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A lot sooner than expected, Valve have revealed Dota Underlords, their stand-alone version of Dota 2 Auto Chess.

Dota Underlords is a new stand-alone game that pits you against seven opponents in a battle of wits that will have you building, combining, and leveling-up a crew in a battle of dominance for the city of White Spire. In this game, victory is determined not by twitch reflexes, but by superior tactics.

For those of you who have the Dota 2 Battle Pass, you should already see it in your Steam Library ready to install (and that includes Linux). This is to help Valve stress-test it and it will allow you to:

  • Play online against seven other players.
  • Practice offline against our lineup of advanced bots (from easy to hardcore difficulty).
  • Party up and play together against bots or other players.

Valve said, that after "approximately a week" of this testing, it will then enter an Open Beta stage. During this Open Beta stage, they will be introducing new features to it including:

  • Ranked matchmaking.
  • Cross-play across all devices.
  • Rank and progression shared across all devices.

It's also made clear it's still early days for the game, and "feedback is critical". They also mentioned other new features will gradually get added in across the Beta Season.

See the blog post about it here. They also have an official site (just a placeholder) and a new Twitter account you can follow and stay up to date with. This has to be the fastest Valve has ever made a game ready to show to the public, I'm actually a little impressed.

I will be taking a good look at it once the Beta is open to everyone, as I will not be personally buying the Battle Pass for Dota 2.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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17 comments
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Mountain Man 14 June 2019 at 12:35 pm UTC
Whatever happened to the good ol' days when Valve used to make classic games like Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Counter Strike... it seems they have pretty much abandoned some of the strongest franchises in the gaming industry in favor of more Dota spinoffs that nobody asked for.
Munk 14 June 2019 at 2:55 pm UTC
Mountain ManWhatever happened to the good ol' days when Valve used to make classic games like Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Counter Strike... it seems they have pretty much abandoned some of the strongest franchises in the gaming industry in favor of more Dota spinoffs that nobody asked for.
VR happened. Seriously, that's what it is. When you really dig into what Valve's been doing, they've been quietly working on the hardware and software needed for the next generation since at least 2012. There's a fantastic video going over the history here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ1jyNF0cR0

Valve is mostly a technology company now. That isn't to say they're not a game developer anymore, but their IP's aren't really in much urgent need of a refresh. Their games hold up, more or less, and are still updated. When Valve releases a game, they tend to be paradigm shifting. My guess is we won't see the trilogies of their IP's start to release until they can be sufficiently revolutionary.

It's not all just VR either, nobody really knows what Valve's got up their sleeves with regard to software. There's leaks from time to time, and those leaks suggest that there's a lot of effort going into Source 2. It would make sense to me, given how Valve likes their games to be revolutionary, for them to take their time and build out the tools they'll need to really take things to the next level.

I think a lot of the work they do with open source projects and closed source developers has a lot to do with Valve trying to get the state of technology ready for their next batch of games. It seems like we're getting close to that, with the Index being released and leaked games like Citadel and HLVR.

They're doing work. Personally, I'm happy to wait. I'm excited to see what they've really been up to.
Purple Library Guy 14 June 2019 at 4:37 pm UTC
Munk
ageresTheir Dota card game failed, so they are making a Dota chess game... What's next, a Dota board game?
Autochess is already a successful mod of DOTA with a playerbase. They tried to work out a deal with the creator of that mod, but they couldn't come to terms. During E3, it came out that the creator of the Dota mod is creating an Epic Game Store exclusive version of Autochess. League of Legends also announced they were coming out with a version of Autochess.

This is a very different situation to Artifact, and they're actually seeming to do things right this time by releasing an open beta. This is probably from the pressure of the announcement of the clones, but the closed beta nature of Artifact is largely responsible for its failure.

All autochess players already rely on Dota. If Valve can rush the game out, even in an imperfect state, they have a very good opportunity to keep many of those players on their platform.
Presumably an Epic game store exclusive version of this thing would have to not use the DoTA lore and characters because otherwise why would Valve not whack them for massive copyright violations?
Alternatively, if it remains basically a mod for DoTA which only works by attaching to DoTA and in itself only contains the mod author's IP, does Valve have a responsibility to let a paid game released on someone else's store piggyback on their game? You'd think they could patch DoTA not to allow it to work.

One way or another, I see significant advantages to a version, whether produced by Valve themselves or not, that remains part of the Steam and DoTA ecosystem.
Purple Library Guy 14 June 2019 at 4:43 pm UTC
Munk
Mountain ManWhatever happened to the good ol' days when Valve used to make classic games like Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Counter Strike... it seems they have pretty much abandoned some of the strongest franchises in the gaming industry in favor of more Dota spinoffs that nobody asked for.
VR happened. Seriously, that's what it is. When you really dig into what Valve's been doing, they've been quietly working on the hardware and software needed for the next generation since at least 2012. There's a fantastic video going over the history here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ1jyNF0cR0

Valve is mostly a technology company now. That isn't to say they're not a game developer anymore, but their IP's aren't really in much urgent need of a refresh. Their games hold up, more or less, and are still updated. When Valve releases a game, they tend to be paradigm shifting. My guess is we won't see the trilogies of their IP's start to release until they can be sufficiently revolutionary.

