Adventures in DotA-GC

End of days

Dec 01, 2012 - by Strom

Indeed, all good things must come to an end. The time has come to close down DotA-GC, permanently.
As I explained in January, keeping the lights on isn't free. The advertisement & name change revenue doesn't even come close to covering the server fees. So after 2028 days (5.5 years) of working on DotA-GC, it's time for me to move on. It has been an incredible journey and I do not regret taking it, even if ultimately DotA-GC was only a glimpse of what I had dreamed of. I would like to thank each and every one of you for being part of the community, it wouldn't have been the same without you.

What follows is a short story of my memories with DotA-GC. If you are not interested in reading that, you can skip to near the end to read about my upcoming Dota 2 adventures. Are you passionate about not letting DotA-GC die just quite yet? Then you can skip to the end to read about how GC could continue to run through December. Thank you.

Once upon a time ...

In January of 2006, a friend of mine, rd, showed me a custom WarCraft III map that he had been playing. My first game was with Razor, and I thought I was going to be a real owner in that game because I quickly googled for a guide for this hero and found myself on a thread. I ended up buying a Maelstrom recipe and not understanding why it wasn't working properly. Oh yes, those were the days. The first games I played were with local friends through a VPN program called Hamachi. Within days I was practicing in public games, playing Clinkz, and getting lost on the map. Just think about that for a moment, I got lost in the river and didn't understand where I was.

On February 5, 2006 I peeked into a QuakeNet IRC channel called to see what was going on there. It didn't seem too interesting so I promptly left. Little did I know, that it would soon be my gateway to the world of DotA communities and that DotA would consume most of my free time. Indeed, I came back to scout several times and finally decided to sign up for a game in on April 3, 2006. What continued was a race to get to the top #1 position on the most games played this week ladder, because that was the only statistic the system kept - the number of games played this week. My best result was around 70 games per week, and you have to keep in mind, this was in 2006, when the average DotA game easily lasted 90 minutes and games over two hours weren't uncommon. Clearly I was hooked.

In the start of 2007 I heard about this alternative DotA gather channel on QuakeNet, called #dota.gc, which was being run by a guy named Cyrus. It was commonly known among players that #dota.gc was the place people go to when they get banned from, i.e. GC was the ghetto of local DotA gatherings. Thus, when I first peeked into #dota.gc on January 27, 2007, I didn't have the faintest idea that I would be owning & running it a year from then. Continuing with my prejudice against it I joined #dota.gc again on February 11, 2007 - and signed up for an actual game. I don't quite remember what I did in that game, but it couldn't have been too good, because I quickly got banned for 2 days by Mehikee with the reason "breaking the rules".

I continued playing in but on April 8, 2007 I got access to the brand new invite-only higher skilled ladder of, called Shout-out to Innu, for making the first points based IRC DotA bot that I saw - Doombringer. Before Doombringer, all the gathers I had seen used the in-game -sp mode that randomly shuffles the players. Although Doombringer was ultimately quite basic and had an extremely flawed ELO based points system, it was a critical inspiration for some of my future work.

On April 16, 2007, #dota.gc was shut down by Cyrus, because there weren't any games being played there at all anymore and he didn't see a need for it with the introduction of Doombringer in However dhgf convinced Cyrus to let him try to revive #dota.gc and create an active community. So on May 14, 2007 #dota.gc was back in business with dhgf being the de facto manager, while Cyrus still holding ownership rights. It just so happens that I'm good friends with dhgf and we play DotA together, so I ended up joining him and unexpectedly became a #dota.gc administrator. After a few days of #dota.gc being back in business with a simple gather bot that only records the game count per week, Dzinnu proposed that GC should have a ranking system similar to Doombringer. Within a few hours it was decided that it was to be me, Strom, who would be in charge of building such a ranking system.

Of course I couldn't just make a clone of Doombringer, I had to make a superior bot in every way. My main weapon of choice was to use the most high tech rating system available in the world, which I found to be TrueSkill, developed by Microsoft Research for XBox Live. I spent a good amount of time studying the white paper and on May 26, 2007 - Loom entered #dota.gc and would mark a huge milestone in DotA-GC history. In addition to TrueSkill, Loom provided automatically generated balanced teams and administration commands that could be used to deal with the rule breakers.

