The Artful — (Full Interview)

Wrooks: Hello The_Artful, Can you tell me a little about yourself for anyone who might not know you?

The_Artful: I am a college student and long time Dota fan whose been around the Playdota forums for near 3 years now.

I Usually hang out near the suggestions threads and try to give insight to the big man of ice on where DotA should go. Besides that I am mostly normal with a side of exotic.

Wrooks: I see you said you’ve been on the forums for  3+ years did you come from dota-allstars?

The_Artful: I joined the online community at the very end of that site. I remember looking for where to suggest things about Dota and I got a little confused since there was all this moving from DotA-Allstars to Playdota.

but to answer your question, no, I didn’t come from dota-allstars and only looked at a few suggestions before I decided that I would post on Playdota.

Wrooks: Yea there was a dispute between some people on there, so Icefrog moved to a new site and the fandom joined him. Anyway, what exactly drew you to the suggestions subforum? Why not join another arena such as the proscene or video making. In my opinion, its more rewarding.

The_Artful: Well with regards for the pro-scene and video making. I am not near talented enough to make either of those work out for me. It’s not like I am a bad player, just not at the level required to play professionally. Though I will mention that when the DotA Buff DBR system came out (un-censored)

I was in the 92nd percentile, so i guess I am alright, just not anywhere close to the competitive level. As far as my involvement in the professional scene, (If i am not mistaken) I was the first to suggest the official rules for the ATOD tournament series which is run by I can’t claim that, but my suggested rules were 100% accurate with what they are using.

Wrooks: So what do you think about that new patch? 6.78?

The_Artful: It is very logical…What i mean by that is it contains a lot of really good balance, but i don’t think its a full patch to some degree

Wrooks: Yea we’re missing some new items.

The_Artful: yea, i feel Ice needed to focus on several different aspects some of which weren’t fully examined. That being said, what he did change is gold(very good), i mean, I loved this patch

lots of small changes which will do wonders for DotA 2 especially considering the incoming TI3 which should be excellent. anyways, I like it but i feel its isn’t a 100% complete patch.

BTW, the two new hereoes look sooo soo soooo. /drool fun. I really want to play that priest, looks like so much fun. so so so so much fun, can’t compliment Ice enough on the new heroes… completely new concepts and themes and dang, just so fun…besides that I don’t think its nearly as earth shattering as the last content patch to dota…

which is fine. DotA isn’t even 100% converted to DotA 2 yet, and since i am playing DotA 2 all the time its like there is new content every month, and that’s great

Wrooks: You mentioned TI3, what do you expect? who are you hoping wins and who do you think will win?

The_Artful: well… I am a Na’Vi fanboy, but besides them I want Mouse to win, it would be a massive upset and I think that would be great, not just to watch but for the Dota scene in general, most likely they would have to use a lot of crazy strats which would also diversify the hero pool…

I honestly want the least expected team to win, I want them to win for the right reasons… because they are good, but I want them to win

(also, that game today was something else, i don’t think mouse had a chance at TI3)

Wrooks: you talked about the hero pool being diversified what do you expect?

The_Artful: What i expect, or rather what i want to not be able to expect what will happen, I want my mind blown, I want to see new strats which rock the very foundations of DotA, I want there to be new ways to set up team line-up…

a 2.4-2.8ish million dollar tournament should do more than just be great, it should push the game and its players to the next level

Wrooks: Your excitement is hyping me up. You have really high expectations

The_Artful: yes, I am very excited for TI3. Also, i am excited for what comes after TI3, aka techies… 🙂 or maybe he will come before although based on their release cycle that isn’t likely

Wrooks: We should be getting a new hero this month who do you expect? I was hoping terror blade or earth spirit but I don’t think i will get either.

The_Artful: The new gal… whats her face…Legion commander.  She looks very interesting

Wrooks: o the one with a sex change

The_Artful: indeed, she was male in dota…although i kinda like the change, there are plenty of guys in the pool already and it kind fits her theme to some degree.

