Battle Arenas: Defense of the Ancients, An Introduction

Battle Arenas is a series in which Cara looks at Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games, and tries to answer why they might have become so popular. She used to play DOTA. A lot. Like, from back in 2003 when it was first released (she is old). Now DOTA clones are everywhere! THEY MUST BE EXAMINED. But first: a little musing on the intricacies of DOTA, the first, the best.

This is the greatest PC games site on Sid Meier’s Civilised earth, and not a fucking sight of a Defense Of The Ancients feature on it. Not one. All those years I spent playing the Warcraft III mod DOTA I never once thought it was unusual that RPS weren’t mentioning it.

And then today I looked up the figures. According to DOTA’s longest serving designer Icefrog, not counting China, 7-11 million people were playing it in 2010. That’s two years ago, and not including China. That is how huge it is. And now everyone is screaming at everyone to cover DOTA 2 because it’s coming back stronger. DOTA is relevant now: it has spawned a whole genre referred to by the ugly term ‘MOBA’ (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena – ugh). We’re talking Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends, Bloodline Champions. When I used to talk about ‘ganking’ and ‘farming’ no one used to know what the hell I was talking about and now I feel positively embittered that everyone is trying to tell me what a great idea doing those things are.

Allow me a small pause to feel disappointed in my fellow journalists.

Why didn’t anyone duck in for a few war stories? What’s everyone been doing? I asked around. I asked every games critic I know: why haven’t you played DOTA before now? Everyone else’s been obsessing over it for years, including myself. Hell, I was so obsessed with DOTA I didn’t write anything that even resembled journalism or creative writing between the years of 2003-2007. I didn’t have time to write. It would have gotten all up in my DOTA. I did the bare minimum for my English Literature course, did essays in 3 hours drunk, scraped a 2:1, and buggered off to Japan without having regretted a moment farming creeps all day and running around in the enemy base like a weasel on acid. What was everyone else who liked games doing with their time, I wondered? Not playing DOTA? That’s absurd.

The answer is: my friends the Proper Journalists were writing, that’s why. DOTA sucking up my time or inclination to write was exactly why they weren’t playing it. They were finishing games and writing about them. Hell, Keza Macdonald went to the same university as me, is a few years younger than me, and she managed to get really damn good whilst I was engaged in hours of having ‘M-M-M-MONSTER KILL!’ screamed down my earholes.

I sound like I am describing an addiction: I am. It has set me back several years, at least in any kind of career in writing shit down. (Aside from the fact I can’t string a sentence together without the word ‘shit’ being in it, of course.)

There is no ‘finishing’ DOTA. You have to invest yourself in DOTA to get something good from it. And once you invest in it, you never really leave the need to play it behind. It’s like the mafia. Once you are in, you are in. You’re in forever.

You get obsessed at getting better at DOTA, though you will never be good. You get obsessed with the long game. You get obsessed with tactics. You invest your whole being into it in order for that one, giant payoff win at the end. You are questing for an elusive victory. And it happens little enough that it is like that man you can’t have, the one who never looks at you, the one who always talks to the other girl, the one who just won’t come round.

But you want him.

The DOTA victory is a fucking tease. He reclines at the back of the club, daring you to think you can have him. When you do finally, after plying him with all your wiles, actually attain him, it’s so damn good you want it again – oh – immediately. But he’s left without giving you his number. And he stood on your glasses on the way out. They were your fucking good pair as well: the ones that made you look like Zooey Deschanel. You put on your other pair and look in the mirror to see that you look like Skrillex. The next victory seems somewhat far off.

The satisfaction, and ultimately, addiction to DOTA comes from the return on the complex investments DOTA asks of you. It’s like those little intricacies work themselves electric into your nervous system until you can feel them crackle on your fingertips.

The first investment is in a little knowledge of how the game works. DOTA separates players into two teams of five, and each team’s goal is to destroy the other’s base, specifically the building in the centre of the base to end the game victorious. Each player picks one of just under 100 (depends on your version) different heroes with special abilities (based on intelligence, agility, or strength skills), and strides forth to do battle on one of three lanes. ‘Creeps’ (little soldier dudes with not much health) spawn at your base and make their way down the lanes towards the enemy base. Your job, as a hero, is to help them total all the towers on the lanes and finally get into the enemy base to win. But the other heroes are there, and they can seriously kill your ass. For gold and experience. And the same with creeps: you can ‘farm’ enemy creeps and become strong and powerful by making your hero more decorated with booty than the Queen at a coronation. By the end of the game you’re like Snoop Dogg, swaggering around with so much loot in your pockets your trousers are around your ankles.

The heroes are magnificent: not only are they dramatically different from each other, crackling with neon spells, terribly voice-acted puns and grinning at you from their talking avatar, they each must be delicately tuned, as if they were pianos – but pianos who murder. This is part of what Blizzard does: they make RTS units shiny and cute, but really they are designed and balanced for fucking shit up. Take the Tinker character, for example. He’s a cute little steampunk goblin with a mech frame attached to him that runs about adorably. His little laser ability might seem cute, before it gets you in the face. His mechanical goblin army might seem lovely from afar, until they rain down on you like a mini robot hell, eradicating creeps and your health bar. And try to run away – you’re almost back to base now – and the Tinker will reload all his abilities and send a heat-seeking missile to take the last of your health. MEGAKILL!

Not so cute now, huh?

You need to become roughly familiar with how some of the heroes function, how items can enhance their abilities, and also, how you can avoid being killed by the enemy’s heroes. That sounds daunting, but all you need is a little practise. That brings me to the second investment.

The second investment you make is in time. Games of DOTA usually take 30 minutes if one team is awful, an hour if you’re all right, and much, much longer, if you’re pretty damn good and really well matched. Or, if you want to prolong someone’s pain, which (she smirks sadistically), I admit to doing once or twice to players who have been rude in the early game. That means your entire evening will be sucked into a void once you embark on a game: because if you lose, and you likely will, you’ll want to play again to win. After four matches, it’s like no time at all has passed and you haven’t even won a game. But four hours have gone by and the dinner you made is congealing insolently on your desk. A small line of ants has formed to it. The ants are marching over your lap and the Queen Ant has set up shop at your crotch.

Time with the game also buys you something: instinct. After hours and hours of DOTA, you develop a Spider Sense. You’re way out killing creeps at a tower, and all of the opposition are hidden by the fog of war: something galls you. You run. Five seconds later, all of the heroes appear where you just were. You thank your Boots of Speed you left, or you’d be a spell-mangled gibbering mess by now. Or, if the opposition disappear for too long, it’s likely they’re away killing Roshan, the game’s most revered NPC, for his treasure. If you get that little DOTA feel, you can raise your team and go and ambush them, smugly, and steal their prize.

Spend enough time, and you’ll sense things. You’ll know when you are in trouble before it happens. You’ll know when you can stay or run. You just get to know. There are not many games you play where you can claim a hunch lead to you winning – but DOTA is one of them.

