Valve’s Erik Johnson On Who DOTA 2 Is For

Not Erik Johnson

You think my bag of Gamescom coverage is empty? Hah! Far from it. I’m beginning to worry I’m going to spend the rest of my life documenting what I saw and who I spoke to across four frenetic days in Germany last month. This time, it’s a quick chat with Valve bigwig Erik Johnson about DOTA2 – why they made it, what’s different, whether normal humans as well as superhumans can play it, whether they’re trying to become kings of pro-gaming hill, how aggressively they’re competing with Riot Games, Blizzard, et al… He’s not the chattiest subject admittedly, and I was miserably short on time due to my next appointment being approximately eighty miles away from Valve’s stand, but let’s see what he has to say about the impending reworking of the monstrously successful mod.

Note – this takes place before the conclusion of The International, the DOTA 2 pro-tournament held during Gamescom.

RPS: How’s The International going?

Erik Johnson: It’s going great, like we expected – these are the best 16 teams in the world, and they’re playing like the best 16 teams in the word. We’re just heading into the brackets now, in fact the first elimination game’s being played right now. I hope fans are getting a kick out of it – we’re sure getting a kick out of it, it’s a lot of fun.

RPS: Have you got a favourite team?

Erik Johnson: Not really. I just want good, exciting games. I hope it comes through, especially for people who don’t really know DOTA, how talented all of these players are.

RPS: I was watching some games on the screen and I could barely keep up – they seem almost superhuman.

Erik Johnson: Yeah, they’re pretty amazing. I just want a great competition, good matches, exciting matches.

RPS: Would you be able to even slightly hold your own against any of these guys?

Erik Johnson? Would I? No, no, noooo. I’ve played DOTA for two to three years now – not even in the ballpark. We actually did play [them] – they’ve had access to the game for about a month and so the Valve people were early on mixing in with the teams when they were playing. We’re not anywhere close.

RPS: Were they immediately good at it due to their experiences with the original?

Erik Johnson: Oh yeah.

RPS: What would you say is the major difference between this and the original, outside of the graphical stuff?

Erik Johnson: The things that we’re most focused on is the experience of getting into a playing a game of DOTA. We want people to be able to play this game with their friends really well. Icefrog’s been building this game by himself for six years and there are a number of limitations in being a modder on any platform. Now we have a pretty large team that’s building this game at Valve, the number of things we can do is a lot greater.

RPS: He must have been like a kid in a candyshop when he suddenly had access to all these people and all that budget…

Erik Johnson: I would think so. Yeah, it’s been pretty fun and there are a lot of fans of the game involved in building this.

RPS: My concern is can normal human beings play this too, and to what extent?

Erik Johnson: Yeah, the reality is that pretty much no-one here is going to be able to play like these guys. Just like any sporting event, if you watch the best in the world your chances of being as good as them are slim to none. But we have games of five on five for people who are brand new to the game, and they’ll have a great time. They’ll have as good an experience as you can get, with everybody being at the same skill level. A lot of the things that the professionals are doing, just like any other sport, they’re on this kind of bleeding edge and the difference in skill between the teams is relatively small – so any little things they can do to gain a march on their opponent… For a less experienced player, it’s not going to happen as much.

RPS: It seems a profoundly different prospect to TF2, which found a bunch of ways to be a sort of gateway experience to online shooters. Can you talk about whether you’re doing anything similar with this?

Erik Johnson: Well, we think that DOTA 1 proved that the game has pretty broad appeal. There are tens of millions of people who play DOTA 1 today, and for us that’s a great indicator that there’s a lot of good things going on in the product. We’re not going to jump in and change all of those things, because they’ve been tried and tested. But DOTA 2’s a product like a lot of our products, it’s going to have a long life after we ship. We’re going to keep building on it, experimenting and learning things.

RPS: Will there be stuff added, rather than changed, to help ease in new players?

Erik Johnson: Yeah, there’ll be ways for the new player to learn about the game. One of the features we’re going to do is coaching, where an experienced player can watch a new player and kind of teach them while they’re in the game. We think that will be kind of useful for the kind of new people.

RPS: Some of the other games in this genre are pretty famous for how hostile their communities can be, especially to new players – how are you going to manage that?

Erik Johnson: The reality is these are pretty competitive games – when people lose, nobody likes to lose. So people can get upset, but making sure that the gamers have relativity similar skill levels within the games can go a long way to making sure everybody has lots of fun, but as anybody who’s played DOTA 1 will know, losing a match in DOTA 1 is no fun. But the game has enough depth that it always gives you… in the same way that we try to do in our singleplayer games, you can think through the decisions that you have made and how you could have done them better. That’s kind of part of growing and becoming better at the game.

