Dota 2 has essentially fully established itself as a game. It has achieved what it set out to be; to be a practical successor to Dota 1 that keeps the game the same, but improves it across the board while acting as a foundation for the long term future of the game. The graphics, interface, learning tools, community tools and business model are all vastly superior to the original Dota. But now that these have all started to solidify, what should Ice Frog do to Dota now? Here’s a few things I think he should do, from someone who has spent an ungodly amount of time on this game.
As the remaining heroes finish porting from Dota 1, Ice Frog should re-evaluate the game in order to create a nice polish. He’s already doing it, slowly, but Dota is much more similar to English than Spanish, which is the problem. English as a language is a mess of inconsistencies and randomness, with rules that are broken all too frequently and pronunciation that is all over the place. It makes sense that it’s like this, as the game has evolved over the years, but it would be nice to get across the board standardizations by reducing the number of irregularities.
Example: Heaven Halberd’s Disarm is not removed by Lifestealer’s Rage. It is removed by BKB, Repel, and Blade Fury. This is the only Item effect in the game that BKB dispels, but Rage doesn’t.
Sure, these irregularities have an effect on balance, but they tend to be rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Some polishing up of interactions would be nice, and make it easier for a larger amount of people to know the interactions, without much of a downside.
Like with the irregularities of spell/items interactions, such as the Magic Immunity dispel above, there are some spells that break the nature of consistency. Worst of all, it seems to be for no good reason.
Example: The Mana Cost on Diabolic Edict is 95/120/135/155. This means that per level, the mana cost increases by 25/15/20.
While the majority of skills in the game have a consistent increment, such as Lightning Storm’s Mana Cost of 90/100/110/120, which increases by 10 per level, some skills break it basically just for the sake of it. It honestly just looks very sloppy, and looks like bad game design. Why does Waveform have an inconsistent 140/155/160/165 scaling (15/5/5)? Or Thunder Clap with 90/105/130/150 (15/25/20)?
The point is that it’s an ever so small part of the game that has such a minimal effect on game balance, that probably should just be fixed. They stand out like a sore thumb every time I play, and make Dota 2 look very unpolished to the keen observer.
There are many things in Dota 2 that are unnecessarily complicated, including the irregularities. But you can easily simplify skills by removing some of the rather unnecessary quirks that the spells have.
Example: Why is Caustic Finale a UAM?
We saw with both Huskar and Ursa, that making some skills no longer been a UAM (orb) isn’t exactly groundbreaking. It buffed the heroes, but a new normal was achieved and nothing game breaking resulted in the change. What is gained from having so many UAM in the game, especially ones that result in less of a change than removing Fury Swipes did? Caustic should have gone out the door a long time ago.
Example: Return damage scales with Base Damage of 16/18/20/22 and a strength % of 26/34/42/50
Is it so critical to Centaur to have Base Damage that adds 2 per levels? What’s wrong with a nice and simple static base damage (of say 18 or 20), and leave the scaling of the skill entirely to the strength percentage? Knowing how skills scale per level is important to playing the game, and simplifying some of it wouldn’t harm anyone.
Stop and Fix the Unintended
I often get the feeling that Ice Frog changes something – and while it reduces the original problem – it then unintentionally results in something else. So when Crystal Maiden lost her 5 base intelligence over 2 patches, I imagined this was to nerf her ability to cast Frostbite and Crystal Nova in early game roaming scenarios. Of course, this then resulted in having the 200/400/600 mana to use Freezing Field considerably harder to achieve. Which I feel unintentionally nerfed Crystal Maiden in an area she was fine for. Another example is when they tried to stop unintended pulls (such as Radiant pulling to their Mid Lane) which also resulted in the camps being much harder to stack.
Or my personal favorite, when in 6.78/9 he made it so Doom’s ultimate now muted 10 more passive skills. This happens to be the only 10 skills that the only other mute in the entire game doesn’t disable (Duel). I believe this is a perfect example of how many inconsistencies discussed above were added to the game in the first place, because a hero was changed and it unintentionally resulted in annoying inconsistencies for something else. In this case it’s the Mute game mechanic. Unless of course, he actually wanted to further complicate the game by having a Strong Mute and a Weak Mute, which seems a tad tedious; surely Mutes should disable the same thing and just balance around it. Humorously enough, some of this is actually bugged, resulting in it (not)muting a few skills it shouldn’t; such as Feast. This is where it becomes ultra-tedious to learn the game mechanics.
Bizarre, 6.82 and The Future
Some parts of the game I still have trouble fathoming. So Exorcism not only stops when Death Prophet dies, but doesn’t start again when she respawns with Aegis. Whereas Eye of the Storm remains active the entire reincarnation time. Razor is dead, respawning in a few seconds, and the lightning keeps on zapping while being available for his next life. If you want to nerf Razor, start with this silly mechanic. Which leads me onto 6.82…
If there is any hero in the game that needs nerfing, start off by seeing if it can be done while at the same time making the game more flush. My Razor example is something that springs to mind for me. I think this is a good mantra for the future. I’m not saying that every hero should be the same, I’m saying that the game should come with more logic. That you shouldn’t have to remember a endless list of oddities. If you’ve managed to make it this far, you may have gone “well I didn’t know that” in regards to an irregularity or interaction that I mentioned. Which is a good illustration of what I’m trying to communicate.
I like Dota 2, I have thousands of games and hours of it. Maybe this post sounds like somewhat small scale whinging, but I can’t help but notice a very clear lack of polish in the game design. It’s constructive criticism. However, since Dota 2 is continually attempting to improve itself, there is no reason that it can’t be addressed. And addressing issues I’ve mentioned is the primary thing I think Ice Frog should do now, along (of course) with the regular version changes that he does. There are some other issues I have, like how there’s an abundance of carries with a critical strike skill. Overall he does a very good job, but occasionally he falters.
Off-topic, but I’ve recently created a Twitter account focusing solely on Dota 2 tips and other helpful advice – aiming to help players with more advanced mechanics and tips. If you are interested in tip based tweets (including relevant mechanics) feel free to follow @ZotaTips here.