Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 Reasons Why 7.00 Isn't Bad

Editor's note: Much to the dismay of all 0 patrons of this previously entirely satirical blog, this article isn't (intentionally) a joke. This article only talks about gameplay related aspects to the game.

With 7.00 having been released today, there has been an influx of predictable kneejerk reactions among the DOTA2 playerbase. These types of reactions to large patches are not new, although the level of drama at which they are reaching is perhaps somewhat unprecedented. So, with all the doom and gloom in the air, I offer my alternative view on why I think DOTA2 7.00 is, by and large, probably going to be a good thing for the game, and more importantly, why people should stop complaining.

1. DOTA Patches Have Always Been About Dramatic Upheaval

Many people, including those complaining, might already agree with this statement yet argue that this patch took it too far. In the past, people have complained that DOTA has changed to something unrecognizable- this happened when new items and heroes are added, when new mechanics like Aghanim's sharing, consumable items like Moon Shards, Bounty Runes, etc. were added. The game seemingly deviated from the norm to such a stark degree that it could almost be considered a new game entirely. Looking back at the past, however, we realize that our assumptions were unfounded. In truth, Aghanim's Sharing was something that only affected one hero, Bounty Runes weren't exactly game breaking, and consuming Moon Shards was something that only six-slotted carries did in extraordinarily long games. Other things like XP Tomes, "Spell Vamp", spell damage scaling with Intellect- all of these things share a common core: they seem, at first glance, to completely change the game but in the end never live up to the hype. That isn't to say these additions are failures- they create excitement and change the game, but keep it within the game's boundaries.

Dramatic changes to the game are not something which should be feared, they should cause excitement. This is what DOTA is all about. DOTA has never been about one monotonous metagame, it has never been, as some people claim, like "Chess", because in Chess the rules stay the same. While a somewhat stable metagame is acceptable for a duration, especially in the light of Esports- for which being able to catch up with the game is necessary to display skill, it should not go on forever. On that note, we have enjoyed a version of DOTA that has undergone only minuscule changes for a very long time now. Changes to the game have always been notoriously unpredictable, and that's what makes them fun. A wise man once said that "fans are clinging complaining dipshits" who don't know what they want. DOTA2 has proven, patch and patch again, how painfully accurate this assessment is. This isn't because DOTA fans are gullible idiots who will gobble up anything Icefrog throws on their plate, it's because people like Icefrog have the backbone to update their game in ways that they see fit. They have their own vision- not the dull, predictable and shortsighted vision of their fans.

2. Talent Trees Don't Break the Game

The term "Talent Tree" is a loaded buzzword. It evokes images of League of Legends, of games that force players to customize their heroes outside of the game environment. Talent trees in other games are tied to the real problem: grinding. In order to gain access to certain aspects of gameplay, players have to grind a certain amount of "XP" or "Talent Points" by playing multiple games. This sort of thing would and should never happen DOTA2, whose flagship statement to the rest of the industry has always been "a player who has spent nothing enjoys all of the same advantages as a player who has spent hundreds". In this vein, DOTA2 has not changed. The talent trees in DOTA2 do not overhaul the game, they don't change it to something unrecognizable, in fact- their main purpose is to clean up one of many archaic mechanics left behind from the original game from which it sprang.

Additionally, while it may be too early to tell for sure, it seems plausible that talent trees will not have the "game breaking" impact that people believe they will. Much like the old Attribute Bonus, talent trees offer players relatively minor changes to their character. Contrary to popular belief, however, these changes are not "free". Many players forget that XP, like gold, must be earned, and is not given to the player simply for existing in the game. As such, many players have made the mistake of assuming that many bonuses, especially those granted at level 25, will be seen in every game. This can already be debunked simply by looking at the mean level reached by most players in most games. A cursory glance at the patch notes reveal that while these level 25 talents are the most impactful, the ones preceding those aren't exactly overwhelming. While the effects vary from hero to hero, it could be argued that a small increase in armor, HP, etc. is not going to drastically change the way the game is played. Most of the bonuses from talents can be compared to item upgrades and literally quantified based on the price that a player would have to pay to acquire them. In many of these calculations, fantastical expectations of drastic changes fall flat.

