Dota (genre)

Dota (genre)
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The Dota genre is a sub-genre of real-time strategy video games, characterized by their likeness to Defense of the Ancients, a custom scenario for Warcraft 3 drawing from both real-time strategy and role-playing game influences. Compared to traditional real-time strategy games, elements such as base management, resource collection and army building have been removed. Action real-time strategy (Action RTS or ARTS) is sometimes used to refer to the Dota genre.

The genre puts emphasis on team-play; players on each team can select and control one Hero, a powerful unit with various abilities and advantages to form a team's overall strategy. The objective of such games is for the player's team to destroy the opposing side's main structure with the help of periodically spawned computer-controlled units that march towards the enemy's main structure. Objective derivations of the genre include timed territorial control of specific areas around the map instead of the destruction of the main structure found in the opponent's base. The genre traces its roots to the Starcraft map called "Aeon of Strife".[1]



The genre takes its name from Defense of the Ancients (DotA), a popular Warcraft III mod[2], and games in this genre are often referred to as "DotA-style", "Dota-esque" or "DotA-based" games, as well as "DotA clones", or sometimes simply as "DOTAs".[3][4] The term "AoS-style game" or simply "AoS" is also commonly used, referring to the Starcraft custom map called Aeon of Strife. Riot Games coined its own term, "Multiplayer Online Battle Arena", while Valve refers to these games as "Action Real-Time Strategy".[5]


An early predecessor to Dota was the 1989 game Herzog Zwei which, though considered to be the progenitor of the modern real-time strategy genre in general, has more in common with the likes of Dota than it does with the likes of Red Alert 3 or Tom Clancy's EndWar. The key differences between Dota and Herzog Zwei are that the latter has a fully customizable command unit with role-playing video game elements that the player has full control over, while commanding an army to go into battle with rather than mindless drones that respawn at set intervals.[6] In an interview for Gamasutra, Marc DeForest, CEO of S2 Games has pointed out, "You've gotta give most of the credit to DotA, but until LoL and HoN, DotA was just a mod."[7]

Maps and modifications

Features of Dota existed in early mods like the "Aeon of Strife" map for StarCraft but it was the Warcraft III custom scenario Defense of the Ancients that brought the spotlight to the niche genre.[8][9]

Stand-alone Dota based games

Demigod, a video game developed by Gas Powered Games was the first released stand-alone title in the Dota genre.[10][11] This was followed by Riot Games' League of Legends.[12][13] In May 2010, S2 Games released Heroes of Newerth.[14][15] On October 13, 2010, Valve Corporation announced its official entry to the genre with a sequel to DotA entitled Dota 2.[16][17] Aeria Games will be publishing Realm of the Titans in North America.[18][19] On February 2011, Petroglyph Games announced Rise of Immortals, which was added as a free-to-play game on Steam on September 29, 2011.[20] On April 2011, Hi-Rez Studios announced Smite.[21]

At Blizzcon 2010, Activision Blizzard officially announced their entry to the Dota genre with Blizzard DOTA.[22][23][24][25] In an interview, Chris Sigaty - Lead Producer of Starcraft II stated that Blizzard DOTA "is a take on the DOTA genre if you will. It gives you the opportunity to see some of the heroes we've made, we've made some heroes that are cross genre. Not just SC2 heroes, we've got some Diablo characters in the works, we've some Warcraft characters and Starcraft characters and they're fighting together."[26]

Although majority of the released games in the Dota genre employ a top-down perspective, Uber Entertainment's Crossfire mode of Monday Night Combat breaks away from the trend by introducing a third person shooter spin to the concept.[27]


Games classified under the Dota genre possess the following basic elements:

  • two opposing sides (typically five players each), whose goal is to destroy their enemy's main structure to win;
  • several lanes with periodic spawns of computer-controlled minions, known as "creeps," and defensive towers, preventing enemy creep progress;
  • player-controlled heroes that strive to shift the initial balance by killing enemy creeps, towers and heroes;
  • a complex item and leveling system that determines the strength of the heroes.

Members of the genre do not feature several other elements traditionally found in real-time strategy games, notably base management, resource collection and army building.

