Friday, January 18, 2013

Dota 2 Introduces Solution to Combat Stagnation

Max comments on Dota 2's new solution to players always playing the same hero--Least Played mode--and how it relates to his market-driven bonus gold concept.

Yesterday Dota 2 released a solution to--wait for it--combat stagnation in gameplay that comes from players playing the same set of characters every game.  The mode is called "Least Played," and here's what the official announcement has to say about it:
In this mode, players can only pick from their least played heroes. Having an even playing field for everyone in the match will hopefully encourage players to break out of their comfort zone and try new heroes. Give it a shot!
My take on this new game mode is that it's trying to give players a place to practice new heroes with a level playing field: normally if you choose a hero you're not good with, you'll get owned because everyone else is playing with their regular heroes.  In Least Played mode you can at least be assured that your opponents aren't playing their favorites.  This is a clever ploy, because the matchmaking Dota 2 (and similar games) employs encourages playing only one hero.

Matchmaking keeps rankings of players based on wins and losses, and pairs players of similar ranking level against each other.  Matchmaking is convenient and fun (since you rarely get paired with players who have played WAY more than you), but there's one downside: your ranking doesn't change based on what hero you're playing.  This is unfortunate because it means that when you play your most played (and thus best) heroes you'll be matched evenly.  When you want to try a new hero, however, players that are in theory an even match end up being much better than you.

Least Played is an admiral attempt to fix this problem, but I just think it will be viewed as at best a place to experiment and at worst a B league, where people who can't play any hero particularly well will play.  It's a nice try, but I think they should just go ahead and implement my Bonus Gold mode, and throw this problem to the wind.  Dota 2 design team: I give you my permission to implement my concept, and all I require in exchange is attribution.  Seriously, just try it.  I'm sure you already have all the hero pick statistics, it won't be hard.