RPS: I guess there isn’t really the scope to feel you’ve done well individually even if your team loses, as there is in TF2 or even CS to some extent – this is purely win or lose, it’s pretty absolute, right?

Erik Johnson: It’s closer to absolute. The game is built in a way where it rewards the team that works well together pretty heavily. Individual skill is great, but if your team isn’t working together well, the other team is going to come out on top. Left 4 Dead probably has more of a similar feel – if you someone on your team who’s bring the team down, or you’re not communicating well as team, that’ll really hurt you.

RPS: I know this was a passion project for you to some extent, but how much of an interest is there within Valve in consciously courting the pro-gaming scene? There seems to be a hell of a lot of money in that these days – even down to the prize pot you’ve got for the International.

Erik Johnson: No, we don’t look at this as… We think that finding interesting ways for fans of DOTA to get to see all these guys in one place, we think that’s a cool thing to do for them. The reality is that that’s how we approach almost all of our decisions. We want to find ways to entertain as many people as we can, and we’ll figure out how to make money off of that later. If we approach it as ‘how can we make the most dollars?’ up front, it just leads to a bunch of bad decisions.

RPS: But you’re surely hoping it will trump rivals in this genre, in terms of pro-gaming take-up?

Erik Johnson: I don’t really know, as a goal, how we would act on something like that. We think those other games are great – they have huge followings of people that really love it. Some of those people might like our game and want to try it, and that will be great, but gamers will play as many great games as exist, it seems. It’s not a zero-sum deal. If it turns out that a bunch of professionals want to play our game, great. If not, then we’ll be asking them what we can do for them to want to play it.

RPS: There’s always a tendency to look for the conspiracy theory, the hidden agenda, behind decisions like this: people can struggle to believe that a company the size of Valve did something primarily because it just wanted to.

Erik Johnson: That really is what it is. We were huge fans of the product, we met the single developer behind it, we were huge fans of him, we really wanted to work with him and from there it was let’s build this product and see where it takes us.

RPS: How much did you anticipate there maybe being problems with Blizzard when you embarked on DOTA 2?

Erik Johnson: We’re at least as big fans of Blizzard as anyone out there, and we’re good friends with a lot of guys there. We want to build as good a product as we can, and hopefully they do too, it depends what makes sense for them.

RPS: Are you expecting their StarCraft DOTA to be a competitor?

Erik Johnson: I saw what they did at Blizzcon, it looked kinda cool.

RPS: For you personally, is your main work on DOTA 2 done and now you’re off to other projects, or will you be sort of semi-permanently attached to it for as long as it continues?

Erik Johnson: Oh, we’ll all be working on this game for a long time. As long as people think what we’re doing is cool and keep playing the game, we think of DOTA as a pretty long-term product.

RPS: Do you have a preferred character in it yourself?

Erik Johnson: It’s tricky, because there’s some value in learning lots of different characters in DOTA. If I had to pick, it would probably be Earthshaker, who’s actually been picked in a lot of the games out here. He’s just a good support hero who has a lot of disables on him. Fun hero for me to play.

RPS: Thanks for your time.


  1. Bantros says:

    Release the beta!

  2. Flukie says:

    He didn’t really answer the question on how inviting is it to play, I’ve played both League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth aswell as Dota and I currently prefer LoL, simply because it cuts the shit. It cuts a large amount of what makes the game feel like a chore and focuses on whats important and mainly, whats fun.

    Heroes of Newerth is great if you like repeating procedures to win but I prefer adaptive skill as apposed to pure preparation.

    Another thing is interface, Valve I know will make a great interface to this game and its one thing HoN has over LoL at the moment.

    Unfotunately due to a large amount of internal testing and developing based on results of that testing then they will cater towards those that want to follow procedures rather than fun in my opinion. Still I will try the game and I know i’ll probably have a good time.

    • jonfitt says:

      I don’t know how inviting the actual game part of a MOBA can be though.
      You can work to improve the community and have good tutorials, but ultimately if you get off to a bad start or screw up early you’re in for 30 minutes plus of being slapped around without the option of leaving lest you get a black mark on your record. Worse, there’s a high probability you’ve spoiled any chance of the other 4 people on your team wining, and probably fed a monster who’s going to slap them around for 30+ minutes too.
      It’s no wonder the community ends up acerbic, when that can and does happen often in low-level play.
      No other multiplayer genre is so uninviting to new players!
      The whole focus of the DOTA2 news so far has been about how their courting pro gamers. Well whoopsy-do; they’re pretty well served by every other MOBA out there. A real sequel would address the underlying problem with a genre which actively punishes new players.

