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Valve + DOTA = ???

Hot news from PC-land today, gentletypes. Seems the ever-controversy-free Valve Software have a new project up their sleeves, and one that probably isn't related to Deads or Teams or Halves. Probably. Turns out they've just hired the mysterious IceFrog, the chap who has been developing Defense of the Ancients Allstars for the last couple of years, the huge and influential (see: Demigod) Warcraft 3 mod. I've just had confirmation from Valve that his claim he's off to lead one of their team on a secret new project is true. Goodness gracious me, whatever could it be?

Whatever else people might accuse Valve of, what they can't say is that they've abandoned their long-running tendency to recruit talented modders to their ranks. It's this strategy that led to TF2, Portal and Counter-Strike, so this is news to cheer about. Even though we don't know anything about it.

Here's FrostToad's official memo about his new job:

I have some really awesome news I'd like to share with you guys. I am now leading a team at Valve! I finally have all the resources needed to do some very exciting stuff that you guys will love. I look forward to revealing more specific details when the time is right.

My goal and top priority in the future is to solve the surrounding issues that affect the DotA experience in order to allow it to reach new heights. Addressing these issues will enable us to further enjoy aspects of DotA such as the gameplay, mechanics, and in-game feel that currently work well and ought to be maintained. As I've said many times in the past and especially after today's developments, I am very excited about DotA's future!

Again, Valve's Doug Lombardi gives the official nod to this news. "I can confirm it is true. And, as you've guessed, that is all I can say." Boo. But still yay!

So, time to saddle up the Speculation Donkey. What could it be? Seems more than likely it's strategy-related - is it standalone, Blizzard-free DOTA? A Team Fortress 2-themed RTS-RPG thing? Something entirely new? Spying an opportunity to do a professional DOTAlike after Demigod got itself into a spot of bother with the tech-fault plagued launch?

Fascinating and exciting stuff - most especially because it might just be Valve's first major foray outside of FPS. It's worth noting that IceFrog didn't create DOTA-Allstars, but rather has been continuing its development since the original creator (it's also worth nothing that DOTA Allstars is a modification of the original DOTA mod. Jeezum, this is confusing) stepped down. That chap, one Steve Feak, is now heading up Riot Games, a new team also currently engaged on a pro version of DOTA's principles. That's the upcoming League of Legends: Clash of The Fates, to be specific. As far as I can tell, IceFrog isn't and wasn't involved with that. But he is now a Valve employee, which is the important bit.

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