There was a time, hard as it might be to remember, when Overwatch’s wackiest hero was a peanut-butter-loving science ape from the moon. Earlier this year, however, he was usurped by a mech-piloting, robo-voiced, Thunderdome-battling hamster who’s also from the moon. How do you top that? Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan isn’t sure he wants to.
“Do we have ideas that are wackier than Hammond?” Kaplan said to Kotaku at BlizzCon, referring to the ball-riding hamster whose official name in Overwatch is Wrecking Ball. “Yes. Will they ever make it into the game? I don’t think so.”
He likened the creation of Hammond to “moments where all creative people try to push up against their boundaries,” just to figure out what they really are. This led to friction on the development team, he said. Sparks flew internally as people batted around the idea of a mega-genius space hamster in a world of heroes, villains, and Halloween-costume-wearing goth edgelord dads.
“I think it was a cautionary tale to us of, ‘Be careful when you push against your creative boundaries a little bit too hard.’”
“Hammond was very controversial on the team,” said Kaplan. “Like, actual heated debates where we had to calm people down, where we were like, ‘We’re not gonna ruin Overwatch by introducing this character.’ Some people literally felt like we might be. We took that very seriously.”
The end result was a fun, if sometimes frustrating-to-play-against hero who’s been largely accepted by Overwatch’s playerbase. That does not, however, mean that Kaplan and company are itching to have another go at pushing Overwatch’s fiction to its limits.
“There’s almost no controversy in the community now,” said Kaplan. “Like Winston, I think we’ve made him feel very natural in the Overwatch universe. But I think it was a cautionary tale to us of, ‘Be careful when you push against your creative boundaries a little bit too hard.’ Or at least, we’re on cooldown.”
That said, Kaplan isn’t entirely closing the door on the idea of a hero so wacky it makes even Hammond look tame. Just mostly.
“I think when it comes to the creativity of the Overwatch team, pushing up against Hammond and Winston is maybe as far as we go,” he said. “Maybe? For now at least?”