Disnewell Land: Valve Re-Envisions F2P For DOTA 2

By Nathan Grayson on April 21st, 2012 at 12:00 am.

How weird. That is *exactly* what I wear to parties. And funerals.
Back when DOTA was nothing more than an elaborate WarCraft III map, it used to be my way of relaxing. Sure, I wasn’t some unholy whirlwind of might and magic, but it was an experience that fell somewhere on the spectrum between “pleasant” and “killing a million things.” Flash forward to today: I don’t really play LoL very often. It’s stressful! If I can get a couple friends together, sure, but the community’s a grab-bag of mean people who use curse words. So, how does Valve plan to avoid walking down a similarly suicidal lane with DOTA 2? How does an oddly utopian-sounding player-driven wonderland strike you?

During an interview with Seven Day Cooldown (via Polygon), Gabe Newell described DOTA 2′s business model as “free-to-play,” but with “some twists.” Here, however, is the interesting part:

“The issue that we’re struggling with quite a bit is something I’ve kind of talked about before, which is how do you properly value people’s contributions to a community? We’re trying to figure out ways so that people who are more valuable to everybody else [are] recognized and accommodated. We all know people where if they’re playing we want to play, and there are other people where if they’re playing we would [rather] be on the other side of the planet.”

“When you start thinking about the different games that people play and you try to think about how people can create value or a service in one game and benefit somebody in a different game, you can start to see how the different games sort knit together. [You can see] how somebody who really likes TF2 can still be creating value for somebody who is playing DOTA 2 or Skyrim, or if somebody is a creator in one space how it can translate into another. In a sense, think of individual games as instance dungeons of a larger experience, if that makes sense as a concept.”

Specifically in the realm of DOTA 2, however, Newell pointed to an experienced player helping new arrivals learn the ropes as an example of a valuable community member. So basically, he hopes to encourage small acts of kindness and ultimately snowball them into some kind of giant, city-leveling friendship avalanche.

That said, he made sure to note that this isn’t a diabolical front for the next great existent social network. Rather, Valve’s grizzled captain is aiming for something ”more about how gamers can benefit from a collective action of all the other gamers, and there are a bunch of different ways that can occur, whether from things that look like traditional social networking notifications to higher-value activities. As far as I know, Facebook doesn’t have the ability for people to fundamentally modify or edit the underlying Facebook experience.”

So, in essence, the aim is to create social gaming that’s actually, you know, social. People would, shockingly enough, interact or experience each others’ content in a mutually beneficial, hopefully non-spammy way. But of course, it’s all conceptual at this point. Still though, whether you think it’s a stroke of genius or the possible result of a minor stroke, at least Newell and co are taking an outside-the-box approach to community management. Gaming groups are often insular at best and downright racial-epithet-spitting hostile at worst, so either something needs to be done, or it’s high-time we all grow up already. Maybe the answer’s a little bit (or perhaps a whole heaping lot) of both.

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113 Comments »

  1. PaulMorel says:

    My problem with this is something that I might be experiencing in the Dota 2 Beta right now.

    This would mean that nice players get paired with new players. In other words, because I have a ton of commends in Dota 2, I often get matched with new players, even though I have a ton of wins.

    So basically, I am at a competitive disadvantage because I am nice. In essence, I am punished for being nice to new players.

    As much as I like getting a discount, I am not a huge fan of a matchmaker that takes my personality into account.

    And why can’t we have a flag for people who play with no sound? I am so F-ing tired of being matched with players who live in the 1990s.

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      El_MUERkO says:

      I didn’t play the original DOTA but I played a tonne of LoL. Eventually gave up on it because the community is a grab-bag of cunts and griefers, it was impossible to get a good game. Got betavited to DOTA2 so I gave it a go, same game, prettier but less functional graphics, same community.

      • dmoe says:

        “less functional graphics”

        wtf does that even mean?

        • Psychopomp says:

          He somehow thinks LoL is less readable than Dota 2.

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            El_MUERkO says:

            The quicker you can recognise your enemy the quicker you can respond to them. I found LoLs graphical style to be superior in this regard. DOTA2 may look nicer in screenshots with all its muted colours but it all got a bit messy when 3 or more people were on screen. Again, it might be something I could get used to but I don’t remember having any issues with LoL.

          • Psychopomp says:

            I think you might be thinking of HON. Dota 2 is anything but muted, with most of the pallette being bright greens, reds, and blues.

          • Edradour says:

            HON isnt muted by any stretch of the imagination either…hes just talking out of his arse.
            I played a bit of Dota then alot of HON and lately ( after having stopped playing hon for half a year ) friends got me to play LOL and i had problems recognizing heroes/spells.
            You just have to get used to it.

            As regards to the community problem: I dont understand why nobody got the idea to simply take language filters to the next level, if you use a curse word anybody with language filter on would not see the message at all instead of only having the word censored. That alone would help much imo, you cant attack somebody verbally without cursewords when youre limited to 100 characters ( or whatever your threshold is )

          • semitope says:

            I agree with him on the graphics of lol being more functional. The mechanics are also better and more sensible. Dota and the uninspired Dota 2 are a mess imo. I cannot figure why they would go and clone a mod. Mods are limited by the game they are a mod of and modder, this is supposedly made by a professional company and the best they could do is bring in this completely broken game. Well.. not completely, but they failed. I understand they had no intention of doing any better than the old dota though. A lot of it could have used some reworking gameplay-wise

            Where I might disagree with him is on the issue of the community. If he is saying people are mean, I do not care. What constitutes a good game to me is a fair game where I don’t have to try 10 times more just to win because my team is utter garbage. Riot is more of the sense that a good game is one where everybody is pleasant. So they are basically encouraging bad players and punishing those fed up with bad players. The game is no longer fun or rewarding now because I cannot get a good game in. It’s either my team sucks or the enemy team sucks and makes it too easy. premade team games are likely more fun but I could never get a group of those on my list playing anything together. They started, then stopped.

