Dote Night: How To Fix Tutorials (Sort Of)

Welcome to part two of “Thoughts about MOBA tutorials” – I hope you are as excited as I… WAIT COME BACK!

Tutorials might sound like a weird thing to devote two columns to given the wealth of other shenanigans and dramas in the MOBA communities at any given time but tutorials (or lack of them) can be the difference between having a good introduction to those games and communities and bouncing off so hard you could have treated the game as a launch rocket.

Last time I took an in-depth look at what Valve are doing in Dota 2’s Reborn client, this time I’ve had a chance to return to Smite [official site] and League of Legends [official site] to check out what they’re doing and not doing. I also have some suggestions for other ways to get players up to speed. Here’s what I reckon:

Okay, so. League introduces you to a single lane scenario (Howling Abyss) before it upgrades to the 5v5 Summoner’s Rift scenario you’ll see in pro gaming. It makes the situation a bit easier to comprehend, I think because the progression follows the linear path of the map. In the three lane map it does too, but it’s complicated by there being three lanes instead of one and a whole heap of jungle and other objectives to track. Here you get to just introduce movement, shopping and healing, minions, towers, inhibitors and then the nexus. Smite takes a similar approach – it even repeats elements from the League version – and puts you in its one lane Joust map. From memory, when you start a new account you also have a whole bunch of videos to watch. They’re useful in their explanations but I suspect with MOBAs the hands-on stuff will always work better because it’s so much muscle memory and internalised game rhythms. When I was doing the playable tutorial it let me learn about Joust first. That’s a 3v3 map with a single lane and jungle caps in sort of mini lanes either side. I’d put it somewhere between League’s Howling Abyss and the big 5v5 maps you get in MOBAs so it has to be a little more complex than the initial League scenario and talk about jungle camps and so on.

I do like the idea of starting with that single lane and making sure that’s understood before progressing to more complex scenarios. League’s is better because it’s more concise but I kept laughing because I’d forgotten how theatrically their tutorial lady says “WELL DONE!” and “GOOD JOB!” I remember the first time I played League and going through this tutorial and the effusive praise. Coming from Dota and it’s lack of a tutorial (or basic assistance of any kind) at the time the game actually felt sarcastic in its good will. It was at that point I wondered whether Dota was actively bad for my psyche. Oh, and League is the only MOBA I’ve ever encountered where it tells you about hand positioning. I guess I was so used to QWER as the ability keys by then that it felt weird not to put my hand there but it was a nice touch to reassure players those ARE the main buttons for all character rather than them being the main buttons for just this one.

The transition to the 5v5 map was a bit of a leap in League, I think. I liked that it gave out little objectives for you to complete over the course of the game – buying items, returning to base, killing jungle minion camps, pushing towers down and so on – but I don’t think it was good at explaining why you were doing it. You’d get told to kill a camp of wolves but the info didn’t seem to offer anything helpful way of reasoning. Would you doing this because you are a jungler? Is it for some extra experience or gold? Why this particular camp and not that one? I think new players can struggle to see when they have an advantage and when they don’t so telling them how these activities fit into the flow of a game would be useful. I know that a flexible meta wouldn’t necessarily lend itself to absolute advice but pointing out that having a blue buff (the mana regeneration one) is useful in particular types of situation means you’re giving a bit of guidance without being prescriptive. Dragon and Baron (major neutral minions who grant particular bonuses if you kill them) passed without a mention. That might have changed if I’d wandered in and gotten eaten but they didn’t seem to be part of the basic tutorial steps and objectives so by the time the nexus was down I had no knowledge of either of them.

Smite’s better in that regard. It explains the Gold Fury and the Fire Giant (also major neutral minions who grant bonuses when you kill them), takes you over to them to kill them at basically the right points in the game and why you’re doing so. It also reminds you about jungle camps and about items that help with taking those down and why you want to kill them in the first place. I only had time for one tutorial game but I picked a melee hero for the Smite 5v5 and was pleased that it tailored the advice. Often MOBAs start you off on a ranged character and the switch to melee can be disorienting and difficult. I also found that Smite was a little better at explaining items, although there’s still a huge amount both games could do on that front. It never bloody tells you why the short lane is called the short lane, though, which I imagine would be irritating for a newcomer staring at the map. (It’s the one where the distance between the outermost towers on yours and the enemy sides is the shortest.)

