Valve caught most of the industry by surprise last August when it first indicated its plans to create a game based on the popular Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients. Warcraft III creator Blizzard Entertainment was among those caught unawares, and the studio responded in no short order at that year's BlizzCon, with its own version of DOTA (which it calls Blizzard DOTA) running on the Starcraft II engine.
And with Valve's Dota 2 marching steadily toward release, it appears as if Blizzard DOTA has hit a snag. Speaking to Eurogamer, Blizzard senior game designer Jonny Ebbert said that the studio has completely scrapped the version of Blizzard DOTA that was shown at last year's BlizzCon. Instead, the studio is progressing with the mod in a new direction.
"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," Ebbert said. Challenges that Blizzard is facing include "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," Ebbert explained.
Blizzard's executive VP of product development Frank Pearce went on to note that the team behind Blizzard DOTA is aiming to make its version of the game more accessible.
"One of the important things to note with that space is the DOTA everyone plays on Warcraft III is not particularly accessible to the novice," Pearce said. "One of the game development philosophies we have at Blizzard is, 'Easy to learn and difficult to master.' That mod for Warcraft III 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."
Blizzard DOTA is being built using Starcraft II's in-game level editor, just as the original DOTA was built using the mod tools included with Warcraft III. A release date has not yet been set.