A player's journey from Warcraft 3
I was in this cybercafe (cc), its distinct blue carpet and familiar cooped environment of ash and heated electronics. It was the year 2002 and Im 2 years in high school already playing truant to my tuition classes.
It was another day of counter strike where I'll dive in and only come out after I've murdered 100 souls. By then my tuition would have finished n I would go home satisfied with my daily grind against local players...or so I thought.
When I logged in, a new unfamiliar icon rests on the desktop wallpaper... Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. My brain blew up, I felt like jumping up and down and making a scene but the cybercafe was quiet for now. They'll ransack the place by night i reckon.
My journey in warcraft steadily continued until I finished one of the most satisfying RTS campaigns I have ever played. Like all players my fix for war 3 only worsened. Thats when we all began searching for battlenet and lan access to try out the most largest map library I have ever seen. From Vampires to Mini - MMORPGS to Life of a Peasant, I played them all hungry for more war 3 content. I was 16 at this time.
Then the community who stuck hard to starcraft started flooding in. In war 3 u had hero units that actually played like heroes. This was when attempts to port Aeon of Strife began. It wasnt called defence of the ancients. It was simply called AoS. As more versions were ported, the moba scene started to flourish. It was a good time because most rabid players had finished the campaign and was looking for something more. Blizzard should have given birth to esports there and then but with all the hoopla going towards starcraft, they cudnt split any more resources to both games and decided to keep starcraft esports alive instead. This was the mistake that would continue to bite Blizzard's a*s for DECADES to come.
As soon as AoS gained weekly average players, other map modders began to dive in for chance map spotlight. I've tried AoS, Hero Defence, Elements TD, and a few new hero versus maps that were scattered. I joined dota late because at that time there were more than 5 versions of dota, then called hero versus maps or 5v5 (highest amount of player slots allowed was 12) . There were even 6v6 and they had many names, many i cant recall now. I even attempted to create my own map called Civilization Heroes where the moba played out in a single giant lane with 2 forest paths. Instead of objectives, each team strives to revolutionize their civ to the next tier in many ways. MOBA was slowly inching its way to global household fame.
The first dota versions had their modes pre setup. This was during Eul's time. This was when Merlini was prowling the jungles when no one thought too, this was when dota didnt have AllStars in it. The tavern was wonky as fk, the terrain were dry flatlands and bugs are just around the corner. It was a time Riki was both Riki and Witch Doctor and no one was the wiser..
As I cleared high school, so did Eul pass the baton to Guinsoo. To officialize it, they renamed Dota to Dota AllStars where they went in search of all versions of dota made my numerous amount of modders n map makers across the globe and compiled into one polished and stable version. This was the only time ever did all three MOBA heroes ever worked together, Eul, Guinsoo and IceFrog who was brought in for balance.
At this point Guinsoo was lead and Eul slowly backed off passing the reigns to guinsoo. Guinsoo had a unique vision for dota but Eul and IceFrog's vision would come into contest if he solely drove the game to his vision. He wanted less complexity, more team oriented and objective driven with role fixing. It would make a cartoon out of serious game like Dota which has accumulated milestones of complex competitive gameplay milestones by now. While I was playing Dota Allstars I could feel the game becoming more fun and engaging. Heroes were balanced (thx icefrog), objectives were made clearer with proper bounties. Runes were setup, jungles were placed n Roshan became even more menancing and important (thx guinsoo). In his rush to create more engaging heroes, IceFrog was left to deal with the wrath of player balance complaints. Guinsoo was making imba ludicrous hero skills. They were fun but overpowered in comparison to other heroes that time.
By version 5 onwards, internal strife and conflict forced Guinsoo to reconsider if his vision can truly be implemented within both dota community as well as war 3 engine infrastructure. At 6 I witness the parting of Guinsoo and the reign of IceFrog. Dota became a whole different beast then. From an arcadish action pack op heroes with specific roles, IceFrog dragged them through the mud and brought them down to earth. He had mastered balancing the game and version 6 saw the most stable releases in all of dota 1 history along with heroes gaining multiple roles as supports became primary shotcallers.