Okay. I’m going to stop explaining what exists and switch to what I wish existed because I don’t want to get bogged down in too much granular detail. I’d say the tutorials that exist aren’t bad and they’re improving, they just don’t often do a great job of bridging the gap between the basics of a game and how matches with real people actually work, be that in terms of pacing, build or the billion other things you keep track of as you play.

I’M ON A MISSION

Dota and League are both good at setting out objectives for players to concentrate on and that highlights that the end goal of these games is not who had the most kills but who knocked over whose mystical crystal rockery. I also think you need to play whole games to understand how the individual bits come together to achieve that. But practicing those individual bits is important too. To that end I’m interested in missions. These would be little scenarios where you had a particular objective to achieve and doing so would use knowledge you need in the games. One could be putting you on a tiny bit of map with a tower and asking you to take down the tower without it doing damage to your character. You would need to know how towers prioritise their targets, you’d need an awareness of how many minions (friendly and enemy) there were in the area, when the next waves were arriving, the range of the tower and so on. Another could be an AI match being played out and you (in god mode) being in charge of placing wards. If you put them in places which spotted enemy AI coming in for a surprise attack or stealing an objective your friendly AI team would react, if your wards missed them the attack would be successful. Basically it would be a way to get players to think about where you put a ward and why.

THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT TO MARKET

Items can be one of the most overwhelming parts of a MOBA, the shops bristling with wares and accompanying text. I’d like a module where you have an AI character to outfit and the game pitted you against foes with different types of protection or escapes. The idea would be to learn the theory behind the items rather than the execution. I feel like that would make it easier to understand what to do in different situations or against different lineups instead of sticking with one build and hoping for the best. Dota 2 has a version of this in Reborn with the Demo Hero mode that lets you kit out a hero and a foe in a lane and see how they fare but I found it to be a bit fiddly. I’d like a way to compare and contrast more easily. Obviously this wouldn’t let you see how that stuff worked in a whole bunch of situations – like chaotic team fights for one – but I think it would do a better job of imparting the basics and letting people learn a little flexibility.

WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?

I think often in the early stages of a MOBA you’re not sure what killed you. You get little fact cards that tell you the abilities other people used to take you out but I found these hard to convert into a meaningful piece of feedback. I was thinking that a highlights mode would be useful here. If something baffling happened you could press a button to “snip” the previous thirty seconds of play. After the game these snippets would be available and you could go through them in slow motion and with a side bar telling you what forces were acting upon you at any given time. For example, say you have no idea what killed you you would press the button and watch back. You’d see what protections you had and when they ran out, which characters were damaging you, which factors were mitigating that damage (if any) and so on. It would be up to you to take that information and learn from it but it would be another way of stopping that sense of utter confusion.

BFF

Players with a high approval rating (from playing nice with solo queue strangers rather than friends) could volunteer for a buddy system, sherpa-ing new players by taking on a coach role. Obviously you’d have to be so cautious with implementing this but it’s so nice to have a friendly knowledgeable person about in those early matches who can explain a bit more about what’s going on and why.

HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE

League is the only one of the three games that teaches you how to use the pre-game interface. That’s cool. Except it tells you that the chat box is where people discuss strategies. That conjures up an idyll where there is a strategy and give and take between players. Maybe if you queue with a group of friends that’s still the case. If you solo queue “discussing strategy” means people typing the lane they want as quickly as possible then complaining if someone else has already locked it in by the time they have typed. “BUT I CALLED TOP” they shout at an uncaring chat box. Sometimes they will then pick a different lane that someone else has already called or they might lock in another top laner and you will spend the game with two people locked in a grudge match. I wonder whether that’s an opportunity for change? Perhaps an explanation of the etiquette of the chat box would be useful? “For example, you can say which lane you would like or suggest Champions or even just say hello to your new teammates” – something like that.