You also need to allow yourself time to be really bad at DOTA for a while. You will suck. You will not be good at this game. I am not good at it, and at the height of my addiction I was probably playing DOTA every single day for four hours. Being good is not the point, and anyone who tells you different is a dickhead and you should ban him from the server (GET GUD NUB! Whatever – REPORTED). You can be the worst player on the team and still contribute to a stunning win. You’re only as good as how well your team works together, and that’s all that counts.

…Which is your third investment: your team. In many ways, this is the most important thing about DOTA. It is also my favourite thing about DOTA. There are few things in the world that will plunge you into a really intense hour-long situation where you rely upon someone else doing their absolute best for you every moment they are there whilst you try your utmost to do the same, where if you do it right you both have the time of your lives.

Unless you count sex, but in my experience sex is never anything as long as an hour, and isn’t nearly as enjoyable. Also, unless you are extremely lucky, you don’t get to do it with four other people at the same time. And yet, and yet, a win in DOTA is more elusive than the female orgasm.

No. The closest good simile for DOTA is that it is like a delicate machine designed by Sun Tzu, to emphasise comradeship in war. You go to war depending on, and looking after your friends. You might even come to like them more than you did before, and get to know them better. People’s personalities come through as they play, you get to know who will run in to save you in a fight, who will run in and die if you don’t assist, which of your friends is an expert with your particular hero. Because the economy in DOTA is so finely tuned, if your team’s heroes are being killed in the early game, you are giving the other team money and experience, which will massively skew the game in their favour, and you’ll realise early that they are going to win – but you’ll have to wait a full forty minutes until they come and mess up your base. And you’re penalised for leaving early (early DOTA matches on Battlenet were emphatically marked ‘NO LEAVERZ’ and people delighted in kicking you from the lobby if your stats said you were one).

So as a team, you strive to listen, to react, and to stay away from danger as much as you can. You warn each other, coordinate ambushes (affectionately referred to as ‘ganks’) and yell when an enemy hero is missing from your lane. You ask each other which items would be good for the team: you debate the finer points whilst working your own small corner of the map, a cog in a beautiful intricate mechanism (Mekansm, some might say). If you listen carefully during a game, sometimes you can feel the willpower of your teammates positively striving for a win. Or, perhaps that is just someone jerking off to the Queen of Pain’s moans? I can never tell.

I think there is another investment that you slowly make. It might be a side effect of having a regular team you play with. It is the emotional investment. An investment in intimacy. When I first started playing DOTA, I’d just met a whole new group of friends who all played games. I guess it was the first time I felt like I belonged: by the time I’d turned 17, I was ready to fully immerse myself in a pool of people who were exactly as nerdy as myself. I found them. We played ten-player DOTA constantly. And you grow to love that you can play it like it’s Sunday afternoon football. It’s just a forum for chitchat punctuated with excitement at a kill or exclamations of profanity. Once you’re over that learning hump, and the need to constantly talk tactics – once you know which tactic you’re playing, it’s like watching a film that you’re all taking part in, and talking over it. It’s like making your own Mystery Theatre 3000. And it makes you happy that you can share that with people. It makes you closer to them. DOTA’s like a cement that holds you together. It’s like a fraternity with a very strict set of rules, and at least twenty games’ worth of hazing and giggling about how you can’t stack Powertreads until someone grins and says gently, “Good work.” The quiet glory you feel electrifies. It makes you love the world.

I stopped playing DOTA when I moved to Japan, because I couldn’t take my PC. I found other video games to distract me. DOTA was a well preserved memory until a few weeks ago.

Now I feel like a DOTA hipster. I’ve gone headfirst back into DOTA 2 and it’s still addictive – I just feel strange. I feel old when people new to the game talk DOTA 2 tactics. I feel like I have already lived through decades of the teamchat in-game back and forths and arguments, debates over who can counter who, what items would be best, when we should push a lane. When my new friends do this now I feel a lot like this:

Traumatised. Old. Slightly weary.

I feel like the horrors of public matches and the highs of sweeping triumphs no longer belong to me but to a younger generation of bannermen. The interface has changed, but the battles stay the same.

I also get little twinges of this:

You know the sort. The “I have seen things in the original DOTA that you people wouldn’t believe”. “I have seen Windrunner attack Techies off the bank of the upper river and die; I have seen heroes on fire off the shoulder of the Tree of Life. I watched spells glitter in the dark near the enemy base. All those moments are lost in battle, like… items off a courier in an AOE nuke.”

I am being dramatic. But there is something there in the format of the DOTA clones that wants to pull me back. Like the returning soldier trying to adjust to civilian life, I remember the bad but the highs and camaraderie are second to none. In the real world I want to use all the old terms. It will get late at the pub, and I will wish I had a town portal. I’ll go to the shops and watch my back for ganks. I’ll forget my umbrella and want to know where the courier chicken is. It’s probably indecent how many in-jokes you can make about these games, so I’ll try and keep them to a minimum. (I’m lying, I won’t. Do not follow me on Twitter.)

DOTA has left a legacy, and I am going to examine it. I am going to tell you why this thing has got all out of proportion. I’ll leave Quinns to explain DOTA 2 to you, as that is his thing now, but I will pproceed to get eaten alive in the other DOTA clones for your reading pleasure. I hope you will join me.

Half of everything in DOTA is sensing where you shouldn’t be. I’m going to carry that with me and see where it takes me. You should come! These games are so very sexy when they let you win.

I shall leave you with some theme music to get you in the mood. Until next time, heroes.

PS All the DOTA pictures featured here were taken from a replay of a ten player game I had with my regular teammates years ago. Allchat was peppered with in-jokes, such as the insistence that Jeto [under the gentle pseudonym ‘Deer Sperm’] is playing terribly just now because he is ‘an endgame hero’. He is an endgame hero (what the young ‘uns call a ‘carry’ now, I think). He is also just playing like a douche.

PPS EVERYONE: can we replace the term MOBA with something nicer? Any ideas? Let’s have RPS coin a term that is less ugly than ‘MOBA’. It sounds like a gynaecological procedure.


  1. zeroskill says:

    “This is the greatest PC games site on Sid Meier’s Civilised earth, and not a fucking sight of a Defense Of The Ancients feature on it.”

    This has been bugging me for quite some time. Good to see some Dota relevant read on here.

    Oh wait, I think that was my queue. Have to go, do stuff. Roshan is waiting.

    • pakoito says:

      None of the main 4 even acknowledge the games other than publishing press notes. Little ladyboy Quinns started playing not so long ago, and posting about it on Eurogamer. It’s a good read but it’s very clear he’s still a long way to go.

      Good to see someone brofessional taking over that position. Welcome, Cara!

      • Carachan1 says:

        I would very much like to say that, as someone in the comments has already pointed out, I am far from a ‘brofessional’ and come at this from a ‘I just like to play it with my friends’ point of view. I really love this genre. I am just interested in introducing this to new people who haven’t played it before!

        • Squirly says:

          My sentiments as well. Online wasn’t an option for me back then so I spent my days playing Dota on LAN with 4 friends (if I could scratch them together) against bots. *sigh* Those were the days. Wait, that was 2 months ago. I got a Dota 2 invite since then, though, so I’m all online at the moment, getting up to speed with the new interface and my favourite heroes. Go Juggernaut.

