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It’s been about six years since the Defense of the Ancients custom scenario for Warcraft III first stormed the modding scene. The user-made game eventually gave birth to the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre, paving the way for Riot Games’ League of Legends, S2 Games’ Heroes of Newerth, and Valve’s upcoming Dota 2. Now, Blizzard Entertainment is hoping to take back the crown as king of the genre first created with one of its own titles with Blizzard DOTA. 

Blizzard wants to make matches faster and more intuitive. It also wants to reward players for early aggression. “The optimal way to play is the exact opposite of the fantasy,” explained StarCraft II senior designer Jonny Ebbert at a BlizzCon panel. The team didn’t like the idea of playing cautiously, staying close to your lane’s tower, holding back, and luring enemy players into position for a gank. “Towers are much softer targets than they are in traditional DOTA games. So you can actually kill a tower fairly early and get a big bonus for your team,” says Ebbert. They also have an ammunition bar that recharges slowly over time. If you don’t keep minions at bay and push them back towards your enemy’s side of the lane, your tower will run out of ammo and power down, making it (and you) vulnerable. It’s Blizzard’s hope that this will encourage more aggressive play, and more teamwork to push hard and fast into enemy territory early on in the game.

 
Above: The BlizzCon 2011 teaser for Blizzard DOTA

Above: Tower-diving may not be as big a problem in Blizzard DOTA. Be aggressive and push your lane

Also on the list of genre staples to address is last-hitting creeps. Traditionally, players are encouraged to get the “last hit” on enemies, granting gold bonuses, which are then used to buy upgrades. “We actually played a couple of games with no last hitting at all, and something was definitely missing” explained Ebbert. So what does the StarCraft team like about last-hitting? “Well first, it adds a lot of tension. You have to time something. You’re sitting on the edge of your seat. You’re running in and out. There’s a lot of positional gameplay and you have to keep in mind where your opponent is.” Blizzard’s tweak is the health globe, which will drop when you score the last hit on an enemy creep. Pick it up like it’s Diablo III and your Hero will regain some health and mana.

For the StarCraft II team, this small change makes all the difference. Now, if you’re winning or losing, you’ll know why. You’re scoring last hits, you have more health and mana to help you continue to push forward, and you’re denying your enemy health and mana boosts. Whereas if you’re getting last hits for gold bonuses that you’ll use the next time you visit the shop to buy items for your hero, you won’t see that same cause and effect. “It makes more sense,” says Ebbert.

Above: The pre-beta version of Blizzard DOTA on show at BlizzCon 2011 featured 12 different Heroes. The general classes are tank, DPS, support, and siege

Blizzard DOTA will also introduce mounts to the battlefield, which the team hopes will maintain the back and forth gameplay in traditional DOTA games without forcing players to worry about spending resources and time buying and upgrading boots.

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9 comments

  • minimaxi - October 23, 2011 7:45 a.m.

    would it sound better if it's called Blizzard all star?
  • Triscuitable - October 22, 2011 7:57 p.m.

    There will be a lawsuit from Valve to Blizzard, or vice-versa. Valve trademarked the name already, so it should be illegal for Blizzard to call it such.
  • bamtan - October 22, 2011 6:01 p.m.

    I hate using this word, and I don't use it lightly, but it sounds like Blizzard is casualizing the game. I mean, all the talk about removing armor and magic penetration and stuff like that is disheartening. The depth is what makes games like these fun to play. If all that is removed it won't hold my interest for more than a few days.
  • Crabhand - October 22, 2011 8:14 p.m.

    I kind of agree. It seems as though they are removing a lot of customization options to make the game easier to get into. I think some of the ideas are on the right track, but it seems like a one-step forward, one-step back situation. I doubt the game will be bad, but it doesn't sound like my type of game.
  • angelusdlion - October 22, 2011 8:24 p.m.

    The depth is what makes long time players A*****es to new ones and will be the death of the game. That's my experience. CAPATCHA Low-gravity glasses.. cool!
  • BlahJay - October 23, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    Too true. It was just last week I was convinced by some friends to install League of Legends and during my second round vs. AI with players I was getting yelled at by players for not playing lanes appropriately or buying appropriate items even though I just bought the recommended ones. Turned out after we eventually won the match (even though I was still catching flak from them) they were all around level 30. One of them apologized after he saw I was only level 4 but I didn't understand why they were yelling at someone in the learning area to begin with. TL;DR - Agree, current DoTA communities are garbage because of elitism.
  • Person5 - October 24, 2011 9:15 a.m.

    you might have had a bad experience, I've actually never had people yell at other new players when they play badly, while when playing HoN it happens every game even when you explain you've never played before, but thats just my experience
  • badgraphix1 - October 22, 2011 5:46 p.m.

    I can see there being confusion among customers thinking Valve's DOTA 2 is a sequel to Blizzard DOTA. They could've have rebranded it?
  • Manguy17 - October 23, 2011 3:31 a.m.

    there definately will be, I didnt realise there was more than one.

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