Dota 2


Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game and the stand-alone sequel to the Defense of the Ancients (DotA) mod. Developed by Valve Corporation, the game was officially released on July 9, 2013 as a free-to-play title for Microsoft Windows, concluding a beta testing phase that began in 2011. OS X and Linux versions of Dota 2 were released on July 18, 2013. In most regions, Dota 2 is exclusively available through Valve's content delivery platform, Steam.
Each match of Dota 2 is independent and involves two teams, both containing five players and each occupying a stronghold at either end of the map. Located in each stronghold is a building called the "Ancient"; to win, a team must destroy the enemy's Ancient. Each player controls a "Hero" character and focuses on leveling up, collecting gold, acquiring items and fighting against the other team to achieve victory.
Development of Dota 2 began in 2009, with the hiring of DotA developer "IceFrog" to serve as the game's lead designer. Dota 2 was praised by video game critics, who lauded it for its engaging and rewarding gameplay experience, remaining faithful to its predecessor, while also increasing the level of production quality. However, Dota 2 was the subject of criticism for having a steep learning curve and inhospitable community. The game has become the most actively played on Steam, with highest daily peaks at over 800,000 concurrent players.


Gameplay

A standard match of Dota 2 prominently features the strongholds of two opposing factions, the Radiant and the Dire, containing critical structures called "Ancients", which are surrounded by a number of lesser buildings. The bases of these two factions are connected by three main paths, referred to as "lanes", which are guarded by defensive towers, as well as autonomous units called "creeps", which are periodically spawned in groups and traverse the lanes, attacking enemy units or structures they encounter. Towers and creeps serve to divide the map between the two teams and are often the focal point of skirmishes. The Dota 2 map is functionally symmetrical, despite having a number of critical differences conferring a variety of advantages and disadvantages to each side. The Radiant is based at the southwest corner of the map, while the Dire is based at the northeast corner; the two sides are divided by a river which runs perpendicular to the central lane. The two teams, typically composed of five players each, are pitted against one another to compete as the defenders for their respective Ancient.[6] Featured across the map are units referred to as "neutrals", which are not aligned to either faction and are primarily located in the forests; they constitute a fixed but recurring resource, though their strategic value may vary depending on the teams' and players' choices. Located on the northeast side of the river is a "boss" called "Roshan" whom it typically takes multiple team members to kill. Following his death, Roshan drops items that can significantly alter the course of a game.

The default map of Dota 2.
There are nine standard game modes and 107 "Heroes" in Dota 2. Heroes are strategically powerful player-controlled units with unique abilities; though many Heroes fill similar roles, each confers different benefits and limitations to a team. These Heroes start off very weak early in the game, but level up their abilities and statistics as they accumulate experience, up to a maximum level of twenty-five. The Heroes' methods of combat are heavily influenced by their primary property, which can be Strength, Agility, or Intelligence. Most game modes provide teams with some preparation time before the game begins so that they can balance their Hero selections, as the composition of the team may significantly affect their performance throughout the match. Because Dota 2 is highly team-oriented, the players must coordinate and plan with each other in order to achieve victory.
Players are provided with six inventory slots, which may be filled by purchasing items using gold, the primary currency of the game. Items vary in function- some merely enhance the statistics of a Hero, while others grant them additional active or passive abilities. Their price varies depending on their relative power. Though gold is granted steadily at a slow rate, the more expensive items are typically only purchased by Heroes who can accumulate gold at a much higher rate, usually by efficiently killing enemy creeps, Heroes, or structures. Killing non-player characters grants gold solely to the player who landed the final blow, whereas killing Heroes grants gold to the killer and any nearby allies, and destroying towers or Roshan gives gold to all players on the team. Along with the gold bounty, killing units and structures provides experience, allowing players to level up their Heroes as they complete objectives. "Denying" is a feature of the game which allows players to inhibit the enemy's ability to accumulate gold and experience by killing an allied unit or destroying an allied structure before an enemy can do so.
Seasonal events
Dota 2 feature a variety of seasonal events, which provides players with the option of playing the game with special game modes that alter the aesthetics and objectives. With the seasonal event game modes, the central focus of the game shifts away from the standard battle composition, in order to focus on new objectives central to the seasonal events. Thus far, there have been three seasonal events to take place, including the Halloween-themed Diretide event, the Christmas-themed Frostivus event, and the New Bloom Festival, which celebrates the coming of spring.