    • AngoraFish says:

      This thread needs more Basshunter

      (the embedded video is “blocked in your country”… here’s a more useable version.)

  2. Psychopomp says:

    I like ARTS.

    • Xocrates says:

      MOBA may be generic and stupid sounding, but ARTS is just plain wrong.

      • Claidheamh says:

        ARTS means Action RTS, so it’s pretty appropriate.

        • Kaira- says:

          ARTS would be far more appropriate to DoW II than DOTA, which is more of an arena fighting game with RPG-features.

          • Claidheamh says:

            The RPG features are about the same as in Warcraft 3, and that doesn’t demote it from an RTS. DoW II is more of an RTT, though, since there’s not much resource management. Besides, DOTA is a strategy game which also relies on player skills like reaction time, hence the Action in Action RTS. :P

          • Kaira- says:

            I am terribly, terribly sorry, but I can’t see the “RTS” in DOTA, except for the fact that it was spawned from a mod of RTS-game. Other than that, DOTA has less RTS than DoW II.

          • Claidheamh says:

            Well, strategy is probably the most important thing a team needs to win in a game like DOTA. The resource management isn’t of the usual kind – where you build more farms so you can get more toons mining a gold farm so you can have more tanks -, but it is present. It is team wide management, not on a per-player basis. You want your carries getting the most gold, your support heroes enabling them, your gankers preventing the other team from getting any, etc.

            But if it’s the resource management part that bothers most people, just call them ARTTs. :P

          • Xocrates says:

            By that logic, any game that required strategy and was in real time would be an RTS, which would render the genre definition useless.

          • zeroskill says:

            I have opinions of stuff that doesn’t mather, one bit. But my opinions are important.

          • Claidheamh says:

            Of course, but I didn’t mean to call it a strategy game because it requires strategy, but because it is the primary skill. Still, what is the genre definition?

            You have a fair point about the single unit vs army, though. But, while in LoL and Bloodline Champions each player controls exactly one unit, that is not true of HoN and DOTA, as there are many viable builds for many heroes which require you to control several units at a time. Some heroes even require it. But even if you don’t consider this, would Starcraft be any less an RTS if each drone or zergling was controlled by a different player?

            I would still like to know what the genre definition is as I don’t think there is a single genre in games or anything else with a proper definition. :P

          • Xocrates says:

            “would Starcraft be any less an RTS if each drone or zergling was controlled by a different player?”

            From my perspective, yes. Because it would mean it no longer fits the generally accepted definition of the genre.

            And yes, genre definitions can be pretty muddy and often erroneous, which is why broadening the term further really doesn’t help. Calling any game where strategy is a core gameplay element an RTS only devalues whatever use the term still has, much in the same way that nowadays RPG is essentially a useless moniker.

            Dota (and similar games) do not possess most of the features associated to RTS, and possess many features that those games do not. Associating them to the RTS genre is therefore misleading, particularly when there are other genres they’re closer to (like the below mentioned ARPGs)

            EDIT: Also, note that “Strategy” by itself is already used to classify games. There is no reason to call every strategy game a RTS.

        • Xocrates says:

          I know what it means, but as Kaira pointed out it’s not a RTS.

          It spawned of one, sure, but it baffles me that people consider it an RTS.

          • Ringwraith says:

            DotA itself is possibly the only one which has an interface still remarkably close to its RTS beginnings, like being able to deselect your hero entirely and set control groups. Most of the others have stripped back such things to make it much more intuitive to the gameplay itself (although the RTS-controls lend themselves well to some horde-controlling heroes).
            However, you can’t really called them RTSs or anything of that sort as games like Super Monday Night Combat are definitely part of the same genre, but control nothing like an RTS, as in SMNC’s case it’s like a third-person shooter.

          • Claidheamh says:

            Why is it not an RTS?

            @Ringwraith, HoN’s interface is also pretty similar.

          • Xocrates says:

            @Claidheamh: because it plays nothing like one?

            None of the features it shares with RTS are exclusive to RTS. The game plays more like Diablo than any RTS I can think of.

            Frankly the simple fact that you control a single unit as opposed to an entire army should be enough to disqualify it.

          • Moni says:

            I think you’ve inadvertently brought up another problem, is there a nice tidy name for Diablo-like games?

          • Xocrates says:

            @Moni: Other than (the certainly questionable) Action RPG?

          • Ringwraith says:

            @Claidheamh I admit I’ve not seen that one before, but my point still stands that it’s not exactly an ideal method of control for the gameplay it presents.
            Being able to deselect your only unit? What kind of weird game is this?!

            I would also think the control of one character would exclude it from being a ‘strategy’ game, seeing as it’s more tactical than strategic because of that. The RPG-mechanics also take more precedence than the RTS ones, due to the constant requirement of experience and money gain.

      • GypsyMagic says:

        So Halo is a MOBA?
        Multilayer? Check.
        Online? Check.
        Battle? Check.
        Arena? Check.
        Might as well toss every other shooter in there.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I like Fastpaced Action Real-Time Strategy, myself.

      • DeVadder says:

        This one made me lol.
        I am all for it.

        Also i suggest Smite (this is the place to shout out your fav FARTS isnt it?)
        There is a thread called RockPaperSmite on the general sociabillity forum.

      • razorblade79 says:

        We’ve been trying to establish Fantasy Action Real Time Strategy for some time now

    • Sensai says:

      I prefer ARTS to MOBA, though I think they’re both a little lacking.

      I feel like something like Team Oriented Single-Unit Game is better, but TOSUG sounds so damn stupid. Much less TOSURPG.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Now nobody can claim games can’t be Arts

    • CrookedLittleVein says:

      ARTS . . . I think he/she’s got it!

      MOBA always reminds me of whales for some strange reason.

    • Paradukes says:

      What’s wrong with the old-school AoS – Aeon of Strife?

      Everyone seems to forget that that’s where these originated. DotA didn’t invent the genre at all; they just made it cool.

      • Godwhacker says:

        Yeah, everything new is shit

      • Tatourmi says:

        MOBA not only sounds stupid, it is also completely incoherent. Multiplayer (Sure, why not, except I can probably see myself playing a singleplayer “MOBA” without it changing the game mechanics) online (Ok, so it’s even more stupid this time around, it cannot be split screen, at all, no. That would change the game too much apparently. Multiplayer was already pretty flawed but making it “multiplayer online”? This is as dumb as it gets) battle arena (Totally defines the genre, and pretty much every other genre of videogame there is)

        Moba does not only sound stupid, it doesn’t mean anything. But well, time will tell what stays and what doesn’t, and besides, that is not that important.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Is “MMO” similarly stupid for having “Multiplayer Online” in it?
          Seeing as MMO is perfectly accepted, I’m not sure how the “MO” part of MOBA is somehow any less valid.

          • Vorphalack says:

            It’s the BA part of MOBA that is really useless as a genre descriptor. ”Battle Arena”; fighting in a limited space. That could broadly apply to every competitive game ever made. Although I honestly don’t have a viable alternative. Just trying to describe DotA to someone who is still new to the concepts of a traditional RTS is an uphill battle, never mind pinning the entire genre down to a few words.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Still needs a non-ridiculous label though, as we do like to label things.