After building the most advanced IRC DotA gather system, I didn't start resting on my laurels. Quite the opposite, I started a gigantic project, a project so huge that at the time I only started work on it because I was blind to the complexity increase that would follow in the months and years to come. After months and months of work, on September 18, 2007 for the 1596th game being organized by Loom, Formula X was ready. It was a novel system, no other DotA gather had anything like it. A rating system for DotA players, based heavily on actual events that take place inside the game, not just on simple information like who won. Shout-out to esby for helping me build the replay parser. After another month or so I released Formula X 2.0, a greatly improved version of the same basic idea - and X 2.0 is the same formula that is used in DotA-GC to this day. It is incredibly complex. To give you some insight into just how complex it truly is, lets consider items. The items you buy in a game make up for about 25% of the score that is given to you by X. So how are the points for items determined? Well, there is a huge look-up table, that I (try to) maintain in Excel. There are currently 134 items and 110 heroes in DotA. For every hero, there is a multiplier score for every item. This is already 134 * 110 = 14 740 different scores I have to maintain, but this is just for 6.76. Formula X 2.0 supports every DotA version all the way back to 6.48, for a total of 29 different versions. Each DotA version has different balance requirements, and thus different scores. On top of this, every hero has a farm factor multiplier, which determines how easy it is to get items with that specific hero. Then, for every minute of the game, the items of every player in the game are inspected and loot scores are calculated. Next, every player's score is compared to every other player's scores to see the difference. Then this difference is compared to the difference of the starting X points for players, to see if the points need to be adjusted. Say if a 1500 X player has only 1.4x better items than a 1000 X player, then the 1000 X player will actually get plus points and the 1500 X player will lose points. And remember, this is just a fraction of the work that Formula X does to calculate the points for every player. It is complex, too complex really for one person to maintain.

The oldest ladder snapshot in the web archive is from October 16, 2007. Pretty interesting to see where some people were ranked, especially the 16+ people from that list who still actively play in DotA-GC today.

By December of 2007 I had become the de facto leader of #dota.gc. I was building the technical systems, I was writing the rules, I was dealing with the rule breakers. Overall I probably spent more time working on making #dota.gc better than all the other admins combined. I had no plans of slowing down, but I wanted assurance if I was to continue investing so much time into #dota.gc. So on December 18, 2007 I came to an agreement with Cyrus that he would transfer the ownership rights to me. This was the beginning of The Great Age in DotA-GC history.

Life was good, everything was going so well. #dota.gc was growing at an incredible pace and we swallowed competition left and right, e.g. both and completely died and all the players migrated to #dota.gc. We were the most technologically advanced DotA gather that I knew of, with strict rules and admins that must follow the general principles of DotA-GC. The culmination came on April 30, 2008 when a quite large competitor,, agreed to merge with #dota.gc in such a way that all the tech would be that of #dota.gc's and that I would keep supreme control. It was awesome, there were 8 games going on at once and games were happening 24/7, no stopping. Also, shout-out to Dzarg, the guy who built the tech.

This is where I got lazy. At the time I was still working as a full time developer during the day, so all the #dota.gc stuff had to be done after work - and summer was starting. Basically I just stopped working on improving #dota.gc and instead spent my free time on other things, including enjoying DotA games in this wonderful & highly active community that I had built. Although not doing any work on #dota.gc was a huge issue, the even bigger issue was that I didn't really communicate this to everyone else. I didn't even ask for a vacation for the summer, I just took it and didn't explain anything. There were also quite heated arguments between the #dota.gc admins and admins, they didn't just magically start working nicely together. I failed to realize that making all the admins friendly with each other was a critical task that needed to be done immediately. As a result of all of this, on July 7, 2008, split from #dota.gc, because they were dissatisfied with what they were getting out of the merger - lots of drama and stagnation with no explanation. This breakup hit me pretty hard.

I refocused on #dota.gc quite quickly, as I wanted to get all the Finnish players back who had left with the split. About a month after the split, on August 15, 2008 to be exact - I started the biggest project of #dota.gc history. Even bigger than Formula X. With the new project being so big, it also makes perfect sense that I didn't go at it alone. It was a co-operation between aRkker and myself. The project? Repel. The main idea behind Repel was anti-cheating technology. We wanted to make the best DotA anti-cheat in the world, and more specifically, we wanted to make a DotA anti-cheat system that actually worked. The Repel idea grew fast, it was easy to see how a custom piece of software installed by players would allow us to provide features that no other DotA gather had even dreamed of. The first feature that we went for was WarCraft III LAN emulation. At the time #dota.gc was still on IP-based hosting, where a player would say an IP in IRC, and others would copy-paste that IP into their LAN emulation programs like battle.lan, LanCraft, YAWLE etc. The idea was that Repel would replace all that, but at the same time we knew it wouldn't be easy to get everyone to install a new program, so Repel had to be backwards compatible with all those other programs. On March 3, 2010 - 1.5 years after development on Repel had started, we were ready to release Repel 1.0. Sure enough it had huge bugs in the beginning, but this was expected and Repel was designed to be compatible with all the other programs being used. Only those who wanted to be on the bleeding edge used Repel. Over time we increased the quality, added features like reconnection, and Repel became more stable and a lot more convenient than other programs, so more and more people wanted to use it themselves. It didn't take long for most people to be using Repel and that's when we made it mandatory and forced even the few remaining protesters to use it. After getting everyone on board, we activated the anti-cheating engine and just like that with one big swoop, we cleaned up #dota.gc, and we've been cheater-free ever since.