ALTERNATIVELY

Look, I learned Dota back when there was no tutorial and the game seemed to hate everyone and it’s not done me any harm. I also used to walk ten miles to school and school was actually a Victorian factory and the factory made dragons and the dragons were awful. Kids these days have it far too easy.

44 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Personally, there’s two things that would make MOBAs accessible, at least to me:

    One, get rid of all the mechanics that just scream “this started as a mod for an RTS game, it had janky controls due to those limitations, and we’ve preserved those because people yell at us when we try to take them away”.

    I’m talking about last-hitting and denying and counting frames to do it, about using RTS controls to manage what is predominantly a single character, about the limited ability to zoom out and see what’s going on around you, about intentionally luring your own troops away from the front line in order to bring the front line closer to your tower, etc etc.

    No, simply introducing those aspects to me better in a tutorial fashion is not enough. They’re simply bad game design, IMO, and they continue to make me look at most of the genre as nothing more than a popular mod that has become inexplicably popular and frustratingly dominates the entire genre (e.g. Counter-Strike).

    (So far, the only game I’ve seen that succeeds on this point is Awesomenauts — and I actually rather enjoyed that.)

    Two, get rid of the players. Because really, on the whole, they’re horrible. I don’t expect the existing games to ditch their entire fanbase, nor do I particularly know how a new game might go about ensuring their community is well-behaved. But I do know that (also like Counter-Strike) the current crop of players makes me stay far, far away.

    (Alternatively, I suppose one could try just disabling player chat, a la Splatoon, and having them communicate purely via in-game systems like alt-clicking on the map. It doesn’t completely get rid of the jerks, but it does neuter them to the point that most won’t really bother.)

    But yes, I’ll fully admit that maybe the genre just isn’t for me.

    • subedii says:

      Maybe the genre, or at least those specific takes on it, isn’t for you (there are a fair few MOBA’s that don’t have things like last hitting and blocking).

      I’ll admit, when I first started off playing Dota 2 I also felt as if those mechanics were kind of obscure and didn’t really add any value. But the more I played the more I started to get a feel for how they come into play.

      Games like Dota are all about preparation and confrontation. Mechanics like last hitting aren’t so much about your rote learning to do them, as they are (for example) opportunities for your opponent to disrupt your preparation and farming. And subsequently, something your team needs to ensure doesn’t happen to your carry (or similar).

      They’re plainly mechanics that have originated from what could be called the limitations of the original base game. But that in itself doesn’t mean that they haven’t evolved into more purposeful forms over time. There’s a lot that has already changed (drastically so) between something like Dota 1 and Dota 2. What’s remained isn’t purely because of being stuck on previous limitations and convention (mostly), it’s that they’ve become core mechanics and large parts of the game and its strategy have been built and modified around them, and those mechanics themselves have been refined with time.

      Basically it’s more than just blind adherence to convention at work. The more technnical aspects of the game lead to it having a much higher skill ceiling (which is important for high level play). For the lower level scrubs (i.e. me), it’s largely safe to ignore them. That’s what matchmaking is largely for. Over time as you get more in-depth into the game, you find yourself picking up and implementing more of these mechanics naturally.

      Although like I said, it’s not for everyone. You probably would get far more mileage out of one of more action-heavy 3rd person style MOBA’s.

    • Stardog says:

      You know that Smite isn’t an RTS, right?

    • Rougecrown says:

      Calling these mechanics “bad design” is like calling Dark Soul’s difficulty “bad design”.

      Seriously, these mechanics are what make Dota dota, and the reason why Dota just refuses to die is because it’s balanced around the highest skilled players, constantly challenge them to up their game or risk losing their hard-earned money and fame (looking at you, Alliance and Na’vi).

      To make the game more “accessible” incites a few routes, and none sounds logical. You can make the game easier by removed said mechanics (LOL) – but by doing so, you are alienating the people who make the game what is it in the first place.

      Let’s face it: there are the hard core games with high skill ceiling that beat you down like a merciless sergeant, and there are games that hold your hand like Cinderella’s prince going up the steps. If the game is not for you, it’s not for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      However, NEVER suggest changing/removing of mechanics that define that very game. Saying that is plain ignorant, and completely miss the point about how the game is catered to a certain audience.

