Dota: The Clone Wars

Posted by ParadoxControl (172 posts) -

 In the beginning, there was Dota, and it was good. For a long time, it lived on as a custom map for WarCraft 3. This strange fusion of RTS, Team Play, and RPG forged a large fan base that to this day secretly rivals many other online multiplayer games.  But as of recently we have seen a rise in full fledged, retail, Dota spin-offs. Companies all over are starting to realize just how large the player base for this custom Warcarft 3 map is, and wants to carve out a peace for them selfs.   
 
The first of these games to come out was Demigod, a game created by the minds behind Supreme Commander, Gas Powered Games. This Dota Clone took the idea extremely loosely and didn't capitalize on some of the strengths Dota has. One of the major downsides to Demigod was its Hero Pool. In Dota, there are well over 90 heroes to pick from, each one bringing its own roll and unique play style to the match. Though, in Demigod's favor, these heroes were added in over the years and have had many revisions and balance tweaks. It would be a hard task to reach that number for the launch of a game. Even so, the starting hero pool for Demigod around eight heroes in total. In a game like this, seeing the same heroes over and over again can lead a person to get bored or frustrated quickly.  
 
Demigod Also had a strange focus on creep spawns, base upgrades, and creep upgrades that I feel diminished the effectiveness of the heroes them selfs. One of the many constants that exist in Dota were the Creeps. Over time they would grow more powerful on there own and were vary predictable. Early game they can pose a threat of you're not careful, late game they can be easily farmed for gold. In Demigod, the creeps seemed to always be a constant threat if upgraded, and it was possible to gain more creep spawns. It felt more like you were managing your creep waves to push the base, then pushing a base your self.  
 
All in all Demigod was a poor recreation of this new genera that was emerging in on the gaming landscape, but some one had to take that fist step. For a while, Demigod was the only true Next Gen Dota experience you could get your hands on. But true Dota fans wouldn't be satisfied with a cheep knock off. Over the passing months after Demigod's release word was spreading of a new Dota Clone, making bold claims such as "The next master peace from the minds of Dota All Stars!" in there advertisements. With  Steve “Guinsoo” Feak, one of the original upkeepers of Dota Allstars, Riot Games hopes to stake claim to there own peace of the Dota pie with the game League of Legends. 
 
Having one of the head creators of the original Dota Allstars on your Dev Team should give you an advantage when making a Dota Clone. An advantage I'm sure Gas Powered Games wished they had when making Demigod. However, just because you worked on Dota, doesn't mean you can make a great Dota Clone. That isn't to say League of Legends is an awful game, or that it isn't capturing the magic of dota, but it makes some interesting choices that in the long run will leave true Dota players wanting more.  
 
The one major issue many Dota fans are going to have with League of Legends out of the box is that it is a free to play game. I can hear you already "What!? How can that be an issue?! Its free! Everyone knows Dota Players use the 'Dota is Free' mantra when confronted with a Dota Clone!"  So how does that make any sense you might ask? Well consider this for a moment; If you were to hop on BNet to play a game of Dota, only to find out that 75% of the Hero Pool was locked out unless you "earned" them in game through play time, would you keep playing? I don't think the typical Dota player would. Thats just what Riot Games has done with there game. They have a fair amount of heroes to pick from, but once the game goes live, most of those heroes will be locked out unless you buy them with points you earn in game. You can however, buy these points with real cash if you so wished.  This brakes up the dynamics of picking a good team, and making sure your team has synergy. The last thing I wan't to hear from some one is "I'd pick Zues, but I haven't unlocked him yet."
 
On top of all this Riot Games has created an interesting but flawed persistent aspect to LoL that creates a gap between players based on time invested in the game. As you play online, your main profile gains EXP, and eventually levels up. As you level your profile up you can put points in to WoW style Talent Trees, which modify your heroes slightly, and can make your Profile Spells more powerful. At the start of a match you can pick these spells to have on any character, but you only get two at a time. Sadly the only one I ever saw being used was the Heal spell. I cursed the skies every time a player casted that heal and escaped my gank attempt.  The higher level they were, the more it healed for.  This leads to some heroes being extremely effective, when in most cases they wouldn't be.  There are other aspects of the game that don't seem to fit right either, but they're not nearly as set in stone as these persistent mechanics are. In the long run I feel that this persistent aspect of the game will hinder the competitive aspect of LoL.  
 
