Meet the Creators Behind Awesome Overwatch Workshop Creations Like “Last Man Bouncing”

For some, the Workshop is "one of the best things to happen to Overwatch."

Overwatch is a game where ostensible superheroes fight each other to the death over payloads and control points. It features cybernetic ninjas and hamsters in mechanized death orbs. And yet in the Overwatch Workshop, creators are turning a gladiatorial arena into bouncy castles, card games, and jumping puzzles, all to see how far they can take Overwatch's limits.

Blizzard games have a history of mod development. Other publishers have let users run wild with game creation tools plenty of times, yet few have led to the same proliferation of ideas and nascent genres as games like StarCraft or Warcraft 3 did. Overwatch's custom game scene shares that same legacy, developing new game modes out of ramshackle code and sliders.

In April, Blizzard introduced the Overwatch Workshop, which let users alter various rules and conditions within the Overwatch framework. Early examples, like "the floor is lava" mod Molten Floor, begat modes like OverFighter, a fully fledged 3D fighting game inside Overwatch. Users soon grabbed onto the tools available and started to rapidly iterate, taking to forums, subreddits and Discords to share their findings and make even cooler modes. Using strings-essentially sequential line commands-creators have made everything from card games and classic throwbacks to wholly new game modes.

These custom game modes are hidden away in a tab behind more conventional options, like quick play and the rotating arcade options. But in this little corner of Overwatch you'll find developers building games that are already defying what you might think possible within the confines of a team-based first-person-shooter.

Take Overwatch Uno, which is... wait for it... Uno played within Overwatch. It sounds pretty simple until you realize the complexities involved in replacing a shooter with a turn-based card game. It was built by a player named Ochotonida, whose experience in modding comes from a mix of computer science and Minecraft. Like others we talked to for this piece, Ochotonida came to custom game modes because they enjoyed Overwatch, but wanted a new experience from it that modes like competitive weren't providing. The final push was seeing someone post an attempt at Overwatch Space Invaders.

"It was somewhat fascinating to me that someone stripped every core gameplay mechanic of Overwatch and made something entirely new," Ochotonida told me over Discord. "The first two game modes I made, being Pong and Snake, were based around pretty much the same concept."

An early version of Overwatch Uno. The game now supports many characters and locales. | Ochotonida, Blizzard

As Ochotonida describes it, the hardest part of creating Uno was visually portraying aspects like the cards in a player's hand. "I ended up creating 50 separate actions, one for every possible card that could be displayed in a player's hand," says Ochotonida. "Combined with the actions that display the card on the table and the card a player has selected, there's over 80 different actions for displaying cards alone."

It helps, obviously, having a background in computer science. KevlaR, a developer on several popular mods including Last Man Bouncing, comes from a similar programming background. While by day they study at college and work in the Unity engine, by night they work on Workshop projects. Initial custom game support was slim, but a recent Workshop update has added tools that have allowed programmers like KevlaR to really dive into what's possible with Overwatch.

"When custom games were first launched, it was nice to see, but we weren't allowed much freedom," says KevlaR. "The Workshop, however, brought back a lot of players that have stopped playing Overwatch and, for me, revived the passion I once had for the game."

In the early days, KevlaR says they were spending around 15 hours a week working on projects. Of those they've made, Last Man Bouncing is of particular note. Ochotonida cited it as one of their favorite Workshop games, "possibly the most creative game mode that has been made with Workshop so far." It's the collaboration of KevlaR, who had previously made McCree's Hot Potato, and Jinko, creator of Enhanced Ana Paintball.

Players control their own version of Reinhardt who deals no damage but does knock foes back with attacks. Everyone is bouncing on a balloon high up in the sky, and the idea is to be the last one still up in the air, while sending others tumbling to their terrestrial doom.

It's simple, but incredibly effective. The idea came about when Jinko added a spherical jump pad to their Enhanced Ana Paintball, and decided they wanted a game mode where players try to push each other off a shrinking balloon. Over the course of almost a month, through playtesting, ideating, troubleshooting, and balancing, it came together. And according to the creators, reception has been positive. Generally, the Overwatch community has been very supportive of mod efforts, boosting them on common Reddits and popular streamers sometimes playing custom games on stream.

"When I first saw all the attention my Hot Potato video got, I was shaking with excitement," says KevlaR over Discord. "I am still in a state of surprise today. The other game modes people have released are all doing very well too. I think the community enjoys this new wave of creativity a lot."

Different Discords have become havens for Workshop creators to gather and troubleshoot, or even just playtest. Ochotonida mentions that one great thing about the Overwatch Workshop is that you can add new things while a game is in progress, and then immediately use them in the next match, assuming nothing goes catastrophically awry. This lets creators continuously iterate on small numbers of ideas and fine tune at a much more rapid pace. (Larger gameplay features obviously need a little bit more care and attention.)