          • semitope says:

            @Edradour people turn off their language filters in lol then report you. The whole thing is just stupid. With the filter in the game and with the ignore function, nobody should be complaining about mean people. They could focus on the people who actually mess with the game, but… that’s how it is now

      • Ruffian says:

        I’ve had completely the inverse experience to what you’ve had, so I’m thinking the whole graphics thing is more of a personal preference. I have a lot more trouble reading what’s going on in LOL, and it’s mostly the map design I think.

        • dmoe says:

          Same here. Dota 2′s crisp and clarity through it’s art style and unique hero spell effects are pretty damned great.

          • oiwdftz says:

            I do agree on the part with LoL, the business model on that is hands-down fantastic..
            http://www.punti.co/k3K0I2
            But in Tribes: Ascend, there’s a lot of grinding involved and people who pay money get the best classes out there.Pretty much everyone plays on Infiltrator, Pathfinder, Berserker and Soldier.I might be wrong however, but people with money still get advantage in there.Nevertheless, it’s still a great business model.

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      jrodman says:

      No sound or no voice? As a player who doesn’t like to hear the awfulness other gamers say, I definitely play with no voice unless it’s people I know.

      In fact I’m being steadily encouraged to go no-text-chat in multplayer games.

      • Eskatos says:

        You’re definitely at a huge disadvantage playing dota with no communication. You’ll be better off in the long run if you wait for teammates to prove themselves douches before muting. There really aren’t that many trolls in the game.

        • PaulMorel says:

          Exactly. Some people may be ass-hats, but me and my teammates are not. We use voice for teamwork, and we feel like we are at a competitive disadvantage when we have to talk AND type everything. It definitely slows down team-coordination, even if the no-sound player is a team player (usually not the case).

          The problem is that my friends and I often have a party of 3 or 4. So we have to have 1 or 2 public players, and it’s frustrating when they sabotage our team simply because they assume that we are douchebags.

          • Ruffian says:

            I can definitely understand and agree with that. actually I find most of the shit talkers don’t talk on mics. Literally every one I’ve played with typed.

          • Communist says:

            I usually play while listening to talk shows or podcasts so I can still hear the sound cues in-game. It actually annoys me when people try to communicate using their crappy microphones with all sorts of background noise. Plus I’d argue that it’s faster and clearer to type ‘b’ or ‘ss’ than it is to articulate it verbally.

          • Lilliput King says:

            Probably the reason you get matchmade with new or bad players is because you play in a team of 3 or 4.

            I don’t know what the algorithm actually takes into account but certainly pre-made team size is a factor. Anecdotally, I play in a team of 2, and you should see the chuckleheads we get matched with.

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          jrodman says:

          I was hearing you until you said “there really aren’t that many trolls in the game”. This one.. well.. that’s not my experience.

        • MasacruAlex says:

          Don’t think my other comment worked, but after 450 matches, I can tell you, on the contrary you don’t need a mic to have a good match but typers. All you ever need to type (Unless you socialize) is SS(when someone misses your lane / miss) b (To tell people to go back) and “re” when some enemy returns to the lane. Then you got the MAP and the signal, holding ALT and pressing enemy heroes/ buildings does a stabbing sound and shows a sword on the map, not to mention it’s visible around. That’s the best way to communicate where you want people at. Just put a marker easily where you want and they’ll get it. I’ve had matches with voice, weren’t that bad because luckily just one had mic and nobody talked over another. But overall that doesn’t change a thing.

          You don’t wanna hear 5 people spam via mic “Miss” and “re”. It is also easier to just type “b” instead of holding a key to spam Back back via voice :P

          What I am saying is that you are at no disadvantage with no mics. Mics are for games like battlefield, arma, and anything that’s not RTI’ish or RPG’ish (moba) in this case though. Not referring to WoW or anything like that. Mics are okay, but not needed in order to have an epic dota 2 match :)

          • Bungle says:

            You can type as many paragraphs as you want, but it will always be faster to say “B” than it is to type it.

    • MonolithicTentacledAbomination says:

      You don’t want to hear my baby crying and ambulance sirens and cursing you for feeding, and I definitely don’t want to hear your own.

      I think we can get by with text chat.

      • Xzi says:

        Push-to-talk FTW? Why would you keep your mic channel open all the time?

        There’s nothing wrong with text chat until, as PaulMorel said, you run into a team where two or three are using voice and the rest are reliant on text. Then it slows down communication and reaction time, both of which are vital in MOBAs and several other genres.

        • Reapy says:

          Am a fan of no voice for pub play and voice when being competitive on a team or with friends. But mostly i avoid voice unless i know a person and am ok with having them eat chips n my ear. Also ptt still doesnt fix overly loud or poor mikes with crazy noise in the bg, not to mention people that just dont use it. All in all, voice of is the safest default ;)

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      bglamb says:

      I’m pretty sure that that is neither what is happening now, nor what will be happening on launch.