    • BurningPet says:

      Nope. LoL competitive level is really really below that of HoN and Dota. HoN is at a high level, although, said to be much lower than that of Dota 2 (by pro HoN players who beta test Dota 2) but them being late in the free to play really stopped them from fully fulfiling their potential to bring Dota players over, so that leaves Dota as the king of the pro scene, and now, Dota 2.

    • darkath says:

      I pretty much never had the problem of being stuck in a long game that we all knew was lost (or won) because of the nice “Surrender” feature of Leagues of Legend.

      After 20 minutes in game, you are allowed to surrender, but 4 people out of 5 in the team must agree to surrender.

      But usually if you know you lost by 20 min mark, the game won’t last very long anyway.

    • Furanlost says:

      HoN has that option as well. People can Concede 15 minutes in if all 5 people agree or they can concede with only 4 30 minutes in.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      That’s really just glossing over the real problem of the game which is that the game can become one sided far too easily. Because the game has a very strong slippery slope effect as a consequence of its mechanics.

      The surrender solution doesn’t really fix this problem it just acknowledges it and leads to another problem in which players try to surrender far too early and too often rather than actually trying to fight the game to the end. I often see this in LoL when I’m playing Ashe or Yi. Players try to surrender early only for us to go on to win the game at the end once the late game characters come into full effect.

    • jonfitt says:

      What Steven said.

      I want to see the genre’s flaws addressed not glossed over with tribunals(!), and quitting mechanics.

  3. Thomas says:

    I really hope Valve doesn’t allow Icefrog to turn the it into another shitfest of a community :(

    • caddyB says:

      MOBA community? Not shitfest?
      Yeah well, might as well hope for world peace.

    • Nova says:

      Yeah, because in all the other communities of multiplayer games it’s all unicorns and rainbows.

    • Kaira- says:

      Well, MOBA’s game mechanics/gameplay tends to try to actively make the community absolute shitfest. Matches last from 30minutes to 60 minutes, if you suck you can’t really leave without getting a stigma of a leaver upon you, if you suck you are not only a hinderance to your own team, but actively making the other team stronger. And nobody likes to play for an hour, knowing that your team loses certainly, without being able to leave the game and getting your ass handed back to you all that time.

      At least, that’s what I think.

    • hilltop says:

      Hard to disagree with Kaira…

      Why do you phrase your post as though Icefrog is responsible for the community being that way? From the posts of his I read from time to time, he seemed level headed and fair.

      It’s possible that if they made incentives attractive enough, people would be motivated to try to moderate the community. LoL has a “Tribunal” system that, in theory, could work if the perks for participating in the process were attractive enough.
      Not that I think the system actually works well in LoL, but the idea is there…

    • jonfitt says:

      I totally agree with Kaira, as I said elsewhere, the whole game lends itself to the negative atmosphere.
      A real sequel would attempt to progress the genre, not just try and court a minority hardcore.

    • darkath says:

      But why blame icefrog ?

    • qwiggalo says:

      I really wish people weren’t so damn sensitive.

    • PFlute says:

      @qwiggalo: I know, right? Somebody makes a legitimate complaint against a game/genre and people get all insulting and defensive.

    • TheCow says:

      As a matter of fact, Kaira, trolling is much more frequent at low skill level, at least in LoL (which I play ravenously :D). People tend to think they’re very good once they get the ropes of playing 1-2 heroes and they they label everything they don’t agree with as a misstep, often completely missing the ramifications of the situation they rant over. Experienced players (and I call myself one, having played LoL consistently since closed beta) can tell the difference between bad luck/overwhelming odds and lack of skill, and more often than not people prefer cracking creative jokes. Rarely will an experienced player bash you even if you do suck, especially if you’re not playing ranked, which IMO you shouldn’t unless you’re reasonably good (and by that I mean knowing what each and every hero can do and being able to successfully play at least one type or “class” – AP, DPS, tank, support etc.)

      I`m not entirely sure how things stand in ranked matches because I tend to stay away from those, even though I do meet my own definition of a reasonably good player. Why ? Well, simply put, I want to avoid “elo hell” – the “low skill” tier of ranked games where waaaay to many players test their mettle as soon as they hit level 30 and I just don’t have the dedication to climb up the elo ladder. And I think this is true for many LoL players, not just myself.

