Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Could Be A God But I'd Rather Be An Ancient Allstar!

It is here. The retail release of DotA... except think for a second about that. DotA exists as it does only because it is a mod for a game that is mindlessly simple to get running. That has low system specs, that is easy to find a match, and (heres the kicker) that is actually balanced. 

None of the issues that currently afflict Demi-God are beyond repair. In fact DotA has struggled with balance since its inception.

The problem is that DotA doesnt have to pay employees, it only has one. Demigod has a fucking assload of accountability. It may get better, but I seriously doubt it. The game will get some good patches but the player base will have moved on. I mean the entire time I play Demigod the only thing I'm think is that DotA did, and does, it better. I think I'll talk about the actual game now.

So Demigod is a retail attempt to cash in on DotA's game. Specifical taking the AoS (Aeon of Strife, a very old starcraft custom map mode that has had more spin-offs than Happy Days) in a direction for the mainstream. The game works like this. You get a hero and he is a sargeant in his sides army (light or dark). He can be a hero killer ("assassin") or a summoner/hero killer ("general" in the game's nomenclature) and his (and yours) is to level him to make him stronger, kill your enemies, and eventually achieve the objectives that have been set out before you. They can be hold flags to obtain a certain amount of points. Completely obliterate the enemy. Deathmatch to kill points. Or break a specific number of forts first. 
These specific objectives are nice, and may be one of my favorite parts of Demigod. 
Perhaps one of the most important parts of an AoS is the heroes you get to play as (or Demigods as this game calls them). They are nice, the artwork is unique, the models look and animate great. But they probably look too good. Lag not a good thing in this kind of game. All heroes feel clunky, slow, unresponsive. 
Perhaps even worse is that there are only 8. But then you can realize that there are multiple ways to play each hero, depending on what role you feel like playing in the battle. However this makes me ask... Why not just make each role into a seperate demigod? Oh right because making those 8 models was likely very expensive so might as well role 30 hero classes into 8 model types. This is suppose to be a game friendly to the noobs. But making heroes have such diverse paths just makes you wonder how to play them most effectively, and will mean that numerous people get gimped heroes.
This is compounded by the fact that it is not easy to get into a match. At all. Period. I had to keep trying dozens of time click the button. Wait. Someone's router is not forwarding ports. Game wont ever start. Woohoo. You know I've got this thing with my multiplayer games. They should just work. I dont care how pretty the game. How much fun the game is. If I can not get and out quickly. I am not going to start playing it.
What really burns me most is the little things. Death makes it so you cannot see the map anymore. Nifty graphic overlay, but really ineffective for gameplay reasons. I cannot tell if my friendly heroes need help in the east. Further there is no easy way to look around or jump to a section of the map. You have constant tunnel vision on your hero. Nice for focusing on him. Shitty for thinking about the larger battle you're fighting.
It is like the developers of Demigod looked at Dota. and ignored all the little things that make it great, and just went off to their own little corner. You cant look at whats in the shop unless you are right beside it. You cannot upgrade your side's stuff unless at the base building. Everyone seems to move at the same speed. Items make little to no sense, beyond raising your mana and health, i have no clue how good +25 dmg is. You cant tell what items you or your enemies, or even your friends have equipped. health seems super high for no reason. The developers should take every number in the game and divide by 10. Makes nice small hundreds. Thousands are scary. People dont like thinking in thousands. Thousands of dollars? Thousands of Cats? Thousands of litres of blood? I mean, hundreds is much more easily grasped by our minds.

Ughhhh. Honestly thinking about Demigod is strange. It demands balancing and patches. It wont get them because it needs to sell units, needs to make money, needs to be big. Being big means making it simply. Adding complexity makes it less likely to appeal to a broad audience. 
DotA is the pinnacle of a complex game that those who like adore it for that. From last hitting, to juking in the woods, from understanding which heroes function better with early game stats and which need those skills. I mean there are 90+ heroes in DotA, and for the most part they are all balanced. Most have one role. But alot of them can be played differently. 
I think Demigod is a nice effort, I'll keep trying it out. But If i cant play a single match of DotA before I even get to play match of demigod, and DotA's gameplay is just as if not more compelling why on earth would i bother with Demigod. I think thats my answer. 

But damn I hope I'm wrong.

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