Dota is a game where it sometimes look like it’s impossible for your team to turn the match around, but the large number of variables in the game can often lead to cases where a team in that position still manages to win. If you talk to anyone who’s played a fair chunk of Dota, you’ll find they still remember that recent game where they thought the game was over, but they turned it around and staged an epic win. One of the biggest challenges of improving Dota’s experience is that of trying to ensure that players don’t prematurely leave games, robbing team mates of a chance to have that comeback experience, and the enemy team of learning that they may have a fantastic early game strategy that falls apart in the late game. If a significant number of games end prematurely for any reason, we believe it’s fundamentally unfulfilling for everyone.
There are many reasons why players leave or go AFK. Aside from the obvious ones, there are many rare cases: they may get an important phone call, they may be having configuration issues with their computer, their team mates might be saying horrible things to them, they may get up to open the door for the pizza guy and accidentally lock themselves out (yes, someone at Valve actually did this). Some of these reasons are fundamentally undetectable to the game.
So, like all thorny design issues that can’t be play tested internally, this is something we’ll be working on for some time in public. We think it’s a key problem in Dota 1 for us to solve in Dota 2, and hence, it’s too important for us to just rush into. So far we have been focused on gathering data about what’s really going on. Now you’ll see us starting to venture into additions that actually perturb the system. As these come on board, we’ll be measuring each carefully to make sure it’s making the overall ecosystem better, not penalizing legitimate players or missing those who are out to hurt other player’s experiences. As a result, don’t be surprised if we measure something we’ve released and then choose to remove it after we have the data. It’ll be an ongoing process for us as Dota 2′s player base expands, but it’s one we’re not going to stop working on until you tell us we’re done.
As always, feel free to send us your thoughts and feedback.