Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan has announced the Overwatch Workshop, a “simplified game scripting system” that will add more variety to the first-person shooter’s Game Browser. Players can adjust the game at an unprecedented level to craft entirely new ways to play.
“Within the Workshop, you’ll create a Script to add Rules and unique play Conditions on top of the established Overwatch game modes you already know and love,” explains the Overwatch team. “Rules can do many things, like change how a hero’s movement and abilities work, modify how players are damaged or healed, or even display text under certain circumstances.”
To encourage creativity, the Overwatch Workshop will come bundled with several templates from Blizzard, including a floor is lava mode. Another suggestion is mirror deathmatch, in which all players are the same character for a minute at a time.
“We’re extremely excited to see what you do with this,” says Kaplan. “We hope it opens a whole new world of Overwatch to you all”.
With the ability to significantly adjust abilities, cooldowns, and movement, players could essentially prototype hero ideas or make their own balance adjustments.
Of course, while Blizzard has grand images of unique modes, one will probably be a small-scale Overwatch battle royale. Players have been asking for it, after all. With the multitude of options available to scripters, it could be possible to implement, the only major hurdle being the max player count of 12.
On the subject of limitations, it’s worth noting what the Overwatch Workshop can’t do. Players won’t be able to edit maps, create their own maps, or add anything that’s not already in the game. It’s firmly a way to control the shooter’s logic, which can still get very messy.
Though the feature is designed to be simple, it’s impossible to hide from the complex systems at play. As a result, it will launch with the Workshop Inspector, which is essentially a Blizzard-built debugger to point out issues.
The devs are expecting this to appeal to programmers more than anyone else, but it’s also a good vessel to gain more familiarity with game development and create communities. Kaplan says it’ll be easy to share custom game modes with others, requiring only the input of a short code on PC or console.
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These changes are currently live on Overwatch’s PTR, which will act as a testing ground for the feature. After Blizzard irons out the kinks, the tools and created modes will go live in the main game.