    • DK says:

      “But why blame icefrog ?”
      Because he’s the one who put mechanics that discourage team play and encourage asshole-behaviour into a purely team oriented game?

  4. Metonymy says:

    Lets not lose sight of what this game is, a version of warcraft where you only have to control 1 hero. No base building, no scouting, no army control. It’s fine to have fun, and to appreciate skill, and to talk about accessibility, but these are not, on the average, skilled players. Even when compared to 1v1 fighting games, DOTA is very close to the casual end of the spectrum.

    This is important, because the hostility of the playerbase is prompted primarily by the quality of person required to excel at this game, and not anything else. You don’t see this kind of consistent childishness in starcraft, or chess, or turn based strategy.

    • 4026 says:

      Oh God. Here we go…

      Depressingly obvious troll is obvious, depressing.

    • westyfield says:

      “this game is, a version of warcraft where you only have to control 1 hero. No base building, no scouting, no army control.”

      Good. I hate micromanagement in strategy games. If I want to dick about with activating abilities I’d play DOTA, and if I want to control an army I’d play SupCom.

    • zergrush says:

      I doubt the best RTS players would be able to properly read and react to small frame windows without a lot of training, and the quickest Tekken pro is probably unable to macro, and both of them would have a hard time using spells in a perfectly coordinated way in a team fight ( and the Tekken player would also probably have shitty map awareness ).

      Different games, different skills.

    • smartalco says:


      Thanks for the laugh. I’ve been pretty bored with the internet today.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Quite, westyfield.

    • Bloodloss says:

      What he’s saying sounds pretty reasonable to me, I agree. And yes, RTS players will often have to respond in small window frames; immediately moving away some units to dodge seeker missiles or any other number of things in SC2, having to teleport away JUST at the right time in WC3 when a death coil is floating towards you (this spell launches very quickly and many people have trained themselves to be able to notice the tiny movement of the death knight’s arm so they can instantly use their town portal), among many other examples.

      To say MOBAs are skilless would obviously be a stupid thing to say and a massive over-exaggeration, but to say they’re significantly less skillful than many other competitive ‘e-sport’ games? Sounds about right. Nowadays, though, the definition of trolling is someone who has a different opinion to yours.

    • kyrieee says:

      He’s not all wrong. Playing a MOBA is relaxing compared to SC2

    • Thants says:

      “Nowadays, though, the definition of trolling is someone who has a different opinion to yours.”

      No, it reached trolling when he essentially said that you have to be a bad person to excel at this game.

    • Wulf says:

      He’s not all that wrong, per se, but he is wrapping lies around truth, and then truth around lies, to try and obscure the lies. One of the biggest there is that Starcraft 2 has a mature and well-balanced community. Oh, my sides, they hurt from the laughing. No, Starcraft 2’s community is as immature, as potty-mouthed, and as horrible as LoL’s or HoN’s. Every bit.

      It’s not fair to compare it to the original Starcraft because every old game has a great community, and has nothing to do with the barrier to entry but more that angry people tend to avoid older games. Puzzle Pirates has a pretty great community despite being a casual, very accessible game. A lot of that is due to its age. And yes, PP’s community greatly excels past that of Starcraft 2.

      To say that a game being difficult automatically improves the community is an easily falsifiable statement with the vast amounts of contradictory evidence that already exists. Pick one, hard game that’s been released within the past two years and you’ll find that the community is horrible.

    • Metonymy says:

      Wulf, its a matter of degrees, and there is a big gap between simply being rude to the opponent, and actually griefing your own team. (which you see in moba quite frequently) Speaking on behalf of the ‘immature,’ I don’t believe people with thin skin deserve to win, because the real world is filled with verbally abusive winners. You can’t just say ‘that’s unfair’ and cover your ears, because that will never allow you to get stronger, and beat more opponents.

      As far as the real immaturity goes, the griefing, teamplay creates situations where you fail just because other players on your team make mistakes or are incompetent. Teamplay itself is a big multiplier for raging, and it’s magnified again when the players are mostly casuals and kids, who almost certainly have an unrealistic expectation of themselves and others.

    • PFlute says:

      “Speaking on behalf of the ‘immature,’ I don’t believe people with thin skin deserve to win, because the real world is filled with verbally abusive winners. You can’t just say ‘that’s unfair’ and cover your ears, because that will never allow you to get stronger, and beat more opponents.”

      Well, for one, no. Unless we’re talking theatrical pro-sports, in which case the answer is “sometimes.” In real-world arenas that matter verbally abusive people don’t exceed nearly often enough to “fill” said environments.

