Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Back to Noob Status

The Dragon Knight in DOTA2
It's been a long time since I've picked up any game that I've been as absolutely awful at as DOTA2. There's a learning curve for everything, of course, but at no point in recent gaming history have I been this bad, compared to those around me.

Playing games like Awesomenauts, Airmech and Space Marine in online Multiplayer required a learning curve of 'start bad, get better'. DOTA2, on the other hand, is 'start awful, stay there for a long while'.

I've seen guides that recommend three MONTHS of play before you're up to speed. But why the hell is DOTA2 so difficult, comparatively?

As you may know, DOTA2 has developed from a mod of a Warcraft III multiplayer map (or an earlier Starcraft one, depending on how far back you go) which I never played. As a big fan of Real-Time Strategies in general, DOTA2 sounded right up my street. It's Free to Play, too, which makes it not only right up my street, but sitting outside my house, looking all cute, saying "Please let me in!"

The only problem (well, two problems, in a Spanish Inquisition style) is that it's an invite-only Beta at the moment, as well as only being on PC, currently. Although the Mac version is in 'Test' phase and isn't working yet, I've got Parallels and regular access to a Windows laptop so that problem is cured. But how to get an invite?

I reached out to Twitter, seeing if anyone had an invite looking for a good home that they could swing my way. Though there was none forthcoming, a link to 'Share DOTA2' on Reddit came my way. Less than half an hour later, someone posts that they have 40 invite to share, and boom, one is in my inbox courtesy of two new Steam friends (Thanks, guys!). So, problems solved!

One download later, and I'm in. Now, I've watched most of TotalBiscuit's 'Hyper Incompetent Single Draft Disaster' videos, where he takes one of three randomly selected heroes through a game, and I get the general concept of it. You need to last hit everything in sight (including your own creeps, sometimes), get XP and gold, level up your hero with abilities and items, try not to suck, attack towers, job's a good 'un.

Sounds simple, right? Yeah, it sounds like it is. With two teams of five and nearly 100 heroes to choose from, all with their own four abilities, there's plenty to keep you coming back for more because you need to learn everything.

So I tried an offline practice match against some Bots, sticking them on Passive just so I could get to grips with my first hero. I picked the Dragon Knight, because I figured a fairly tough melee character who could shoot fire and then turn into a Dragon later on would be pretty cool. That game went fairly well, trying to get the timing for last hitting and figuring out how the shop, items and upgrades worked.

Then came the time for online play, with real people. As cool and unique as it is to say that you're in a Beta for a game that hasn't come out yet, me and the other three million people a month playing this means it's not that unique. And what happened on this fateful first contest? Spanked and ganked, with one guy bemoaning that the rest of the team were noobs. Which, being all Level 1 players, was true.

So it's back to the bot practice drawing board to find a hero or two I can really get to grips with. Probably someone like Crystal Maiden, Lich or Ogre Magi who can stay at range and survive fairly well while being relatively easy to play, as it's far too easy to get drawn into charging in and being killed with a melee hero without knowing the ways out.

So the DOTA2 odyssey continues, and we'll see if I manage to win a game any time soon. Or, at least, not finish rock-bottom of the 10 player standings.

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