During these years that we developed Repel, we actually also managed to assimilate - this time by just being so much better that the players came themselves without the need for a management level merger. However reality was getting frighteningly obvious. You have to realize that when I originally started dealing with these IRC based DotA communities, it was the beginning of 2006. YouTube had launched just two months ago and I didn't even know it existed yet. Now it's the top #3 website in the world. Back then, it wasn't possible to just register a facebook account, you had to have a specific school e-mail to get an account. Now it's the top #2 website in the world. What I'm saying is that by the summer of 2010, I knew beyond any doubt that DotA-GC needed to be a website instead, because everything was moving to the web. This was a real bummer. Loom, the almighty DotA gather system I had built for IRC, 37 000 lines of C# code, was pretty much worthless. I had to start from scratch to build a web version of everything.

I also decided that this would be a good time to write a dedicated DotA game server. To this point all #dota.gc games were hosted by a volunteering player. However this had several problems, e.g. if the host decided to quit the game, it was usually game over for everyone. Also the host connection might not be very stable or fast. This second point would become an even larger issue with a web based system where it's more likely that we would get players from regions with weak Internet, like Belarus. I started in the summer of 2010 and after over 4 months of intense work, I had completed good enough first versions of the DotA game server and the web system.

The new web based system was launched on November 25, 2010. It was a great day, filled with hope & joy. DotA-GC may not be too late for the DotA community web train after all, although DotAlicious-Gaming had over a 5 month head start, as they launched with their web in April - when I was still stabilizing Repel and hadn't started on all the work needed to migrate to the web. Still, I knew that if I really focused on DotA-GC, I could easily catch up and then surpass them. That was a big if indeed. I continuously failed to put in the work needed to market DotA-GC. Instead I kept tinkering with technical stuff. For example I spent a good amount of time making the automatic surrender system, so that if enough people want to ff, the throne gets automatically destroyed and the game ends instantly. Then I spent an absolutely huge chunk of time making the most perfect hotkey system I could dream up and integrate it into Repel. While the system works as intended and I'm very pleased with it technically, I have failed to explain how it works to most people. It's not uncommon that people are just too used to classic custom DotA hotkey systems, so they don't immediately understand the beauty behind the repel hotkey system. Some other big Repel features that are in various stages in the lab include a proper -xd mode implementation, where the banned heroes get removed from the pool completely, so you can't random or pick them. I got it working as far as you can't manually pick a banned hero and you can't see it in the pool, but you could still random it. Another huge feature that was in the design stage was complete crash recovery. That is, even if your computer restarts, you can still come back and join the game from which you dropped out from.

On September 12, 2011, after 1570 days (4.5 years) of service, having organized 40 046 games, the historic #dota.gc IRC bot Loom was permanently shut down. This was a sad move for me, because I had obviously spent so many years making it as awesome as possible. On the other hand, this was a move that was absolutely needed, because I had to focus all my energy on the web system and more specifically on marketing the web system.

November 11, 2011 was a big day. Dota-League, a major German DotA community, was shut down. This event provided DotA-GC with a flood of new people. I rushed to build tutorials to help people learn the DotA-GC system and spent as much time as possible talking to these new players. There was an interesting, tragic and funny scenario happening over and over again with these new people. There were so many of them coming at once, that the games that went full consisted mostly of new players with zero or just a handful of games. Then these players proceeded to bash each other and explain how this DotA-GC is full of unskilled, unmannered players and how Dota-League was the best thing since sliced bread - without realizing that they are all from Dota-League. In addition to this, because the games were full of new people, the team balance was nonexistent, which made our "supposed to be best in the business" ranking systems look bad. If there is anyone to blame for this mess, it is only myself, for having failed to anticipate this clusterfuck. This was definitely a huge lesson for me, and now for future projects I can be much better prepared for a flood of new people unfamiliar with the local culture. So while DotA-GC managed to capture only some of the Dota-League refugees, bigger places like DotAlicious-Gaming had an easier time, because thanks to the bigger community, the new people were spread out more evenly and saw the actual DLG culture, not the culture of 10 new people having no idea what's going on.

