isn't fun, that's for sure.

A:

Well since you've already taken riding lessons and are ATGATT, I don't have much else to say except good luck!

Watch a Twist of the Wrist 2, if you haven't already.

Find a place to practice if you can and do it every once in a while. Buy a good backpack. Sweatproof stuff for summer and thermals for winter are a must. Don't take passengers until you've ridden 6 months or 1,500 miles. Don't die...

Stay alert, be safe, have fun!


Q:

I am rooting for you. I know a guy in wheelchair from an accident (decades ago) and told him to hang in there -- he said even if they figured out a way to deal with the paralysis his muscles would be too weak for rehab but I am optimistic about that too and I suspect you have an opinion about this?

A:

Muscles can be rebuilt. That's exactly what I'm doing right now. Granted, it's not the same as both legs, but in the end there's always hope for improvement. Always. Even if it's just a tiny bit better, if you do something, anything, you're definitely not going to get worse.


Q:

Pro arm wrestler

A:

ayy


Q:

Was it hard to type this with one hand?

A:

Yeah, a little


Q:

I can't even imagine. I'm happy that you're going to physical therapy though!! I've never been paralyzed but I can imagine it's like trying to move something you naturally can't, like your ears for example? Is this true? I've heart it somewhere before. Wishing you the best~~

A:

No, it's more like not remembering how to move something. Like if you suddenly completely forgot the mental mechanisms to do so, and you're trying to figure it out.

Thanks!


Q:

When/if you regain movement in your arm, what is the first thing you will do with your newly restored limb?

A:

Learn to play the bass again. Hug my girlfriend. Start benching. Play basketball again.

Feel normal.


Q:

How's masturbation?

A:

Very well, thank you!


Q:

How hard did you find it to carry out everyday tasks without the use of your right arm?

A:

How hard? It depends on the task, really. I am surprisingly dexterous with my left arm and hand now so I can manage my way through most tasks. Though some, like dishwashing, are infuriating and I can never really manage well.

Honestly it is a little frustrating most of the time, but like everything, you get used to it and get better at it.


Q:

What's your favorite tropical fruit?

A:

Pineapple


Q:

Seeing your title, I immediately wondered if you were CG, then reading his reply to your original post seems like it was really helpful for you. I’m so sorry that you’ve been going through this, but happy that you’re fighting to get back to fitness!

Anyway, do you have any sensation in your arm now? If you can’t feel anything with it, do you keep it in a sling or anything? Also, did you have to go to Mexico because no US hospitals would attempt the procedure?

A:

Thank you! I feel somethings in some areas, and in others I feel almost nothing. In some areas I can feel pain/wetness/hotness/electricity, and in some I can't. It's really weird and interesting sometimes. The other day I burned my skin completely off by accident and I didn't feel a thing.

No, I went to Mexico because it was cheaper and my parents are Mexican.

Shoutout to u/CG_Ops, the badass one-handed rider who helped me with kind words and advice!


Q:

Do you find yourself more focused on your interests (music specifically) since your accident? And if so, how, if at all, has your approach to your craft changed?

A:

Interestingly, yes! I find that I value much more the things I enjoy doing. Since everything is a little more difficult, it's feels like the things that I enjoy struggling to do are the things that are worth it.

I kind of answered that question in another comment:

I was mainly a bass and guitar player all my life. After the accident, I stopped playing entirely. I didn't even want to move my instruments, so I just left everything kind of as is.

Fortunately, I signed up for a music technology class that semester and I picked up the keyboard (which I already owned), while at the same time learning to use DAWs. Soon after I bought a synth, a MIDI controller, and a good looper pedal and starting getting into production kiinda.

Right now, I mainly practice making simplish songs/loops using the looper, the synth, the keyboard w/presets, and the controller, though I rarely write or record anything. I was also gifted a trumpet recently and have been relearning how to play, and it's been a lot of fun!


Q:

How fast were you going during the crash?

A:

About 40 mph. I probably smacked into him like at 35 with the braking.


Q:

Hey man had a very similar accident when I was riding. Lost my arm for about a year or so and now have full movement. The doctors told me I had a 50/50 chance of regaining my arm, what was your percentage?

A:

Wow, congratulations!

The doctor said he wasn't sure how much I was going to recover, but how much I advance these few years will tell. He said that the goal was a 70-90% recovery.