3. 7.00 Cleans Up the Clutter

Attribute Bonus

Attribute Bonus is one of the mechanics that has made me shudder for a long time, and for good reason- it serves no real purpose. Attribute bonuses are the +2 to all stats that heroes can skill, usually only when they have no other skills to spend skillpoints on. Some have argued that this added another level of complexity to the game, but in reality this is not usually the case. Heroes almost never skill attribute bonus until they have skilled all other skills, making attribute bonus, in the view of classic game design theory, superfluous, as it could be automatically added in as a passive stat bonus. It gives the player a false sense of customization that isn't there. Ironically, the same people who complain about talent trees changing the game too much are the same people complaining that the deletion of attribute bonus has somehow "dumbed" the game down. In reality the talent trees offer real choices, not pseudo-complex hubbub that only stands in the way of new players trying to understand the game. 

Dispel Mechanics

The designer(s) behind DOTA2 have made an effort to clean up mechanics left behind from Warcraft 3 and make them more intuitive to new players. These types of changes include the normalization of damage types, the removal of the Composite damage type and tooltips informing players which spells pierced magic immunity. This sort of thing is important, because without this information new players had no means of knowing how spells interacted with different player states. The result was that only seasoned players who were familiar with Warcraft 3 mechanics would know how or why certain interactions would go down, e.g. Pudge ulting a target with Black King Bar active would stun them, but not deal damage. But I thought he was immune to spells?

The changes to dispel mechanics do away with another one of these relics. There is no reason for dispel mechanics to be overly complex and inconsistent. The word consistency is important here, because players base the way they predict future interactions in DOTA on experiences they have made in the past. They may have seen a player use an ability like Diffusal Blade to remove Dust of Appearance, and assume the same ability can be used to remove stuns. The classification of strong and weak dispel mechanics offer a ruleset that people can follow and understand logically by adding consistency. 

4. Talent Trees Help "Offspecs"

DOTA has always prided itself on heroes being flexible. Unlike League of Legends players, DOTA players don't like being told what "role" their hero has. Heroes should be able to do a wide variety of things. Many of us have friends who will go mid with an unconventional hero and dominate the lane somehow. Others enjoy the fact that many heroes can both lane or jungle. This flexibility among what heroes can do is a time honored tradition for DOTA fans, and the new talent trees help in this regard.

The problem with flexibility is that it has often hinged on items. Items have often been the gatekeepers of whether or not one type of build would be viable or not. The problem with this is that items have to be purchasable by any and every hero- there are no limitations in this regard. As such, when you add an item to the game designed to make one type of build for some heroes more viable, you may inadvertently create unintentional side effects for others. You may want to make roaming supports more viable so you create Tranquil Boots, only to be surprised when carries started picking them up instead. Unlike items, talent trees are hero-specific. This means you can literally buff one hero's capability to have more specs without potentially messing up the game for others. Changing or adding items in DOTA2 is a scary proposition for this reason. 

5. Lategame Supports Aren't Kicked to the Curb

One of the biggest problems that Icefrog has been trying to figure out for a while now is how to make the job of supporting less dreary. This problem is rooted in the fact that in the late-game, support heroes simply can't influence the game very much. While this might seem logical at first glance, as carries inversely can't influence the game as much during the early game, the fact is that supporting in DOTA has never exactly been a thrilling prospect for this reason. While a carry suffers the early game with the promise of power later, a support dreads the passing of time, and as games can go on for any amount of time, their misfortune only grows.

Icefrog has tried to solve this problem in the past- you've seen it with the infamous XP Tome, the increasingly declining prices of Wards, Teleportation Scrolls, etc. Many of these changes have helped to a small degree, but none of them have really solved the problem: Support simply don't earn as much gold or XP as their counterparts. This has been a difficult problem to address at all, because there is no clear way of creating a benefit for supports that wouldn't possibly benefit other heroes. As previously mentioned, items can be purchased by any hero in the game, making their ability to help supports very limited. XP Tomes circumvent this by being limited in number, giving your team incentive to give it to supports as they will gain more marginal value from them. 