          • Nixitur says:

            I find the term “MMO” to describe a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game fairly stupid, too. That’s why the correct term is actually “MMORPG”, ‘cept most people just drop the “RPG” part, making that initialism pretty nonsensical.

      • GypsyMagic says:

        Yeah, I think we should go back to calling it that. Or at least “Dota-like/dota-clone”.
        After all, Dota is much more different than AoS and it really started this sudden spur of mobas/arts.

    • bawbag says:

      Someone on IRC suggested LPG – Lane Pushing Game.

      I think this is probably the most descriptive name to encompass the genre and it can apply to first/third person games like SMNC/Smite.

      • Sensai says:

        This…is actually really good. Simple and effective.

      • Tatourmi says:

        God I hope it is what stays in the end. LPG is the best one yet.

      • Skabooga says:

        I’d like to throw all of my considerable non-existent clout towards making LPG the accepted term.

      • Hematite says:

        This is far better than anything else I’ve heard. As one of those philistines who doesn’t play these games, I see the lanes as being one of the distinguishing features of the genre.

        If I was going to describe the games succinctly I think it would be something like “Symmetrical team tower defense”. That doesn’t really touch on the ARPG bit where players control a hero, and as I understand it the towers are part of the map rather than being placed. Symmetrical meaning that both teams are attacking and defending simultaneously (aside: are there any variants like in TF2 where the teams take turns attacking and defending? It seems like an obvious extension).

        What about Team Lane Defence?

        • Aradalf says:

          Yeah, then you don’t really understand what MOBA’s are yet. A variant with only one side attacking just wouldn’t make sense in a MOBA, due to the fact that a primary goal of the game is to farm up as many “creeps” as possible. Also, how would you define a victory for the defending team? Holding out for a specified period of time? That wouldn’t work because of the fact that as the game goes on, each team gets stronger, and there might be an opportunity for the attacking side to win late in the game.

          • Hematite says:

            I freely admit I don’t understand these games, but I’d like to learn.

            I don’t see what’s impossible about having attackers and defenders then ‘changing ends’. FPS’s do it – the attacking side which breaches fastest wins. Have attacking creeps which gradually increase in strength so that a breach is inevitable, but a well played player offence will make it faster.

            It sounds like it would make a better quick game, because you could easily tune it to have 10-minute halves on average rather than an hour long farm fests before someone makes a move.

            Perhaps this is impossible for some reason, if so I’m interested to know.

            For the record I avoid these games because I’d rather not play a game where my own team will slag me off for playing badly. I don’t have friends who play so it would have to be randoms, and I hear bad things.

          • PodX140 says:

            I’m not sure how else to put it but “That wouldn’t work at all.”

            I’ll try to explain though. The lanes are not just for pushing, and attacking. They are for delicious gold and XP. By removing that from a defending team, all you would do is simply destroy the offensive team’s xp and gold sources. Instead of the offense clearly winning, you’d find defense winning more often than not. And honestly, there isn’t much defense in DOTA when you really come down to it. It’s all offense really. Sure, you run back to “defend a tower,” but in order to do so you kill more creeps that are by it and/or the heroes pushing. In order to be able to attack, you go out and kill some enemy heroes in order to make an opening.

            TL;DR: There isn’t really defense in dota, just different types of offense.

    • Reapy says:

      Just call them DOTA…. it’s so freaken specific a genera, they all have the same god damn map, creeps, objectives etc. MOBA is stupid, its too much of a mashup of generas to be unique. If anything I would call it RTS-something, at the end of the day it is an RTS game with this map and creeps/towers dropped on top of it. RTS with hero characters. Doesn’t need it’s own thing.

      Either way, I liked the article, I think it is a relatively new thing world wide to have that feeling of an old addiction is new again. Online gaming is still less than 20 years old, so really just now you are getting back on those people that have played a common game for about 10 years or something they spent years on in addiction, able to look back on it and remember the times of the addiction.

      I kind of went through a similar thing when starcraft came out, I had been through the paces in war2 on kali for YEARS, and there were so many new people driven into the game going through the same tired old things you had been through a million times before, was kinda weird in a way. Obviously SC and SC2 grew way, way beyond any experience I had, but at release time, I was defiantly going through a lot of the same emotions described in the article as they dove into DOTA2.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Super Monday Night Combat plays fairly differently from the usual fare, but its still the same core game. Trying to call that a “DotA-clone” is fairly pointless. Although a lot of such games are DotA-clones, seeing as they have superficial differences to the casual observer, and play very similarly on a basic level, even down to having similar maps layouts.

    • BoZo says:


      • danielfath says:

        Have you played that DoomLlike Crysis 2? It’s the best.
        How about that PrinceOfPersiaLike?
        Or that LoLAlike Dota2? It’s pretty good.

        • terazeal says:

          It works for roguelikes, so why not?

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          Guess you missed the whole period before FPS games were called FPS games & were referred to as Doom clones then.

          • danielfath says:

            Yes, and you missed the whole period when ToB was more popular than DotA?

            So did they change Doom-likes into Quake-likes when it came out? Because I’ve seen a lot of DotA like (and early DotA) games calling themselves AoS. So why change it to DotA now? It’s not a tradition within the modding / custom games wc3 community?

            To me it’s offensive because it tries to deny the history, it’d be like Activision decided to say FPS are a stupid term, let’s use CoD-likes for everything where you shoot in first person. And everyone agrees.

          • Interrobangin says:

            Yes, every FPS post Quake is a Quake-like. Pre-Quake games like Doom have been retroactively titled “Quake-like before Quake”, as they came before Quake but also have the disadvantage of not being Quake. We also accept the definition of a pre-Quake title as being a “warm up for Quake” title, although it was only relevant to those few of us who could see the future in the early 90s (I was one of these elite prophets, but a decade of cancer and alcohol have ravaged my foresight).

    • Dragatus says:

      How about we call the genre after the main objective? A few possible names: Base Destruction Strategy (BDS), Destroy the Base (DtB), Base Destroyer Game (BDG), Tactial Demolition Game (TDG).

      My personal favourite is “Destroy the Base”. I find it has a certain elegant simplicity to it.

      • danielfath says:

        Or call it Battle arena? It’s what this type of game basically is. Smacking each other, while farming creeps. ARTS doesn’t cover some nuanced things like SMNC, MOBA sounds like a gangster association.

        • Dragatus says:

          For me the problem with Battle Arena is that it makes me think of Quake 3.

        • Interrobangin says:

          moba makes me think of motherboards and little else

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      My contribution is “Relatively Angry Gaming Experience.”

      Sure the longform is crap, but the accronym seems to fit nicely. :P

    • dender says:

      I prefer ARPG for Arena RPG. Pretty decent description to me.

    • Blizniak says:

      It’s actually Lords Management

  3. Martel says:

    Great article. Personally I’m off the sauce these days, but my friends sure do try and suck me back in

    • Trelow says:

      I’m just glad to hear an opinion from the other side. I don’t care for them, and have a hard time imagining where the fun is found.

