Mar 20 2014 - 4:38 pm

Does the 'Dota 2' Workshop suffer from favoritism?

Even before it was officially launched in 2013, Valve’s popular esport Dota 2 has enjoyed a bustling community of modders and 3D artists
Cassandra Khaw
Dot Esports

Even before it was officially launched in 2013, Valve’s popular esport Dota 2 has enjoyed a bustling community of modders and 3D artists.

The free-to-play game’s Workshop, which is a part of Dota 2’s community hub on Steam, allows 3D modellers the opportunity to publicly display their designs to the community. From here, if they get enough votes and attention, they might eventually make it onto the official Valve store. And while it sounds like a utopian mergence of fandom and profit, some are artists increasingly unhappy with the Workshop. They claim it's being ruined by favoritism.

Yesterday, a Reddit user published an open letter to Valve  complaining outlying these major grievances to the Dota 2 subreddit. It's becoming progressively harder to "break into the Workshop," the redditor said.

This is partially attributable to “privileged artists” who have what the redditor claimed were higher chances of getting “arguably lower quality” cosmetic items into the store. This was, he or she alleged, to “reputation and close ties with Valve.”

Another redditor chimed in with a specific example: In an update last Friday, the Valve only added in one set—the "Legendary Pudge"—while his or oher own, which had received more than 10,000 votes, still remained in "limbo."

The only other option to get your work noticed, the original author added, was to work together with esports teams like Na’Vi or organizations like DotaCinema and exchange high revenue for an opportunity to put something in-game.

The playing field changes "when select artists have privileged information and contacts," the author concluded.

But how much of that is true?

"I definitely don't get any special treatment." Benjamin Retter, a popular artist on the Workshop who goes by the moniker Bronto Thunder, explained over Steam’s chat system

"I definitely don't get stuff in-game instantly. A Lifestealer set was just added instead of mine and I've had stuff sitting in my workshop for months which hasn't been added."

Retter proceeds to argue that while many seem to think that Anuxi, arguably the famous item creator in the Workshop, receives preferential treatment, the same demographic seens forget that "she's an industry veteran and is insanely talented."

"She also has a Drow set," Retter said. The Drow Ranger, is one of the game's playable characters. That set hasn't been added to the official store either, a choice that wasn't popular with fans, Retter said. "So she's not immune either."

While Anuxi herself told us it “makes sense” that Valve might have a list of artists to keep tabs on. She maintains, however, that things haven’t been terribly different for her. But what about the huge number of votes that some workshop items receive?

“Votes doesn’t mean [an item set] will go in," Anuxi says. "Votes mean it will be noticed by Valve.”

Anuxi posits that the Workshop interface, which she thinks is in need of a major overhaul, is one of the major reasons newcomers are having so much trouble achieving recognition. Among other possible improvements, Anuxi says that the Workshop is in need of a better front page organization.

“Stop sets from taking over the front page,” Anuxi suggests, before moving to explain how a “set”, which is a collection of multiple cosmetic items fitting a certain theme and look, can consume up to seven thumbnails on the front page. Because of the limited space available, seven other items are inevitably shoved into the second page, where few viewers think to look.

It’s clear that there are plenty of issues with the Workshop, including a lack of communication between the community and Valve. Whether or not the digital distribution goliath will choose to maintain their relatively hands-off approach or investigate the Dota 2 scene’s grievances is left to be seen. For now, the Workshop seems to be running just fine—even if it’s on squeaky, half-oiled wheels.

Image via Kunkka/Deviantart

Today - 5:09 pm

UFC champion Demetrious Johnson on video games, investing in esports, and why Infiltration is his favorite player

He's the best MMA fighter in the world, and esports has his attention.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via UFC | Zuffa

Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson has a nickname worthy of esports. Which is good, because it turns out the number one pound for pound fighter in the world is a fan.

In between defending the UFC flyweight championship, something he has done a near-record nine times, Johnson chills out the way he always has—playing video games. But now he does that while streaming to an audience of over 82,000 fans on Twitch.

Gaming and online broadcasting has become a massive part of Johnson's career. We spoke to the champ about gaming, esports, and how his two passions have aligned to make him one of the most unique and engaging athletes on the planet.

Obviously we will mostly be talking about gaming, but were you happy with how things went for you inside the octagon last year?

Hell yeah. I had an injury to overcome and got two fights in. Two wins, one finish and one pretty decisive war against Tim Elliot, so I'm pretty happy about that.

Your fighting career and gaming passion have intersected before. In the past you were the only combat sports athlete sponsored by Xbox. How did that come about?

It came about because of my gaming connection, and Microsoft were very passionate about getting behind athletes and Seattle, which is where the Xbox was originally created. I'm a huge game player, so the two brand just merged so well. I know people who worked at Microsoft at the time. It wasn't revolutionizing sports, but it was the first time they ever sponsored a fighter, and the first time ever the UFC was going to be streaming live on Facebook. That was pretty much the first livestream for the UFC. They don't do Facebook anymore, now we have UFC Fight Pass. 

Obviously I fit the brand really well but especially with Xbox, I was passionate about video games before Xbox was around. Back when it was Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, I was in love with that stuff. I played a lot while doing sports. So when the UFC was going to merge with that and doing Facebook live streaming, Xbox saw that as an opportunity to get their name out in the sport of mixed martial arts.

What games and teams are you following in the esports world?