      /peace out.

      • Incanus says:

        “because it’s balanced around the highest skilled players” LoL!

        Anyway, Heroes of the Storm goes away with the utterly silly “Last Hit system”.

        It also goes away with the “locked in lanes” problem. You WILL roam between lanes. It’s much more dynamic.

        It also goes away with the solo xp. XP is earned and given on a team basis. It STRONGLY encourages you to play WITH the team, not solo in your lane.

        I have my gripes with the Blizzard game: don’t take this coming from a fanboy. Some things are awful like the overpowering of some of the new/expansive heroes in order to incite people to buy it (look at the “kael thas problem” right now) or because Blizzard doesn’t quite succeeded in the balance (an ongoing problem anyway). Or the toxicity of some players (at least you can block them, but still) and the lack of answer from Blizzard on this point.

        But at least, HOTS is trying to get rid of tedious mechanics that burden theses games, are unnecessary and really focus on strategy and tactical fights.

        • oWn4g3 says:

          HotS does a good job in getting rid of the mechanics you mentioned. I really like the game as a more casual alternative when I encounter one of those phases where Dota fails me(or I fail Dota).
          But it’s still a matter of preference. Calling last hits system “silly” and claiming that you are locked into your lanes in other MOBAs makes me think that you simply prefer the HotS way and haven’t spent that much time with other MOBAs that need a longer time to master. The mechanics are not a burden per se, they just add flavor that some like and some don’t.
          It’s interesting that you claim that HotS focuses more on strategy though. In my experience other MOBAs offer much more varied approaches to win a game compared to the very push heavy HotS.

          • Incanus says:

            Well, i played enough LoL or DOTA to feel the lanes system more constricted than HOTS. It could be a matter of personal preference, obviously, but what i liked in HOTS was the fact that you have more CHOICE in the moments where you are laning, mercenary-ing, or teamfighting.

            As for the heavy push wins in HOTS: it can be true in quickmatch because people often lack the team coordination needed to overcome this obivous way of winning. It work entirely differently in Hero League. Heavy push tactics can and will be countered.

            In HOTS i have seen memorable turnings of the tide (sorry, don’t know how to properly say that in english) at any point in the game: a good long term strategy can tromp pure teamfight talent, and a good combination of the two (tactical mastery, strategy awareness) is the key to win on a regular basis. It requires a great amount of training, reading, watching, failing, like in the other MOBAS.

            But even the less experienced players (the word casual, is awful and part of the problem) can have fun and train in a quick game, on a variety of maps. At least when there is no toxicity.

          • Bremze says:

            @Incanus: I can’t comment on LoL and HotS, but it sounds to me like you haven’t explored a huge part of what Dota lets you do. Have you ever teleported to another lane to turn around a gank? Have you ever used smoke of deceit to pick up an early kill on their mid/carry? There are a bunch of heroes that are great at roaming right out the gate and having a global presence is one of the defining traits of good support play.

          • Incanus says:

            @Bremze : of course. And i don’t say lanes are the be all end all of Dota2 or LoL, and that you are FORBIDDEN (fear!!) to stop lanning to do something else. It’s obvious that you are not and should not.

            But the liberty of roaming that you have in HOTS is different: is it better or worse per se? I think nobody can say, it should be appreciated in the context of the general gameplay of each game.

            What i say is the laning elasticity (?) of HOTS is not a “worse” thing by nature compared to DOTA2: it’s another way of doing the gig.

    • TheSkiGeek says:

      I’m talking about last-hitting and denying and counting frames to do it, about using RTS controls to manage what is predominantly a single character, about the limited ability to zoom out and see what’s going on around you, about intentionally luring your own troops away from the front line in order to bring the front line closer to your tower, etc etc.

