Steam claims I’ve now played 100 hours of Dota 2, and I never did anything more than the initial tutorial of actual Dota, a few years ago. The rest is all Auto-Chess. What a fascinating design this is. It’s like weaponizing Gacha as an in-game mechanism rather than as a long term progression or cosmetic mechanism.
It’s somehow just incredibly satisfying to see the draft roll, figure out what you can do with it, and then reroll. It’s a really interesting contrast to Artifact, where the player base was incredibly unhappy with much smaller level of randomness.
Just reading descriptions of the game doesn’t do justice for how many decisions there are to do, and how much time pressure there is. 40 minutes per game sounds like a lot for a game where you’re really not doing anything but drafting units and watching the fight it out. But in practice after the first five minutes I’m constantly engaged, often running out of time during the preparation phase, during the two battles trying to keep track of both the home and away games to get an idea of what’s working and what isn’t, and trying to figure out how to pivot both the draft and the unit placement to work against the main opponents.
The thing that’s going to kill this mod sooner rather than later is how unbelievably shitty the Dota 2 arcade experience is, and in ways that are totally outside of the mod developer’s control.
- Half the time queing for Autochess will create 10 player lobbies that will result in a normal game of Dota 2 if they ever start. But obviously they won’t start, since most people know that a 10 player lobby won’t work, and you need an 8 player one. So everyone would like to bail out of the lobby. Except the lobbies fill up in a tenth of a second, so you never have time to press “leave”. Instead you get a prompt to accept the game starting, and everyone tries to click on reject as quickly as possible, because only a couple of people can get out. The fucking accept dialog fanfare sound effect is seared into my brain by now.
- Ok, so you’ve managed to get into an 8 player lobby and everyone accepted the game. Then there will be a three minute(!!) load period. Three minutes is often not enough for people without SSDs, on their first attempt. And if one player times out, the game is cancelled for everyone.
- No way for them to implement skill-based matchmaking.
I can’t believe that it’s been three months, and Valve haven’t tried to address these issues, nor that they failed to snag up the mod team to make this official. This is a mod with 250k players in game at a time where the whole Dota 2 client has a total of 750k players in client.