As of today, December 1, 2012, the web service has been running for 737 days (2 years), has organized 22 200 games and consists of many major components:
* The web backend is 16 588 lines of Java
* The web frontend is 1145 lines of JavaScript, 1540 lines of HTML, and 1271 lines of CSS
* Formula X is 23 497 lines of C#
* The game server is 8331 lines of C++
* Repel is 13 045 lines of C++

The whole DotA-GC system has been the biggest, most advanced system that I have designed & constructed. At about 12 000 verified users with 62 246 games, DotA-GC is also the biggest community, that I have had the pleasure & pain of managing. I have heard pretty much every possible excuse there is for quiting from a game. People have died, people have gotten sick, people have fallen through floors, houses have been set on fire, pets have eaten through cables etc. I have witnessed the unbelievable lengths that people will go to to lie to your face, just to get another account to play DotA. Not only lies either, people have actually traveled into different countries to set up extra accounts, not to mention everyday stuff like running to the library to use public computers. I have seen people spend hours every day begging for unban, I have seen people show up every day to make convoluted cases on why their punishment is unjust, I have seen people accuse DotA-GC admins of every possible discrimination possible, I have received countless threats and even several death threats. This hasn't been easy, no matter how just or objective I am, there are always people who find a way to be negative. It has taken a lot of hard work, sleepless nights, blood, sweat & tears. That is not to say that it has all been bad, definitely not. Every once in a while someone will share a story of how my work is making them happy. How the tools we've built are making their lives easier. It has been the positive feedback, albeit barely visible within all the negativity and indifference, that has fueled me to continue working on DotA-GC. I am happy that I have chosen this path in my life. However I also realize, that I haven't done enough and that the future chances of DotA-GC aren't too spectacular. It is time to cut our losses and move on, difficult as it may be.

I would like to give an extra big thank you to all the administrators of DotA-GC that I have had the pleasure of working with, in alphabetical order:

aRkker Coder creeeeeee Cyrus dhgf
diesel diGez DviX Dzinnu fakk
Herre J0te junker Kaspe_r Katza
lemmy Mercury mihkeL n3pu nimetu
Nugis PeterLars Pilvik s0xu sparky

So where am I moving on to? As it turns out, for the time being, not too far from the DotA world. I am attempting something a bit different with Lopya for Dota 2. I have written about some of the reasoning and goals before. Basically I am building a community from the ground up, while using all the lessons I've learned in the 7 years of my DotA career. To put it as simply as possible, while with DotA-GC I was mainly focused on the technology, with Lopya I will direct my focus to the people. Instead of worrying if we have the best statistics, or if we have the fastest latency, or if the whole game organization is as automated as possible - I will make sure that the people are the friendliest they can possibly be. The idea is to make a community, where you want to play not so much because of the game, but because of the awesome people you play with.

Now, you may be thinking: This whole DotA-GC shut down business came as such a surprise. I want to play a bunch of games here for old time's sake, but now there isn't any time! Well, if you truly are passionate about keeping DotA-GC going a bit more, you have that chance. If you, the community, can collectively pay at least €50 for the server costs, then I will personally pay the rest and keep this train moving for another month, straight through the holidays and into the new year! Also, don't worry, if we do not reach the goal by Monday, then I will refund everyone who tried to support. So go ahead, give yourself a holiday present and help pay for the December server costs of DotA-GC.

Update: We did it! DotA-GC will remain functional for December.

Comments (52)

What about Dota 2?

Nov 24, 2012 - by Strom

I have been receiving this question frequently for at least two years now. What about Dota 2? The answer has always basically boiled down to "I don't know, we'll see". Well, today I am happy to announce that I do, in fact, know how Dota 2 will fit into DotA-GC. That is to say, it won't fit at all. That's right, DotA-GC will never be extended to support Dota 2, it will always be a highly focused classic DotA community.

Separate of the fact that GC won't be supporting it, Dota 2 is shaping up to be a brilliant successor. It's quite close to being a mechanical clone of the original game and the hero roster is growing at an incredible speed. On top of that, it is technically superior in almost every way.

With Dota 2 being so great, how come there will not be any support for it? Well actually, I will be developing a Dota 2 community - Lopya. It's just that it won't be affiliated with DotA-GC in any shape or form. There are many reasons why I decided to do it separate from DotA-GC, but basically the essence of it is that this is a chance to do it all from scratch. I have almost 6 years of experience building and managing a DotA community and during this time I've learned a lot about the game itself, team balance, what motivates one to win, what an enjoyable dota experience looks like, and about human nature itself. The truth is that there are several types of cancer that have been spreading inside the DotA-GC community. I'm talking about deep-seated problems with the culture of playing DotA here. It is incredibly hard to fix this after-the-fact, especially so if it is still actively spreading.

With Lopya, I aim to carefully craft a well mannered, friendly & skilled community. There won't be any room for venomous people, who take pleasure in insulting other people. Neither will there be room for players who are still learning the game. Additionally, language usage will be highly restricted. In the beginning, it will be english-only everywhere, however in principle I am open to dividing the Lopya community into sectors. For example, if there are a lot of active Finnish players, it may be possible to sign up for a Finnish language game.

Lopya is currently under active development and the plan is to start testing it with real people sometime in the coming weeks. You can sign up for beta testing right now. If you're awesome but don't have Dota 2, you can still sign up and should you be selected for Lopya testing, you will also receive Dota 2 beta access.

