Its official! Valve announces Dota 2 to the masses.
After a long wait, we can now sleep soundly knowing that Dota 2 is in the works with a release window set sometime in 2011. It appears all of the current heroes in DotA will be ported over to Dota 2, additionally, items, skills, and the map will remain effectively unchanged. The game itself will be on a new engine (we're assured it looks much nicer), with other ancillary changes such as integrated voice chat and tie-ins to Steamworks in the works as well.
Gameinformer had a fantastic article with info on what's in the works, so take a look below.
DotA-Allstars' roster of 100+ heroes is being brought over in its entirety. The single map games take place on is functionally identical to the one that you can download for free today in the Warcraft III mod. Items, skills, and upgrade paths are unchanged. Some hero skills work slightly better due to being freed from the now-ancient Warcraft III engine, but Dota 2 will be instantly familiar to any DotA player.
A few things will make significant differences to players making the transition. Dota 2 uses Valve's Source engine, so the game is much prettier. Source itself is getting a few upgrades, including improved global lighting and true cloth simulation. Dota 2's integrated voice chat is a huge step up from having to set up your own Ventrilo server, and the speed of voice communication is very nearly a requirement for a game as team-focused as DotA.
AI bots will take over for disconnected players, and will be available to play against in unranked training matches as well. However, don't get your hopes up for a full-fledged single-player game, though. Johnson says, "Our goal with the AI is just that their experience isn't destroyed just because one person couldn't finish the game."
The visual style is remarkable for retaining the somewhat cartoony feel that the Warcraft III version of DotA-Allstars is built around, while going in a few different directions. "I think there are functional aspects to the art that are pretty significant to the players," Johnson muses. The environment, particularly in the forests that fill in the map between the three lanes that the NPC armies follow, uses a desaturated color scheme to give the colorful heroes and abilities some visual pop. The sizable art team is putting a lot of work into making the shapes and animations of each hero distinct to the point that players will be able to instantly identify any hero they see and quickly gauge the threat level of any situation.
The game will also feature a ton of custom voice work. You'll get amusing lines from heroes as they deny the enemy team last hits on creeps, and champions who have backstory connections will trade quips when nearby.
Some very interesting features to allow for constructive community feedback and involvement appear to be in the works as well.
Valve is upgrading Steamworks (the company's backend technologies for matchmaking and other gameplay and community-related things) to allow them to create in-game rewards for participating in the Dota 2 community. The idea is to have everything a player does in or out of game tie back into their online identity. Like the improvements to Source, the Steamworks upgrades will be available to third-party developers who choose to use Valve's tools when Dota 2 launches in 2011.
At a basic level, posting useful feedback or participating in constructive discussions on the forums will contribute to your standing in the community in a visible way. Valve doesn't have the specifics on how this will work nailed down yet. Will you get points that contribute to a visible ranking, like a Gamerscore? Will your posts need to be recommended by other community members to count for anything? What counts as a constructive discussion? These questions are all being actively explored at the moment. Valve assures us that the designers have a slew of awesome ideas for how to implement rewards in a way that’s visible to the rest of the community, but there are no details to announce yet. "When we talk about this identity that exists inside and outside the game, we don't think we're anywhere near it with what exists on Steam right now," Johnson admits.
Dota 2 will also look to provide solutions for DotA's notorious learning curve and solve issues with skill discrepancies in games via a strong matchmaking and coaching system.
At intermediate and higher levels of play, having a poor player on your team who dies frequently is worse than fighting with a man down, as the opposite team gets gobs of gold for picking off the newbie. This has fostered a legendarily newbie-hostile attitude within large swaths of the DotA community. As fun and rewarding as the game is when you're in a match of appropriate skill level – and it can be one of the very best experiences in gaming, without exaggeration – finding those matches has always been a nightmare. It doesn't help that the game is so intense that Valve had to institute a "no talking about the match for an hour afterwards" rule for its internal playtests. The recent commercial titles that more or less cloned DotA have ameliorated this to some extent, but it is still often a huge problem.
Valve believes that the solution to the huge barrier to entry is threefold. The first, obvious solution is to have excellent skill-based matchmaking for both individuals and teams. Valve believes that the work going into Steamworks for Dota 2's release meets that requirement. Second, interactive guides will allow players to do more than just read a guide for their favorite hero that has been deemed helpful by the community at large. Valve plans to allow guide-makers to tie their work back into the game by doing things like highlighting suggested item purchases or displaying useful information during a match.
Finally, a coaching system is being deeply integrated into the game. By logging in as a coach, veteran players can do their part to help out newer folks. Valve hasn't entirely decided on the specifics of how newbies and coaches will be matched up, but once they're together a few things happen. The coach sees the pupil's screen, and gets private voice and chat channels to communicate with them. The coach probably won't be able to take control of anything directly (once again, the details are currently under discussion), but information is power in Dota 2 and having a mentor whispering in your ear can make all the difference in the world.
Stay tuned to GosuGamers as we continue to bring you news on Dota 2, and read the full article from Gameinformer by following one of the two links we've provided below.