  4. ninjapirate says:

    Cara makes me feel ancient, as I do remember playing a game or two back in 2002. And perhaps even a bit earlier than that.

    • McDan says:

      Yes, I played around 2003/4/5 time and was horribly addicted. Then something happened I guess and I just stopped playing. Seems ludicrous now as I just want to play all these type of games but have been held back by the choice of which one. Probably a good thing that.

  5. Syra says:

    I still don’t get why games that have such horrible inputs and interfaces completely unsuited to the pace and intent of the game cane be so popular. They are just awkward to play.

  6. Hirmetrium says:

    or you know, call the genre DOTA, after the game that spawned it? Isn’t that what we were all doing for a while?

    And GOOD GOD, WHY. I lost so many hours to DOTA as a youth. I didn’t go out and get drunk – I carried fucking teams. I played alongside Ice Frog, who has to be the worst DotA player ever. At least, he claimed to be ice frog (he did give me the latest version of DOTA, so I maintain he was).

    • Yosharian says:

      Let’s be fair, we’d do it all over again if we had the chance to remake.

    • Carachan1 says:

      You played with Icefrog?! That’s super cool, man. That’s like the equivalent of playing football with Pele. (Maybe I am slightly exaggerating) (DOTA IS MY WOODSTOCK)

    • S Jay says:


    • eld says:

      Aeon of strife?

      • Flowing says:

        Funny, how they tell us to call it “dota” because that’s what they stemmed from, but they don’t want us to call it “AoS”.. since that’s where dota came from. o_O

      • Jenks says:

        Aeon of Strife is the Pete Best of MOBAs.

      • The Army of None says:

        Exactly wot I was going to say, thank you! Aeon of strife!

    • mr.ioes says:

      IceFrog would never give unofficial maps to random pubs (sorry). The Beta team’s policy is very tight for a reason (how many leaks have there been so far? none?). And if it was an official one, how can this be of any proof? Meh… fake story.

      Also, link to

      • Hirmetrium says:

        This was back in warcraft 3 days, when you used to the download the maps from the host. Nobody else was hosting that version – seems to reason that he would distribute it that way.

        Also, just because hes good at DOTA2 doesn’t stop him being shit at the original. He played goblin tinker, the new hero of that version, so likely wasn’t used to using it yet.

        Also, its not like I walk around posting fake stories for shits and gigs. I mean, I definitely wasted most of my youth playing DOTA!

    • Delusibeta says:

      For basically the same reason no-one calls Call of Duty a Doom clone: the genre is expanding. I don’t think anyone will claim (with a straight face) that Monday Night Combat or Awesomenauts is a DotA clone, but they’re both lane pushing games (which thanks to this comment section will be my preferred term for the genre).

      • Cerzi says:

        I dont see why “dotalike” isnt used, the same way roguelike is.

        • danielfath says:

          Because it promotes a single game version as the generative, which would be fine if there was no DotA2.

          It’s like calling all shooters CallsOfDuties or all MMO’s WoWlikes which is true for most, but not for some other.

    • danielfath says:

      Let’s call it LoLAlike? LoL is currently the most popular so calling entire genre by it is the equivalent to calling this genre DotALike.

  7. SmaugV says:

    Most of my experience is from LoL, and few games experiences can match a well-executed gank or winning a game convincingly. But the unforgiving nature of MOBAs really do bring out the worst in people – a significant portion of the community was terrible.

  8. quaunaut says:

    The proper term for “MOBA”-style games is “Lords Management”.

  9. Faldrath says:

    Very interesting article. I’ve never played DOTA, but I know that “grizzled veteran” feeling from my time in WoW, I suppose, since it fits very well with Cara’s description of losing yourself for a few years. And then the ambivalence of wanting and not wanting to feel the same thing again :)

    • Feet says:

      I definitely empathise with being the “grizzled veteran” who was part of an elite team but who’s also “getting too old for this shit”. Sometimes you think you can go back, but when you do it doesn’t feel the same. I had it with Enemy Territory. Such good times, but you can’t get it back.

      • Mungrul says:

        Heh, same except with RtCW. I’m one of those old farts who thought Splash Damage ruined the RtCW formula by expanding it too much. I also partially blame them for the whole XP in FPS toss we have these days.

  10. Kdansky says:

    I do hope we see Bloodline Champions, even if it isn’t the most popular.

    Because it is to DOTA as Street Figher is to WoW-PVP.

    Less grind to win (it didn’t have any at all until recently), ten times shorter games, higher skill ceiling for play, lower skill ceiling for memorisation. Still the same horrible crowd.

    • blankname says:

      Grind to win? Since when is there grind in DotA? There is no persistence to DotA games.

      Unless you mean killing creeps for an hour and then fighting, which is hardly the only way to win and has rather gone out of favor.

      • Kdansky says:

        Both kinds, actually. You have to grind creeps (both enemy spawns and neutral) to level up in game, which takes needlessly long, and worse, LoL has thirty levels which you have to grind out until you are allowed to play the actual game. It’s like that shitty club at high school who wants you to suffer through some stupid crap before you can join.

    • misterT0AST says:

      As much as I love Bloodline Champions, it doesn’t have turrets, it doesn’t have creeps, it doesn’t have levels, it doesn’t have items.

      It’s not a moba. It’s a top-down fighting game.

      • Gnoupi says:

        Some might say it’s a multiplayer online battle arena, even.

  11. pakoito says:

    >but in my experience sex is never anything as long as an hour

    Stop having sex with noobs, plase. Make them uninstall their penises.

    • Carachan1 says:

      This is why RPS commenters are the best.

    • Interrobangin says:

      She either hasn’t been boned in a ridiculously long time, or she’s a pedophile.

  12. zachforrest says:

    i don’t mean to be gauche, but this article is frankly obnoxious.

    shit that had been fucked up was something i hoped i wouldnt face on RPS.

    • Docslapper says:

      Personally speaking I love the style, and it’s about time we saw some decent use of proper language in here.
      Shit is fucked up, routinely, and pretending that it isn’t is disingenuous and a little pretentious.

      • zachforrest says:

        while i grant that shit is often fucked, i wouldn’t describe in such a trite, coarse way.

        • mlaskus says:

          Quinns sometimes wrote in a similar style, I think I have a new favourite RPS writer.

          • cyrenic says:

            This was like Quinns writing an article after eating powdered donuts and drinking coffee for an entire morning.

        • Carachan1 says:

          This is something that my mother often says.

        • P7uen says:

          I’m not one to denounce shitting or fucking, it’s more a matter of style than the words, and I also felt it was a bit out of place on RPS.

          I like linking people to hilarious and/or superbly written pieces on RPS to show off what a hilarious and/or mature bunch we can be, but to be fair she did say her writing skills were stunted by the game which stands up to scrutiny.

          That said, I quite enjoyed reading about all this DOTA stuff although I’ve never tried it myself, so looking forward to future entries.

    • AlonePlusEasyTarget says:

      I think that kind of language comes naturally with being a DOTA player.