      The mentoring will be voluntary, and the matchmaking is largely unimplemented as of yet (which is why you’re getting paired with beginners).

    • jalf says:

      “I’m being punished for being nice. Also, I hate playing with people who take the game less seriously than me, or who might *gasp* put my team at a disadvantage”

      Don’t worry, I highly doubt the degree of “niceness” you display is going to put you at a disadvantage.

    • Stevostin says:

      I play with no sounds because each time there is sound you’ve got at best not especially competent players giving orders to not especially listening players, and most of the time displaisante stream of either poor jokes or even worst, poor mic doing horrible noises. Also, if everyone lives in 2012 and has a mic, unless you have some channel management, you have something way worst than no sound at all.

      Sound is great with your partnenr in 2V2, 3V3, maybe up to 5v5. Don’t expand on that, at least not for game not designed to be a competitive entreprise IMO

      I also think somehow TF2 and L4D would play better with no mic allowed, and maybe even no chat, so player are force to use the talk keys no one is really using except for jokes. And you’d have the benefit of not having to hear real people runining immersion in a game like L4D.

    • Randomgerbil says:

      I have to say, I have a decent amount of commendations, and the players I get matched with are generaly competent. If you can provide a source that at the present moment this system is in place, I’ll take back this comment, but, is there a possibility that you’re just, well, not that good at dota? Matchmaking, to my knowlegde works on a MMR, which have ranges described as “Low” “Medium” and “High” skill levels. You can check this by searching for you name in the recent games, and filtering by skill level. Non the less, bless your cotton socks for taking the time to help the community. If you want to play with me and my merry band of voice using players, find me on steam and off we go. You’ll need mumble. Offer applies to anyone else who reads this.

      http://steamcommunity.com/id/Randomgerbil

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    Lobster9 says:

    I often think to myself that the infamous behaviour of the player bases in MOBA games is self perpetuating. Everyone seems to have heard of the problem even if they have never touched one of these games before, which turns a lot of people off very quickly.

    The problem is that no one really considers themselves the bad guy in these situations. On one hand you have new players complaining about their treatment from hardcore players, and on the other side you have hardcore gamers who hate new players for ruining their experience. The general dark-cloud hanging over the genre makes everyone feel justified in their frustrations, so it just gets worse and worse.

    I think both developers and fans need to start talking up the positives of the games rather than focusing on the ugly side. Buddy programs and tutorials built into the games interface and clear distinction between new players and veterans are a great way to start. But a community system with regular news coverage of all aspects of the game, both from a competitive angle and a fun casual angle would also help a great deal.

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      El_MUERkO says:

      I bet if Valve put the 10 most experienced (not best) DOTA2 players in a random matching you’d still get a tonne of racist, sexist, homophobic ‘noob’ bashing in chat. And someone would leave before the game ended.

      Unless Valves rumoured hardware is a brain electrocution device I fear there is no hope for these games.

    • imdwalrus says:

      “The problem is that no one really considers themselves the bad guy in these situations. On one hand you have new players complaining about their treatment from hardcore players, and on the other side you have hardcore gamers who hate new players for ruining their experience. The general dark-cloud hanging over the genre makes everyone feel justified in their frustrations, so it just gets worse and worse.”

      The problem is, that’s complete bullshit. Experienced players are NOT justified for newbies “ruining” their experience because, 95% of the time when that happens, it’s because the experienced players would much rather question the parentage, racial lineage and sexual orientation of the newbies than actually attempt to help them. Why bother to help them when it’s faster to just call them a (insert vulgarity here)? Yeah, explaining things might be a bit of a pain in the ass, but there’s a HUGE return on investment for doing so. And Valve already has at least one mechanic in TF2 where newbies can award people who help them (the Professor’s Specs item), and it wouldn’t surprise me to see something similar in DOTA2.

      I’m in the beta. I’ve tried spectating, because I’m too afraid to play so far. And there are definitely people in the community that make playing the game such a miserable experience, they;re going to drive away a lot of potential players forever.

      • MonolithicTentacledAbomination says:

        Jump in, it’s a lot of fun. It’s easy to mute people who do use mics, but most do not. Muting does take care of the text chat, as well.

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        Lobster9 says:

        I am not saying there aren’t a huge amount of genuine dicks playing. I just think its sad that the entire genre has this general stigma that won’t go away. It would do the game some good if they can bring a strong subset of the community together who are genuinely polite and helpful people, and keep those people at the front as much as possible.

      • cosmicolor says:

        Part of the reason people are such dicks is because, for some reason, a lot of the playerbase considers itself literally perfect at the game, never making a single mistake, regardless of how good or bad they actually are. Add that to the fact that the games make it so easy to blame your team for your losses and you have a recipe for serious rage. I’ve had people do horribly in matches before (in LoL) and scream at me when I make a mistake, to deflect from their own screw-ups. If Valve could make players realise that they aren’t all perfect at the game, I think it would go a long way to making things friendlier.

        • etusa says:

          This. Most of the BM I’ve seen isnt from exp players to noobs, its from 200+ or 200++ games players to EVERYONE, who think they have mastered the game after following competetive games for a few months. Especially if you try to give them advice after a mistake they have done (I atleast am pretty polite for starters, though I can be agitated if the responses continue to be more or less disrespectful) they explode. Kinda hard to change that egocentrism in people though, so the scene will probably stay as it is.

          • Reapy says:

            This. I made a run at learning lol and found my starter games very friendly, ppl were doing their own thing, i was playing a support char and got some comlaments for helpping people out, was fine. Then as i ranked up, it got worse and worse.