The biggest ones that everyone follows, League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO. But I really like to watch the fighting game events, like Evo. Razer have an esports team, Red Bull have an esports team, but the one I really like to follow is Infiltration who plays for Razer, he uses Nash on Street Fighter V. I know I watched Northern Gaming in the World of Warcraft tournaments, but that stuff gets too stressful man! You about to kill a guy and next thing you know he gets healed all the way and I'm like "fuck!" It takes forever. I'm a big WoW guy, but I do wonder why I play it sometimes. I love the game but when it comes to streaming, it's not the most entertaining game to watch on the stream unless you're really really into it. But I love WoW. 

I watched Echo Fox compete at the H1Z1 Invitational, I competed against them. So if there's a game I like, I'll see if there's an esports scene and see if there's a player I like. But the one that really sticks out to me is Infiltration.

Have you ever made it to an esports event in person?

I have not. The only event I've ever went to was the H1Z1 Invitational when Echo Fox were playing, but I was in it. 

We'll see which ones are going on, I know TwitchCon has already been announced and I'm probably going to go to that. H1Z1 is probably going to have an Invitational there. I'm sure Echo Fox will be involved there. I know they have the Dota 2 event at the Key Arena in Seattle.

Right now, traditional sports figures are lining up to get involved in esports. Do you see yourself turning esports from a passion into something more?

Yeah, hopefully. I'd love to sit down with them [UFC owners WME-IMG] and see how the business side works of an esports team. I haven't really had a chance yet. One of the Echo Fox managers used to manage [former UFC champion] Rampage Jackson, and he talked to me about potentially looking into it and seeing if I wanted to get involved. But at the same time it's got to make good business sense for me. I don't understand the logistics of it. You buy an esports team, what's your return, you're hoping that your team wins? There's a little bit more that I need to understand.

Now being a commentator? Whatever the game, I'd absolutely love to do that.

Do you think these people from traditional sports are doing the right thing, investing in esports? Is it the next big thing that they need to be a part of?

If the people are passionate about it and follow it absolutely. It depends on what the investment opportunities are and what the payout is. It's a little bit difficult. Guys like Rick Fox, they have other things and they've made millions and millions of dollars. I heard someone say an esports team costs at least $40,000 or something to get started. It all depends on the opportunities. You got to look at all of the logistics of it. It's a cool idea and a badass thing to be apart of, but it's got to be more than just thrown in for me. We'll see what happens.

Is there any game that isn't currently a major esport that you would love to see on the big stage?

Oh man. If it's an esport, it has to be competitive. I would say Dead Space multiplayer. You would have to fight each other, and also have the necromorphs coming at you as well. Almost like a free-for-all. The one I would really love to see make it as an esport is H1Z1, but there's just so many variables and things that don't work out. Everybody doesn't get a fair chance to start out, so I think it will be hard placed right now.

Today - 10:55 pm

Contractz shines as Cloud9 topples TSM

Cloud9’s rookie jungler made a big splash in his LCS debut
Xing Li
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

Cloud9’s Juan "Contractz" Arturo Garcia didn't just make an impression in his LCS debut. He blew away all expectations, and showed himself to be a force to be reckoned with.

Contractz was the last cut from the Players to Watch list we wrote before the League Championship season. We weren’t sure how much priority Cloud9 would give him, especially with so much talent elsewhere on the roster. Still, we felt uneasy--someone not on the list was almost guaranteed to break out.

We just didn’t know that it would happen in the very first series.

In a rematch of last summer’s LCS Finals, Cloud9 and TSM clashed on the rift. And despite the star power that this matchup brings, much of the focus was on Contractz. He was a major focus for C9, almost a win condition in themselves.

Let’s see how he did it.

Jungle Priority

Due to the changes Riot made to the jungle in the offseason, priority has risen for junglers. More experience and more ganks means a good jungler can more easily carry a game. Cloud9’s coach, Bok “Reapred” Han-gyu talks about priority all the time.

Priority is a League term that indicates which lane has a strong matchups and should be a focus for jungle ganks. The player or lane with priority gets earlier picks and more attention from the rest of the team.

In a bit of a role reversal, C9 picked jungle to have priority in game one. That meant C9 players actively played around Contractz’ Kha’zix and made plays to get him ahead. In one telling instance, AD carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi burned his Ashe ult so that Contractz could invade and secure red buff.

Contractz rewarded that allocation by killing TSM ADC Jason “WildTurtle” Tran for First Blood. Cloud9 picked a risky comp that required Contractz and mid laner Nicolaj Jensen (playing Fizz) to snowball. Aided by some questionable team play from TSM and baffling itemization from WildTurtle, they accomplished that.

How would TSM react in game two?

A Lee Sin God

Cloud9 continued to give Contractz priority by first-picking Lee Sin for him (only one jungler, Rengar, was banned). This time, he lived in TSM’s red side jungle, playing around pressure from Jensen and top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.

A well-executed gank gave C9 First Blood again, this time on Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. C9’s duo lane kept their own red-side safe, allowing Contractz to clear and run to the top lane to kill Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell.

For much of the series, Cloud9 exhibited superior team play and coordination, and Contractz was at the center of big plays. He is an aggressive, carry-oriented player and C9 enabled that aggression extremely well. Even when TSM jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and the rest of the team was there, it was often C9 making the right moves, faster. Following a decent TSM dive in the bot lane, Contractz responded with kill after kill.

It’s still very early in the season, but this team has come together very fast. Their communication was superb as was the shot calling. TSM had poor performances from Turtle and Svenskeren, but this victory was still more about C9's macro-oriented team play, rather than individual performances. They will have chances to come back, just like C9 will have to keep their play high by continuing to aid their jungler.

Contractz just dominated what was the best team in NA. Keep this performance up, and he’ll find himself on another one of our lists: the end of split awards.