Development

Origins
The earliest version of Dota emerged in 2003, with the release of the custom Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos map called Defense of the Ancients (DotA), which was created with the Warcraft III World Editor by an anonymous editor called "Eul", who based its mechanics off a custom StarCraft map called Aeon of Strife. When the developer of Warcraft III, Blizzard Entertainment, released the expansion set The Frozen Throne in 2003, Eul ceased development of DotA, prompting other map makers to develop variants inspired by the original map, which would include new Heroes, items and other miscellaneous features. The variant that became dominant was DotA: Allstars, developed by Steve "Guinsoo" Feak, which incorporated features from others. With the assistance of a fellow clan member, Steve "Pendragon" Mescon, an official DotA community hub was created at the website dota-allstars.com. When Feak retired from developing DotA, the lead designer and developer role was handed over to his fellow clan member "IceFrog" in 2005.
The popularity of Defense of the Ancients increased significantly, as the map became a prominent electronic sports title. In a June 2008 article of video game industry website Gamasutra, editor Michael Walbridge cited DotA as the most popular mod in the world, as well as one of the most popular competitive titles, with its strongest presence in Asia, Europe and North America. In May 2009, as the game's emerging genre became more pronounced, IceFrog and Mescon had a falling out, prompting the latter to separate DotA from dota-allstars.com and develop a new official community at playdota.com. Meanwhile, Feak and Mescon had been employed at Riot Games and utilized the dota-allstars.com domain to promote League of Legends, a game inspired by DotA.
Concept
According to Valve's founder and managing director, Gabe Newell, the company's investment in Defense of the Ancients began with the collective interest of several veteran employees, including Team Fortress designer Robin Walker, programmer Adrian Finol and project manager Erik Johnson, all of whom had attempted to play at a competitive level. As their interest in the game intensified, they began corresponding with IceFrog, inquiring as to what long-term plans he had for the mod. The email conversations eventually culminated in Erik Johnson offering IceFrog a tour of the company's facilities, after which he was hired to develop a sequel. The first public notification regarding the development of the game was a post on IceFrog's blog on October 5, 2009, in which he disclosed that he would be leading a team at Valve. No further word was given until Dota 2 was officially announced on October 13, 2010, when the website of Game Informer revealed a general synopsis of the game and its development. As a result of the surge of traffic, Game Informer's servers were crashed. Erik Johnson addressed the confusion over the written form of the brand name, citing it as "Dota", rather than "DotA", due to its context as a concept, rather than an acronym for "Defense of the Ancients".
Shortly after a questions and answers session by IceFrog on the DotA official website in which he elaborated upon his new recruitment, Valve filed a trademark claim, which Gabe Newell discussed as a necessary measure for developing a sequel with the already identifiable brand name at Gamescom 2011. Steve Feak and Steve Mescon expressed their concern that Valve did not have the right to a trademark for the DotA name, due to their views that it was a community asset, so they filed an opposing trademark for "DOTA" on behalf of DotA-Allstars, then a subsidiary of Riot Games, on August 9, 2010. Rob Pardo, the executive vice president of Blizzard Entertainment, expressed a similar concern, explaining his perspective that the DotA name was an asset of their game's community. Blizzard acquired DotA-Allstars, LLC from Riot Games and filed an opposition against Valve in November 2011, citing their ownership of both the Warcraft III World Editor and DotA-Allstars, LLC as proper claims to the franchise. On May 11, 2012, Blizzard and Valve announced that the dispute had been settled, with Valve retaining the commercial franchising rights to the term "Dota", while non-commercial usage of the name could still be utilized.
Design

