Game Design Analysis – Dota 2

The game I will be analyzing will be Dota 2. Dota 2 is a MOBA game by Steam. 2 teams of 5 players will control a hero each and try to take down the enemies’ ancient. Below is a link to the a game from TI 9 Grand Finals (actual gameplay start at 12mins):

A runthrough of the game:

The game starts with a hero selection phase where the 2 team picks their heroes.

Afterwards, they spawn at their base and the game begins. They will try to upgrade their heroes while vying for objectives and resources. Inevitably, teamfights will occur

until a team wins the game!

Lens 9: Lens of Elemental Tetrad

Of the four, the most important aspect of Dota 2 is its mechanics. The basic mechanics of the game is rather simple and can be picked up quickly. However, there are many subtleties to its mechanics and various interaction between the hero skills, items as well as environment mechanics. All of these takes years to master and fully understand as the gameplay can get very deep. To become “good” at the game, the player must understand all of these mechanics, many of which is not told explicitly by the game and have to be learnt through experience, ranging from how the AI of in game units, to environment interaction to various gimmicks and tricks. Apart from the depth of the mechanics, it has to be balanced across its many heroes and items so as to allow a diverse and competitive gameplay experience.

With regards to story, Dota 2 does not really have a proper lore. It tries to build a lore but it does not really make sense and does not tie to the game itself. However, this is understandable as story is not the focus of the game and is just a bonus.

Dota 2 does have decent aesthetics and compared to the other MOBA games, it is darker in nature and have a more realistic and gritty vibe to it. However, it has a rather clear UI which is important to the gameplay experience. It does feature in game cosmetic that do make your hero look much cooler than default but does not affect the gameplay.

In terms of technology, Dota 2 is available on PC, Mac and Linux. It is exclusively on PC and uses a mouse and keyboard primarily. It features voice chat so you can attach speakers to it.

Lens 43: Lens of Competition

The game features a matchmaking system which is dependent on your matchmaking rank, a measure of how good you are at the game.

Players have a numerical number and a medal which was added quite recently 2-3 years ago. This makes the game competitive and many players (myself included) spend thousands of hours into the game, playing matches after matches in an attempt to get a good rank. While this makes the game highly addictive, it can also be a detriment as it can cause the community to be toxic and elitist towards lower ranked players.

Lens 44: Lens of Cooperation

As a team game, cooperation is very important to the game. A team that cooperates well have a much higher chance of winning. This is because of the nature of the game and the various mechanics that the game uses. Many skills and interactions relies on your team for its full potential to be unleashed. Furthermore, one man is not able to do everything by himself and players in the teams usually have their own roles to fulfill. Communication is very important and the game features a text and voice chat as well as pings and indicators for players to signal their intention with other players.

Lens 6: Lens of Problem Solving

There are a myriad of strategy a team and player can use. Even from the start at the hero selection phase, the player have to think about what hero they should pick in order to best counter the enemy picks, while synergizing with their own team picks. During the game, players have to consistently device strategies and plans to allow them to outmaneuver the enemy and to counter their current strategy.

Lens 5: Endogenous Value

While the ultimate goal of the game is the destroy the opponent’s ancient and win the game, over the course of the game, the players can do many things to improve his character, improve his gear so as to improve his chances of winning. Take the core mechanics of last hitting for example.

In the initial phase of the game, the players will usually go to the lane to farm gold and experience. This is done by killing creeps and in the case of gold, dealing the final blow to the creep. This incentives players to last hit the creep to get gold which will allow them to buy better item and improve their heroes.

Killing the enemy heroes too does provide rewards. Other than the in-game announcer announcing the player’s kill streak, the player gets gold and experience from the kill.

Godlike streak (10+ killstreak) announced!

This also punishes the dying player as he has to wait for a non negligible amount of time to respawn while being unable to do anything, and lose gold at the game time.

Lens 98: Lens of Community

Finally, one of the reason of Dota 2 success is its community. While it does have the reputation for being extremely toxic, a lot of people play the game because of their friends and peers. It is very enjoyable to play Dota 2 with your friends late at night after school or work. Competitions are also supported by the community with the annual International Dota Tournament being largely funded by the community. The previous TI, boasts a prize pool of 33million USD, mostly crowdfunded by the community

Outside the game, there are also twitch streams, youtube videos and forums where people discuss Dota 2 and their experiences, while exchanging strategies. This is one of the reason why after 10 years since its initial release, there are alot of people still playing Dota 2.