      For another, I’d venture to say that if people are bothered by being expected to uphold some basic societal expectations (Don’t be an asshole), then it’s not the people who ask for a decent community who have “thin skin”.

      Basically, when someone says, “We’re abrasive here, get used to it” all I hear is “UWAAH BEING A DECENT PERSON IS TOO HAAARD”.

    • Metonymy says:

      I respectfully disagree. As a general principle, I find propriety distasteful and hypocritical. It is a method of manipulation. In the real world we live and die by the quality of our manipulation, but on a virtual battlefield, one where only our pride is at stake, it is repulsive, and dishonorable.

    • JackShandy says:

      Hold on, avoiding verbal abuse is a form of manipulation?

      Well shit-coking fucksticks, looks like I’ve been a bastard this whole time.

    • Gadriel says:

      Man, I’m going to have to start spewing racial slurs at everyone around me so they don’t think I’m a manipulative asshole. If my experience in SC2 is any measure of what’s apparently appropriate, I’ll have to announce “fag spic speak english” every time someone fails to respond to my calling them a “fukin nig” when they greet me and offer a general well-wishing (actual quotes from a match last night!).

      I don’t see how choosing not to be an asshole is in any way false unless you’re actually an asshole. In which case well, you’re an asshole.

    • Thants says:

      @Metonymy: You seem to be ping-ponging back and forth here. People’s hostility is caused by their casualness and being a bad quality person for choosing to play this game; then hostility is held up as an ideal, only immature people deserve to win, and being polite is dishonest manipulation.

      You can’t insult people for being immature and then turn around and insult anyone who isn’t immature.

    • TheCow says:

      zergrush, I think I love you

  5. EhsanKia says:

    Honestly, the one and only thing that will make or break this game for new players is the Game Arranging System. The more accurately they track the skill of the players and find an adversary with similar level, the more fun the game will be for everyone. Even losing is not that bad when you have a super close game.

    The worst though is when you get a huge losing streak and get depressed and keep losing, then you leave the game for a couple weeks, come back even worst than before, but now your account skill level is still as high so you lose even more, and then just rage quit for ever.

    • Barnaby says:

      I agree with this sentiment. The ranking system in HoN is idiotic, not to mention that you can pay money to reset your stats. I’m curious to see how the ranking works.

  6. 4026 says:

    Erik really didn’t answer any of the questions put to him, did he? Okay, maybe that one about his favourite hero. But otherwise, it was a masterclass in evasiveness. The Blizzard question was particularly worthless.

    RPS: Did you anticipate legal trouble with Blizzard when you started making DotA 2?

    Erik: Some people who work at Blizzard are nice.

    RPS: Thank you for your time.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Very nice guy, but I know to be pushier if I ever interview him again, put it that way…

    • Thomas says:

      Guess we will find out soon enough, currently Blizzard have a deadline on the 17th to oppose it, though i guess they could extend it.

    • 4026 says:

      @Alec: I often think it’d be interesting to see some pushier interviews in games journalism, but they seem terribly rare, for various good and not-so-good reasons.

      I mean, I get it, your Gamescom schedule was packed, so was his, you’re both short of time, and it’s not like Erik (or any other dev) has any particular reason to sit and submit to more involved probing when he’s got a dozen other interviews and previews lined up that afternoon with… er… softer bloggers and journos. But it’d be fascinating to see someone go all Paxman on these guys.

    • Alec Meer says:

      The attack-dog style is just not a mentality I have personally (I don’t enjoy it and would rather focus on interesting conversation about games), but certainly games journalism could use a Paxman or two. There are a few journos who try for the hyper-pushy route, but in my experience they’ve often come across as aggressive knobs rather than truth-crusaders. Perhaps that’s because the interview is necessarily about someone’s product, rather than about whether someone is making the right or wrong decision for a nation or trying to cover up wrongdoing. Also because the pushier journos are generally looking for a hit-grabbing headline first and foremost.

      In other words, the games industry in general isn’t encouraging Paxmen from either side of the argument, and that is a shame.

    • CMaster says:

      As someone who’s done a few gaming developer interviews (in a non-professional capacity), frequently the reason for the seeming ease of evasion and lack of obvious follow up questions, is that large numbers of (possibly most) interviews are conducted via email, with a list of questions being sent off to a contact person (normally some kind of press/community officer), vetted, passed on to the relevant person in development, replied to three weeks later when said dev finally has some time, vetted again and then emailed back to the journalist. Perhaps someone needs to make a habit of “doorstepping” the Gabe Newells of the world.