Comments (12)

Introducing: Chat league

Oct 06, 2012 - by Strom

We have always had our IRC channel #dota.gc @ QuakeNet, but ever since we migrated to the web, the usage of that channel has steadily decreased. Communication is paramount to any community that wishes to persevere, so I am happy to announce that as of today we also have a new purely web based chat system available on the play page.

You probably also notice that the metallic leagues have disappeared. The silver & gold leagues were seldom used lately, so I removed them to make room for the chat. Multi-tiered games are not strictly gone forever, I will reintroduce that concept if our community grows enough to require them.

PS. Please do keep your chat messages mannered & in english.

Comments (14)

Bronze league is in style again

Jun 15, 2012 - by Strom

Today there are about twice as many silver league games per day when compared to a year ago. I myself had also moved almost exclusively to the silver league. Although I kept an eye on the total game count per day, I failed to properly track the bronze-to-silver ratio and thus did not notice the huge decline in bronze games until it was basically too late. In January there were about 40 games per day total, but as I'm writing this post it has dropped down to around 20 games per day. The reason for this overall fall is the fact that bronze games are a rarity, with only a few happening per day. While the silver league is in a relatively good state, it is not sustainable. People leave DotA-GC all the time for various reasons, e.g. a bunch left to play Diablo III instead. This is unavoidable, but it can be neutralized by the flow of fresh blood. No fresh blood can flow in when there are only silver games. This means that the bronze league is a vital part of the system and needs our full attention immediately, to prevent a catastrophic failure.

The first step that I'm taking is raising the minimum skill requirement for silver league from 50% to 80%. Basically this means that there will be maybe a few silver games per day, but all others will be in the bronze league. I know that many people will not like this change, especially those who have been complaining about silver and requested the gold league to be opened. However this is an absolutely necessary change to help kill the cancer that would otherwise slowly but surely terminate our community. With the bronze league far more active, new players will have the ability to actually play and earn points. When the overall game count has been raised up to a healthy number, I will lower the silver league access requirement.

Comments (39)

Money Money Money aka Selling Out

Jan 05, 2012 - by Strom

So it turns out that running a state of the art system for thousands of players isn't free.
Who would have thought?

All the money that DotA-GC generates is spent on the following tiers:
1) Paying the bills (It currently costs about 110 euros per month for the servers alone.)
2) Having prized competitions & buying advertising to get more players
3) Giving some sort of compensation to the people who actually build & moderate this commmunity
4) Profit

Thus far the income has never even completely covered the bills and as such I have paid most of it for almost 5 years. I am in no way bitter about it, it has been a wonderful experience. However moving forward, the wish of the community is to grow the player base and that will also make the bills bigger.

I am actually willing to increase my investment in GC, by spending more time building out new features & growing the player base. However my time isn't free, the opportunity cost is huge. I could be spending this time doing something else, something potentially more lucrative. Still, GC is a fine path to take, but GC would need to become self-sustainable and even generate hope of someday turning in a profit.

So how can DotA-GC possibly make any money? Well currently we have the premium name changes, which have proved to be successful. Still, they help only a little. I will probably look into adding some more premium features, but for now I will be adding advertisements to the website. The site has been ad-free previously because I hate the cheap punch-the-monkey ads. They're annoying and don't bring in any money. I will try to find some better advertisers, but in the beginning there may very well be some of that annoying shit shown on the site. Also, if anyone sees any ads with sound, let me know and I will ban that ad. I hate sound effects on ads so much.

The future. How long will DotA-GC last? I will pay for it myself for at least another 3 months. During that time I will try hard to make GC self-sustainable, meaning that GC can generate enough income every month to keep the lights on. Should I accomplish that, GC will be online for as long as it pays for itself. Keeping the lights on and adding new features are two completely different things however. I will add support for new dota map versions for as long as GC is up and running. Anything more than that will depend on if I see any hope of future profit.

Finally, for those of you that want to help with the bills directly, I have added that option. All the money received via this will go directly to the payment of server bills. Thanks!

Comments (28)

More games by faster games!

Nov 29, 2011 - by Strom

The dominating voice in the last poll requests for more games. The most obvious way to get more games is to get more people and I will certainly try to make that happen. However there are also alternative ways to increase the game count, e.g. by making games faster. The rules state that if a team surrenders, they must wait near their fountain for the other team to finish off the throne. This changes today, as I am happy to announce the release of Repel 1.7.0 which introduces a big feature which removes the requirement to wait around and ends the game immediately.

Comments (22)

Level up! Choose a perk.

Nov 13, 2011 - by Strom

It's almost a year since DotA-GC was relaunched in web form. Everything has been greatly improved compared to how it was at launch. Still, it is nowhere near of what I envisioned. Dota 2 is around the corner, Dota-League seems to have been shut down, but dota in general still has millions and millions of players and I continue to see great potential in improving DotA-GC. However the reality is that not everything can be done, choices have to be made. With that in mind I have decided to ask all of you, what needs improvement most? I will dedicate half of my time with GC on the winner of this poll.

