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Defense of the Ancients 2 Announced By Valve

News & Rumors Other

Enough of the rumors, the speculation and the complaining.

For good or for worse, Valve today announced DotA 2, a sequel to the Warcraft III mod “Defense of the Ancients”, that combined RTS gameplay with RPG elements.

Defense of the Ancients 2 Announced By Valve

Game Informer explains it the best:

Dota 2 takes its name from the Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients, a drastic change to that stock real-time strategy title, which pits two teams of five players against each other in highly competitive, 40-minute or longer matches. Unlike most RTSes, DotA has each player controlling a single hero who levels up and stockpiles gold to purchase powerful equipment and consumables. As computer-controlled armies continually spawn and rush the enemy’s base, players are responsible for using their powerful heroes to turn the tide of the battle in their favor.

DotA’s most popular version, “DotA-Allstars” is maintained by IceFrog.

IceFrog was hired by Valve last year, and since then, small info on the title has slooowly trickled out.

The biggest drop of info was when Jon st. John accidentally let the cat out of the bag in a tweet that read “Went to Bellevue to do voicework on DotA!”, paraphrasing, of course.

After that, Valve registered “DotA” as a trademark.

Riot Games, who is formed out of several developers who have previously worked on DotA, did not like that, for whatever reason, so they trademarked “Defense of the Ancients”.

We here at LambdaGeneration don’t really care. DotA stands for Defense of the Ancients, and to prevent confusion, we’ll be referring to it as such whenever we can.

Surprisingly, DotA is amazingly popular.

The enormous following generated by DotA’s deep gameplay is unprecedented. Today, years after its release, a third-party site hosting an update can get hammered by more than six million downloads in a day. The mod spawned a new subgenre, commonly referred to as “action-RTS,” that contains two successful commercial games in League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth (and the unfortunate flop Demigod) as well as DotA-Allstars itself.

Enter DotA 2, as Valve enters the RTS arena along with it.

So… what does DotA 2 bring to the table over other action RTS’s, as well as the original DotA?

Valve’s approach to Dota 2 is unusual in that the gameplay itself is remaining almost entirely untouched. “Our first reaction is to assume that [design elements are] there for a reason,” project lead Erik Johnson explains. “IceFrog is one of the smartest designers we’ve ever met. He’s made so many good decisions over the years in building the product. He virtually never makes a decision that doesn’t have some reasoning behind it and a way to pick apart the logic behind it.” This approach means that Dota 2 basically is DotA-Allstars with new technology.

DotA-Allstars’ roster of 100+ heroes is being brought over in its entirety. The single map games take place on is functionally identical to the one that you can download for free today in the Warcraft III mod. Items, skills, and upgrade paths are unchanged. Some hero skills work slightly better due to being freed from the now-ancient Warcraft III engine, but Dota 2 will be instantly familiar to any DotA player.

However, there will be a few new things.

DotA uses the Source Engine, though DotA’s version features improved global lighting, and cloth simulation similar to PhysX’s stuff.

DotA 2 will also feature integrated voice chat. Gone are the days when one must use Ventrilo to communicate with his comrades.

In addition, following their track record, Valve will include bot support for lonely players:

AI bots will take over for disconnected players, and will be available to play against in unranked training matches as well. However, don’t get your hopes up for a full-fledged single-player game, though. Johnson says, “Our goal with the AI is just that their experience isn’t destroyed just because one person couldn’t finish the game.”

DotA 2 will also feature a unique art style:

The visual style is remarkable for retaining the somewhat cartoony feel that the Warcraft III version of DotA-Allstars is built around, while going in a few different directions. “I think there are functional aspects to the art that are pretty significant to the players,” Johnson muses. The environment, particularly in the forests that fill in the map between the three lanes that the NPC armies follow, uses a desaturated color scheme to give the colorful heroes and abilities some visual pop. The sizable art team is putting a lot of work into making the shapes and animations of each hero distinct to the point that players will be able to instantly identify any hero they see and quickly gauge the threat level of any situation.

It will also have a ton of voice work, as characters will trade quips and yell amusing oneliners. Remember, Jon st. John is in this game. Before you say “bah, f**k Duke Nukem, Hammer Legion rules!”, remember that Jon st John was Dwight T. Barnes in Opposing Force.

However, DotA 2 is much more than a simple remake.

Check this out:

The bulk of innovation in Dota 2, however, is ancillary to the gameplay itself. Valve is upgrading Steamworks (the company’s backend technologies for matchmaking and other gameplay and community-related things) to allow them to create in-game rewards for participating in the Dota 2 community. The idea is to have everything a player does in or out of game tie back into their online identity. Like the improvements to Source, the Steamworks upgrades will be available to third-party developers who choose to use Valve’s tools when Dota 2 launches in 2011.

At a basic level, posting useful feedback or participating in constructive discussions on the forums will contribute to your standing in the community in a visible way. Valve doesn’t have the specifics on how this will work nailed down yet. Will you get points that contribute to a visible ranking, like a Gamerscore? Will your posts need to be recommended by other community members to count for anything? What counts as a constructive discussion? These questions are all being actively explored at the moment. Valve assures us that the designers have a slew of awesome ideas for how to implement rewards in a way that’s visible to the rest of the community, but there are no details to announce yet. “When we talk about this identity that exists inside and outside the game, we don’t think we’re anywhere near it with what exists on Steam right now,” Johnson admits.