So is there any hope that Dota Fans will ever get a truly great Dota Clone? The short answer is, Yes! From the makers of Savage 1 and Savage 2, comes Heroes of Newerth by S2 Games. Funny enough, S2 games has no "Guinsoo" in there pocket. What they do have though, is a deep love and understanding for what makes Dota so good, and what will attract  hard core dota players. One of the things that makes hooking Dota players is that Dota players fear change. They have been playing Dota for YEARS, they know all the items, and all the heroes, and could traverse the map blind if they needed too. S2 Games realizes this, and makes a bold move by taking the Dota Map, most (if not all) of its best Items, and some of the most iconic and fun heroes from Dota and doing near 1 to 1 recreations of them in there game. Everything from Stats, to Tree Placement is almost exact. This really helps old school dota players feel right at home. Once they learn the new names for heroes they know and items they want they can start enjoying some of the new things HoN brings to the table.  
 
But HoN isn't just a port of Dota to a new game engine. S2 has also taken to time to create some of there own heroes with there own unique play styles, as well as new Items that are interesting and worth getting. Currently HoN is still in beta, but its shows more promise then LoL and Demigod combined. One thing that S2 seems to know how to do well, is support a community. Despite the small fallowing Savage 2 has, they still press on and update the game as needed. I'm sure there experience with creating niche games also comes in handy. Savage is not your typical game, as its trying to fuse FPS and RTS in to one bizarre game experience. Players may not have latched on to the FPS/RTS styling's of Savage, but Dota has shown that there can be players for new and interesting genre of games. Hopefully S2 has what it takes to capture that audiance.  
  
Don't think for a second though that this Dota Craze is over. Just because S2 seems to have hit the nail on the head with HoN doesn't mean people still wont try there hand at cloning Dota. In recent news, it was announced that the current keeper of Dota Allstars will be joining the Valve team to create his own game. Its likely that this too will be another shot at a Dota Clone, and given Valves history, they could hit this one out of the park. 

#1 Posted by ParadoxControl (172 posts) -

 In the beginning, there was Dota, and it was good. For a long time, it lived on as a custom map for WarCraft 3. This strange fusion of RTS, Team Play, and RPG forged a large fan base that to this day secretly rivals many other online multiplayer games.  But as of recently we have seen a rise in full fledged, retail, Dota spin-offs. Companies all over are starting to realize just how large the player base for this custom Warcarft 3 map is, and wants to carve out a peace for them selfs.   
 
The first of these games to come out was Demigod, a game created by the minds behind Supreme Commander, Gas Powered Games. This Dota Clone took the idea extremely loosely and didn't capitalize on some of the strengths Dota has. One of the major downsides to Demigod was its Hero Pool. In Dota, there are well over 90 heroes to pick from, each one bringing its own roll and unique play style to the match. Though, in Demigod's favor, these heroes were added in over the years and have had many revisions and balance tweaks. It would be a hard task to reach that number for the launch of a game. Even so, the starting hero pool for Demigod around eight heroes in total. In a game like this, seeing the same heroes over and over again can lead a person to get bored or frustrated quickly.  
 
Demigod Also had a strange focus on creep spawns, base upgrades, and creep upgrades that I feel diminished the effectiveness of the heroes them selfs. One of the many constants that exist in Dota were the Creeps. Over time they would grow more powerful on there own and were vary predictable. Early game they can pose a threat of you're not careful, late game they can be easily farmed for gold. In Demigod, the creeps seemed to always be a constant threat if upgraded, and it was possible to gain more creep spawns. It felt more like you were managing your creep waves to push the base, then pushing a base your self.  
 
All in all Demigod was a poor recreation of this new genera that was emerging in on the gaming landscape, but some one had to take that fist step. For a while, Demigod was the only true Next Gen Dota experience you could get your hands on. But true Dota fans wouldn't be satisfied with a cheep knock off. Over the passing months after Demigod's release word was spreading of a new Dota Clone, making bold claims such as "The next master peace from the minds of Dota All Stars!" in there advertisements. With  Steve “Guinsoo” Feak, one of the original upkeepers of Dota Allstars, Riot Games hopes to stake claim to there own peace of the Dota pie with the game League of Legends. 
 