Talent trees circumvent the problem entirely. Supports can be given boosts to XP, a steady income with which to buy items, or simply tweaks to their abilities or stats which can keep the game interesting for them. While it's true that this is still tied to XP, it still helps ease the problem as a whole, and many supports now have access to bonus XP mechanics to help accelerate the process.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hearthstone Devs Realize Releasing More Cards Key to Success

IRVINE, CAAfter months of careful analysis and internal design talks, Hearthstone designer Ben "Bellowing" Brode finally released Blizzard's new road map, outlining the future of Hearthstone. "We've received a lot of feedback from players, and we've spent a long time figuring out exactly how to take that feedback and turn it into a justification for releasing a bunch of new cards", Brode said. 

"We've had a lot to think about- players were unhappy about constructed being stale, Paladins being overpowered, Shamans being underpowered, and Arena being too heavily focused on classes", Brode admitted, "and ultimately we decided that the best way to tackle these problems simultaneously was to add a whole bunch of new cards to the game". 

"It wasn't an easy choice", Eric Dodds added, saying: "reading all the feedback we got regarding changing existing cards made us realize that justifying selling more cards without otherwise changing anything else is going to be harder than ever, but we didn't give up." Dodds noted that the confusion resulting from adding so many new cards would be offset by reducing the total number of deck slots.

Blizzard has since announced that the next Hearthstone adventure, "Irate Pirates vs Ninjas with Syringes" is set to contain more new cards than the last 3 expansions combined, most of which will be completely unplayable. "One of the lessons we've learned is that every card game needs bad cards, and we're ready to take that principle to the extreme next patch", Dodds said. "We want players to get really excited about these new cards, try them out for a while and then realize they're actually complete garbage. Of course, a small handful of cards will be so good that not having the set will cripple you in constructed. I don't want to spoil anything, but we're adding like 3 Hunter legendaries and all of them have Charge."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Valve Announces Sourcecraft III Engine

BELLEVUE, WA— Following numerous delays in the planned release of the Source 2 engine, Valve have now announced plans to make the move directly to a brand new, never before seen upgraded engine code-named "Sourcecraft III". Valve have announced that the new engine will come bundled with a brand new Source III World Editor which will be easy to use and for the first time ever allow players without a PHD in computer science to create whatever game modes they want.

A screenshot of Valve's new powerful map editor (using beta textures)

Along with the new map editor, DOTA2 and its interface will be completely revamped to allow players to browse and join lobbies of other game modes without having to painstakingly first create a website like d2modd.in in their free time with no support from Valve. Instead of downloading the new maps through the Steam workshop or third party sites, players can simply join the lobby of any game and the file will automatically be downloaded to their computer using state of the art, never before seen technology previously thought impossible to implement. 

But Valve's innovation hasn't stopped there: using technology that previously only NASA used to shoot rockets into space, Valve plans to implement a new feature which allows players to play DOTA2 without even being connected to the internet. This new "local area network" (placeholder name) technology will allow players to create smaller internets between two or more computers. Users can also look forward to the following new features: Higher FPS on older machines, full mechanical parity for the first time, a new hero named Arc Warden (Pitlord scheduled for 2016) and a new superior netcode. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valve Swap Radiant and Dire Positions after Convincing Reddit post

BELLEVUE, WA— Following an extremely popular post on the popular online website "Reddit /r/DOTA2", Valve have decided to flip the positions of the Dire and Radiant teams in their video game DOTA2. The Radiant, which previously occupied the bottom left portion of the game's map, is now in the top right corner after Valve recognized that the previous positioning just didn't "feel right". Talks have now begun to flip the map vertically as well, as this would make the game more visually appealing to the Reddit audience.

The new minimap as seen in-game. Valve have stated that the courier icon will be flipped right-side up following Source 2's release.