I mean she has a chance to go zerker on you if you attack her, how is that not a girl character thing? JK JK…

Although really, I do like the change

Wrooks: I see, going back to the patch you mentioned that there were changes that you didn’t see. Can you elaborate?

The_Artful: hmmm, well I was hoping for a few items… some tweaks to a few heroes like slark, and the Meepo buff is crazy op…

Recently it has come to my attention that early game item build in dota is very basic, now most people are fine with this.. but i fell that a change could be a good thing. not going to go into that because if i ever do post up why i believe this is the case it would be a several page post with an excessive amount of checks and reasoning

but that being said I would like to see another Rapier like item: one which is very risky to invest the gold into, and one or two more early game items. when i say early I mean things to replace wand so that all int heroes don’t need to pick it up
wand/stick play is nice, but i would like some diversity

Wrooks: I feel you on the diversity I feel the same way with Hood/Pipe. I feel there should be an alternate build for planewalker’s Cloak as its called in dota 1

The_Artful: yea, anyways that is mainly what i missed from this patch, i feel that after TI3 Ice might try and do something like this… but, to avoid such a massive change is probably a good thing. dramatically shifting early game could flip this game upside down within the realm of the competitive scene

Wrooks:  What heroes do you consider to be needing of a serious change?

The short list

The_Artful: lol, Well, There are a lot of things that could change. A lot of things, which (in my opinion) need a change, and lot of stuff that is small little details which need to be refined. Currently there is a disconnect between dota 2 and dota 1 which makes the game harder to balance since the hero pools are different and some heroes have different bugs.

For example Invoker in Dota 1 can’t change Quas/wex/exort without stoping his movement. This isn’t a problem in dota 2 because of its engine, but it raises balancing differences. So with regards to things I think need to be changed in DotA 2.

The big: Bat rider, Mirana, Ursa, Pugna.
Bat needs a change because he is so incredibly lop sided, the hero is extremely OP in competitive play, and in pub games one of the worst allies you could ask for. Because of this he is very hard to balance.

Mirana needs a change for the same reason above, and also the fact that she just isn’t that good competitively also makes her a prime target for at least a small tweak.

Ursa, This hero is the bane of any noob in dota, yet completely worthless in competitive play outside of securing Rosh kills early on to end the game.

Pugna, well who cares about him… lets move on…
(side note: weak as crap and spells require perfect positioning which isn’t attainable in pubs games or professional games given the current meta game.)

The small: Slark, meepo, wisp, DS, Gyro. since they aren’t as big a deal i’ll leave it to your imagination on why i have a problem with these heroes…

Wrooks: Fair enough, What is your recipe for creating an item or hero or what’s your idea of the creation process?

The_Artful: Well, it depends there are two different ways to approach a suggestion. One is to look at dota and say. “What part of this game do I dislike the most and what change could make it better”

Ice Frog often asks the community this very question, in the requests area he wanted to know what we like about elder titan err… I mean Tauren Chieftain and Pit Lord. It is often a good way to pin point what needs a change. People often fall into this fallacy that a complex game is a fun game, but this isn’t the case.

Needless complexity adds a steeper learning curve and has been proven to make a game generally less enjoyable. (Refer to a game like SC 1 versus SC 2, SC 2 is more enjoyable because the gameplay has been refined with newer technology and game mechanics. This makes it a smoother and more meaningful experience and overall improves the gameplay.)

This is often aligned with the second way to make a suggestion, which is just because…
Sometimes you just wish a hero was more… more depth… more skill… more interesting. But the fact is that most heroes don’t need that and in fact their main advantage is that simplicity which allows the player to focus on other aspects of their play.

Skeleton King is great example, a single active ability and yet given a good player and his armlet he can rampage an entire team.

The way I like to make suggestions is a mixture of both methods… I look for something which I dislike, then I analyze the hero, what are its weaknesses, its strengths what could I change, what should I change. The possibilities are really endless because of the extreme customization of the heroes.