      League got rid of “denying” (in the DOTA sense, i.e. attacking your own units) and (for the most part) manipulating the movement of your own units. On the flip side, not having denying and things like jungle monster stacking means that lane compositions are less flexible in League — e.g. having a trilane and no dedicated jungler won’t really work, because you lose out on so much XP/gold from the jungle monsters and you can’t shut down the opposing laners hard enough to make up for it. While those things *do* increase the learning curve, they also arguably add to the strategic depth of the game over the long term. Personally I think League is at a better point in this regard than DOTA2 — DOTA2 is undoubtedly more complicated, but I don’t think it gains enough actual strategic depth to be worth the headache. (Obviously many people disagree on this, to say the least. And we’ll have to see where HOTS shakes out once it’s matured further.)

      Controlling the relative position of the minions is an important mechanic in any game of this style, unless the game design prevents you from doing so or severely diminishes the risks of being overextended. It’s somewhat unintuitive that aggressively pushing can be a bad idea, and I agree with you that this is generally poorly explained by in-game tutorials. I do like HOTS’ ammo system for towers, as this makes it risky to let an opponent push minions to your tower for an extended period of time and adds more of a reward to compensate for the risks of doing so when you’re the aggressor.

      In terms of controls I’m not sure what would be dramatically better for a top-down-view game where you’re expected to aim skillshots. It would suck, frankly, with twin-stick-shooter style controls, unless you made all attacks skillshots (which would be a huge gameplay change). Obviously some other games have gone in different directions with the formula. You mentioned Awesomenauts, which is 2D — there is also SMITE and some earlier titles like Monday Night Combat and Happy Wars, and the upcoming Overwatch, that have gone with FPS/TPS-style presentation and controls (and did make almost everything into skillshots). But doing that *dramatically* changes the game.

      Limited view distance in an RTS or 2D MOBA is to some degree a balancing factor. You could argue that it’s not a competitive balancing concern if *everyone* can do it, but you’d effectively force everyone who’s competitive to play super-zoomed-out. It’s advantageous to be able to, for example, follow the progress of a fight in another lane more closely than you can with the minimap while still being able to see your own character.

      Last-hitting actually makes a huge impact on the way the early part of the game plays. Having that “laning phase” where players focus on gathering resources means that you can’t just pick late-game characters and turtle — the other team will usually get an insurmountable lead early on if you don’t contest their last hitting. It does add a mechanical challenge that new players have to figure out, but if you didn’t have to do it then a bunch of DOTA and League characters would suddenly be unviable and the metagame would shift dramatically. HOTS “softened” last-hitting — there’s still a bonus for doing it, but you don’t get *nothing* if you fail to do it. That might be an interesting approach for DOTA or League to take, but you’d have to evaluate the balance implications very carefully.

  2. bateleur says:

    Is Heroes of the Storm not considered a MOBA, or did you just happen not to try it? It’s introductory play is pretty good, although it stops short of teaching strategic things like when to take merc camps.

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      Philippa Warr says:

      This was more about a particular version of MOBAs. HotS is something slightly different – still a MOBA but problems like helping people learn what items to buy or how to ward or explaining jungling aren’t applicable. A bunch of other stuff is and it would be interesting to go back and see how they do it but a) limited time and b) I was more interested in the problem of teaching the games that exist at the extreme end of MOBA complexity, if that makes sense?

      • Incanus says:

        Well, i played at one moment or another the three big (LoL, Dota 2 and HOTS) and i fail to see how HOTS is “less complex”.

        It didn’t feel like that at all. A good batch of experienced players are being seen playing HOTS (Srey: see Icy Veins heroes guides) after having left one or the other. I don’t think a “less complex/difficult” game would suit them.

        There aren’t items, but there are talents. The lanes affectation are much more dynamic. Jungle is there and an integral part of the game. Each map MUST be played differently, with new strategis, new focus.

        I don’t want to start a flame war between MOBA: it’s stupid, it’s typical of the gamers community and it’s pointless. But saying one or the other is less complex is strange for me, i didn’t feel it at all like that. Each has its own complex subsystems, meta-game, priorities to understand.

        HOTS has a false reputation to be the “easy MOBA” compared to a fantasized ultra-ultra-mega-hypra complex DOTA.

        Before HOTS, LoL was the “easy one” compared to DOTA. It’s all propaganda: it’s just the DOTA2 players ego speaking and it’s really sad, because people have false expectations of these games.