Unofficial Valve spokesperson and avid karma whore Wykrhm has since announced plans to integrate the official DOTA2 dev forums with Reddit, effectively fusing both into a karma based suggestion system where only useless OCD fueled suggestions will ever make the cut. This includes a new system where players can alt-click foreign languages to automatically translate Russian insults into English using Bing™ translate, a new and improved shopkeeper's quiz playable only in the fountain, a live in-game twitter feed of your favorite esports celebrities and a Paypal donation button which can be used to purchase more ValveBux™, a new form of digital currency which let you buy powerups for your creeps. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Man always Focused in Teamfights Analyzed by Doctors

BERKELEY, CA— Medical doctors have begun an examination of a man who claims to always be focused in teamfights. The analysis, experts say, was started after the man wouldn't shut up about being focused in an online video game for several minutes.

"Every teamfight they just focus me down dude", the man said in an interview, "they fucking focused me, I couldn't do anything". The man, who was incapable of being shut up, demanded his team acknowledge just how bad he had been focused down in every teamfight. Despite statisticians' best efforts to prove to the man that he was, on average, the fourth player on his team to die in every large exchange, the man remained unconvinced.

"Why didn't you guys just kill them while they were focusing me?!"

Following a long and tedious 20 minute teamspeak argument over what constitutes being "focused" after the player died alone in the enemy jungle to two support heroes, the man was eventually persuaded by teammates to seek medical help, which he did. "While we couldn't find any evidence of the man being focused in teamfights", doctors said, "we did find that the man was incapable of shutting the fuck up". The man has since been released from hospital care after claims that doctors were focusing too much on him during examinations.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Valve to Create Competitive DOTA2 Team for TI5

BELLEVUE, WA— Video games producer Valve Corporation has officially announced plans to create their own competitive DOTA2 lineup in hopes of winning The International 5, set to begin sometime in the summer of 2015. The team will begin bootcamping versus bots within the next month, and is among one of the first teams to receive an invitation to The International 2015.

"We were very happy with the financial success of The International 2014", Gabe Newell stated between Sand King games, "but one major issue we were still having was that a small percentage of our revenue was being paid out to players". With the new all-star lineup consisting of Gabe Newell (hard carry), Adrian Finol (space creator), Erik Johnson (motivational speaker), Abdul "Icefrog" Ismail (drafter), and Bot Guy (Furion jungle), the team hopes to use their extensive knowledge of the game (and its code) to their advantage. 

Valve assured players their 4 minute victory will at least be more entertaining than TI4's finals

The team has already begun honing their skills by practicing on a yet unreleased version of DOTA2, set to release one day before the event begins. While Icefrog has stated that although several dozen heroes may receive partial or complete remakes, the metagame will "more or less stay the same, probably". While some critics have voiced complaints about possible manipulation of the game, Valve assured players that sv_cheats will be definitely be disabled unless they accidentally forget to turn it off.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Annoying Forum User Complaining about Balance Right All Along

BOULDER, CO— Long time DOTA2 player and even more long time forum shitposter "xXx-|<r1p+|P-xXx", who has for years posted long, incomprehensible rants about balance in DOTA, has officially been recognized as the new balance authority for years to come. The decision was made last Monday when a post about Riki's ult being too strong caught the eye of Icefrog, who, throwing in the towel, immediately realized that he had been wrong about balance all along.

"We must balance change of game to new metagame", Icefrog stated in a chinese weibo post, which was later translated by Bing. The player from Colorado has since been flown out to the Valve headquarters in Seattle, where he has begun work nerfing Bloodseeker, Riki, and several other heroes that have never seen competitive play in their lives. 

The new head of balance plans to use a mix of DOTABUFF and personal vendetta for the balancing process
"Earth Spirit is fucking gay", Kyle, age 14 said in a statement this Thursday after losing a 60 minute game, "make him less fucking gay he's fucking stupid". Valve, who have often claimed that careful, incremental changes are the best means to balance their game, have conceded that Kyle's impulsive and somewhat homophobic approach to balance has won the hearts of the Playdota forum community. The new head of balance has also announced plans to make 'mid only' the standard mode for competitive esports, as well as plans to remove observer wards, sentry wards, and "that stupid faggot item only faggots buy".