It's not all just VR either, nobody really knows what Valve's got up their sleeves with regard to software. There's leaks from time to time, and those leaks suggest that there's a lot of effort going into Source 2. It would make sense to me, given how Valve likes their games to be revolutionary, for them to take their time and build out the tools they'll need to really take things to the next level.

I think a lot of the work they do with open source projects and closed source developers has a lot to do with Valve trying to get the state of technology ready for their next batch of games. It seems like we're getting close to that, with the Index being released and leaked games like Citadel and HLVR.

They're doing work. Personally, I'm happy to wait. I'm excited to see what they've really been up to.
There's an argument to be made that Valve for the past few years while it had little competition was kind of the Bell Labs of the game industry--technically a for-profit company, but with an untouchable revenue stream that for better or worse gave them the chance to work on blue sky Big Ideas that a normal company focused on next quarter's profits couldn't justify spending on.
They may now need to buckle down to a bit more short term pragmatic thinking, though, and maybe get serious about bringing some of those cool projects into the production, money-making realm.
Munk 14 June 2019 at 6:53 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy
Munk
ageresTheir Dota card game failed, so they are making a Dota chess game... What's next, a Dota board game?
Autochess is already a successful mod of DOTA with a playerbase. They tried to work out a deal with the creator of that mod, but they couldn't come to terms. During E3, it came out that the creator of the Dota mod is creating an Epic Game Store exclusive version of Autochess. League of Legends also announced they were coming out with a version of Autochess.

This is a very different situation to Artifact, and they're actually seeming to do things right this time by releasing an open beta. This is probably from the pressure of the announcement of the clones, but the closed beta nature of Artifact is largely responsible for its failure.

All autochess players already rely on Dota. If Valve can rush the game out, even in an imperfect state, they have a very good opportunity to keep many of those players on their platform.
Presumably an Epic game store exclusive version of this thing would have to not use the DoTA lore and characters because otherwise why would Valve not whack them for massive copyright violations?
Alternatively, if it remains basically a mod for DoTA which only works by attaching to DoTA and in itself only contains the mod author's IP, does Valve have a responsibility to let a paid game released on someone else's store piggyback on their game? You'd think they could patch DoTA not to allow it to work.

One way or another, I see significant advantages to a version, whether produced by Valve themselves or not, that remains part of the Steam and DoTA ecosystem.
Autochess is an invention of a new type of game, called a Multiplayer Auto Battle Arena (MABA). It doesn't inherently rely on Valve's IP, it's just what was used to bring it to creation, like how DOTA was initially a mod of another game. I don't see what Valve would have to gain from blocking it, considering neither the EGS exclusive or the LoL version being developed use Valve's IP. "Autochess" (the EGS exclusive made by the Autochess DOTA mod creator) is being built in Unreal Engine, so it's not relying on anything of Valve's.

The advantage Valve has is that the MABA genre started with the DOTA mod, so all the MABA players are already on Valve's platform, necessarily. The fact that they're keeping the DOTA skin/lore isn't very significant. It's just keeping what it started with, being a DOTA mod in the first place, and giving it a first-class treatment. DoTA is a convenient choice because of the scope of the existing lore, but they could theme it to whichever one of their IP's they wanted without losing much, or even just create a whole new IP.


Last edited by Munk on 14 June 2019 at 7:03 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy 14 June 2019 at 8:30 pm UTC
MunkThe advantage Valve has is that the MABA genre started with the DOTA mod, so all the MABA players are already on Valve's platform, necessarily. The fact that they're keeping the DOTA skin/lore isn't very significant. It's just keeping what it started with, being a DOTA mod in the first place, and giving it a first-class treatment. DoTA is a convenient choice because of the scope of the existing lore, but they could theme it to whichever one of their IP's they wanted without losing much, or even just create a whole new IP.
I more or less assumed DoTA content was "just" a skin. But that's more significant than you might think. If the person who made the original mod does Autochess with a different, unencumbered, skin, then players of the existing thing will find that not only do they have to go somewhere new to play it, but when they get there it doesn't look right--feels unfamiliar, has people/pieces they don't know. Pure gameplay isn't everything. Consider how many games make much or even all of their money by selling "hats" whose appeal is purely aesthetic, with no gameplay effect whatsoever.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 14 June 2019 at 8:32 pm UTC
MisterPaytwick 15 June 2019 at 1:03 pm UTC
Mountain ManWhatever happened to the good ol' days when Valve used to make classic games like Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Counter Strike... it seems they have pretty much abandoned some of the strongest franchises in the gaming industry in favor of more Dota spinoffs that nobody asked for.

Because CS or TF were 100% new content? They were using Half-Life models as mods. The buying out and making it a new game was and is still a Valve strategy. Like this is hardly an actual Dota spinoff, it's just a 101 how to make a game now rather than in a year. Autochess (Drodo's) is likely coming out soon because they had a lot of backing from EGS and virtually no design to do. The mod showed there was a big demand for that, and Valve has an IP that people already know (Razor is still an [strike]Elemental[/strike] Primordial, and Mage); the models and an engine ready for all platforms (Underlords will be on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, so virtually all the platforms)

Autochess aren't even new by themselves: back in WC3 we had some custom games with that, that Riot again get to name the thing with the most abstruse name is a bit sad. Valve just put on the skin that fitted it already.
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