When I have figured all that out, I ask the all important question. What would I give to fix my problem with this hero. My thought is that in order for a hero to remain balanced in almost every case something needs to be given up in order to get something new. This could be an increased mana cost or cooldown timer, but is not limited to any specific stats or alteration of another ability, be creative on your trade off.

Wrooks: Do you consider Guides and Commentaries a good source for conceptualizing ideas?

The_Artful: Yes, and no. Guides and commentaries in their very nature are constricting, limiting your role and adaptability. In the case of putting together ideas it is sometimes better to just think about it, but if after a little while you can’t think of anything… then they are an excellent resource which would be a tragedy to no at least skim over for another’s suggestion. You might even learn something you never knew before

Wrooks: Isn’t it limiting to think of it yourself though after all you’re just getting one side of the picture?

The_Artful: Yes, that is why I think guides are very important, but to refer to them all the time won’t get you anywhere… You might learn the specifics of his conclusions on how to play a specific hero, but you wouldn’t necessarily have learned how he came to that conclusion.

Which makes you 0% better at DotA which is an extremely dynamic game whose competitive scene’s picks change monthly based on who can come up with a hard strategy to counter. This goes a little deep into my theory of what makes a good DotA player, but from my perspective having at least thought about the issues yourself gives you experience, then with a guild you can confirm or deny why your reasoning what good or bad… That is why guides are good and bad.

Wrooks: Thats one reason why I think Icefrog should communicate with the community so we can understand why he makes the choices he makes and make better suggestions. (Though people will still fall short because thats the nature of people) what are some limitations in the process of how suggestions are suggested you wish you could change if you could?

The_Artful: Well, with the volume of suggestions on I think using forums is a good way about doing it. As far as improvements, I don’t know honestly it’s not something I have given much thought. It would be really great if Ice Frog or some other staff member at Playdota would unite the community and maybe try to educate them, but outside of a relatively high production weekly video broadcast I don’t see it happening.

For now Playdota suits its purpose quite well, It’s not perfect. But I think it accomplishes what it sets out to do. And if anything it is probably best this way considering how big DotA 2 is getting it would be nice to see the next “DotA Allstars” or “Playdota” Website which incorporated these features. Although once again that would take nothing less than Ice frog himself announcing that he will no longer update DotA 1 to get the Playdota community to move from Playdota to another site.

Which there are quite a few good ones now. DotA Cinema, Dota buff, Joindota, r/DotA 2 and even team liquid have great places to talk about Dota, its just that there isn’t the aura of Ice frog which gives them the title of “offical DotA site” even though they have that potential. I see DotA entering a new era which honestly doesn’t have (what we currently consider as it is right now) “playdota” at its core, though in my opinion that has been happening for quite some time.

Wrooks: Tell me about this new era?

The_Artful: Well, its a new era so I can only really speculate on what it will be… If i were to guess, it will look a lot like that of LOL’s prime, except since DotA 1/2 has more depth it will most likely last longer…

Wrooks: what is Lol?

Lol’s prime what was lol’s Prime?

what is Lol?

The_Artful: “what is Lol?” very funny… 🙂

Well honestly its been awhile since I paid attention to LOL, but I would say it was back when I was interested in them. I know that sounds a little arrogant, because it is…

But it’s more of a reference to when there was this excitement about that game… Now like any game (cough, World of Warcraft, cough) its prime or the moment when it was the bees nees of the gamming community has past and now a newer better looking game will take its place. That is where I see Dota 2 showing up.

“what is Lol?” very funny… 🙂

Wrooks: Speaking of LOL What is your history with HON and LOL

The_Artful: Well, as far as LOL is concerned I have played the game several times, though not more than two dozen. Its an interesting take on DotA, but its far to simple…

The hero’s aren’t very challenging honestly. This comes from a player who forced himself to play invoker to get better at playing complicated hero so take what you want from that.

