It’s a perennial joke in the Dota 2 community that the last tutorial started with the objective to buy a Stout Shield—an item that was removed from the game three weeks later. Everyone who regularly plays Dota 2 knows that a key “feature” of the game is that any tutorial for Dota 2 is a truly awful, nigh-unusable new player experience. What tutorials once existed were rapidly loaded with outdated mechanics, inaccuracies, or worse: Dota 2 is a game that regularly reinvents huge parts of itself with massive shakeups like the late 2019 Outlanders patch. Since the Stout Shield fiasco, a tutorial has been all but written off as impossible or even undesirable: Most Dota players just learn from an internet personality or are roped in by friends who teach them the game.
It’s a strange, gaping hole in one of the PC’s most popular games since 2013. And it’s something that’s in the forefront of some Dota players’ minds as the release of a high-profile Dota 2 anime spin-off on Netflix approaches, an event that could draw a surge of new players to Dota in years (either in anticipation or reaction, The Witcher 3’s average concurrent players more than doubled in December 2019 as the Netflix series released). Community member, streamer, Dota host, and notable Techies-playing degenerate SirActionSlacks is spearheading an effort to create and fund a one-time tutorial for Dota 2 to release around the show’s premiere.
It’s bizarre that a game which regularly awards a prize pool of tens of millions of dollars for its largest tournament, with the reward for the top players in 2019 coming in at $15 million, would need a community handout just to have a tutorial. But that’s what it’s going to take, apparently. Dota 2 modders, people who can make a really functional custom game, aren’t so common that they can freely work the crunch hours it’ll take to get a tutorial working in just 30 days.
Slacks makes a convincing argument, saying that it just has to work for the month or so after the game’s release to make the transition into Dota 2 from TV show watching. From there, the community’s tutorials and videos can take up the slack for the people who stick around after the first few matches.
The tutorial as planned is pretty basic. It’ll cover how to move, attack, buy items, and the basics of making money in the lane or the jungle. It’ll also cover, and no I’m not joking here, vital moba survival skills like how to mute toxic players and use the quick-chat wheel to communicate and ping.
The Dota 2 community has rallied around the concept, raising some $25,000 in an IndieGoGo toward paying modders to make the custom game. Slacks is involving himself as a project manager, and voice acting the tutorial, for free. Two weeks into the project they’ve released two update videos with their progress. It’s entirely possible that the dream of a functional Dota 2 tutorial will exist, if only for a month before the game’s completely changed.
That said, the whole plan is contingent on one big if: This only works if Valve allows new players special access to this custom game. Currently, new players can only access custom games after playing a set number of normal matches. The community is trying to get in touch with Valve to make the custom, community-made tutorial available to everyone. It’s a bold strategy, let’s see how it plays out.
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