            See, honestly the truth is that moba community is the same as any large community, full of ppl that think they are pro and play flawless when they do anything but. The problem is the game mechanics of moba, there can be no indivual success at all. Sure you can jungle or solo mid well for a bit to start, but eventually the team has to come together. Couple this with a poor player can allow the other team to outlevel you, negating most any skill you think you have, and many ppls drive to quit immediatly when there is a poor start and you have the ripe breeding ground for the behavior that is the moba community.

            Honestly the only way to fix this is either you have 4 friends ready to play with you at all times or you fundamentaly alter how the game is played. Until that point, you will always have people flipping out on teammates. Most games can not accuratly judge and correct their play past a certain point, on any game.

            As a side, im still wating for a game with the champion structure that doesnt have lanes, creeps and most of the stuff that makes dota, dota. Eg i love the hundreds of champions and small arcady play styles, but hate the structure it is layered over. Pictureing a more persistant large map with multiple objectives and territory to push into, sort of like like planetside with dota characters (smaller scale than ps, but that sort of networked objectives layer).

      • Ruffian says:

        I hate to see this happening, but honestly it’s the way I was when I started. Just ignore the bitchers, and play, man. I swear there’s a good chunk of the community that actually is decent. Add me if you want man, I’m always looking for decent people to play with (noobs welcome). Steam Id – Satchmo .

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        bglamb says:

        Luckily I’m pretty thick skinned, but I just got into the beta and start every game by announcing to my team that I’m a noob.

        You’d be surprised how many people then feel safe enough to say ‘me too’!

    • Kinth says:

      The problem with adding stuff like Veteran tags is people start using it as a base for arguments with things like ” OMG shut up noob i’ve been playing longer than you!!1#!!1″ Even though having more time spent in the game does not automatically mean you will be better or a nicer player. with every feature you add to try and make the community better there will be an opportunity for people to grief it and make it worse, there will likely always be more griefers in the system than actual legitimate users of it especially if you offer some form of reward for it. That is unfortunately just the way the internet is these days, full of hate filled kids(or people with the mental age of kids) who will do anything to spread their hate. This is only multiplied ten fold when the game is free to play. Not only do you have more players, these players are not truly scared of the ban hammer, they will just start another account since there is currently not a foolproof method of permenantly banning these idiots.

      The types of attitudes you see in MOBA’s are certainly not just contained in MOBA’s , the main reason it seems worse in MOBA’s is because someone else performance and attitude can directly effect your game and in a way your own performance. In an FPS yeh you can lose but you yourself can still perform well and the win loss ratio in an FPS doesn’t really matter to most you are not really working as a team.
      Whereas in a MOBA if you have a leaver/troller/intentional feeder/terrible player on your team you will not only lose but your own performance will likely suffer due to a fed enemy having an advantage over you or you getting demoralized at the way the rest of the game is going. You could have the best game ever yourself but if another lane loses you start losing harder than you are winning you start losing too. There are two problems with this, alot of people don’t like having that over reliance on others on their team and everyone thinks they are a high rank worthy player, so even if it is them fucking up they will go to blame it on someone else usually start raging. These two combined can equal some pure hate. I think we have all raged in a moba at some point or another even i myself have though not in the OMG your all noobs sort of way, to most my rage would have been mild when compared to others, no swearing or anything like that.

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        Monchberter says:

        Valve already has a model for encouraging non prejudiced gameplay and cooperation. Team Fortress 2. You have veteran medals, marks of status yes, but even the most seasoned player can’t really win by him or herself consistently, you need to work with what you’ve got. TF2 by design had cooperation built in and matches tend to be freeflowing and have an air of unpredictability. It also helps that team scrambles tend to work, well, most of the time.

        Other Valve titles like L4D and DOTA2 seems to be built around specific expertise and fixed variables – if you’re matched with a less skilled player, you know pretty soon whether you’ll win or not.

        Anyway, DOTA2 is in beta, and beta means angry hardcore players. On release things will settle down somewhat. The angry ‘pro’ players will form their own little ghettos and the new players will be able to find a public server to practise or just have fun on.

      • etusa says:

        I hope they implement a condition to the F2P-model in dota 2′s case, a condition which requires you to have atleast one non-free game on your steam account before you can play dota2. Would still be basically free to play, but would make the trolliest of trolls think twice before doing ban worthy shit.

    • Merus says:

      The problem, basically, is that new players can ruin the experience. The design of MOBA games is such that new players, no matter how keen they are, can’t hope to contribute as much as an experienced player, and because almost all these games have positive feedback loops so that being slightly behind at the start means you’ll probably lose, someone who takes even a little while learning the ropes ends up costing their team.

      The design of the game prescribes people to act like douchebags. I would have hoped Valve would have understood that with their playtesting, but I guess not.

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        Monchberter says:

        You put it so much more eloquently that how i did above. ;)

      • Yosharian says:

        This is a matchmaking issue and not really a design problem.

        • cosmicolor says:

          i think it’s matchmaking, design and outright player attitude. mer does have a point in that the game does make it easy to hate everyone on your team.

      • etusa says:

        If someone’s complaining “newbies ruin my game”, he is probably himself a total failure in the game not getting enough rating to get out of the newbie bracket. Therefore I wouldn’t say newbies actually ruin the game but douches who suck at the game after playing considerable amount of games (but think they dont) and cant get their rating up, ruin the game for newbies. Still, I’d be willing to guess that there’ll be enough new players to the MOBA genre to have matchmaking fixed to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.