As far as HON is concerned I probably played equal to if not more of that than the original DotA 1. It was very easy to play and with its concede feature (don’t want to talk about that)

it was “fun” but didn’t present the same challenge that i loved from the original dota. This is because they made every hero the “same” same collision size, attack animation, and although there were little things like projectile speed the game was simpler and because of that I would often find myself just trolling games because the MMR system in that game was messed up.

You would either get a match against a group of complete noobs, or get your face rolled by two good players on the other team. Then there was the balance which degraded to the point of it being painful, people complain about balance in DotA 1/2… This game is a masterpiece in comparison to HON…

Wrooks: You said earlier if Icefrog or some other well knowledgeable person made videos informing the community about suggestions can you go into more detail about what you meant there?

Because currently it reminds me of Hero Crafters even though Sven isn’t on the beta team or anything

The_Artful: Yes, that is a good way to get people interested and has had limited success, but I often find myself ignoring those. If I were to try and give an exact reason it would be because I don’t see the point… There is market in designing and creating a hero don’t get me wrong, but a competition seems kind of futile.

I haven’t ever connected to one of those… But I don’t really see why I would or anyone else commit to it. Videos or something which the PD community can unite under is different. it’s like a theme it gives a common interest in an otherwise chaotic community. I don’t know if it would be much more effective than their current efforts… but It would at the very least be much more accessible.

Wrooks: Sven’s videos are not contests they are reviews or how to videos like how to videos on using bbcode and stuff. At least that’s my take on it. What I meant was what would unite the community

Something like the MLP community?

The_Artful: MLP, what’s that?

Wrooks: I had a classmate this semester that watched it and was telling me about it’s a show called My Little Pony

He called himself a brony

The_Artful: no JK… Its no guarded secret that I am a fan of the show My little pony.

I am a fan for two different reasons. Firstly the show is quite good, you should check it out, seriously.

Secondly the community. I can’t stress this enough if you ever want to see an active and good community accomplish great things you need go no further than that of MLP’s fandom.

They have done things that other fandom’s only dream of including but not limited to, making their own full length episodes of the show, thousands of song, comics, and fanfics. On top of all of that they are a group of well-rounded individuals which are generally very intelligent and quite amiable. Contrast that with DotA 2′ often criticized as an “acidic” community which is known for its trolling general pompous superiority in the MOBA scene and you get where I would like to see the community going.

And yea, I am a brony… Now you have it on record. 🙂

Wrooks: Lets take a break from Dota for a bit what are you interested in besides Dota and MLP?

The_Artful: Ultimate Frisbee, College, other games in general. I am currently working at a company which sells data acquisition devices and as a result have been learning the how to fix electronics…

Its quite a challenge, but at the same time, its a job and its a lot of fun at times. For my other free time that i don’t spend with ponies and dota I will go running or play frisbee. Last summer I played in the DSUL in colorado, it was quite a bit of fun.

Wrooks: Yea, Ultimate Frisbee is fun. About the electronics does that mean you’re an inventor or leaning towards that?

The_Artful: not really, I am doing an internship there, but as for my desired area of expertise I don’t really know. I am kinda all over the place… I at one point in time (and still do) have wanted to get a mechanical engineering degree for inventions… but now I feel like I could do more in the digital realm specifically with games. I plan on trying to get into Digipen this coming fall.

Wrooks: What is Digipen?

is that like a monster from Digimon?

or like a pen for drawing on your computer?

The_Artful: no, no, its a college in Washington which is specifically trains game designers. If I get in it should give me a nice head-start into the industry.

Wrooks: Taking breaks are good but getting back on track is a good thing, in your dota suggestions and reviews what do you do to stay on track?

The_Artful: Well, I usually try to ask myself the questions I would hope my readers would ask. Generally this is the all too important “why would this be implemented”. There are many different reasons why a change might come to a hero.