Poll: What should be the focus of DotA-GC going forward?
More games, GC is dying due to too few games! The skill is OK, and with more games gold league can save us! (61%)
Higher skill, I can't stand these noobs! Quantity doesn't mean quality. I want to play good games, not more games. (12%)
What kind of half-assed joint is this? I want more games AND higher skilled games! (10%)
The game count & skill are not the big problems. The chaos in the games is frustrating. People don't know the rules, aren't speaking english and are bad mannered. (12%)
The games and everything about them is fine. What I need is more features outside of the game - more stats, better friend/group management, official ventrilo/mumble server. (4%)

Also, feel free to leave comments below if you think that the poll choices don't reflect your opinions.

Comments (44)

These keys are so hot!

Aug 08, 2011 - by Strom

It has been over four months since the last repel update. Some of you may have been wondering whether it will receive any new features at all. I'm happy to say that we haven't been sitting idle all this time.
Me and aRkker worked hard on adding hotkeys. We had a working version ready and tested it for some time. However I was not happy with it, it had several limitations. So we trashed it and went back to the drawing board. After a while we had the second incarnation ready for testing and I've been testing it for about a month now. Today we are releasing Repel 1.6.0 and I'm excited to hear what you think of it.
Repel 1.6.0 hotkey configuration
Out of all the possible improvements, why did we choose to work on hotkeys? During the four years I've played DotA, I've only used the original ingame hotkeys. Now custom hotkeys aren't a new idea, in fact I've tried several different programs over the years. They all sucked. Some are too complicated, some require manual tweaking for every hero, some ruin chat (Think of all the players who7talk7like7this) etc. The goal for us was to create a custom hotkey system that just works. Repel's system works with all heroes (think Invoker), with all skills (think Rubick), with all secondary abilities (think Phoenix sun ray), with all minions (think Necronomicon, Chen), with all objects (think Lanaya traps), with all item shops that have hotkeys and it will work with new DotA versions without needing to do anything. Also, your personal hotkey configuration travels with your account. This means that when you play at a friend's house, as soon as you log in you will already have your own hotkeys and you don't need to think about them. Finally, some of you may be worried about ALT + Q, well don't be - it will not quit the game if the repel hotkey system is enabled.

Comments (24)

Upgrade your backpacks, the liberation of items is upon us

Jul 22, 2011 - by Strom

Gone are the days of counting those scythes, looking for those bars and thinking about the limit of orbs. The original item restriction rules were conceived about four years ago. A lot has changed since then, including the nerfing of several of these items. So I took upon myself to conduct some inquiries to see what the people of DotA-GC think about all of this. I gathered the opinions of 30 skilled GC players and then I multiplied the opinion by their rating and the number of games they have played here. The results are in and the following percent of people want to restrict items:

40% Guinsoo's Scythe of Vyse
32% Refresher Orb
24% Necronomicon
22% Black King Bar
22% Eul's Scepter of Divinity

The choice is quite easy, except in the case of Guinsoo. However upon some further thinking I think allowing even unlimited scythes is the way to go. So to repeat the conclusion: all items are unlimited.

Comments (11)

Gamecamp and other banevader lairs

Jun 18, 2011 - by Strom

Since the dawn of time the banning policy for me has been innocent until proven guilty.
However places like Gamecamp (a danish e-café) have started to severely abuse the fact that I have limited resources available to me and I can not observe and investigate everything that happens here in DotA-GC. I have been gathering information for months and building a huge graph of who used which Gamecamp account when. At one point however I realized how futile and bad use of my time this is. So I have decided to change the banning policy for previously convicted people to guilty until proven innocent. This will most likely result in some bans that are not rightfully deserved, however I think the trade-off is acceptable because now instead of building banevader graphs I can focus on improving the experience for the lawful members of the community.

Comments (34)

Heroes of Might and Magic

Mar 28, 2011 - by Strom

Sacred warriors like Huskar, lane winning liches like Kel'Thuzad and game turning taurens like Raigor Stonehoof. They all have their own statistics now. You can see who really likes to play with Sand King, who wins most with Phoenix, what heroes GOSUKURDI likes to play and which heroes does zebbelito win with most. On top of all that, finished games now show what heroes were used.

Comments (19)

Another day, another patch

Mar 25, 2011 - by Strom

It's friday, and you know what that means. That's right, you get to patch your Warcraft to 1.26a ( The easiest way to update is to connect to and let the autoupdater do its work. If you can not connect to then you can download the full patch (English).