A screenshot comparison between DotA and Dota 2; the aesthetics of Dota 2's default design are based heavily around those of the original mod.
The preliminary design focus of Dota 2 was to translate the aesthetic aspects of its predecessor to the Source engine, while also expanding support for the core gameplay. Dota 2 features the factions of the Radiant and the Dire in the stead of the Sentinel and the Scourge respectively, with the characters' respective alignment preserved, while also re-establishing their individual character traits in a stand-alone form. Character names, abilities, items, map design and other fine details remain predominantly unchanged, but the Source engine allows for continued, scaled development to bypass engine limitations of the Warcraft III World Editor. The Dota profile matchmaking feature scales a player's automated placement with their estimated skill level, which supports the competitive experience. Unranked practice matches can also be played with other human players, AI bots, or alone. In the debut Q&A, IceFrog stated that Dota 2 would serve as the long-term continuation of the mod, building upon the original gameplay without making too many significant core changes that may alter the overall experience. According to Valve, the company contracted major contributors to DotA's popularity, in order to assist in developing Dota 2, including the mod's original creator known as "Eul", as well as loading screen artist Kendrick Lim of Imaginary Friends Studios. In addition, the composer of Warcraft III, Jason Hayes, was contracted by Valve to collaborate with Tim Larkin for developing Dota 2's musical score. IceFrog stated that in order to further emphasize Dota 2's premise as a continuation of DotA, contributions would remain consistent from sources outside the main development team.
To accommodate Dota 2, Valve updated the Source engine to include new features, such as high-end cloth modeling and improved global lighting. Valve also improved Steamworks, which includes a wider expansion of utilities, such as player guides and a coaching system. Dota 2 utilizes Valve's Steam software to provide social and community functionality for the game, while Steam users may save personal files and settings in their online accounts using the Steam Cloud. Dota 2 also features multiple options of live spectating in the tradition of competitive Valve titles. The game host has the option to fill open slots with AI bots. On November 14, 2013, Valve introduced the coaching system to allow experienced players to tutor newer players with special in-game tools. In addition to the online platform established by Steam, Valve introduced local area network (LAN) multiplayer connectivity to Dota 2 on September 23, 2013.
Valve implemented a tournament support feature in June 2012. Tournaments are available for spectating in-game via the purchase of tournament tickets in the Dota Store, which provide an alternative to viewing live streams online. The tickets allow players to spectate competitive matches in-game and to watch both live and completed matches, with a portion of every ticket purchased goes to the tournament organizers. In addition, teams may be formally identified by the game's software, which automatically recognizes games with players as being team matches and catalogs them as such.
Merchandise
The rising popularity of Dota 2 led Valve to produce apparel, accessories, prints, and a number of other products exhibiting stylized elements of characters and other elements from the game. In addition, Valve secured various licensing contracts with third-party producers, the first of which, a Dota 2 edition of the SteelSeries QcK+, was unveiled at The International 2011. On September 25, 2012, Weta Workshop, which developed the Aegis of the Immortal trophy for the champions of The International 2012, announced a prop product line that would include statues, weapons and armor based on Dota 2 thematic artwork. On February 10, 2013, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association announced a new toy line featuring Hero-themed actions figures at the American International Toy Fair.
Documentary
Main article: Free to Play
Leading up to the public unveiling of Dota 2 at The International 2011, Valve documented the lives and stories of three professional Dota players, Benedict "Hyhy" Lim, Danil "Dendi" Ishutin and Clinton "Fear" Loomis, and what the game and unprecedented scale of the tournament meant to them. In August of 2012, GameTrailers announced that Valve was developing the then-unnamed documentary. Throughout June of 2013, Valve conducted what they described as a private "beta testing" phase, in which they invited a small number of individuals to visit the company headquarters located in Bellevue, Washington, in order to offer early screenings of the documentary for input. When the invite was leaked to Kotaku, the vice-president of marketing at Valve, Doug Lombardi, confirmed the documentary's development and revealed its name to be "Free to Play". The documentary was released on March 19, 2014 and was distributed through outlets including Steam, iTunes and YouTube.
Release
After extensive internal testing, Dota 2 was first made visible to the public at Gamescom 2011, with the first edition of The International. To coincide with this event, Valve opened the sign-up for beta invitations; the first few invites were sent out shortly after Gamescom. During the event, Gabe Newell speculated that Dota 2 would likely ship in 2012, despite original plans for a full release in late 2011. On September 23, 2011, Valve scrapped its previous development and release plans, which would have kept the game in its closed beta phase for over a year. The new plan described by IceFrog in an announcement post looked to release an open beta as early as possible and to implement the remaining Heroes afterward. Simultaneously, Valve announced that the non-disclosure agreement for the beta was being lifted, allowing testers to discuss the game and their experiences publicly. After nearly two years of beta testing, Dota 2 transitioned into launch mode on June 21, 2013, and was officially released on July 9, 2013, with an active user based on three million players. Two months following the game's release, Gabe Newell claimed that updates to Dota 2 generated up to three percent global internet traffic. On December 16, 2013, the final restrictions against unlimited global access to Dota 2 were lifted after the game's infrastructure and servers were substantially bolstered.
As part of a plan to create a social network based around Dota 2, Gabe Newell announced in April 2012 that the game would be free-to-play, with an accentuation on player contributions to the community. On June 1, 2012, the Dota development team at Valve formally confirmed that the game would be free-to-play with no added cost for having the full roster of Heroes and item inventory readily available. Income for Dota 2 would, however, be maintained through the Dota Store, where players could purchase various exclusively cosmetic virtual goods, such as in-game items. Until the game's release, players were able to purchase an early access bundle, which included a digital copy of Dota 2, along with several in-game cosmetic items. The Dota Store comprises custom creations developed by Valve, as well as products from the Steam Workshop, which is a system in which users may submit creations for review by Valve and if successful, would be incorporated into Dota 2. The market model was fashioned after Team Fortress 2, which became successful in June 2011 and had reimbursed cosmetic designers with $3.5 million of income as of the free-to-play announcement. In January of 2014, Gabe Newell revealed that the average Steam Workshop contributor to Dota 2 made approximately $15,000 from their creations in 2013.
In order to abide by the standards set by the economic legislation of specific countries, Valve opted to contract with nationally-based developers for publishing. On October 19, 2012, the leading Beijing-based video game developer and publisher, Perfect World, announced the acquisition of the exclusive rights to publish and distribute Dota 2 in China. On November 9, 2012, a similar deal was made with the Tokyo-based developer and publisher, Nexon Co. Ltd. to publish and distribute in Japan and South Korea.

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