In the case of Centuar Warchief – Ice wanted to give him more of a team role and also grant him greater depth, a purpose within Dota. Therefore I just try to state my suggestion as clearly as possible, justify it to myself, then answer any questions I think my readers would want answered.

Wrooks: Who are your babies? What do you consider the ones that need to be implemented the most?

The_Artful: Well, there are many babies that I have thought up. But right now I would like to see a caustic farming mechanic for PA, a remake for Ursa’s ultimate which gives him a pounce ability which costs him health per pounce.

Meepo I’d like to see a small, but crucial change to his poof ability which would make him significantly more useful against ranged heroes. If you want the full explanations you can go find all of these over here at my blog/suggestion link dump.

As far as items, I would love to see my Tome of Wisdom added, it adds a gamble early game item which isn’t very common in dota right now. It also the ability for heavy mana-users to carry much harder into the mid-late game.

Although because of how the item is designed it should balance itself out as it only takes one mistake to lose nearly everything. Go check it out, by far my most wanted suggestion which I can see being implemented within this decade.

For Items what I want to see because they are cool, but would be ridiculous, refer to Shredder’s boots, a heavy utility item which would dramatically change dota, FOREVER! I don’t think this will get implemented anytime soon, but it would be a really fun item and also with a little more refinement probably be balanced. Still working on how to refine the idea further, leave your comments if you come up with anything.

Wrooks: Where did you get your inspiration for the items from?

The_Artful: Well, to be honest, the boots I thought of in the shower, then refined them on how to limit their ability for a few more hours. After reading and doing math on the numbers for another 2 hours I changed a few things around and poof! Shredder’s boots.

Long story short, the boots took forever to get anywhere near balanced, guess it goes to show not all suggestions take an equal amount of effort to suggest.

For The Tome of wisdom it was much easier, it was more of a question of could i have a bloodstone without a bloodstone? the result was a gamble item which could prove to be a waste of gold if things turn out badly.

Other items and ideas like my newest “Banshee’s Apex” was more of a conceptual “what if” which was then refined into what turned out to be an item akin to Divine Rapier.

Wrooks: My friend central would love you he loves items and heroes that are similar to other aspects to the game. Do you have this same consideration?

The_Artful: Yes, i like to theory craft items, remakes, tweaks and all manner of small little details within DotA… but as far as making a hero…

Well lets just say that last time I tried to create a hero I spend a massive amount of time building the hero, and I could never satisfy my own critique on the hero… Since then I haven’t tried again… It’s just so much to put into one head; I don’t know how ice frog does it. Making a hero is extremely hard to do (or at least in the same way I make suggestions/remakes/tweaks.).

And for that every forum member that has made a hero suggestion has my praise.

Wrooks: last question, If you were speaking to a new suggestor, what advice would you give to them?

The_Artful: Don’t comment on things you don’t understand, you will end up causing meaningless discussion which will just make both parties annoyed. Don’t post things to get views, post things to get your ideas out.

Remember that most things that are implemented directly into dota from the forums aren’t the popular post, but the more notable suggestions which are well thought out and have had a meaningful discussion on the suggestion at hand.

I always think of it as quality over quantity, there are thousands of “good” suggestions, but only the great suggestion will be considered for implementation and if refined released into the game. This is not to say that “good” suggestions don’t have their place, they spark discussion and out of a simply ok suggestion can come a good suggestion and then maybe if given enough thought that can be refined into something great.

Most of my better suggestions were inspired by another member’s rough suggestion which I critiqued, which then in turn gave me an idea. This being said, strive for quality suggestions make sure they at least make sense to you before you press the post button.

Wrooks: Very wise words by the way

The_Artful: Thanks

Wrooks: Well it’s been a lot of questions, lets end with a thank you for letting me interview you.

The_Artful: Well your welcome, its been quite a lot of fun. I hope I didn’t bore you with my long winded answers, it’s something I need to work on… Thanks for having me.

Wrooks: Glad to have you

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