Mountain Climbing, by Jeyzor, pits the Overwatch cast against a virtual Mt. Everest. | Jeyzor, Blizzard

There's a fervent community behind custom game creation, and Blizzard's support has been working hard to keep up. They've been responsive to developments within the scene (they've even added some card game-related strings, which Ochotonida likes to think they had an influence on), but there are still some wish list items creators want.

Custom strings to allow more modification of the game and better tools for sharing game modes are good starts. The Workshop uses a system somewhat similar to the recently released Super Mario Maker 2, where you share modes using a custom ID. While you can still find game modes via the lobby tool, discoverability is always an issue with any open customization forum. (Just ask anyone who tried to play a Warcraft 3 custom that wasn't Defense of the Ancients back in the day.)

But even more so, custom strings could allow creators to really push boundaries and innovate. One of the hot genres of the year is the auto-battler, or auto chess as it's popularly known. It's the hot new genre that only came about from modding, but Workshop creators don't see that same liftoff happening with their current set of tools, for better or worse. As it is right now, Workshop games draw more comparisons to minigames in Mario Party. They're short, sweet experiences that usually hit best when played in a lobby with friends, laughing at the ridiculous explosion when two bouncing Reinhardts crash into each other.

Creators aren't really looking for a gold rush similar to Auto Chess, either. KevlaR says they aren't thinking of a Patreon or anything, though Twitch streaming might be a good alternative. But right now they're just looking to make more interesting game modes and find ways to push the tools they have further. KevlaR tells me about ideas like escalating difficulty and levels, which could hopefully lead to new and better modes. Even with a rumored Overwatch 2 hanging just off in the distance, there's still a lot to be done here and now in the Workshop.

"It's one of the best things that happened to Overwatch in my opinion," says KevlaR. "If there really is an Overwatch 2, I don't think it really needs a Workshop. It has just been released in Overwatch and still has a lot of room to grow."

Tagged with Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, custom games, Feature, FPS, mod creators, modding, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Read this next

Another Blizzard Co-Founder Is Leaving After Almost 30 Years With The Company

Only one of the original co-founders is left now.

Video Game Characters Keep Popping Up In Porn Ads, And Publishers Might Not Be Able To Stop It

We spoke with a lawyer, and more, about the shady world of porn ads and copyright law.

Former Blizzard Co-Founder Discusses Some of Blizzard's Biggest Failings, Hints at a Comeback

Mike Morhaime is now free to talk about his time at Blizzard.

Want Your Multiplayer Game to Succeed? Summer Could be the Key

Fortnite, Rocket League, and Overwatch have all found success by owning the summer. Is Dauntless next? Or will Apex Legends make a comeback?

From Candy Crush to Hearthstone: How the Loot Box Bill Could Affect Some of the Industry's Biggest Games

The bill defines microtransactions and loot boxes, but questions remain.

More

How One Modder Builds Handheld Custom Consoles Through the Magic of Community and Self-Teaching

For modder Chris Downing, making his own handheld consoles is even more fun than playing them.

Man vs. Mario Maker 2: The Superball, Arby's, and World 1-1 is Burning

On this week's Man vs. Mario Maker, we bring you eight new courses full of delight and despair.

It Took Several "Crappy Prototypes" For Furi Developer To Get To Haven

A change in pace was not easy, but it was much needed.

How Does Fire Emblem: Three Houses Stack Up Against Persona, Bully, and Other Games With School Settings?

We don't need no education, but video game characters are another story.

More on PC

Elsinore Review

What a piece of work is a man.

Stardew Valley Fish Guide

Fishing is one of the best ways to make money in Stardew Valley. Here’s all of the info you need to know.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Release Date - Platforms, DLC

Call of Duty Modern Warfare is a re-imagining of the 2007 classic. Here’s what you need to know.

NBA 2K20 Top Shooters - Best Shooters, Highest Shot Rating

If you want to put together a great team in NBA 2K20, you’ll need great shooters. Here are the best Shooters in NBA 2K20.

NBA 2K20 Ratings - All the Best NBA 2K20 Player Ratings We Know So Far

The player rating for NBA 2K20 have started to be revealed. Here’s what we know so far.

Fortnite Season 10 Start Date - Mecha Versus Monster Battle, When Does Season 10 in Fortnite Start?

Fortnite is set to change once again. Here’s what we know about Fortnite Season 10 so far, including a start date, and more.

More FPS Games

Tim Willits Leaves id Software After 24 Years Working On Quake, Doom, And More

The studio mainstay is moving on to new projects after QuakeCon.