    • Ovno says:

      I find your taking offence at the use of words offensive…..

      • zachforrest says:

        fuck and shit are good words. Fuck shit up is an awful turn of phrase that a 16 year old would roll their eyes at.

        • Carachan1 says:

          I do have the mind of a 16 year old. I have been playing DOTA for a really, really long time.

    • lasikbear says:

      You must have loved Alec’s Hotline Miami article.

      • zachforrest says:

        i did. within the context of Hotline Miami it made perfect sense. It was supposed to be obnoxious and crude.

        • Unaco says:

          Are we supposed to read this in the context of DOTA/MOBA/FARTS then?

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      Obnoxious, really? It might not be to your tastes but I’m suprised anyone could find a well written article with a few cusses obnoxious. It’s not insulting or demeaning anyone, they’re used in as close to a neutral context as words like that can be.

      So yeah, I’m afraid it is gauche to say someone’s writing is obnoxius on the grounds of style rather than content.

      • zachforrest says:

        Perhaps i should have read the whole article. I see around a third through it becomes blandly informative.

        I don’t want to pick apart the whole thing. I just didn’t like the tone. Maybe saying ‘write shit down’ is a bit too cool for me. I don’t know.

  13. Bpy6 says:

    That was an enjoyable read.
    All of my friends have been obsessed with that game since its inception as a WC3 mod. I’ve tried enjoying it again and again, again and again. All of them – DotA, Hon, LoL, etc. I’ve recently spent a couple of days trying to get into DOTA2 once more. Still, for almost 10 years I hate it. I just can’t grasp what’s so damn addicting about it.
    Most of the points everyone describes as positive are huge cons from my perspective.
    It’s nice to see people enjoying it so much though, and I sometimes feel a bit down that I can’t enjoy it as much as many people seem to.

  14. Jackablade says:

    Well, now I know what actually happens in a DOTA style game. I still don’t really understand why you’d feel compelled to deal with the reputedly horrifying community in order to play such a thing.

    • Bpy6 says:

      Because sometimes the horrible community can be enjoyable. Many competitive game communities are horryfying. It’s like 4chan, you go there specifically to interact with those monsters. Same for DOTA.

    • Carachan1 says:

      I think the best times I had on this were playing 10 player games all with people I know. It was easier to arrange at uni tho. Not so much now.

      • PuffTheMagicDragQueen says:

        Yeah, most of my DOTA playing was while I was at varsity. We would have huge tournaments between the various residences. Good times.

    • Interrobangin says:

      Same reason why I frequent opium dens—to chase the dragon. You say you’ll be different, but you chase it, even though it’s a grotesque experience. And then one day you look into the mirror and see that you have become everything that you promised your childhood-self you would never become, and there are only two options: to keep going, or to commit suicide. Clearly I have chosen the latter (I am a ghost)

  15. Roovian says:

    I don’t know where this MOBA nonsense came from, but even valve call it ARTS.. Gamasutra

    • Claidheamh says:

      It came from LoL I think. They probably thought the word ‘strategy’ would scare away a lot of people.

    • Kaira- says:

      ARTS is so wrong it hurts my head.

      Also, didn’t LoL coin the term “MOBA”? Personally, I’d just call the genre dotalike. Like roguelike, you know.

      • xephyris says:

        I like the term Dotalike too, but an earlier poster also had a good term – Fastpaced Action Real Time Strategy.

      • lightstriker says:

        You mean AoSlike, right? Because Dotalike is silly.

    • Dragatus says:

      The term MOBA was coined by the creators of League of Legends. Personally I find it a silly name that would actually better fit a game like Quake 3 Arena, but whatever.

      My personal suggestion for the genre name is “Destroy the Base”.

      • lightstriker says:

        That kinda… hugely overlaps with [insert non-fighting competitive genre here]. There are FPS’s, action games, Strategy games that all have that as quite applicable.

  16. misterT0AST says:

    At first I hated the term Moba aswell. It’s meaningless. Even Shooters, or RTSs, Fighting games are Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas.
    And then there’s the fact that t’s a term invented and forced by the creator of League of Legends.
    It really does feel forced, a marketing move not to call it Dota-clone.
    Later though it’s grown on me: Does the term “Beat’em up” or “Adventure Game” explain anything at all of the genre they label? Usually acronyms like FPS and RTS are more precise, but oh well.
    We’ll have another meaningless name for a genre, so what?
    I now think that Moba is fine.

    Even if back when we made Warcraft 3 mods (like Dota) we considered Dota an AoS map.
    AoS meaning Aeons of Strife, a mod for Starcraft 1 which is the beginning of this whole thing.

    I’d LOVE to know more about Aeons of Strife, but I can’t find anything at all of it on the iternet. Not even a screenshot.
    A series like this on Rockpapershotgun should in my opinion at least mention it, and explain the mechanics. It’s the start of it all, for Heaven’s sake!
    Tell me MOAR, I’ve never played it!

  17. NieArch says:

    Arena Rage Simulator or ARS if you dont like to type words.

  18. Yosharian says:

    All I have to say in response to this article is:

    LOL noob thinks Mirana is carry, GG NO RE

  19. DiamondDog says:

    I’d identify games of this type with a simple scream of anguish.

  20. Shockeh says:

    Cara – I can’t express how amused I was to see pictures of the DOTAtrain crowd in your screenshots. Poor, poor Col, always feeding. :D

    • Carachan1 says:

      Aaaaaaaaaa Shockeh!!!! OMG it has been YEARS! How are you? Do you still play DOTA? I had such times watching this replay. Col loved to feed. He actually supplied the replay of this match.

      • Shockeh says:

        I’m playing DOTA2 these days, feel free to add me on Steam (Same name, same avatar) for fun & frivolity. I occasionally try to rile up interest from people like vexd & Co. but rarely get very far. :)

        • Carachan1 says:

          I’ve been playing DOTA 2 as well. The community seems very polite compared to our days. HoN seems like it has turned into the sort of community we used to play against : /

          • danielfath says:

            Wait until it is free to play. I hypothesize that the influx of players will bring its fair share of flamers. LoL and HoN started benign and turned into what they are today.

    • Asurmen says:

      Choo choo! All aboard the DOTA train :)

      I’m trying to decide which of the spazzy names are Chris or Thomas.

      • Carachan1 says:

        OMG who are you?! Did I play with you too? It was Chris that was Deer Sperm for the record. He tells me that he had some sort of inoculation that was on that day that apparently was made from deer or something I don’t actually know

        • Asurmen says:

          Yeah, you did :) Usually went by the name of Khahandran in our sessions. No one ever wanted to be on the team with myself and my brother as we were hardcore ragers. You should deffo do LoL next as a few of us play that these days.

  21. maximiZe says:

    I fucking love you.

  22. Lobotomist says:

    Thanks for posting this.
    I looked for the answer on this forums, as for what makes these games so popular. And why I feel no attraction to them.

    I feel this is tailored to answer my question :)

  23. Geofferic says:

    A MOBA article that merely lists the name “League of Legends” and goes on and on about the original DOTA is not, at all, a MOBA article and is pretty useless.

    lolleriffic that someone is still talking about DOTA.