        • Yosharian says:

          I’m afraid that’s just bullshit. There are plenty of noobs in the high skill bracket.

    • Roshin says:

      “Everyone seems to have heard of the problem even if they have never touched one of these games before, which turns a lot of people off very quickly.”

      Yes, I’m one of them. :)

      I have managed to go through my PC gaming career without (knowingly) coming into contact with DOTA-style games. Here I saw the chance to finally get involved and I was somewhat excited. And then I started to see rants about how fucking newbs are going to ruin everything, how you must know what you’re doing and be a valuable member of the team. If I don’t know what I’m doing, I should just stay away and not spoil the game for everyone else.

      And it was enough to put me off. There does seem to be an extraordinary amount of dicks in the DOTA-community or at least a remarkably vocal one.

      • MattM says:

        Some players just believe they are entitled to win 100% of random match games. “If you aren’t going to spend 20-30 hours on the wiki memorizing the 5 abilities of over 100 champions and how they interact with all the game’s elements then you shouldn’t play asshole! I demand that my randomly matched team always contain pro-level players each of who is better than every member of the other randomly matched team. “

        • Reefpirate says:

          Bingo… Anyone who wants to complain about their team should join a clan or pro team, and quit acting like you’re a pro in public matches. The community didn’t put me off of MOBAs, although I did laugh at how corrosive and rage-tastic it was. What put me off of the game was the obscure and outright opaque mechanics of ‘winning’. I need to buy a bottle and do what with it? There’s carries and then jungle farm carries? Why not just have archers, mages and warriors? It’s not much of a battle arena, but more like a world class jigsaw puzzle assembly competition.

  3. Delusibeta says:

    And on a different tangent, it’s good to see that it’s finally confirmed that DOTA 2′s free to play. Admittedly, it’s entirely unsurprising since all of its competition is also free to play, but it’ll still be interesting to see the reactions from people who boycott F2P games to a game by Valve designed from the ground up for F2P.

    • Ruffian says:

      Valve is the one company that understands, that you can still be f2p without paygating everything. aka – characters. so hopefully you won’t see such reactions.

      • alseT says:

        Agreed. TF2 is the only F2P game done right so far.

        • PaulMorel says:

          That’s true. TF2 has definitely changed since hats & f2p, but it’s spirit has remained the same. It was the Mario-Kart-of-Shooters before hats, and it still is.

          There aren’t many AAA games that have fared so well. And yeah, I can’t think of one.

      • scim says:

        I think Riot did one of the best jobs for a f2p model that actually works. In no way shape or form can you pay to win in their game (the only things that could help you do that are only available through ingame earned currency (runes)). All the other things champions (which do not help you win, just give you more versatility/options), skins, boosts etc. do not give you a clear advantage. I would even go as far that by limiting the character/champion choices to the 10 free ones plus whatever you unlock early on is actually beneficial to a new player. The three big games (DOTA, HoN & LoL) all have around 100 champions/heroes and as a new player choosing from a pool of 100 is quite a task. Somehow limiting choices might be a good thing. Ppl might argue that boosts are pay to win, in a sense they give you a slight edge on earning xp/ip (last one is the currency). But you still need to invest quite a bit of time as well to get any real benefits.

        The big thing with any f2p title with microtransactions is that a player who wants to play for free needs to feel that they are not getting screwed by insane rewards for paying customers (pay to win). Or companies putting price points so high that it takes forever to unlock stuff (ie. ingame earned currency & pricing vs paid currency & pricing). You need to have a balance and I’m quite sure Valve realizes this. This is especially important in MOBA games where every possible edge you have over your opponent will be multiplied many times throughout the game.

        • Psychopomp says:

          The problem with LoL’s model is that you have to homogenize your characters. A lot. You can’t have off the wall stuff like Antimage, Pudge, Doombringer, or Broodmother if there’s no guarantee people will actually have access to their counter picks.

          Admittedly, when Riot doesn’t homogenize, they make some of the most fun characters in the genre. I still want Orianna, and Karma in Dota.

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            kavika says:

            There can be a guarantee. The “weekly” picks are in no way random. From what I understand, they are hand crafted every time. So if they have a wildly divergent balance style with one champ, they can also make its counter available during the same week. If they don’t want to do both, they don’t have to do either as they have nearly 100 champs to choose from.

    • Yuri says:

      TF2 the only F2P game done right?
      League of Legends and Tribes: Ascend would like to have a word with you, among others.

      League of Legends’ free to play model is actually a big part of what hooks you on the game. You can continue to unlock runes, champions and other things with absolutely no money involved.
      The only things that you can buy exclusively with money are XP/IP boosts and champion skins.
      You really don’t need any boosts and skins are just skins, purely cosmetic. Arguably, when you have 90+ characters to choose from, you really don’t care much for skins.
      The same goes for Tribes, which pretty much took an identical F2P model.

      • dsi1 says:

        If you’re selling gameplay affecting items that otherwise come at a large grind you’ve fucked up. T:A and LoL are guilty of this.

        • Premium User Badge

          kavika says:

          That’s pretty extreme. There are degrees of this which companies are still experimenting with.

          I draw the line at gameplay breaking and pure stats advantage. As in if you don’t pay money, then you’re simply outclassed. You cannot buy runes with money, so no, you can’t buy stats with money in LoL.