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Time to update Warcraft to patch 1.25b

Mar 10, 2011 - by Strom

All our systems have been updated to the latest Warcraft III patch, 1.25b (
Everyone should also update their own Warcraft and make sure to restart repel aswell.
The easiest way to update your Warcraft is to connect to and let the autoupdater do its work.
If you can not connect to then you can download the full patch (English).

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Cosmetic surgery for everyone!

Mar 07, 2011 - by Strom

As you have probably noticed by now, everyone does not look like this anymore.
What was originally intended as a launch feature got delayed to insure a fast release of the new system. Remember, this was November 25th, 2010. I intended to add it a few days later, but boy was I wrong. With the advent of the launch, a whole truckload of far more critical things showed up on my radar. It is only now, 3 months later, that I have been able to go back and deal with some of the originally planned features.

Now, lets talk about the avatars themselves. We are not rolling our own custom avatar system, at least not for now. Instead we are using globally recognized avatars aka gravatars. So in order to change the look of your profile here on DotA-GC, you need to go upload your avatar into their system.

This feature should add some nice additional flavor to our community.

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Tired of being called Clark Kent?

Mar 05, 2011 - by Strom

It is now possible to change your name to Superman instead.

With the highlander update it was no longer possible to choose a custom name in WarCraft itself. However not everyone was satisfied with having a permanently stable name and multiple people have explicitly requested for a chance to change their profile name. I realize that forcing a single alias forever is not an optimal solution. Still, the highlander update was not a mistake, it was a patch to solve serious issues.

So the question arose. How can we let people change their names without the negative effects?
The answer turned out to be quite simple, while also having the side effect of helping keep the system alive.

Paid name changes! Yeap, after four years of being completely free we are finally introducing a premium service. It will be possible to pay for this using a mobile phone, a credit card, a debit card and some online bank accounts. The cost will be around 5 euros, slightly varying based on your country of residence and the method of payment. The reason for this variance is that taxes, currency fluctuations, transaction fees and middle men cost us differently in every situation.

Excited about choosing a shiny new name? Perhaps, instead, feeling outraged? Give us your feedback!

Comments (16)

The Times They Are a-Changin'

Feb 04, 2011 - by Strom

DotA has gotten a lot faster over the years. I still remember when 120 minute games were a regular thing. Lately however, 30 minute games are very common. The current system was designed somewhere in the middle of those in terms of game length but this is about to change.

Two big adjustments are effective immediately:
1) Formula X no longer gives that huge of a bonus for fast games. The bonus is still there, but it's basically a few times smaller, or in more detail - the curve has been shifted. This means that fast games (which are now common) no longer produce overrated players that easily.
2) It's now possible to surrender starting from the 25th minute, as opposed to the previous 30 minute mark.

Comments (3)

There can be only one!

Jan 30, 2011 - by Strom

From now on everyone will automatically be using their profile names ingame too. This will help prevent some abuse that we've been seeing, like every game having a Seppo13 or a RalleBrazil. It will also greatly improve the ease of other kind of abuse reporting. Previously people couldn't really easily say who did what so the reports came in with hero names and such. Having players use their actual profile names will reduce the amount of work required.

Comments (1)

Silver league, here I come baby!

Dec 01, 2010 - by Strom

The new system has been up and running for almost a week now. The launch went better than I expected, far fewer bugs than I anticipated. During this week there have been many new features added, including a player list that lets you see just how much you rock. For the balancers out there, I bring good news. You should now automatically be able to sign up for a new game immediately after you balance. Not getting into the same team with your friends? I fixed a critical bug on Tuesday, so now you should be in the same team far more often.

Tired of the bronze league? Now is your chance to start dominating the silver league!
We are going to keep things simple for now. Want in? Get ranked higher than 50% of the players in DotA-GC.
How exactly does it work though? When you add to the waiting list, then near the game mode selection you also get to select whether you want to add only to the silver league or both bronze and silver. If you add to both then whichever league gets enough players first will start the game.

A little taste of the future, during the next week I plan on finally implementing the basic IRC commands.

Comments (1)

What the hell is this anyway?

Nov 25, 2010 - by Strom

I am sure many of you are wondering what exactly is going on here?
Why doesn't Loom work anymore?
Why do we have to add through this web interface?

Well this wasn't an overnight move.
I've thought about doing a web based system for at least 2 years now and have actually been working on it for the last year or so. The thing is that IRC is a dying platform, or if not dying then surely stagnating. To make matters worse DotA itself is starting to age and all sorts of new fancier clones poping up left and right. There have been real low times this year for GC, times where no games are ongoing at 19:00. The move to a web based platform is foremost a move of survival, but also a move of general growth. People outside of Finland and its neighbouring countries are highly unlikely to start using IRC to play DotA, but might very well do so via a web based system. Hopefully the number of games and players will start rising fast in the near future.

