The issues surrounding Dota 2 are news to few and Valve have done something very unusual in creating this game. While it is the case that Valve have taken what were essentially mods and created full-blown games in the past, a practice now often seen in the indie movement, in this case they have taken a mod so deeply entrentched in a specific game and its world that controversy was bound to follow.
And, to an extent, I can understand the backlash by Blizzard, original DotA fans, Riot Games and others over this. It does seem a bit strange for Valve to take Dota 2 like this without getting a more workable response from the community as well as Blizzard. They only ever recruited the lead developer from the past 7 years, there were two developers before IceFrog, one of whom was the creator of what is the almost exclusively played version of the map. That creates a pretty strong case against Valve’s claim that they can register Dota 2 as a trademark.
Valve have a problem as it seems Blizzard are very willing to take them to task over the Dota 2 trademark claim and I think, as much as I dislike anything part of the great beast that is Activision, Blizzard are in the right about this one. The disappointing thing is that I have played the Dota 2 beta and Valve have a great products on their hands but I can’t help and wonder whether Valve’s aggressive push forward in developing and trademarking this while these issues remain was a bit more shrewd and manipulative that it might appear to some. Valve don’t normally have a reputation for developing something so polished, so quickly.
Certainly, Valve’s Dota 2 will come out in some form even if Blizzard wins its case and I have lost all ability to see Valve as the little guy fighting the big bad beast here because, as small as they are compared to what they now go against, they aren’t little and they should have forseen these problems. I just don’t trust Valve to throw straight dice in this. The questions I wonder are, if Valve wins this upcoming battle, will it affect Blizzard’s own DotA efforts or any continued development of the original Defense of the Ancients? With Team Fortress, Valve hired anyone and everyone who was part of the modding team and it wasn’t tied into one game’s world or mythology so deeply. IceFrog’s claim to the DotA trademark is suspect at best and the game is so bound up with Warcraft III that I can’t see Valve winning this one. At the end of it all, though, I am cheering for Blizzard on this one and I think it’ll be a good thing if Valve don’t get that trademark.
Quick cap news
* League of Legends developers, Riot Games, announced that 100% of sales on the Akali character would go towards relief in Japan. Also, a rare copy of Final Fantasy Tactics is being auctioned by Play for Japan.
* Value have upgraded Steam’s VoIP system by using the SILK codec most commonly found in Skype, increasing bandwidth but allowing much greater quality.
* Crytek are still pretending that they think DRM is at best “a minor inconvenience” and about trying to stop piracy, using simple arguments that have already been knocked out.
* Darkspore gets delayed for another month, but news of an open beta should keep the waiting bearable. New date is 26th April.
* Bioware have warned that SWTOR beta scams have been appearing on the net. Watch out any would-be beta testers that you aren’t getting a raw deal.
* Battlestar Galactica Online was BigPoint’s biggest game launch so far and success was attributed to strong community involvement.
* UKIE welcomed the new budget benefits being offered to UK developers. The benefits are designed to increase investment and encourage smaller developers to grow.
* EA are getting rid of physical copies of manuals in favour of electronic-only copies.
* Deep Shiver has given a very convincing reason why the child violence in the trailer of Dead Island is acceptable. However, there were assurances that there would be no children in the game.
* Finally, the Torchlight MMO will not be charging a monthly subscription, with developers Runic Games arguing that model is no longer viable.
In a twist of fate, Gearbox announced that Duke Nukem Forever will be delayed a little longer. This means everyone can stop the “it’s finally going to be released” and switch to the “it’s fated not to be released” jokes. Randy Pitchford later explained the delay as trying to bring the game more up to scratch. There was a reveal of a tongue-in-cheek game which lead to the usual sort of responses that most of us are tired of, and once again, Penny Arcade states the obvious and wins my heart.
Also, Peter Molyneux has once again followed his old tactic of slamming his last game to make his next look better. This after Molyneux had already apologised for leading game journalists on a merry chase half the time. Game journalists themselves were unsurprised by his interview. Molyneux also, strangely, claimed that Minecraft was the best game he played in the past ten years, giving rather unusual reasoning, which implies a distinct lack of gaming on his part (not that Minecraft is actually bad, I can just think of a lot better). This shows that Molyneux can occasionally ramble on semi-coherently about games that are not his.