Hero concept

A player controls a single powerful in-game unit called a Hero. When a hero kills an enemy unit, it gains experience points which allow the hero to level up. Heroes have the ability to learn skills and abilities which can be used to turn the tide of battle in their favor. When heroes die, they have to wait a designated time, which increases as they level up, until they revive at their base.[28]

Each player constantly receives a small amount of gold per second from their base and moderate amounts of gold are rewarded for killing creeps and large amounts for killing enemy heroes. Heroes use the gold they gain to buy a variety of different items that range in price and impact.[29]

AI-controlled creep waves

Creeps are the computer-controlled units that fight alongside the heroes to "push" a lane. These armies spawn from the base at fixed time intervals and generally follow a pre-programmed path to the opposing base, attacking any enemy it encounters on the way.[30]


Dota genre games are sometimes erroneously referred to as tower defense games by the media because of the presence of in-game defensive tower structures. However, Dota is very different from the tower defense genre, which is centered around the construction of stationary towers as opposed to the precise control of an individual hero.[31]

Main structure

Destroying the main structure located within the enemy base is the primary objective. The team that is able to destroy the main structure wins the game.[32] Destroying other structures located in the enemy base can also give certain benefits.

USPTO Trademark

On August 6, 2010 - Valve Corporation filed for a trademark for the term "DOTA" with serial number 85102245.[33]

See also


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  2. ^ Fahey, Mike (2010-04-01). "Savage Take On Defense Of The Ancients Enters Open Beta". Kotaku. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  3. ^ Nguyen, Thierry (2009-09-01). "Clash of The DOTAs". Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  4. ^ Welsh, Oli (2011-10-22). "Blizzard aims for more accessible DOTA". EuroGamer. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  5. ^ Nutt, Christian (2011-08-29). "The Valve Way: Gabe Newell And Erik Johnson Speak". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  6. ^ GameAxis Unwired, p. 52, December 2008, SPH Magazines, ISSN 0219-872X
  7. ^ Alexander, Leigh (2011-05-20). "Interview: Heroes of Newerth's Marc DeForest On Evolving Business Models". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-05-26. 
  8. ^ Sharkey, Mike (2010-08-11). "Evidence Mounting for a Valve Defense of the Ancients Game". Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  9. ^ Khoo, Nicholas Aaron (2010-03-03). "Heroes of Newerth to replace Defense of the Ancients". Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  10. ^ Lopez, Miguel (2008-02-21). "Demigod". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  11. ^ Nemikan (2009-09-21). "DOTA reborn: Three games inspired by the legendary WC3 mod". Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  12. ^ Perez, Daniel (2009-01-16). "League of Legends Interview". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  13. ^ Arirang (2009-10-03). "A Look at the Future of Dota and the AoS Genre.". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  14. ^ Jackson, Leah (2010-12-23). "Looking Back at 2010: The Year in PC Games". Retrieved 2010-12-24. 
  15. ^ Mark Wedel (2010-06-24). "Kalamazoo-made 'Heroes of Newerth' drawing huge online gaming crowd". Kalamazoo Gazette. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  16. ^ "Valve Announces Dota 2". Valve Corporation. October 19, 2010. Retrieved October 13, 2010. 
  17. ^ Totillo, Stephen (2010-10-13). "Valve's New Game Is Dota 2". Kotaku. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  18. ^ "Tian Online joins the North American Dota Genre Market". Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  19. ^ Wu, Esther (2010-10-29). "Tianyijue Chinese Dota Genre Trailer Released". Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  20. ^ Tito, Greg (2011-02-23). "Petroglyph Announces MMO-DOTA Hybrid Rise of Immortals"". Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  21. ^ Rossignol, Jim (2011-04-21). "Might Fight Right? SMITE Is… Announced.". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  22. ^ "All-New Blizzard Custom Maps Featured at Blizzcon 2010". Blizzard Entertainment. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  23. ^ Augustine, Josh (2010-10-23). "The first heroes in SC2’s DOTA map". PCGamer. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  24. ^ Varanini, Giancarlo (2010-10-23). "Starcraft II: Blizzard DOTA Hands-On". Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  25. ^ Colwill, Tim (2011-02-18). "Stratagems: Dustin Browder on StarCraft II". Retrieved 2011-02-18. 
  26. ^ Iuliani, Joe (2010-11-05). "Starcraft II: Chris Sigaty Interview". Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  27. ^ Simons, Brad (2010-07-30). "Monday Night Combat is not the Team Fortress 2 clone you think it is". Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  28. ^ "Basic Survival - Learn Dota". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  29. ^ Biessener, Adam (2010-10-13). "Valve's New Game Announced, Detailed: Dota 2". Game Informer. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  30. ^ Leahy, Brian (2010-10-13). "Dota Explained and How You Can Play it Now". Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  31. ^ Fronczak, Tom (2010-09-24). "Destructoid Interview: Riot Games on DotA trademark & LoL". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  32. ^ "Heroes of Newerth - Charge!". Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  33. ^ "Latest Status Info". United States Patent and Trademark Office. 2010-08-06. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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