I know what you are thinking. Great, more noobs to ruin the games!
Well, redoing the whole system gave some interesting opportunities aswell. The 'pro games' concept never really took off on IRC, mostly because it required some extra manual effort. In the new system I have divided everything into three leagues: bronze, silver and gold. How exactly people will get access to the higher leagues still remains to be seen, but the general idea here is important to take note of. Namely when you have access to a silver league and you sign up for a game you will be added to two 'topics', both a silver and bronze one. This means that by default everything still works as it used to with just one topic. However you can also choose (with extra effort) to add only to the silver league. This should work much better than the old pro games system, because while in the old system when you added to the pro game you were basically alone there. However with this new system everyone who could add to the higher skilled list is added there automatically, so that means a lot more silver and gold league games.

Another new feature is groups. Ever had a situation where you and your buddies wanted to play a game, but the topic has only 1 spot left? Yeah, I know right. With groups, when you create a group with your friends and add - you are all guaranteed to be in the same game automatically. The system will take care of everything, so for example when there were 9 people added and now you add with two friends, the game will start instantly. It will be the three of you plus 7 of the original 9 people who were waiting.

Wait, what happened to my stats?
Stats reset! With over 40000 games played, the old database was starting to hit 4 years of age. Definetly no small feat in terms of statistics. However, the game and the playground has changed a lot. I personally used to be a 99% player who was mostly blinking around with Shadow Fiend, poping enemies left and right. Around when IceFrog changed dagger to have a combat cooldown, I started dropping in stats. Surely that isn't the only factor, but it's as good of an example as any. A lot has changed in DotA in the past 4 years, and the players have changed also. So it seems natural that with this new system it's a good idea to start fresh.

Lets talk about hosts. Some of you probably have noticed me hosting with funny colors recently. Yeah, that was me testing the new hosting system. Now every game is automatically hosted by the new system with a dedicated 100Mbit/100Mbit fibre line, with multiple tier 1 peerings. This isn't your regular el cheapo hosting. This means that there will always be a reliable host with most excellent latency money can buy. As an example, a friend of mine has been playing with us from Australia. In general he gets pings around 500-600, but to this new dedicated line it's more around 300.

Yeah yeah, that's all great - but nothing works! Everything is so buggy!
Take a deep breath and try to calm down. I know that stuff isn't working correctly and we are fixing everything as fast as we can. We may not be aware of the specific problem you are experiencing so please come give feedback in I decided to launch this new version sooner rather than later to get faster feedback and to try to understand what the real painpoints are. Closed testing only reveals so much, there will always be bugs with first version releases anyway - so why not start right now?

To further that, the new web system lacks plenty of features that the old system had. Hell, even the player list and stats graphs are gone! Well, this is true. But I'm going to add most of that stuff back quickly and I won't stop there. The new system is designed to support much more features. Ever wondered what hero you win most with? Hopefully you will be able to see this information in the coming months.

Where the hell is ELO?
It's gone, it sucked and was pointless. I originally added it for fun, but time has proven that it shows nothing and will only create confusion. TrueSkill is still the same, but it is displayed a little differently to be more similar to Formula X.

Will #dota.gc cease to exist?
No! I belive that the IRC channel is still a key structure point in our community. Trolling people after winning a game? Talking about item builds and tactics? Complaining about how svents managed to feed even more than last time? These are things that can't be done that easily on the web currently and IRC will still provide that functionality. I will also add some basic !add/!remove/!stats commands back to Loom that will basically be hooks into the web system. That way you will still be able to keep using the old style of signing up for games, for the most part. Keep an eye out for this feature in the next few days.
Also, will continue to be the central part of our support and feedback system.

Come talk to us! Tell us what you think of it all.
What do you miss the most? What new feature would you like to see implemented the most?

Comments (1)

To backdoor or not to backdoor, that is the question.

Nov 25, 2010 - by Strom

The current rules require you to always have backup in the form of creeps if you want to destroy any buildings. This being true even if towers are below 10% hit points aka 'in deny range'.
However the rules are old, and I mean 4 years old.
Since the inception of these rules, DotA has gained an aggressive regeneration system for buildings.

Could these rules be outdated? Should they be changed?
To find out, I decided to interview 30 players, mostly of higher skill level.

I organized the results to three basic categories:
A - Allow backdoor for towers that have below 10% hp.
B - Allow backdoor for tier 1 & 2 towers, aka outer towers.
C - Allow backdoor for every single building in the game.
I also included rounded statistics for every player.

As you can see from the results table:
97% want to backdoor towers that are in deny range.
57% want outer tower backdoor.
33% want full backdoor.

Clearly the rules need changing to allow for backdooring of those sub-10% hp towers. The other two options however aren't that clear on what should be done. When we weigh the votes based on player stats, then we can see that higher ranked players are more likely to favor allowing backdooring.

I think the best path to take here is to allow backdooring of outer towers but to keep the old rules for base buildings.

Comments (2)