Defense of the Ancients – An Experience Long Forgotten

Dota is my absolute favorite game of the team battle arena genre.    It’s not news that Dota was not the first of this genre; however, it was certainly the best of it’s kind and has obviously been the factor by which all other games in this genre are judged.

My first time playing Dota was back when Warcraft 3 TFT was rumored to come out (even back then Blizzard was publishing info about games well before they were ready to release the game [remember hearing about Starcraft Ghost?]).  I just stopped playing Diablo 2 LOD because my account was hacked and I lost everything.  I needed a new game to play so I tried getting into WC3 ladder games, but I didn’t like the rock, paper, scissors feel so I decided to explore the custom games of WC3.  Of all the open custom games I could see, half of them had “dota” in the title.  Something told me it was time to give it a shot and I was really unprepared for what was about to happen.

I joined the game and was instantly kicked.  Back then, Warcraft 3 would tell you if you had been kicked, banned, or the game creator (host) left.  I thought it was a fluke because lots of custom games were created just for friends to join and I obviously wasn’t invited.

Immediately after getting kicked out of the first game I joined another with Dota in the title.  I saw the screen roll in and I was instantly in a whole new world.  There were players jumping back and forth between teams, calling each other names (most of which was slang I would later learn while playing), the host was opening and closing empty player spots, and the download of the game was so slow I didn’t even get to 10 before I was banned from that host’s game.

I suddenly had this ominous feeling that the other players knew I was a noob and I wasn’t going to be able to play any games unless I had the map first.  “If I no one can download the game from anyone else, how am I supposed to get the game?  How cool would it be to be a part of a society that was hard to get into?” I thought to myself.  Hurriedly, I scanned the forums for bits and pieces of information and eventually came across a post that pointed me to a website that would allow me to download the map.  I downloaded the map instantly and was about to learn about something entirely new to me and become a member of a group all joined together by this game.  Finally, I was about to find out what made this mod so special…almost.

With a burning desire to get into a game as soon as possible, I opened WC3 and tried to host the game but something was wrong.  I tried and tried to get WC3 to recognize the file I downloaded.  Searching and reading, opening and closing, reopening and restarting did nothing to help me.  After 30 minutes of opening and closing WC3 and moving the file around the WC3 folders I decided it was time to take a step back and think about it.  Just then I realized that the file was compressed and I had to unzip it first.

An epiphany struck me and a hunger for learning about computers and programming was born.  Almost a decade later I am computer geek with degree and a penchant for gaming.

I felt a great sense of anxiety and elation about what was going to happen as I was stepping into a huge world of unknown and strange things.  I successfully joined my first game of Dota without everyone knowing it was my first game.  The game took a few minutes to get enough players to start and during that time tension was building in my mind.

“Were there other ways they could tell I was noob besides having to download the game?”  This and a hundred more ideas popping up in my mind.  All these ideas were put on hold as soon as I heard the clicking of the countdown timer.  Until the loading screen appeared I didn’t breath, move, or think.  I was frozen in time until I saw the loading bars for each of the players in the game moving.  In an instant I was again overwhelmed by all these new thoughts and questions.  The game was loaded.  It was time for me to make the first move.

Sentinel heroes

Dota Classic

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