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D.Va Makes Life Difficult For Overwatch's Developers

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Between her mech and her true, Dorito-munching gremlin form, D.Va is basically two characters in one. That’s led to problems behind the scenes of Overwatch. A lot of problems.

During a roundtable interview at Blizzard HQ yesterday, Overwatch assistant director Aaron Keller explained that, of all 27 of the game’s current heroes, D.Va is definitely the problem child when it comes to scripting and implementing new features. He said that when features get added to the game, they always have to be specially tweaked for D.Va, because “she breaks everything.”


Why? Because she’s the only character that’s basically two different characters, and that means the tech underlying her functionality is especially complicated.


“The way we set heroes up, we have a visual scripting system, which is this node-based thing,” Keller said. “You just see all these blocks with lines connected to them. There’s a lot of stuff. It’s pretty complicated. And then you open D.Va, and it just blows your mind. There are hundreds of things. It’s like this plate of spaghetti.”

Getting her in and out of the mech, he continued, is often the hardest part. When the team was working on creating Overwatch’s capture the flag mode, for instance, the flag would sometimes just disappear if you de-meched D.Va after she swiped it. Her ult—in which she pops out of her mech, which then self-destructs—is also a work of technical wizardry that has an unfortunate tendency to misfire.

“There’s always issues internally whether or not the ult is working correctly,” Keller said. “We spend a lot of time on her to get it to work right. We have to spend more time on her than we do on other heroes bug-fixing.”

Keller added, with a slight sigh, that the Overwatch team probably would have built a system that did a better job of accommodating D.Va’s grand disappearing (and reappearing) act if the initial hero roster had included another hero that switched configurations like she does. There is, however, just one D.Va, and I don’t think she’d have it any other way.