What is DOTA 2?
A Brief History of Dota
Dota is an acronym that stands for Defense of the Ancients – a top-down multiplayer game that resembles the Real-Time Strategy (RTS) genre at first, but streamlines the gameplay from controlling an entire army to controlling a single Hero. Dota wasn’t the first to have this sort of gameplay, but it sure popularized it, garnering millions of fans all over the world before spawning similar games like League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth.
The inspiration for this game type can be traced back to Starcraft with a custom map called Aeon of Strife, but Dota as it stands was not truly conceived until Blizzard released Warcraft III. Using the map editor, a modder named Eul created the first incarnations of Dota. As time went on, the project passed hands through multiple developers, the most notable being Guinsoo (who later went on to develop League of Legends) and IceFrog, who is the current and only developer for the map since 2005.
The Rise of Dota 2
At some point, Valve approached IceFrog while he was still just an amateur modder and offered him a position at the company as a lead designer. Their intent was to take the Dota custom map and create a true standalone version of it for widespread consumption. The main benefit, of course, was that the game would no longer be constrained by the limits of the Warcraft III map editing system, and I’m sure the promise of a salary didn’t hurt either. IceFrog accepted the proposal and the whole deal was made official in October of 2010.
As mentioned before, Valve wasn’t the first to aim for a standalone version of the game. Riot Games released League of Legends in 2009 and S2 Games released Heroes of Newerth in 2010. Both of these games have modified the original Dota gameplay in order to suit their own unique flavors – much to the chagrin of Dota’s hardcore fan base – while Valve’s aim is to recreate the game in a way that is true to the original while forging past the limitations of the Warcraft III engine.