    • Yuri says:

      Reading comprehension? This is supposed to be the first in a series of articles about various popular ARTS/MOBA games.

      • pakoito says:

        He plays LoL, reading comprehension is not required there “Guides? Builds? But I just play for fun because my friends play too” *dies to obvious gank*

  24. Bossi says:

    I am glad this wasn’t an article by some writer who has no clue how to play but wants to quickly learn before TI2 to get some coverage on his site like eurogamer and gamespot do(they do show the game in a positive light though so that’s nice) or the type of articles PCG very carefully publish to just showcase patches and write a good word or two about the development in the article.

    You described the game and the addiction to it pretty well, I doubt I’ll ever see tits with dota in my life :p
    I hope you’ll do more coverage especially with TI2 coming up very soon, RPS readers would most likely like dota if they’ll give it a try in my opinion.

  25. MacBeth says:

    It strikes me that you could change the bits of this article that refer specifically to DOTA(likes) to a whole bunch of other games and it would still work.

    The core elements of finding a complex challenge that one never quite masters and also finding a community of like-minded people are the same for all sorts of games and all sorts of people.

    Unfortunately it also means that the article doesn’t really explain much of the specific appeal of DOTAlikes, which have never grabbed me, unlike, say TFC (back in the day), TF2 (for a while) and L4D (also for a while), or WoW, Tribes, EVE and all the other games that have a similar effect on chunks of their playerbase.

    It would be good to see an article that took all the ‘finding a challenge, finding a community’ bits as read (given that most of the RPS readership probably viscerally understand that bit) and did more of a meta-analysis/Cochrane review of precisely why and how these particular games do it, without being blinded by the whole OMG-this-game-took-over-my-life bits…

    • Asuron says:

      Its honestly one of those things you can’t describe to people. You have to jump in for yourself because the game offers so much depth, your constantly surprising yourself when you find something new or do something you previously couldn’t.

      It’s one of the harshest games out there to learn and definitely owns the worst people you could interact with. But for the crazy highs it brings you to, its worth every single hour you invest in it. You will never reach the emotional highs and lows with any other game I guarantee you.

      • MacBeth says:

        I don’t really doubt that it is deeply involving and can provide huge highs, since it’s got such a following – but like I say, fans of certain other games would probably say exactly the same thing about their own obsession. I’m more interested in why some games ‘have it’ and some don’t, and what the similarities and differences are. I don’t really want to get close to any one particular game…

  26. CrookedLittleVein says:

    RPS hive mind needs a female writer.

  27. DiGi says:

    Fuck YouTube and copyrigts.

    “Video contains WMG partner content, who had blocked your country because copyright bla bla bla” (Video obsahuje obsah partnera WMG, který ho ve vaší zemi zablokoval na základě autorských práv.)

    Greetings from Czech republic, European Union.

  28. Captain Hijinx says:

    Fantastic article Cara

    You really really hit the nail on the head describing the addictive nature of Dota, and well said about Journalists, far too little coverage of what is one of the best and most complex PC games around!

  29. vexd says:

    This article stirs up some seriously fun memories. You nailed the game on the head Cara, not entirely surprising given how many hundreds of hours we ploughed into that game in university.

    Good times made by a good game and good people.

    • Carachan1 says:

      Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Vexd. He is my DotaBro. He was part of my DOTAtrain back in the day, along with Shockeh (also in the comments!). This is like an amazing virtual reunion. Much love to you my friends <3

      Vexd used to suicide himself on people as Tinker and was very irritating

    • Sytax says:

      I feel there is insufficient bacon cooking in this article. Cooking bacon was a serious part of dota much like all the other random goings on that used to occur pre , post and mid game.

  30. cptgone says:

    lovely article, funny and informative.

  31. RedViv says:

    FINALLY someone else agrees that it sounds like something gynaecological. Something with cold steel and awkward poses.
    We need to incorporate the importance of teamwork, character-building, and the basic game of base defence (DOTA2’s icon, folks) in there. MOBA is far too general and ARTS could fit anything with little resource management and quick unit control.

    And now that I thought about the game again, I’ll still have to wait for the time of physical kids to pass. No League before that. And no DOTA2 until the performance is improved. These games are like life. Lots of bad moments, but you learn to treasure the valuable ones way more.

  32. mlaskus says:

    Cara, do you already know exactly which games you are going to look at? I would love to see you take a look at Star Battle – it’s the only uh, MOBA that I found fun to play so far.

    It has a few differences, firstly it’s not about heroes, it’s about capital ships – so there’s no ridiculous cleavage or cutest,y anime anthropomorphic animals.
    There is no respawn, every player has only one life – I think this the reason why I hadn’t seen people being awful towards newbies in it.
    Ships have momentum and need to accelerate – so staying in motion all the time means staying alive, and the lines with creeps are a bit irregular so you do fly around a lot even when farming.
    It also has a much lower barrier to entry as, there are only 9 available ships, 3 for each race, so it’s pretty easy to learn their characteristics.

    • Carachan1 says:

      This sounds great! *writes down tip* I’m not sure what I’ll do next – maybe LoL? It seems like the next step.

      • mlaskus says:

        I forgot to mention that it is a Starcraft 2 mod. If you don’t have the game, you could use my account to check it out. I wouldn’t mind.

      • MaXimillion says:

        Either LoL, seeing how it’s the (second?) most popular game in the genre, or HoN, seeing how it’s fairly close to DotA while still being different and popular enough to maybe make for an interesting comparison article.

        • danielfath says:

          LoL is first when it comes to popularity. I think it has more active players than WoW. 11mil if I understand correctly. Maybe numbers will change when DotA2 comes up, but atm LoL will give it a run for it’s money. And due to LoL’s grinding people might be less inclined to leave (sunken cost fallacy). Otoh the model is clearly better and DotA2 has more production values, so it could swing either way.

  33. Hisui says:

    Either AoS or Dotalikes or Dota Standalones.

  34. rookarike says:

    Good god that moment when the hairs stand up on your neck and you realize that the enemy in your lane went for a gank and got his dumbass killed but he’s been gone just a liiiiiiiittle too long and HOLY SHIT GET BACK TO THE TOWER just in time to see him and his jungler try to gank you but miss it. What a friggin rush.

    Thanks, Cara, I’ve never really been able to put my finger on how experience with the game made it so much more fun than other games. It’s not just knowing the items or the stats or the meta or whatever, it’s that FEELING you start to develop, that sixth sense that tells you something crucial is about to happen, and when it pans out correctly and makes the difference between winning and losing a close game…well, there’s just nothing in the whole gaming world quite like that for me.

  35. mingster says:

    Great article, fun writing style, loved it. Only thing is it made me want to marry you. x

  36. Gnoupi says:

    Never really managed to get into DOTA in those times. Mostly because then, people kicked you if they were seeing you daring to download the map. Yes, even for updates.

  37. The_B says:

    Due to my experience when I play them, I like to call them Organised Clusterfucks. So my proposal for a name would be: Organusterfucks

  38. Rao Dao Zao says:

    DotA isn’t the genre, DotA is an AoS!


