So I just ended a game with a feeding Abaddon. Now I have very recently played my 4500th game of Dota 2, and have hit over 2 years of Dota 2, as well as over 4500 hours of playtime. And yet with all these milestones, I still find myself playing with feeding, trolling allies. Not at one point over the last few years has Valve properly addressed this issue, and after watching their Steam Dev Days videos online, I have a feeling that it’s not coming soon.
He’s 0-25-1 and also has other peoples items in his inventory. He fed multiple donkeys, fought over donkey usage, hid items in trees, and ran into the enemy non stop waiting to die. He was 100% intentionally ruining the game for others, while DotaMax tells me the game is sadly, in Very High. The current systems in place are far too inadequate to deal with this. You can report, but since the system is entirely automated, it’s entirely possible that nothing will come of it. In fact, I have a hypothesis that you could feed and troll endlessly in only one game every fortnight, and you will never be punished. Because the events are too few and far between for the current automated system to punish you for.
But will it ever be fixed? Well the Dev Day videos contain a lot of interesting information, including one little tidbit, which was ~”We don’t tell people we will fix things, in case when we go to do it, we can’t”. This is basically what Robin Walker from Valve said in his ‘lecture’ titled Community and Communication in Games-As-Services. This all leads back to a core value, that “Bad Communication is worse than None”. By telling someone you will fix something, but then it turns out you can’t/won’t, you’ve created ‘Bad Communication’ and what Walker referred to as ‘Friction’.
So I can thus conclude, that in attempts to evade negative communication, Valve won’t tell you their current stance on anything in the game, nor their current plans. This makes sense, and explains why they’re so close chested. If something is definitely near then it may be told, anything else is ignored.
Can This Be Exploited?
Something only becomes an issue, if people say it’s an issue. If newspapers aren’t reporting about a certain issue, then people in power are unlikely to care. But if an issue is all over the front page, then every major politician in town seeks out a baby forehead to kiss, a hard had, or some other thing that makes a good photo. Which leads me to another hypothesis, that to get Valve to address important issues, you need to exploit their core values. If Valve thinks that ignoring something is better than the potential for negative communication, then you need to make it so that no communication is worse. And one of the best ways to do this is to create a discourse that won’t go away. You want people complaining about trolling team-mates on the front page of Reddit, every week. You want casters in game talking about the issue. You want news sites talking about it. You want interviews about pro players about the issue. You want to create such a shitstorm on the issue, that it forces Valve to respond, because not doing so is now doing more harm then the risk of negative communication. Which if you think about it, is what happened with Diretide.
When you get to the point that Volvo is talking more with the Dota 2 community than Valve, you have a serious problem. It was picked up by various other gaming sites, onto other subreddits like /r/games, popular members of the community made videos, and heck even Forbes picked the story up. The issue erupted.
Now, the difference is that Diretide was all done very immaturely by the community. You can flare up about issues, without turning into a 5 year old. A thus create a shitstorm that is entirely contained to Dota 2.
The Product Flaws
Another thing Walker said, was that ~”the best form of communication is simply to improve the product”. I imagine one of the problems is that there is an ocean of product flaws, and Valve have to sort through them. I submitted a bug to Reddit yesterday morning; an entirely useless bug, that is Lion’s Mana Drain animation is 1 second shorter than it should be. Another bug submitted yesterday, was that Jakiro sometimes shoots his attack from the wrong head. Both of these got to the front page.
They’re both minor Visual Glitches that have absolutely no impact of the game, and just make the game lack polish. Real issues are in the game, real issues that need to be adressed. And perhaps mostly irrelevant issues just take the limelight away from the things that actually matter. There’s the Armor Reduction issue that has had a major effect on the game for over two years, and still goes on.
Valve and Icefrog are currently of the stance that the armor differences between Dota 1 and Dota 2 is an intended change, and they are entirely aware of the implications this has on balance and the parity between the games. This is may change in the future.
They could just say that and it’s all good. It addresses the issue in an acceptable manner, but affirms that nothing is set in concrete. It is an issue that can be addressed entirely with communication, and doesn’t require you to improve the “product”. Walker did mention that there are issues of this nature, and spoke about the Report System in references to this. But that was more about perception, which is an entirely different issue. Sometimes we just want to know the current state of things.
So What Do?
I don’t care for Diretide, and thus I didn’t cause any Diretide drama, but what I did notice was that the lack of communication by Valve was ridiculous. You can improve the product and make a blog post about Diretide, but the problem for me wasn’t Diretide, it was how they handled the entire situation. They ended up sending out a Fixer-Upper, but that just solves the current issue, not the problem as a whole. And the problem that Diretide has exposed is most likely still at large. Which leads to a final hypothesis, that Diretide Drama 2.0 is still entirely possible. All of their Dev Days information and their current interactions affirms this for me. If suddenly everyone started rallying up against Valve about an issue, then they would be forced to address it, and would be rather slow at doing so.
Which is interesting. Because trolls and feeders have been in the game for over 2 years now. They were present in Dota 1, and have always been present in Dota 2. It’s an issue that hasn’t been properly addressed, and I strongly think it needs to be. Feeders create an overwhelming negative product experience, and is indisputably a problem. But can you get a response from Valve by being mature?
If we were all mature about Diretide, what would have happened? Is the situation honestly that bad that unless you act like a 5 year old, you get ignored? Well I’m not sure, I think there are other routes to take. For example you could consistently be passive-agressive about feeders; creating cynical comics, having sarcastic retorts by casters in game, and anything that puts the issue on “the front page of our newspaper”. Suddenly Capitalist murmurs while casting that the current pro-game is so good it makes him feel better for that shitty game he had this morning where an Abaddon fed endlessly. Intriguing idea.
I think to get the issue addressed you have to make the issue into a major issue. This requires ‘scope’, aka, the issue popping up ‘in all walks of life’ per se. Perhaps you can make the issue into a major issue just by talking about it every week in a mature way. If there was a post on /r/dota 2 that was created every week, that was “5 Top Things That Need to Be Fixed”. Every week people say what they want to be fixed, consistently bring home the idea that we want certain things addressed. Perhaps goals can be achieved through very loud constant repetition.
I think it’s a fine line. But I think that after 2 years, there are major issues that are still occurring. This suggests to me that the methods the Dota 2 community is currently employing to see the issues fixed, aren’t working. Thus a new angle needs to be taken. I’ve suggested some ideas here, but either way the conversation that we are having with Valve needs to be altered. Probably in both tone and content.
If you want to keep playing with feeding allies, and people fighting over the donkey then keep doing what you’re doing. It’s becoming abundantly clear that your current methods aren’t working, which suggests to me that at this rate feeding allies won’t be addressed. You should never be able to feed, you shouldn’t be able to feed in 1 game a month. You should just not be able to do it, and be punished for doing so. Never in my 4500 games have I ever just ran into the enemy non stop. And you shouldn’t have either.