Fans first got a glimpse of Tychus Findlay in the teaser to "Starcraft II" in 2007, where he was wielding a southern accent, a giant gun and the signature cigar planted on his mouth. Now, Blizzard seems apt to get rid of Tychus' iconic cigar in "Heroes of the Storm" and fans are going through the roof about the removal.
Blizzard senior artist Phill Gonzales explained in a post on Reddit that removing Tychus' cigar, which has become a part of the character's personality, is not a matter of moralizing about the effects of smoking on gamers. Instead, it is purely a business decision, one that seems to be more about efficiency and productivity more than anything else.
"'Heroes of the Storm' is a multi-region game with a teen rating," Gonzales explains. "There are a magnitude of guidelines we have to be aware of. From a development standpoint we prioritize making Heroes and Skins as utilitarian as possible, if a single model can be used in all regions, that's a huge win for development."
The team was faced with two choices. First, they could create two versions of Tychus, one with the cigar and one without. That would appease everybody, including the fans who want to see Tychus smoking and the game regulators at countries where a single cigar could mean a mature rating, but Blizzard, which will have to do for Tychus two times the amount of work needed to maintain a single character.
"Making two versions means more data management, multiple duplicates of the asset (if we update an animation, it has to propagate to all versions) such as the death ragdoll model, the facial animations, his morph into the Odin, and apply that process to every skin as well," says Gonzales. "This mountain of work affects multiple departments and has to be addressed every time we'd adjust Tychus."
Blizzard is no stranger to creating two versions of one character. For instance, Skelethur is non-existent in some regions because of rules that prohibit the depiction of human remains. Gazlowe's license plate also saw a lot of work when Blizzard decided to create local versions for each region. And any depiction of skulls and blood, such as Blackheart and grave golems, had to have "alternate" versions in certain countries.
But the second option is far easier, and this is what Blizzard has gone after: Remove Tychus' cigar altogether. Blizzard says getting rid of the cigar opens up a lot of time and resources to focus on creating more content, instead of putting all that into managing just one character.
"The appeal of Tychus should not hinge on a cigar anyways, and we have no issue with that aspect of his character," Gonzales says.
Still, gamers are not happy with Blizzard's decision and are calling out the publisher to bring Tychus' cigar back because it is part of who he is.
"The saddest part here is that you even go as far as disown your work by saying that it wasn't even important," laments one Reddit user. "But it's a blatant lie, the cigar is one of the most important things in the Tychus design, he is the space marine with the cigar, the guy in the awesome 'StarCraft II' intro!"
"Heroes of the Storm" is Blizzard's own multiplayer online battle arena set for official release on June 2. Currently, it is in open beta and anyone can freely download the game for the Mac and PC before its official launch.