        They come to HOTS expecting it’s easy: it’s not.

        They come to DOTA2 expecting it’s difficult: no more than anything else.

        • Urist says:

          What you are saying is outright lie, i dont know of any semi decent Dota2 player that switched to hots and those who tried it called it retarded. I gave it benefit of the doubt and played around 100 matches to see if it is so good as some of the people claim. It isnt. Simplification of mechanics outright aborted most of the strategies possible in Dota2. Every game feels exactly the same and much more fitting genre would be killing of heroes not moba. It isnt better on the pro level either, things are somehow even more stagnant and every single game is exactly the same, after relatively calm early game with maybe 2 or 3 kills, one of the teams gains advantage, snowballs out of control and wins the game.

          • Incanus says:

            That is exactly the toxicity everyone talks about. I’m sorry for you if, when someone disagree with you, he is a “lier”.

            Example of people coming from others MOBA to HOTS? Srey. There a lot others.

            And your argument is not helped by the fact that you played some games, played always the same, and feels it was always the same. Plenty of people (people who actually play the game now) will tell you otherwise.

            But, hey, they surely are “liers” too :-).

        • PikaBot says:

          Well, for one thing, the removal of last hitting/denying and the shared XP system has pretty much totally eradicated one of the main pillars of MOBA strategy: managing your team’s resource distribution. It’s also sharply limited the ways in which you can contest your opponent’s resource gains. Maybe you think it’s better that way, but it’s most certainly less complex.

          • Incanus says:

            You contest the other team resources gain on mercs, on objectives, on lanes. That’s not identical, but it’s the same complexity.

            It’s true that resources gains in your team is the same for all players on the surface: maybe it’s differently complex (but i wouldn’t be so radical: it introduces another batch of problems to solves) but the talents introduces new ressources (collection of regen globes for some heroes, number of creep kills for others) that you have to manage too.

            I’ve played the three games and had no difficulty to switch back and forth on one or the other and adapt my play style in consequence. DOTA2 after LoL was not particularly complex to manage, it’s just another way of doing the same things.

            And you have the multiple maps, the multiple strategies on the same map, the multiple builds which can take a hero on a path or completely another one (see the Monk that has just been developed), the dynamic choice of talents against adverse team compo, in synergy with your team, or with the map.

            I can’t say “this MOBA is better than this one”. They are different, and it’s good: they should. But quick adjectives like “easiest” o” complex” are not really the better way to speak and compare them.

          • PikaBot says:

            You contest the other team resources gain on mercs, on objectives, on lanes. That’s not identical, but it’s the same complexity.

            It really, really isn’t. You’ve lost so much granularity.

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          Philippa Warr says:

          I’m not dissing HotS or calling it easy. I categorically didn’t say that. What I’m saying is there are aspects of learning that you don’t have to do in that game because Blizzard stripped them out. It doesn’t mean it’s not a rich experience but things like knowing and using dozens of items are not part of that experience and I wanted to dig into how you communicate an overwhelming experience like an item shop better. If that wasn’t clear then I hope this comment helps but it’d be cool to assume good faith on my part here.

          • Incanus says:

            It is, thanks. I may have misunderstood your message.

            If i was nitpicking, i could say that HOTS have multiple maps and each maps require another strategy, sometimes another build, another team compo. That’s a level of complexity you don’t have on another games and that is challenging as well.

    • Freud says:

      Heroes of the Storm is the one game in the genre that has thought about mechanics and decided to go away from the items/the one map that’s basically looked the same since DotA ten years ago.

      I think having lots of maps and objectives that draw together the teams at regular intervals is a very good change. Also, having talents instead of items removes one layer of google need for players.

  3. lowprices says:

    I’m pretty sure that due to their very nature it’s close to impossible to make a proper tutorial for this kind of game. You can talk about last hitting and creeps all you want, but at some point you’re going to have to pull back the curtain and say “Do you see this endless, bewildering wall of metaknowledge? That’s what you’re going to have to absorb in order to remain competitive.”