At this point, Guinsoo joined Riot Games, a seemingly innocent new company that shared his vision. What that vision was was unclear....until LoL initiated its first Championships. It was clear as day what Riot Games intention was and Guinsoo helped brought that dream to life. He wanted a game even a 50 year old grandma can pick up n he wanted each hero playstyle, role n function to be clear and fun. Icefrog on the other hand wanted the position father of grand MOBA and strive to complexify dota in ways that nobody could imagine. Unfortunately by then, war 3 engine was no longer capable of sustaining IceFrog's vision. League worlds were turning eyes, massive capital churning was being made and history was set when LoL worlds turnout actually beat most of natural sports audience combined. Only after this proof did valve finally got slapped hard to wake. Curtains unfurled, in comes Gaben and Dota 2 was born.
At this juncture, it would be wise to note, Guinsoo and Riot popularized esports to this level, not IceFrog or Valve. If you are familiar with Riot's way of doing games and its industry, this would be painfully obvious.
As a dota 1 player, I began to see the cracks of my most fabled moba game Dota 1 and 2. I am now in Uni and both dota 2 n LoL were accessible. As time went on, it was clear who was the pioneer n risk taker, and who isnt. Riot pushed all boundaries first and valve almost always followed naturally second. They'd wait for Riot to take the risk and only then steal some attention of whatever boundaries being pushed toward dota 2.
When I finished Final Year and head home, Dota 2 was being complexified TI after TI whilst LoL remained Dota 1's beloved fun little brother that was easy to catch on, much more accessible and less toxic due to less stress especially to new players.
Today, 5 years in as a working man, those that started Dota 2 with me no longer have time for 40 minutes games. IceFrog tried his best to reduce game time by introducing many new concepts such as talents, outposts, bounties, etc but the innate complexity of dota 2 will forever remain ingrained and will alwaya be more complex than LoL. But honestly, is that a good thing?
Now is the age of Mobile Moba and as usual, Valve is letting Riot take the risk and first step like the same upteenth mistake they made n never learnt their lesson. As you have read my journey along with my years, you will see a pattern of the average gamer, im smack in the middle of the most average gamer age at this point in time. I know my peers, they have family, they have work, they have responsibilities and barely enough time to game at night as it is unless gaming is their job.
This is my homage to the game i grew up with as well as a sad goodbye knowing full well where dota 2 is headed considering pandemic as well as steady drop in player number statistics across the board.
It will always be the Grandest MOBA of all time in my book but do i want to play it? No....guinsoo was right. To make MOBA famous, it was never meant to be complex and long, it should be engaging and fun whislt being competitive and not just competitive. Its just a game after all...
You still have at least a few years before TI profits and in game profits are put into question in the quarterly company report of Valve and waves its hand to axe it all. You may see valve dilly dallying with new stuff, kicking icefrog butt TO DO SOMETHING! But it'll be too late, like how valve always is, and its final throws will be a sad many viral videos of dota yester years and what happened to dota 2 vids for inexperienced analysts who do not seeing it coming as obvious as it is now.
They may even release a dota 2 mobile version, maybe even a wtf version but dota 2 strived for complexity perfection and that asynchronous nature of having fun and playing skillfully will break whatever else IceFrog can think off to keep Dota 2 afloat.
In the end, like everything else, Entrepenuers have to adapt their business according to changing times and though dota 2 has tried its fair share of adapting new concepts, its underlying complex core could never be changed because thats IceFrog and thats Dota 2.
Accessibility is king and thats the morale of this story as we journey through my life along with dota. war 3 was accesible, dota 1 was accesible, LoL was accesible and now LoL Wild Rift will be the most accessible game in the ENTIRE WORLD! Think how much time is left for Dota 2 when accesibility of all other moba becomes higher than steam itself. Who do you think they will watch? TI or the new mobile moba championships running even across your hallway, in the corridor, even in a goddamn meeting. Can u play dota 2 in a meeting? NOPE...
We, the old dota players might say,
BAHH, these are child moba and not pro. What are they even accomplishing? I urge you to look at Riot and Valve again and their history. Who initiated esports? Who broke world records first? Who was a more succesful risk taker? And who is more ingrained in esports more than valve?
History is told by the victor and when all the worlds moba voice overlaps dota 2, who then is rightfully able to claim the MOBA throne as king if not its staggering viewers and audience who have access to the game? Who is more right claiming dota 2 is the right kind of moba when 10 other people in the room say League is the correct moba? And with that arrogance, a real slap in the face is finally felt by all dota 2 players in realization that players make the meta and moba right....not the other way around
submitted by Pi_Sahasra