Back at Blizzcon last year, Blizzard unveiled four custom maps built with the incredibly powerful StarCraft 2 World Editor. The one map that turned the most heads, Blizzard’s in-house take on the absurdly popular Warcraft III custom map Defense of the Ancients, has since gone completely off the radar, leading many to believe it had been scrapped. Turns out that, according to Eurogamer, they were just rebuilding it from scratch.
Senior game designer Johnny Ebbert said that the reboot was because they wanted to make sure they were “Getting it right and just meeting the Blizzard quality bar, and questioning a lot of the assumptions behind the genre, which is what we do at Blizzard… What we showed at the original BlizzCon, we’ve completely flattened it since then and completely rebooted it because we just thought, there’s more we can question on this.”
One of the things Blizzard has been questioning is why the barrier of entry into games of this type seems so high. To that end, they have been investigating how to make their take on DOTA much more accessible.
Ebbert elaborated, “DOTA’s a very addictive game that chases the vast majority of people off because their team mates are screaming at them. We’ve always felt DOTA has a very accessible, easy to approach fun game deep down inside that’s just waiting to come out.”
Of course, this has proven to be quite an undertaking for Blizzard. Co-Founder Frank Pearce explains, “One of the game development philosophies we have at Blizzard is, easy to learn and difficult to master. That mod for Warcraft 3 doesn’t really fit that description. That’s a big challenge for us: taking this concept that doesn’t really fit that philosophy and adapting it to a philosophy that’s important for us.”
With games such as League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth already out and Valve’s DOTA 2 starting its beta sometime soon, Blizzard DOTA will be entering an already saturated field. However, considering that it will simply be a custom StarCraft 2 map and not a full-fledged, stand-alone title, it is likely aiming to be more of a fun diversion as opposed to the more serious and competitive-oriented approach its competitors are taking.
Blizzard DOTA is looking to be released around the same time as StarCraft II’s first expansion, Heart of the Swarm, meaning fans should expect it sometime next year. More information should be forthcoming at Blizzcon this October.