So I was making a post where I once again had to excuse my inactivity with Dota and I thought: Wouldn’t it be better to just link to an explanation. This way I could just say “because Dota” and move on. Those that had already read the explanation could skip it, and those that were curious could come here and read all about my guilty addiction.
Dota in a Nutshell
Dota, or more correctly, Dota II is a remake of a Warcraft 3 mod that was very popular. Valve hired one of the mod’s designers to create a complete stand-alone version of the game. Meanwhile the other designers founded Riot and made League of Legends and the MOBA genre was born.
A MOBA is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Essentially it’s a player vs. player game where two teams of five compete to destroy their opponent’s Ancient. They do this by defeating enemies to earn gold and XP, buying items and leveling up their character in order to gain an advantage over the enemy. The arena has three lanes connection each team’s base. Creeps spawn from the bases every 30 seconds and walk up each lane to battle the other team’s creeps. There are towers that provide some muscle in the lane.
Once all the towers in one lane are destroyed that lane’s barracks can be attacked. Once the enemy’s barracks are destroyed the your creeps get stronger. Also, once the lane’s barracks have been destroyed the last set of towers can be attacked. Once those are down the Ancient can be attacked directly. Destroying that Ancient wins the game. Only one lane’s buildings (towers, barracks and Ancient are called buildings) need to be destroyed to win but destroying barracks in a lane gives a team a big advantage so the strategy is usually to take down at least two lanes of barracks before attacking the Ancient.
Players control a single hero (with a few exceptions) that gets gold by getting the last hit on an enemy or neutral unit, when towers are destroyed, or being involved in kills on enemy heroes. Any gold that is awarded to the entire team, such as when an enemy tower is destroyed, is increased for the player who landed the killing blow. The same goes for killing heroes. Being within a set radius of a dying enemy hero, creep or neutral provides an amount of XP which is divided among all friendly heroes in that radius.
In this way heroes level up and get more powerful. Some heroes cast powerful spells that do damage, some do damage with their normal attacks, while others don’t do much damage but add utility by stunning or otherwise disabling the enemy heroes. The order in which these abilities are leveled, and what items to buy is called a build and most heroes will have a number of different accepted builds. This, along with 108 heroes to play as, with or against, creates an incredible amount of replayability.
The Cost of Dota
Dota is a free-to-play game. It is not freemium and it is not pay-to-win. There is nothing that can be purchased that will increase a player’s chances of winning. Everything is either a cosmetic, something which changes the look of the game, or a tournament ticket used to watch the a certain tournament’s matches from within the game client.
Beyond the Game
From the beginning Dota was designed as a spectator game. Built into the client is a tournament system that allows fans to watch tournament matches from within the client. Spectators can choose between different colour commentators, called casters, and either let them control the camera or control the camera themselves. Imagine watching your favorite sports team and being able to control the camera. Perhaps you have a favorite player you like to watch. Perhaps you also play the sport and want to see what the pros do so that you can improve your game. Dota spectators can even choose a player’s perspective and see their mouse movement.
Games are also broadcast on Twitch and later uploaded to Youtube. The tournament scene for Dota is very healthy with the 2014 International, the game’s biggest tournament hosted by Valve, the games publisher, having a $10 930 698 prize pool, of which $9 330 698 was contributed by fans through in-game purchases. I contributed exactly $2.50 to that total.
Every game of Dota begins on an even footing. Once the game starts player skill and choices determines the outcome. It brings out my competitiveness and drive to succeed. In any given game I can choose between refining my skills on a hero I’m already competent with or trying something new with a hero I’m unfamiliar with. The map stays the same but every game is different.
I’m so obssessed I’m recruiting people in an apology postI have been successful in lessening my addiction. I was able to swear off Dota for a few months with great success. I missed the game and playing with my friends. I’ve tried to limit myself to only playing with my friends instead of playing by myself. This strategy would work better if my friends were less obsessed than I am. It’s a rare night when I don’t find at least one friend only and happy to play some Dota.
So Now You Know
So, when I explain my absence from the blog with the comment “because Dota” you will know what I am referring to. It’s a great game and anyone interested should watch a match on Twitch cast by JoinDota or BeyondtheSummit. At first the game looks like a lot of random jumping around but pretty shortly you’ll get the hang of things. You can watch any Purge video to learn more or read his excellent article: Welcome to Dota, You Suck. It does a good job skipping over most of the beginner mistakes you are likely to make.
If you do start playing send me a Steam friend request. I’ll be happy to show you the ropes.
Have you ever become addicted by something that interfered with your main hobby? Let me know in the comments. You can also find me on Google+ and Twitter. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss my infrequent updates. I promise to play less Dota, right after my next game.
Dota 2 is a free-to-play video game available through Steam and published by Valve. Hero names are ©Valve Corporation. I wanted to use some images to make this post look better but Valve didn’t return my email.