      Perhaps the pushier types are focussing on being pushy, rather than getting something answered. Too busy spewing attacks to listen to answers and dig? Of course, you’ve also always got the point that people could just walk away and look no worse for it.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s incredibly important to do interviews by phone or in person if you want them to turn out good (though that’s not a guarantee, obv). If you’re running your own games site, you need to resist the urge to conduct interviews by email, no matter how nervous or out of time you feel. The risk of stock or rote answers is huge.

      I do do a few via email, but only in instances where I’m quite sure it won’t lead to overly sanitised comments (which is pretty much only when it’s an indie dev who hasn’t been drilled in tedious PRy information-shield techniques).

    • 4026 says:

      @CMaster: I’d sort-of guessed that might be the norm, from reading a few interviews online where the rhythm seemed particularly wonky.

      @Alec: You’re right, of course, that the stakes are far lower in the games industry than on Newsnight. But still, I feel that sometimes a little carefully-targeted doorstepping and Paxmancy wouldn’t go amiss. Top of the hit-list would be whoever it was at Ubisoft who came out with this statement, with the aim of trying to find out exactly whose arse those numbers were pulled out of.

    • jonfitt says:

      It wasn’t that bad. I’ve seen plenty of “Q:Your game’s awesome. How awesome is your game?” on other sites.

    • Big Murray says:

      I’m not sure creative industries really have “Paxmen”, do they? When you’re interviewing people who are primarily being interviewed for the purposes of getting their product out there, they’re not going to be as interested in subjecting themselves to interrogative questioning on the bigger issues surrounding their product … I can’t think of anyone in the film or music industry who could be referred to as a Paxmen either.

  7. Durkonkell says:

    I only started playing LoL recently, and actually it’s a lot of fun if you have even one person you know to show you the basics. I don’t suppose I would have persisted with it very far on my own, though. I’m a little concerned that Valve are literally taking the original DOTA and polishing it to commercial standards with very little iteration or redesign – If you compare TF2 to the original Team Fortress, it’s broadly the same concept but with a lot of refinements. It sounds more and more like DOTA2 isn’t DOTA with refinements… it’s just DOTA.

    What concerns me most is that no-one seems to have given the slightest thought to how the community could be encouraged to be more friendly to new players – or how game design can cause negative behaviour to be discouraged. All I’ve heard on this subject is “well, the game is very competitive” as if in any competitive game people being bastardly towards one another is acceptable and expected. Sure, a certain degree of that is going to happen no matter what you do but it can be controlled and mitigated. Reference again TF2 – it’s competitive, but I see far less horrible behaviour there than in – for instance – Modern Warfare 2. The way player death is handled makes me more inclined to laugh at my horrible demise than to angrily shout at my monitor – this is probably what reduces the tendency of certain individuals to broadcast disparaging comments about the opposing player’s sexuality.

    Considering that the number one criticism of this type of game relates to the community (“I stopped playing because the community is horrible”, “I want to try it, but I’ve heard bad things about the community”), where’s the legendary Valve touch? Where’s the commitment to making the game fun for the maximum number of people through constant testing and tweaking? If 50% of the players in every game (the losing team) are going to leave a match irritable and unhappy, ready to lash out at whoever they decide is the underperforming player… that doesn’t sound like Valve at their best.

    Hopefully I’m not correct about this, and they’ve just done a bad job at answering the question and defusing my concerns. I’m still very interested in seeing how this turns out – it is, after all, a valve game – but I have lingering doubts and concerns.

    Once again, I’ve written far too much. Apologies.

    • tenseiga says:

      They are working on it. GN has consistently said they would like to reward members of the community who are positive contributers (going to the point of actually giving them rewards which could be purchased or discounting the game or something to that effect). Im not sure how it will work out but rest assured that valve is addressing the community issue above all.
      The other point you make about it being dota without enough refinements. You have to understand that this is not how TF2 is to TF. The reason valve have done this, and icefrog himself has stated this is, he sees Dota 2 as the future of dota. Which is to say its not so much a sequel as “ok everyone we’re moving to a new engine and continuing development there cos the graphics here suck and i cant implement everything i want”. Thats the reason all core mechanics of dota need to be implemented (and the heroes) because dota 2 needs to be a superset of dota. Thats my take on it anyway.


    • Durkonkell says:

      Make no mistake, I’d be very pleased to see them address the community issue and produce a MOBA where you aren’t in constant fear of being ripped to shreds by your own team mates because you weren’t born with all knowledge of the game in your genetic memory. My concern mostly stemmed from the fact that the interviewee evaded the question and just said something about how competitive games are competitive, which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

      As I say though, I’m always willing to give Valve a chance.