    • danielfath says:

      RDZ! You made that campaign with funky music and sea themed abilities :D
      I never knew you went to RPS.

      OnTopic: Yeah the fans keep trying to pigenhole AoS’ into the DotAlike label. Just go step further (i.e. LoLAlike) and see them burst into rants.

  39. Harry Bosch says:

    Call it “Three Corridors Defense”. That’s what it is, and all true TCD have in common (BLC is an arena-type game, DOTA2 etc. is not).

  40. mr.ioes says:

    I had this veteran feeling when I used the term ‘stygian’ in all chat and people were like ‘?’ ;(

  41. Lambchops says:

    MOBA’s appear to be another to go along with Eve and the Elder Scrolls games in my “fun to read about but no inclination to play” box.

    Also, I like Cara Ellison, can we keep her?

    • Hematite says:

      I wasn’t convinced at first, but then:

      “…They were your fucking good pair as well: the ones that made you look like Zooey Deschanel. You put on your other pair and look in the mirror to see that you look like Skrillex.”


      Now she must face the trials of Pun and Alt-Text.

  42. Talos says:

    I would disagree with the ARTS idea. I don’t know about you, but for me RTS immediatelly brings base building to mind, of which there is none in MOBAs.Not to mention no unit production. I think there is another genre which is more similar to a MOBA than an RTS:

    + control one character
    + use skills with cooldowns
    + kill creeps that give you gold and respawn at set intervals
    + buy items with said gold
    + engage in pvp

    It’s like a miniature MMORPG experience that involves less players and takes less time. Almost all the boring grinding cut out, and only the exciting pvp left.
    So it’s like a small-scale refined version of a mmo. (which i think is also why it’s so popular)

    So at first i thought about changing the “massive” part:
    NMMO – non-massive multiplayer online (the non-massive part sounds redundant)
    SSMO – small-scale multiplayer online

    i dont even know why we need both “multiplayer” and “online” in the name, do people play multiplayer offline? Is this to not confuse it with hotseat or something?

    SSM – small-scale multiplayer

    but with that it get’s too generic, so instead let’s try emphasizing the team element of these games and we get:

    MTS – multiplayer team strategy.

    well it actually sounds not that bad, what do you think?

    P.S. also:
    TOM – team online multiplayer, sounds more catchy, but also has that “multiplayer online” redundancy.

    • danielfath says:

      Why not War Arena. It’s pretty much what it is. Hero arena where you are in a middle of a conflict.

  43. Galefury says:

    Tides of Blood was so much better than DotA.

    • danielfath says:

      True, but ToB creators did squandered a wonderful opportunity. It’s really sad no one remembers ToB. It’s like a couple gems were devoured by the dark void that is the DotA.

  44. jellydonut says:

    I suppose it’s the same reason they stopped covering EVE and DayZ. :(

    Only time for cute indie games that can be finished. Oh well.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Hardly. Not all games journalists are weaklings when it comes to multiplayer.

      I stopped covering Eve because I’d played it every day for five years and was exhausted.

      Day Z is still getting time, too, but there’s not been much to write about of late. I am sure we will come back to that when there’s something more meaty to write about.

      The reason I don’t cover MOBA games is that I don’t like them.

      • Cerzi says:

        As someone who seems to have had similar gaming passions to you (along the lines of Q3A and Eve), and someone who had written off dota/lol/whatever as being utterly pointless (the only thing remotely similar that I enjoyed being Demigod)… I think it’s just a matter of time.

        Back in Feb I went into DOTA2 with the same negative attitude that I have for any game that I know isn’t for me. But now I look at my steam profile and see almost 1000 hours clocked for the damn thing. Chrome says one of my most visited sites is r/DOTA. What the hell.

        It’s an acquired taste, but perhaps that’s just to safeguard the population from something so dangerously addictive.

  45. Ruffian says:

    finally! Great piece. I look forward to more from you!

  46. TheManfromAntarctica says:

    TMORPG – Ten Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game :P

  47. Drungawunga says:

    Your writing style reminded me of PCZone in the golden days, if a bit OTT in places.


  48. Scabmastah says:

    Am I the only one who remembers when DotA wasn’t popular? I didn’t start playing TFT Custom maps until early 2004, but back then DotA was considered one of the crappier AoSes that few people played. IIRC It didn’t start taking over the custom games list until 2005. I still maintain that it is a low quality AoS, EotA for example is way better..

    • danielfath says:

      You aren’t. It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been tainted by DotA’s popularity. I actually like how the first sentence made be realize that writer on RPS has no clue what she (or he) was writing about. DotA:Allstars definitely wasn’t the first or the best. It’s true that DotA:RoC was the first but it totally failed by using only stock wc3 heroes and ToB was more popular because he had actual custom heroes (before TFT).

      Tides of blood was and still is the most aesthetically and mechanically superb MOBA/AoS/LPG. Sadly I hear it has some bugs and the game-play they make is rather stale (STUNS FOR EVERYONE!).
      EotA holds a special part of my heart, especially that hero with Streak and Spires. Holy shit do I love that guy. I love using him against AI and building a network of spires. Or being a sneaky Infiltrator and just OHK heroes.
      For me the pinnacle of AoS’ is still Rising_Dusk Desert of Exile, which due to its obscure nature is hard to find on BNet.

  49. Phantoon says:

    Worst article on RPS in a long time.

    Because it has no alt-text. FOR SHAME. BAN THIS SICK FILTH!

  50. Inglourious Badger says:

    Arenas and conversation? Or are we trying to stick to acronyms?

    I’m one of those annoying people who only started playing DOTA-likes about a week ago on DOTA 2. I can see the appeal, but unless my mates suddenly get into it I don’t think I’ll be one of these 1000 hours on Steam types.

    Why are they so popular? From my brief experience it has struck me how a single game of DOTA is essentially a CRPG in microcosm. The speed of levelling up, the clear character progress made with each level, the loot accruing, the evolution from grinding creep farming in the early game to the mad endgame PvP. It’s the most compelling features of an MMORPG played out in an hour. When you then add to that the teamwork, tactics and personal stories that form with the other players, it really is an appealing setup.

    The issue for me is at the end of each game you are back to nothing. There’s no compulsion to go again. I guess it just depends what kind of person you are. I find it addictive whilst I’m playing, but as soon as I’ve stopped I don’t miss it. Whereas an MMORPG character who hasn’t reached the level cap will gnaw at me constantly until I’m back grinding my way up the levels again. For that DOTA is a much more pleasant addition to my gaming catalogue.

    Look forward to reading more of Cara’s profanity laden words on RPS. She’s a good’un.

    • Therax says:

      The lack of persistance can be a positive as well. After a loss, the slate is wiped clean. When you go into that next match, you know you have just the same opportunity for victory as the previous game.

      It’s a reason I personally enjoy competitive RTS games and (used to) enjoy competitive FPS games, but never enjoyed PvP in MMORPGs. Of course, lately FPS developers have been adding more and more persistance into the design of their multiplayer components, which has really put a damper on my personal enjoyment.