Defence of the Ancients games are fast becoming the equivalent of hatchback cars. They're mostly the same, but each manufacturer is going to put a different spin on it - a bigger bumper, maybe, or a sunroof designed to catch people with giant perms. Blizzard DOTA , though, is looking to shake things up a bit. At Blizzcon the devs outlined a number of intriguing changes to the classic DOTA formula designed to streamline the experience for new players and "get the depth back where it belongs."
We caught up with senior designer, Johnny Ebbert at Blizzcon for a to find out why why the developers felt as though they "really needed to simplify things," and why DOTA should become more like chess.
Ebbert's main problem with the DOTA genre is that he feels it's unfair towards players. “In traditional DOTA games I'll get facerolled and I'll have no idea what happened to me.” says Ebbert. “But [in Blizzard's DOTA] if I get facerolled it's like 'yeah, I get it, he was three levels ahead of me.”
“At Blizzard we feel that it should be easy to learn, difficult to master,” says Ebbert. He draws a comparison with chess, explaining that it's easy to understand the rules of the board game, but tricky to actually put them into practice. “We felt like we really needed to simplify things, and get the depth where it belongs – on the back end.”
“I guess the other thing we're attacking is the social tension that the genre is really kind of famous for,” says Ebbert. He describes kills and assists as “horrible, horrible” ways of scoring the game, and describes Blizzard's DOTA as being a lot more even in this regard. “We got rid of kills and assists, and came up with the idea of a takedown. If three of us kill a guy, everyone who participated gets a takedown, the rewards are divided equally.”
Blizzard is keen to make its take on DOTA really stand out from the inevitable horde coming our way. “We're super huge fans and we want to make something really exciting that we want to play,” says Ebbert. “We think that a lot of the things we're solving for ourselves are going to appeal to a lot of people.”