First off, here’s the actual preview. But let’s check out some of the critical information. Ever wondered how Dota 2 came about?
Valve — explains Newell — got into this project because several staff members were playing the original DOTA and got obsessed with it to the point that people such as Robin Walker (Team Fortress 2 guru), Adrian Finol (software developer), and Johnson actually formed a team and got into a league — ending up badly stomped, he confesses. At some point, they decided to contact DOTA developer IceFrog under the pretense that they were game developers, but in fact it was just an excuse to send him fan mail.
When looking at that last sentence, I think it’s the same thing for a lot of modders who decide to contact Gabe Newell.
It didn’t take long before they started talking about how IceFrog wanted to evolve his game: By building a sequel that didn’t have the constraints and limitations of continuing the development the way he had been (as a mod to an existing game). So Valve said: “Hey, we’ve got a great idea! Why don’t you come here?” “IceFrog was the catalyst; he’s the main reason why we’re making DOTA 2” — says Johnson.
That’s pretty great! IceFrog is a great developer, and he may be responsible for Dota’s popularity, especially since he’s its longest developer. But hey, what happened to Eul, Dota’s original creator?
“A lot of us are DOTA fans also from a game-design perspective, and at Valve we already have the original creator of DOTA, Eul.”
Speak of the devil! Eul is at Valve, working on Dota 2? That’s pretty amazing! I guess that explains why some people had reported seeing his Steam account playing the Dota 2 beta, then! Next, let’s move on to what Valve is doing with the game and the Dota universe.
“Simplifying the game would have not been the right thing to do. DOTA has this perception of being very hardcore. It has millions of people ready to play a product with an annual marketing budget of zero. It’s never been advertised. It’s a product that propagates from player to player, from friend to friend,” states Johnson. He continues, “IceFrog’s been the sole builder of the project. The community has grown a lot during the time he’s been working on it. DOTA 2 is a very long-term product for us, it’s going to continue growing while new features will be added.”
“On top of that we’re re-imagining the whole world.” Newell clarifies that the approach will have more than a few things in common with TF2. As previewed in the DOTA2 trailer, Valve will release several videos similar to Team Fortress’s “Meet the Team.” “There are a lot of heroes in DOTA2 — 105 so far, and we’re gonna continue producing these videos. There’s definitely something with this world,” affirms Johnson.
Didn’t they promise a “Meet the Survivors” series for Left 4 Dead a while back? Will this “Meet the Heroes” series also slowly fade into nothingness? Okay, okay, I am being facetious yet again, so I must admit that it does sound pretty exciting! The Dota 2 trailer was pretty awesome, and the way it introduced the new Secret Merchant was great! I guess we’ll see several of these shorts, for the more popular and well-known heroes, and perhaps a few for any new heroes they might be introducing. But don’t go expecting all of the heroes to be in there.
When asked if he or the team had a favorite hero, Johnson replies, “It’s funny, we talked about it, it’s pretty hard, It’s like asking someone to pick their favorite sports team. Everyone has different answers. In DOTA it’s not about one hero. It’s about all of them. We definitely have stories that we’re going to tell in DOTA, there’s even a comic that’s gonna be released.”
Characterization of the heroes already sounds promising. There’s a huge amount of dialogue in the game and the team also added a system that allows characters to have specific dialogue, so for instance, if Crystal Maiden and Lina, who have a really natural adversarial relationship, are in opposite teams they will be bickering and saying things based on what they’re doing. “We’ve been testing the game for quite a while and worked on characters’ individuality,” confirms Johnson.
A comic? Now that sounds pretty promising. I don’t think it’ll make it in any form on Dark Horse’s “Valve Presents: The Sacrifice And Other Steam-Powered Stories”, which is a shame, but maybe there will be a second Dark Horse-Valve collaboration some time within the foreseeable future. By the way, and I cannot believe we actually missed this – the comic book was officially announced a while ago by Dark Horse, with some fancy new cover art. It is no longer speculation, and now it has good cover art, which is pretty cool. Check the announcement out here.
There’s nothing more worth looking at over here, but be sure to check out the full preview over at 1UP. By the way: turns out Dota 2 actually won IGN’s Gamescom People’s Choice Awards. Almost 260,000 votes were cast by the public, which makes it one of the biggest, if not the very biggest video game awards out there. A pretty remarkable achievement, since it was up against some stiff competition, which includes… well, it was pretty much just Battlefield 3. So, congratulations to Valve!