If this was just about getting points for posting comments, though, we wouldn’t waste your time by telling you about it. Dota 2 goes much farther than that. Everything from unlocking new skins for your favorite hero to getting a unique title for writing a strategy guide is on the table. Valve has ambitious plans (for which, again, there are no specifics to share) to host everything themselves and provide the best framework for the community to interact with each other. The idea is to reduce the social friction inherent in having to dig around a bunch of different fansites and wikis to find what you’re looking for.

If there’s one thing that makes any seasoned DotA fan cringe, it’s a newbie.

Getting owned sucks. It doesn’t matter if you’re the victim of a headshot in Counter-Strike, corner trapped in Street Fighter, or swarmed under by Zerglings in StarCraft. Holding the short end of the skill stick in competitive games like these is rough. This problem is compounded in DotA and its clones by two factors. First, matches last around 40 minutes – that’s a long time to spend getting your face kicked in. Second, dying not only takes you out of the game while your respawn timer counts down but also directly benefits the other team by giving a big cash bounty to your killer.

At intermediate and higher levels of play, having a poor player on your team who dies frequently is worse than fighting with a man down, as the opposite team gets gobs of gold for picking off the newbie. This has fostered a legendarily newbie-hostile attitude within large swaths of the DotA community. As fun and rewarding as the game is when you’re in a match of appropriate skill level – and it can be one of the very best experiences in gaming, without exaggeration – finding those matches has always been a nightmare. It doesn’t help that the game is so intense that Valve had to institute a “no talking about the match for an hour afterwards” rule for its internal playtests. The recent commercial titles that more or less cloned DotA have ameliorated this to some extent, but it is still often a huge problem.

To help out the newbies, and get rid of this anti-nubcake attitude, Valve has 3 ideas.

The first one is, naturally, a solid matchmaking system to prevent nublettes from dropping straight in the middle of Competitive Lawrence’s territory.

Second, Valve intends to get a strong interactive game guide system going.

Apparently, players will be able to make their own game guides, which is pretty great.


Valve plans to allow guide-makers to tie their work back into the game by doing things like highlighting suggested item purchases

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Good lord, Valve.

Good lord.

Third, and this is a great one:

Finally, a coaching system is being deeply integrated into the game. By logging in as a coach, veteran players can do their part to help out newer folks. Valve hasn’t entirely decided on the specifics of how newbies and coaches will be matched up, but once they’re together a few things happen. The coach sees the pupil’s screen, and gets private voice and chat channels to communicate with them. The coach probably won’t be able to take control of anything directly (once again, the details are currently under discussion), but information is power in Dota 2 and having a mentor whispering in your ear can make all the difference in the world.

Of course, the pupil will be able to rate the coach’s helpfulness. Being a well-regarded coach will have explicit in-game rewards, just like writing useful guides, posting constructive feedback, or engaging in interesting strategy discussions. If the overwhelming response to achievements is any indication, vanity rewards like these will be extremely effective in channeling the community’s energies toward positive contributions.

Valve finishes up this interview with:

Valve founder and boss Gabe Newell thinks that ongoing service and value creation over a game’s lifespan is the new reality of game development. “IceFrog was one of the smartest people we’ve ever met about doing that, and he was doing it with both hands tied behind his back, so to speak,” Newell says. The company plans on approaching Dota 2 with the same dedication that won it the fanatical devotion of the Team Fortress 2 community, pushing out dozens of updates that do everything from adding new hats to fixing balance issues to introducing entire new match types for free.

“I think the interesting thing is us adding a second layer where the community is a service to each other. That’s the real shift that we’re trying to build here. Valve is going to keep building software around Dota and around the community and around Steamworks for Dota, but we’re also going to build this system where the community can bring service to each other and be recognized for it,” Johnson proclaims. With a solid backbone of community-enabling systems and Valve’s legendary support and technology behind it, Dota 2 has a chance to turn one of the most popular mods of all time into a full game on PC and Mac that compares favorably to any eight-figure-budget console blockbuster.

Well… I honestly don’t know what to say about this.

May God help us all.

Here’s the original link:


  1. For some reason I suspect Blizzard is gonna interact with valve about this in the future.

  2. I don’t know what to do… Buy it or… No. NO. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-

  3. People complaining about delays need to know this one thing: they have separate teams working on the portal games and dota and the l4d games, and Tf2, and even the HL games.

  4. This confirms my fears about the TF2 Shop of items being used in the future games… dunno if this is for the better, but it will surrelly improve the quallity of User created content.

    And welcome to the new engine features that will hopefull being used in the rest of the games.

  5. The only part i liked about this article is this >”the Steamworks upgrades will be available to third-party developers who choose to use Valve’s tools when Dota 2 launches in 2011.”<
    What i hate about this whole 'Valve making a new game'is that it is probably delaying episode 3. Same goes for Portal 2, i like Portal 2 though. I am a fan of Valve, i'll support them for all the free stuff they do for us(TF2,CSS,DoD:s free updates for years anyone?), and i will most likely buy this game just to own another dvd-box of Valve, but if this keeps going….

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