          If you can buy “different”, even if “different” adds another (balanced) gameplay mechanic, then I don’t consider it broken. Just like I don’t think card and board game expansions that have different (but not always superior) mechanics are somehow “broken”.

          This is the model that LoL has, by allowing you to buy new champions. Sometimes I’d like more “different”, faster, but then I realize that I get “different” for free (champion rotation) every week and don’t take full advantage of that :)

      • JallerInika says:

        I do agree on the part with LoL, the business model on that is hands-down fantastic..

        But in Tribes: Ascend, there’s a lot of grinding involved and people who pay money get the best classes out there.Pretty much everyone plays on Infiltrator, Pathfinder, Berserker and Soldier.I might be wrong however, but people with money still get advantage in there.Nevertheless, it’s still a great business model.

        • cosmicolor says:

          I think the LoL model i, in theory, somewhat nice but it is still super nasty ,especially for new players because they can’t just pick up whoever seems fun, they have to stick with the free characters which they may not like, or the boring cheap ones. One of the reasons I prefer playing Dota 2 is that I can currently choose from all of them free, so I can truly pick up a hero that fits me, or practice with a hero I have trouble against. It wouldn’t be so bad if LoL’s heroes weren’t so expensive, but I guess Riot gotta make money somehow.

          • Premium User Badge

            kavika says:

            You may find the cheap champions to all be boring, but I don’t. I find some of the newer champions to be more boring to play than some of the earliest (and thus cheapest) champions. Maybe they’re just boring to you because you saw them 3 years ago at release?

          • cosmicolor says:

            Its partly aesthetic, partly gameplay thing. The designs of the cheapest champions didn’t appeal to me much, and the few more expensive ones I bought to build up a stable of permanent heroes I found awkward to play, whereas the ones that I thought looked most appealing were always the most expensive. At least in Dota 2 I can just pick a guy I think looks cool there and then.

            edit:yes I know I’m shallow

  4. Butler says:

    I still strongly believe it’s not something specific to the type of people that play MOBA games, as oppose to, say, MMORPGs or FPSs, rather that the bad-mouthing is a symptom primarily of game design.

    There is no ‘practice modes’ per se – you’re in it to win it, or not playing the game. That, coupled with the reliance on every member of a team, and a strong inherent slippery slope that’s a feature of many RTS games, is simply a cocktail for frustration.

    A good player can play a really solid game (say, 10-3 k:d, lots of gold farmed etc) and still lose the game horribly.

    Over time, this forms a culture of hatred for noobs/morons/russians))))))))))) in all but the most forgiving and patient of players.

    • dmoe says:

      Dota 2 does have great modes to “practice” in. You can setup practice lobbies with actual people or with bots or with friends against bots. Valve is doing a great job here in trying to close that “scurry” chasm so new players can get into a game with a deep meta design like this. But I’d pay money to wall-off Russians and Brazilians from playing on NA servers. (Just sayin’)

      • Oof says:

        What’s wrong with Brazilians and Russians?

        • Hoaxfish says:

          well, according to the lore of the internet, Brazilians are annoying (begging and threats of reporting) and prone to hacking the game, while Russians are psychotic and prone to killing everyone (generally more of a problem in the more “social” mmos).

        • mr.ioes says:

          Russians have been a problem on EU servers since I started playing DotA in 2007. Russians most of the time were banned by IP on servers, because their mentality isn’t compatible to western players. They mostly screw around in ways you didn’t even know existed. How the russian pro scene can be so big, given how terrible their pub play is, is a mystery to me.

          We are hearing similar issues about players from Brazil (though they finally got their own servers in one of the recent updates).

        • Roshin says:

          “Russians most of the time were banned by IP on servers, because their mentality isn’t compatible to western players.”

          I honestly don’t think I have ever seen anything so stupid written on these pages before. You best be trollin’, son.

          • exenter says:

            I don’t think you have played with Russians or any other Eastern Europeans if you think he is trolling. Their attitude and mentality is just disgusting.

          • mr.ioes says:

            Well there has to be some correlation between the masses of requests for ru only servers and my subjective feeling that most russians’ primary goal is to ruin the game.

            But sure, what I said is probably quite unbelievable and disgusting for someone who has not made any experience in Dota 2 Beta or any DotA platform before.

            Play a bit and you’ll realize that what I said is the sad truth. Feel free to make your own theories why russians tend to ruin games, cause noone knows it for sure either.

      • Ruffian says:

        There is nothing wrong with russian players. I’ve played with plenty of good russian players. at least as many as anyone else. Some of the craziest players I’ve played with were russian.

        • Yosharian says:

          The issue here is language. Communication is at the heart of dota.

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        Wait, so we’re into xenophobia now?
        How quaint.

        And to think people are suggesting this game doesn’t bring out the worst in people.

        • Grape says:

          Wait, so we’re into xenophobia now?
          How quaint.

          And to think people are suggesting this game doesn’t bring out the worst in people.

          “Quaint”? If you believe this is just empty xenophobia, you obviously don’t have any personal experience in playing with these people.

    • Archonsod says:

      That is still a problem with the community though. It’s a game, the primary purpose is enjoyment, winning or losing should be secondary.

  5. Yosharian says:

    The biggest problem with the beta right now is matchmaking, which basically doesn’t work.

    • Kudos says:

      One issue I have with matchmaking, is that it can often take ~5 minutes to find a game of Single Draft. Yes I could choose ‘all pick’, but then you see almost the same champions every single game. I find SD immensely more enjoyable, but the long queues can squiff matchmaking.

