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If I could change Dota, I wouldn’t

Action RTS games are plagued by numerous things that ruin the experience for a lot of players.  Flaming, trolling, noobs, and feeders are all things a game creator could attempt to curb, but ultimately prove impossible to prevent.  Of all the things one could change, I would not change anything that affects the game play.

The game play needs a certain level of banter.  It just doesn’t feel right when you get out-played and the opponent doesn’t let you know where you messed up.  Conversely, letting other people know that you think you are better than them is a humbling experience when you get smacked around by them in the late game.  Pummeling a player after they have talked trash on you is the best part of any gaming experience.

Trolling and excessive flaming is unfortunate, but that’s online gaming (online anything).  I don’t think a system should be implemented to punish users from verbally harassing others, but something could be done to prevent those users from playing with each other in the future.  The game should allow a player to control who they do not want to play with in future games.  This won’t stop that player from trolling, but eventually their matchmaking will be slower than others because they will have burned their bridges with other players.

I ran my own database of banned players with an add-on to WC3.  If anyone joined my game that was banned it would let me know everything about the ban so I could make my own decision about playing with them again.  This prevented trolling and leavers to increase my gaming experience substantially.

Matchmade games are great when they work.  If Dota 2 has a ranked matchmaking system it should take the time to match up a good game or allow players to leave if the teams are unbalanced.  I love the idea of being able to reconnect to a game if something happens to your network and/or PC, but forcing players to play an unbalanced game is not fun for anyone.  I would rather wait a few extra minutes to get a better matched game.  This would prevent leavers by default and enforcing a reconnect seems more reasonable.  An option to get a quick match game (leavable) and a quality match game (Elo ranked and not leavable) would suffice.

I would not want noobs and pros to be entirely separated.  Noobs will learn or become bad players.  The best part of Dota is that you can carry your team to victory with almost any hero as long as you know what you are doing.  Dota doesn’t require good team composition (players playing roles they probably don’t want or know how to play) as long as the team knows what to do or can follow directions.  Helping noobs by coaching them, leading them in battles, and educating them in what you have experienced is what they need to learn the game and have a good time.

Keep the replay system!  We need replays to analyse what other players are doing.  It’s important for players to take time out of playing to build their knowledge of the game.  Noobs understand the nuances easier when they can watch other players like observers (I know there is an option of having in-game observers, but there are obstacles like cheating and increased latency that need to be addressed).

Before all the other gaming platforms you had to purchase WC3 to play Dota, but if you had WC3 you could play Dota for free.  I will gladly pay to play Dota 2 whether it be upfront, monthly, or a combination of both.  Players that pay to play will be more serious than the ones that are not force to pay anything.  This is not the best business model to make money, but it does help weed out the players that make numerous accounts to disrupt the experience of other players.  Microtransaction games suck for the players because they end up spending more money for less stuff.

If it were up to me I would:

  • Only enforce a no-leaving policy on quality matched games
  • Give players more control with who they don’t want to play with the future
  • Force players to incur costs to play, not just for extra stuff
  • Disallow players to have multiple accounts
These 4 things, in my opinion, would improve the experience for most players without ruining the over-all experience of Dota.

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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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