  8. firefek says:

    DOTA has a serious problem with its community and bad manners, it literally turns you into an asshole. I became an asshole after paying it for three years and stopped after I started to find it boring. Now the only reason why I consider trying it again is because my friend wants someone to help him do epic griefing. That could be fun.

    • zergrush says:

      I just started playing Dota again a few days ago, and decided to be as nice and polite as possible to people in-game, specially the most abusive ones.

      It’s actually been pretty fun.

    • Nova says:

      Because Dota turns you into an asshole the same way a shooter turns you into a killer. Maybe you should just check your attitude.

    • johnpeat says:

      The problem is simple – it’s a game where the team is really only as good as it’s weakest link – and thus SOMEONE is always going to get the flak…

      The solution is to play with people at your level and who aren’t massive assholes – the old-school definition for these people was ‘friends’, before that word was taken to mean “anyone you’ve ever met online” :)

      Seriously tho – you can’t see them changing the DoTA formula now – sadly…

  9. Durkonkell says:

    EDIT: Bah. Alec suffered a reply-fail, but then he cheated and deleted it, thus orphaning my comment commenting on the occurrence.

    We must fight a duel.

  10. Deano2099 says:

    Call me crazy, as I’ve never played this, but if most games are 5v5, and one of the problems is that one person can screw things up for the entire team early on, and the concept of the game is that you only play one character… why not a mode where people control all five characters themselves?

    • blankname says:

      They’ve made that mode already; it’s commonly referred to as WC3.

    • darkath says:

      It would be probably as silly as wanting to play a whole TF2 team by yourself, with 12 different mice/keyboards.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Well, you could do it with just twelve mice, if you wanted an authentic pubserver experience by making them all useless camping SNOIPAHS.

  11. johnpeat says:

    I’m just going to pout and re-state my request for a Dota-style tower-defence-style game you can play solo (or 1-on-1 or co-op) – and with a decent AI to play against ofc.

    Actually, I’ll be more specific – I want a solid single-player action/strategy/hack-and-slash with ‘hero’ units and armies – lots of armies – I want to carry forward built-up heroes to make other challenges easier and I want it NOW :)

    Sort of like Spellforce but without resource collection and town building and that tedious junk – plz – thx

  12. trigger_rant says:

    I like the last screenshot with the GabeN in it.

  13. Premium User Badge

    It's not me it's you says:

    I can’t get myself to warm up to this. I played DoTA for a while with a group of RL friends and, as the interview says, when we were all on the same skill level, things were a ton of fun.

    The problem became when some of us started to become more proficient at the game than others – some people just played more, or are better at games in general, whatever. Anyways, as soon as there was even a minor skill disparity, the game becomes incredibly irritating and annoying for everyone involved. Those who got better get annoyed at those feeding the other team, those who didn’t do not enjoy being cannon fodder.

    Skill matching in a 1v1 game is quite doable – win loss ratios, over a suitably large amounts of games, is a pretty decent indicator used in many types of contests. Team versus team though – there’s no way you can build a solid player rating, especially as it’d need to include people’s ability to function as a team, people’s capacity in different roles (lane pushing, support, assassin’s, et cetera).

    In other words, anything short of pre made team versus pre made team, on similar skill levels as determined by something outside of the game (or absolute newbies on both teams) is going to be an unpleasant experience for the majority of players on both teams.

  14. Erd says:

    I’m curious since he seems to have become a big time real games developer why that Icefrog guy hasn’t started to use his real name like every other developer ever. In the game credits which Valve do in alphabetical order will it be I for Icefrog?

  15. Deimorz says:

    Just a note for RPS:

    The game’s correct title is “Dota 2”, not “DOTA 2”, so it was capitalized incorrectly throughout the whole article. They’ve made it into a word, it’s no longer an abbreviation (this may have been a tactic for helping dodge the legal concerns).

  16. Mist says:

    I was sorta secretly hoping that they’re working on some more casual game modes, maybe single player or a group of humans vs bots like in Left4Dead, or something that still keeps the player-versus-player aspect but tones down the competitiveness (I find the atmosphere in TF2 Arena to be very pleasant, friendly, and relaxing, due to short rounds and autoscrambling when 1 team is dominating).

    it just seems like a waste of resources in a way to build an entire game with loads of assets, and then only use them for a single hyper-competitive gamemode that unfortunately doesn’t appeal to me (Left4Dead Versus was already unpleasant due to all the various human-human interactions, and I was pretty good at it. Let alone a game in which I completely suck. Ouch.).