      • Ruffian says:

        have you tried random draft yet? been getting decent que times in that lately.

      • Communist says:

        Even with all game types checked, it consistently takes 3 or 4 minutes to find a game. I live in New Zealand, so my nearest server is Southeast Asia or US West – bring on Oceanic servers!

    • Yosharian says:

      It kind of disgusts me that you guys think waiting 5 minutes to find a game is too long.

  6. The Tupper says:

    That picture reminds me of Judge Dredd.

  7. wuwul says:

    Sounds awesome.

    What would in general be great is if very good players and players who maintain fansites, write strategy guides, report new bugs, write addons, etc. could play for free, get paid stuff for free or even receive money.

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      Valve talked about this as a payment model ages ago. The idea of charging people based on whether or not the other players liked them. Like Gabe talks here about players adding ‘value’ to the game just by playing it, he said he would want these people to be able to play for free. But people who were getting on everyone’s nerves would find their subscription creeping up and up!

  8. Lemming says:

    Can’t they just use match-making that works a bit like football leagues? Amateur being the bottom, and your total wins contribute to whether you break into the next league, but your personal win/loss record is kept private. Why does it need to be more complicated than that, ever?

    • sassy says:

      Because a fantastic player matched with bad/trolling teammates will likely lose, heck a fantastic player can be matched with a few other fantastic players and lose because playstyles didn’t mesh very well.

      • Lemming says:

        Well instead of total wins have a system based on individual player stats, like baseball.

    • Ruffian says:

      I was under the impression that this was how it works.

  9. Hypernetic says:

    People will never do this, they only take the time to do anything out of their way when they report people for negativity/trolling/etc.

    • dmoe says:

      * Reported Hypernetic for intentional feeding *

    • kemeno says:

      Or, if you offer them hats.

      • Hypernetic says:

        See that is another thing, retarded trolls will report troll report people in a system like this because they didn’t give them free hats or let them have the lane/hero they wanted.

  10. rfil says:

    thoroughly put off by the Dota 2 community as a new player, probably a reflection of the heavily team based strategy which shuns those who can’t keep up (by harassment or being run straight into the ground)

  11. bill says:

    I guess one way to go about it would be to have something like “vote up” or “vote down” for players, a bit like blog comments. But any time you make something like that into a System you’re very vulnerable to people trying to game it. Bad losers voting down people who beat them. People voting up their friends. Etc..

    One idea might be to award anonymous-ly voted “awards” after each match. “MVP”, “Most polite player”, “Most annoying player” etc..
    Or allow players to attach such badges to other players, but only show them if many people have voted the same.

    Having rewards/reputation go across games/forums might be a good way to keep it a little more reliable.

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      This is basically how they are doing it. You have a limited number of reports, and they fall into different categories. The negative reports have very tight categories anyway, (text abuse, voice-chat abuse, intentional feeding) so you can’t easily report just as a bad loser, as the report can be checked.

      On the flip side, you can commend for ‘leadership’, ‘friendliness’ or mentoring, etc.

  12. JackShandy says:

    I’m wary of offering external rewards for this stuff. From what I know of psychology, offering external rewards for a thing makes you stop doing it if that reward is taken away.

    “Why would I be nice to people if I’m not even going to get +20 XP for it?

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Maybe, but consequences for actions is how we teach our children to behave, and it works there.

      • arccos says:

        Yes, I always wondered the same thing. The research seems to consistently show that rewarding and then removing the reward can make people stop doing a behavior they would normally do for free. But I don’t do “bad” things I know I can get away with.

        Unless maybe loss of pride is a strong enough consequence? Can you create a way to offer increased pride in a game if the player is nice?

  13. Pathetic Phallacy says:

    I wish Valve could create a sort of ‘nice guy’ leauge. Anyone can be in it, but the second you start flaming or talking shit, you lose your nice guy status and it’s back to the terrible community for you.

    I love DotA, I just wish it wasn’t filled with assholes. I go out of my way to be the nicest guy in the world, but once in awhile I feel myself pulled down by the terribly oppressive weight of dickish behavior that destroys most games.

    • rotegirte says:

      There are many ways to do it. I commend Valve for trying to develop a definite answer to the problem by themselves. However, the single thing not yet tried is empowering the community, promoting self-regulation. You might say, there has been a large and highly fragmented culture of different in-house leagues already existing for Dota 1. But the crucial difference is lack of infrastructure, integration and promotion. Things which Valve with their technological backbone could provide.

      Now, I strongly believe the issue stems from a different angle. Not the fact that there are different skill levels of players- but their expectations. Not everyone enters a game with the same mindset and perception of fun. This inherently carries fraction in all shapes and forms. Teams can consist of a wide range of skill levels just fine. It is the attitude that makes a great match. In a perfect world, assuming a working match making and sharing the same spirit- an enjoyable match is possible regardless of the outcome. However, not everyone shares the same values and expectations. One might try to impose such things- but is bound to be imprecise or even unjustified in order to do so.

      I pledge to give the power to the people. A truly social game would provide the necessary tools to create your own rules. Such places would not replace voluntary work. But they’ll give meaning to each effort taken. It is different from any random forum with self-imposed rules- when there is structural backing coming from the game’s engine. Create appropriate mod privileges and tools, provide a transferable ladder system. Make it customizable. And on top of that, make it possible to reward those who are willing to take care of it. One of my favorite communities are RPS and Teamliquid. Because they are moderated well. Because, I perfectly know what I signed up for. Because I won’t have the excuse of not knowing beforehand. People will always complain. Eliminate the possibilities to blame others.

