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September 11, 2019

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects The Usual Suspects is a custom-made mutator that aims to be what Heroes from the Storm mutator should have been. While Heroes from the Storm (HftS) is a great concept, there are issues with its implementation. It's often overly punishing; it doesn't scale for lower difficulties; and its difficulty makes it hard to combine with other mutators. Its issues with maps have been improved, but its difficulty can still vary between maps. For example on Temple of the Past, you will face around 24 enemy heroes. Compare that to the mission Mist Opportunities, which is longer, and yet you will face only 9 enemy heroes. The Usual Suspects mutator addresses these issues and adds 17 new heroes to the current 9.
Heroes
Engaging enemy Alarak and Tal'darim Mothership

New heroes (17):

Tal'darim Mothership Crooked Sam Aleksander
Alarak Sirius Apocalisk
Avatar of Form Cannonball Glevig
Odin Blaze Murvar
Hyperion Nux Dakrun
Fenix (all forms) Nikara

Original heroes (9):

Raynor Karax
Zeratul
Tychus
Nova
Artanis
Dehaka
Zagara
Kerrigan
Heroes
The Usual Suspects

What is the same as with HftS

  • Custom announcement sounds for enemy heroes
  • AI for each hero so they use their abilities
  • Custom health and shield bars

What has changed

  • Enemy heroes are rebalanced so they are more manageable. The goal was to make fighting them less punishing while still conveying the fantasy of fighting enemy heroes.
  • Difficulty scales for lower difficulties (mainly changing health and shields on enemy heroes, and certain upgrades).
  • Spawns are balanced to provide consistent difficulty between maps.
    • There is a global pool that increases periodically. Attack waves spawn heroes from this pool.
    • If heroes spawn one-by-one, they cost less as fighting them alone is considerably easier.
  • The order of heroes is semi-random.
    • Heroes won't repeat unless all heroes has been used.
    • Some heroes can appear only later in the mission.
Odin & Zagara

Issues

  • It hooks into attack waves the same way as HftS used to before recent changes.
    • So it will have similar technical issues as HftS used to. It won't work well with some waves that start in air transports (especially if Glevig spawns). It's also technically possible to prevent them from spawning by spawncamping, but the global pool makes this less desirable than it was with HftS, as you would just get more heroes later. With HftS you could get a good tempo advantage by slowing the whole hero order.
      (This has been mostly fixed and the mutator is performing better than HftS)
    • This could be prevented if I made my version of Co-op mod and modified it, but I would prefer to not do that; and it works well enough for arcade games.
Murvar

It was a lot of fun creating and playing this mutator. The following video is from my twitch stream playing The Usual Suspects together with few other custom mutators (Nuclear Mines and Matryoshka). The game starts slow but picks up the pace as it goes on (Alarak + Mothership at 15:00).

The Usual Suspects + Nuclear Mines + Matryoshka (Malwarfare)

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