Having one of the head creators of the original Dota Allstars on your Dev Team should give you an advantage when making a Dota Clone. An advantage I'm sure Gas Powered Games wished they had when making Demigod. However, just because you worked on Dota, doesn't mean you can make a great Dota Clone. That isn't to say League of Legends is an awful game, or that it isn't capturing the magic of dota, but it makes some interesting choices that in the long run will leave true Dota players wanting more.  
 
The one major issue many Dota fans are going to have with League of Legends out of the box is that it is a free to play game. I can hear you already "What!? How can that be an issue?! Its free! Everyone knows Dota Players use the 'Dota is Free' mantra when confronted with a Dota Clone!"  So how does that make any sense you might ask? Well consider this for a moment; If you were to hop on BNet to play a game of Dota, only to find out that 75% of the Hero Pool was locked out unless you "earned" them in game through play time, would you keep playing? I don't think the typical Dota player would. Thats just what Riot Games has done with there game. They have a fair amount of heroes to pick from, but once the game goes live, most of those heroes will be locked out unless you buy them with points you earn in game. You can however, buy these points with real cash if you so wished.  This brakes up the dynamics of picking a good team, and making sure your team has synergy. The last thing I wan't to hear from some one is "I'd pick Zues, but I haven't unlocked him yet."
 
On top of all this Riot Games has created an interesting but flawed persistent aspect to LoL that creates a gap between players based on time invested in the game. As you play online, your main profile gains EXP, and eventually levels up. As you level your profile up you can put points in to WoW style Talent Trees, which modify your heroes slightly, and can make your Profile Spells more powerful. At the start of a match you can pick these spells to have on any character, but you only get two at a time. Sadly the only one I ever saw being used was the Heal spell. I cursed the skies every time a player casted that heal and escaped my gank attempt.  The higher level they were, the more it healed for.  This leads to some heroes being extremely effective, when in most cases they wouldn't be.  There are other aspects of the game that don't seem to fit right either, but they're not nearly as set in stone as these persistent mechanics are. In the long run I feel that this persistent aspect of the game will hinder the competitive aspect of LoL.  
 
So is there any hope that Dota Fans will ever get a truly great Dota Clone? The short answer is, Yes! From the makers of Savage 1 and Savage 2, comes Heroes of Newerth by S2 Games. Funny enough, S2 games has no "Guinsoo" in there pocket. What they do have though, is a deep love and understanding for what makes Dota so good, and what will attract  hard core dota players. One of the things that makes hooking Dota players is that Dota players fear change. They have been playing Dota for YEARS, they know all the items, and all the heroes, and could traverse the map blind if they needed too. S2 Games realizes this, and makes a bold move by taking the Dota Map, most (if not all) of its best Items, and some of the most iconic and fun heroes from Dota and doing near 1 to 1 recreations of them in there game. Everything from Stats, to Tree Placement is almost exact. This really helps old school dota players feel right at home. Once they learn the new names for heroes they know and items they want they can start enjoying some of the new things HoN brings to the table.  
 
But HoN isn't just a port of Dota to a new game engine. S2 has also taken to time to create some of there own heroes with there own unique play styles, as well as new Items that are interesting and worth getting. Currently HoN is still in beta, but its shows more promise then LoL and Demigod combined. One thing that S2 seems to know how to do well, is support a community. Despite the small fallowing Savage 2 has, they still press on and update the game as needed. I'm sure there experience with creating niche games also comes in handy. Savage is not your typical game, as its trying to fuse FPS and RTS in to one bizarre game experience. Players may not have latched on to the FPS/RTS styling's of Savage, but Dota has shown that there can be players for new and interesting genre of games. Hopefully S2 has what it takes to capture that audiance.  
  
Don't think for a second though that this Dota Craze is over. Just because S2 seems to have hit the nail on the head with HoN doesn't mean people still wont try there hand at cloning Dota. In recent news, it was announced that the current keeper of Dota Allstars will be joining the Valve team to create his own game. Its likely that this too will be another shot at a Dota Clone, and given Valves history, they could hit this one out of the park. 

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