    The closest I’ve found to an approachable MOBA is Heroes of the Storm, and Blizzard only achieved that by stripping out half the features you’d normally expect in a MOBA.

    • Banyan says:

      Short mini-missions to teach stacking, pulling, stun chaining, standard ward locations, counterwarding, and other basics of vision would be appreciated. At the very least, it would mean that everyone’s first 30 games of Dota didn’t involve being wrecked by Riki because nobody understands how vision works.

      • fenghuang says:

        The fastest way to learn is to die to it and then get interested enough to read up on it or play it.

        I didn’t complain when people started discovering Tinker Dagon Ethereal Blade spam or Sniper/Troll/Juggernaut carry picks or Naga with Radiance. I learnt how to counter them and play them.

        Why do you think everyone requires hand-holding? By its very nature, Dota 2 is a knowledge intensive game. It makes it in-depth and rewarding.

        • Banyan says:

          If you think the game explicitly telling you “The tall places with that weird glyph are standard places to place wards” is despicable “hand holding”, you must be an absolute terror to people who buy cookbooks.

          Nobody wants the game to be less knowledge-intensive (well, besides the first guy who posted up above), but there’s zero reason to insist that basic knowledge be hidden in places outside the actual game, besides wanting to feel superior to all the clueless noobs. And by “basic”, I don’t mean the hero-item combinations you use as examples. I mean “Obs let you see invisible things” level of knowledge. The main effect of this juvenile elitism is culling otherwise good players who just don’t want to deal with such a badly explained game. It’s a minor miracle that so many players tolerate those first 20-50 Dota games, despite the game’s feeble introductions.

  4. jrodman says:

    Pip, I believe you have a typo in the “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?” section.

    You get little fact cards that tell you the abilities other people used to take you out but I found these card hard to convert into a meaningful piece of feedback. I

  5. c-Row says:

    “The only winning move is not to play.”

  6. Aetylus says:

    I don’t think the barrier to entry is learning the mechanics or the meta. MOBA’s aren’t that complicated – you can learn enough to not embarrass yourself by some bot games and watching some commentated pro games.

    The really barrier to entry is the toxicity. Most people won’t face toxicity from using an odd build or sub-optimal ward placement… they’ll get it from some guy going “Fuck off noob, I called top first”. Tutorial’s aren’t going to help that.

    If someone really wanted to lower barriers to entry they’d seriously fight toxicity. I’d instantly switch to any MOBA that branded itself and the “Polite, Casual MOBA”. Permabans for swearing, XP gain for positive play etc. The hard-core MOBAers would hate it… but there are enough hardcore MOBA’s out there already. Where is the polite one for us casual players?

    • Steelphoenix says:

      As an avid DOTA2 player (circa 2400 hours according to steam)I completly agree with you. Those games are complcated, but not much more than your average RTS or Roguelike. Even most RPG could arguably be called “more complicated” given the amount of things to do/buy/discover. What is really putting people off MOBA is the toxic community. When you make a mistake in other games you don’t have four people threatening you and your loved ones with death threats. It is fearly common in MOBAs. My idea of useful things for new player :
      1)Explain where is the mute button and what it does.
      2)Explain where to find cool headed persons (say hi to the rps dota guil) to play and learn the ropes with.
      3)Give rewards for the Coaching system, based on the coached players notation of the coach after the game. Maybe Unique hats ? Of course something should be done so friends don’t just coach each other for hats.

      • Aetylus says:

        I suspect your option 1 might be the key. My time on LOL pretty well turned me off competitive online games… then I found hearthstone and have found that they can be enjoyable – they just have to have zero in-game chat :)

    • Incanus says:

      I fully agree with you. I think it’s the worst problem right now AND i think it’s partly endorsed by Valve, Blizzard, Riot etc..

      They are very lenient with so-called hardcore morons and let the community rot in toxicity.

      We need to get rid of insults, aggression, nationalist fights.

      And i can tell you the best players are NOT the more aggressive. Best players have self-control: it’s an integral part of what’s make a good player. Some of the worst players always end a game by insulting others because “they are n00bs”.

      It’s an excuse for their own inadequacy. These are a lot of the “hardcore players”.