    Maybe they’re secretly working on some other modes and just don’t want to spoil the surprise yet, but the answers in this interview were still a bit depressing. :(

  17. dontnormally says:

    Why can’t anyone take this formula and

    [i]do something new with it[/i]?!?

    • Strange_guy says:

      This reply will likely never reach you, I’m currently stuck in a strange state between being logged in and not where I can try to comment but it never works.

      Wasn’t there a game that got rid of all the towers and minions? But yeah, it’s depressing how closely most follow the original. I mean people complain about how similar FPS are, but they don’t all use the same maps. They all have the same number of abilities, same number of item slots, often the same team sizes, LoL is doing a little to vary, especially with the new game mode, but Valve appear not to be, which is disappointing.

  18. vodkarn says:

    “but as anybody who’s played DOTA 1 will know, losing a match in DOTA 1 is no fun.”

    I think we need to send a huge, blown up banner of this to valve.

    To compare to counter-strike, losing in counter-strike means your team is losing a lot, and your K/D ratio is low.
    Losing in DoTA would be like if in that same Counter-Strike match, everytime you died the enemies weapon upgraded to the AK-47-2, and did more damage. Then around the 20 minute mark, he had a 10x damage AK-47-15 and you had an M4-4. And his armour also stopped 10x the damage. And so on.

    I think the biggest problem is that it’s a losers lose style, where at every step of the way a mistake is punished by you LOSING something (time alive, where you can level and gain money, etc), the enemy GAINING something (time alive, level, gold, not having you to block him/her).

    Having a new player on your team in Counter-Strike means, oh that sucks, well, have him go with everyone else. At least if he injures an enemy it helps us. in DoTA having a new player means you’re, as the saying goes, literally feeding them levels, money, and so on.

    As bizarre as it sounds they could probably ‘serve’ to make the genre better by finding a way to make it 16 on 16, thereby allowing newer players to be less of a hindrance due to basic numbers.

    • MultiVaC says:

      Yeah, making a game where they KNOW that losing is no fun at all… I don’t see how they think this a good idea. When you’re new at a game you’re probably going be losing at least 50% of the matches, and who wants to play a game that is only fun for less than half the time you play?

      There are many scenarios where working hard to develop new skills and eventually become good at something is a great experience. A game with a bunch of anonymous strangers who are relying on you play skillfully so they won’t lose (which would mean that they are relying on you to prevent their game from being no fun as well) is not that kind of place.

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. While “losing a match in DOTA 1 is no fun,” the same cannot be said of any multiplayer games I actually enjoy, where losses are brief and inconsequential (TF2, bomberman, mario kart) or there’s still interesting stuff to do after losing (L4D). They need to fix this before it will appeal to me, perhaps by making some simpler, faster beginner maps at about the difficulty level of Minions on Kongregate (the only MOBA I’ve played for over an hour).

  19. LGM says:

    Normally when Valve puts out a game, I’m all like “here, my money, you take it now! TAKE IT!!” but this game, yikes! Who is this for? It looks super boring, the graphics are atrocious and the fact that it’s played by “pro” (lol) gamers makes me think it’s really, really bad. (I’ve seen what they play. And it’s all crap or Starcraft)

    Valve.. you do …. not get to …take my monies. First time evar!

    • Frank says:

      Agreed. This article does not deliver on its title.

    • trigger_rant says:

      “Valve.. you do …. not get to …take my monies.”

      Im pretty sure you wont have to give them anything to play this game.

    • Big Murray says:

      Obviously DotA was a very successful RTS mod. Probably the most successful RTS-based mod of all time. Valve are thinking that they’ll be an audience for the most successful RTS-based mod of all time if they take it mainstream. And they’re probably right. That it’s a different game that’s not going to appeal to some of Valve’s usual fans doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an audience.

      And laughing at “pro” teams seems a bit silly when one of them just won $1 million.

  20. Fiwer says:

    So they took DOTA, kept all of the stupid idiotic gameplay mechanics like denying, kept the terrible UI that only looks like that because it was originally a Warcraft 3 mod, kept all of the same characters from the original game, and slightly tweaked the graphics I guess? What a baffling waste of time and resources on the part of Valve; did Icefrog dig up some crazy blackmail on GabeN or something?

  21. Big Murray says:

    It does look interesting … but it seems too much like “srs bznz” to me. I’m not ultra competitive with my gaming, and Eric’s answers to those questions did nothing to assure me that I’m going to be able to get enjoyment out of the game without treating it like a competitive sport.