      Everyone wants to just dick around from time to time. That’s what a general public non-ranked match by Valve can be used for. It acts as the lowest common denominator. Or else you could choose the Valve-curated ladder – with all implications, i.e. their rules. Take it or leave it. When you are unsatisfied, it should be your own responsibility to find a fitting environment to play in. But more importantly, a smart system would allow you to create such environments on your own- easily and manageable. The icing on the cake would then be rewarding the ones willing to work for the greater good.

      My proposal assumes there is no stronger force than self-regulation in well-defined spaces given the right tools.

  14. Brise Bonbons says:

    For people with the beta and too much anxiety to try it, join the chat channel “reddit noobs” (at least if you’re in the US) and see if there are some inhouse games going.

    Personally I’ve avoided MM entirely so far, playing custom games with other newish, chill people.

    If someone tries to pubstomp, you can quit a custom game and re-host (with the offenders uninvited) penalty free. You might get a yapping pubescent, but mostly just folks chatting calmly about tactics and strategy. Often the same group will remake after each game, and stick together for hours.

    This is just a game that works better if you control who you’re playing with – like most MP games, really. IIRC Team Liquid has a very sophisticated inhouse system as well, if you dislike Reddit.

    Personally I see no reason to join solo matchmaking in a MOBA with decent chat channel and custom game support…

    • Grimgrin says:

      The game your talking about sound like alot of fun and a good time but , this thread is about MOBA games so you must of miss posted. Seriously tho, from simply what I’ve heard about these games I wouldn’t wast my time downloading one of them FTP or otherwise.

  15. MajorManiac says:

    I look forward to seeing what they come up with. Myself, I’ve always wanted a friends list, and an enemies list.

  16. celozzip says:

    …but it was an experience that fell somewhere on the spectrum between “pleasant” and “killing a million things.”

    uh oh… you’re not one of those knights templar whackjobs are ya?

  17. pertusaria says:

    Could someone explain the point in the article about people who “really likes TF2 can still be [gack] creating value for someone playing DOTA2 or Skyrim”?

    I don’t get how my behaviour in TF2 can improve my friend’s Skyrim or DOTA game. Or does he just mean that TF2 players can also be nice people in other games?

    • MasacruAlex says:

      I do believe that’s what he means. Take a TF2 player and put him in Dota2, I doubt he’ll cuss and act like an idiot. I, myself, as an example and I got other friends who I met in Tf2 and can confirm.

      Now take a LoL guy and bring him in any game. Totally different story, unless it’s the rare case of just meeting the right one at the right time :P

      • pertusaria says:

        Thanks. I think he could have phrased it better, but this sounds a lot more sensible than saying that my good-natured fun in TF2 is somehow beamed over to a completely different game to give someone a hand.

        Off this precise topic, but I worry about griefers who have friends they can use to exploit an up-voting system, if it is implemented. Griefers often travel in packs, in my experience. Maybe Valve proposes to look at the reputation of the people doing the voting, but that could get complicated.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Jackablade says:

    Now I don’t pretend to understand a lot about these games – they take two things that I can’t abide by – the RTS and the jerk, and blend them into one unpleasant smoothie, but regardless, I find it curious that after five or six iterations of games in this genre, they’re still experiencing these problems of the community tearing itself apart.

    Is there really no way at a design level to rework the mechanics into a game that’s a little friendlier. Team Fortress 2 seems like a good example of that done well – a lot of carefully considered streamlining and simplification, easy to understand and follow objectives, clear and recognisable classes and weapons (or at least it started out that way) and ways for the new kids to run around and come to grips with how everything works, able to do something moderately useful and not drag the rest of the team down with them.

    Would it be impossible to do something similar with the DOTA genre? Buff off the sharp corners and lower the stakes a bit so that the game might be slightly less of a bubbling cauldron of rage?

    • Unoriginal Original Nickname says:

      DotA is not TF2. It’s a lot easier to smash average opponents on public server even if your team isn’t helping you in TF2. DotA is a game largely based around numbers and quick wit, not physical dexterity and individual prowess. Underperforming teammates can put their team at a huge disadvantage that you can not compensate with anything.

      People who refuse to learn and try to win should avoid games like this. They will only ruin everyone’s experience. There are plenty of games which will hand you a win for drooling on a keyboard, but some people who should be playing these keep coming into hardcore games and then become angered that they can’t succeed without putting in effort.

  19. Kinetic says:

    Mean and annoying gamers will always exist, however, I think game design can encourage being harsh against other people. Dota game design is particularly sadistic and a match requires a lot of compromise from its players to be played succesfully, you must engage in a 30 min~45 min game without AFKing, without quitting, and the first 15mins define a lot of times how the rest of the game will conclude; the players being mostly powerless when the level difference surpasses a set gap. This is a LOT compared to other online games like FPSes or RTSes, where you can stop playing or hop back in without consequences and your deaths don’t have so many effects in the team balance. This commitment requirement can make players really frustrated when a newbie player feeds the other team or quits ruining the entire game, making the team literally suffer through a 30min helplessness journey where you can’t do nothing to stop the overleveled opossing team; and (in at least DotA) your team can’t surrender, getting to die and die and die and die.

    All of this said and with these issues in mind, i’d say Gabe is thinking in the right direction.