      And video games producers let them have their way because they are afraid of the backlash from this toxic community.

      It’s cowardice plain and simple.

      • Steelphoenix says:

        I would not call it cowardice. I suspect the seemingly lack of raction to those toxic to te community is twofold :
        1) The games are making money the way they are. After all why change a formula that seems to be well-oiled ? Sure some get annoyed by flaming, but from a purely monetary point fo view those games still are really succesful. That could be called cowardice, but it’s more likely pragmatism.

        2) Its actually really hard to police chat in those games. People have different treshold of “this is a serious insult”, some flamers are actually friends doing it for fun, most people flame back when insulted making it hard to determine who to punish. The sheer amount of chatter going on make checking for every word both a chore and a huge time+money sink.
        3)Chat is actually mendatory to good team coordiantion, so you can’t go the “0 chat” route HS follows. DotA2 has a chat wheel, but it’s fairly limited in practice.

        My point being, if there was an easy solution, dev would have implemented it :)

        • Steelphoenix says:

          God, the lack of editing. Threefold actually.

          • Incanus says:

            I can agree with your with the “pragmatism” (but i would call it cynism and lazyness because they are aware of what is happening: see forums, in game reports etc..).

            But i think, with all i have seen in game, that it’s rather to police the aggressors. Honestly, i have seen awful things on the chat: racism, outright misogyny, homophobia etc..

            Most of the experience i have with this, it’s one player beginning to insult another one: wathever its frustration, it should be punished.

            If you can’t express your anger without agression or insult, don’t express it on the chat. Shoot in your home, punch your keyboard, yell, but don’t do it on the chat. It should be a hard rule: break it and you are banned.

            And the community should be more responsible. Everytime i see insults flying, i try at least to calm the spirits, and to call full stop on the agression. I warn insulters before, that they will be reported. Even a “noob” calls for a report.

            A lot of times it’s enough for them to calm down. I explain that this will not make the game go better, and if the insults come again, i report and block.

        • Aetylus says:

          I understand that Dota and Lol won’t change it… they would be foolish to break a financially good thing. What I don’t get is why one of the less popular dota-clones doesn’t try to differentiate itself by appealing to those who dislike dota/lol toxicity? The clones are never going to pry away hardened dota/lol players… so pick a different market.

          As for the threshold… if you are aiming to combat toxicity you go for zero tolerance. It’s actually really easy not to insult people. Its don’t all the time in real life.

          If you really want a threshold – trying picking a real world example like “Would this phase stop me being invited back to a friend of a friend’s house?” At which point it remains appropriate to say things like “Hi, mind if I sit on the couch?”, but unacceptable to say “Piss off, I called couch first, moron”.

      • fenghuang says:

        Instead of armchair-ing here, have you actually played the games to know what the community actually wants or thinks about “toxicity”?

        Cause to me, as a player of Dota 2, I think what you are doing is akin to politicians interfering in the scientific field, which should be left to the scientists.

        • Steelphoenix says:

          Erm, i’m quoting myself now, but :
          “As an avid DOTA2 player (circa 2400 hours according to steam)”

          So yeah I do play DOTA (a lot)and also played LoL and HoN fyi, so i actually know what i’m talking about, and not “armchair-ing”.
          More on the point, a zero policy tolerance would indeed be a great way to stop toxicity, but would be awfully difficult to implement as it would require alot of time/money from anyone trying to do it.

          I am 100% behind the idea of a more responsible community, but i have no faith in human nature, especially when internet anonimity enters the picture, so i doubt anything will change on that front, althought , like you, I try to explain people that being awful to each other won’t help in any fashion.

          • fenghuang says:

            I think the comment column misdirected me. Im sorry.
            I was actually replying to Incanus.

        • Incanus says:

          No i don’t actually played any of these games. I live for the moment on another dimension, and i post false comments just to mislead you.

          Because: paranoia and mistrust.

          MUHAHAHAHA.

  7. fenghuang says:

    Isn’t LoL a tutorial for Dota 2?

  8. fenghuang says:

    I think the comment column misdirected me. Im sorry.
    I was actually replying to Incanus.