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My history with MOBA’s is tenuous at best. I remember when Defense of the Ancients was all the rage from Warcraft III and I just never got into it. I remember thinking that I didn’t understand wtf they were creating a “clone” called League of Legends (LOL). I didn’t really think it was going to be anything other than a niche game.

LOL 2015 Crowd I was fucking wrong

There was a time when I got into Smite a good bit. I had a former coworker go to work for Hi-Rez studios a good number of years ago when Smite was in its infancy and had been following them a good bit because the studio is based in the same suburb here in Atlanta. I think Smite appealed to me because it was “almost” a first-person shooter vs. the top down usual MOBA fare. I started playing it on PC and then slowly migrated to the Xbox version when the game was released hoping I could capitalize on the fact I could migrate accounts. I still got my ass whipped; however it was fun. The game slowly faded for me on Xbox although sometimes I will pop up a stream of the big yearly Smite tourney here in Atlanta to see the progression of the game and if it is growing at the insane numbers that LOL did.

I read a lot about AI/ML and keep tabs on significant accomplishments just for my knowledge and have had a lot of fun keeping up with Musk and Altman’s brainchild OpenAI which has its hands in a lot of cookie jars at the moment. One of the cookie jars I am most interested in is the OpenAI Five (OAI5) which is a team of neural networks (5!) that learn via self-play how to beat humans at Defence of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2). Having played some MOBA’s in the past, I felt I needed to learn the intricacies of the game to appreciate the results that they are getting. I picked up the game a few nights ago and have played 4 or 5 matches. My goal is to get into the game enough to where I can watch a game (OAI5 vs. humans) and know what is going on and objectively judge how well the AI is doing/progressing.

Here is a quick list of observations on playing the game so far. More incoming in the next few weeks:

  • The sheer number of heroes is staggering. The combinations for playstyles (and action combinations) is almost unfathomable to me. This makes sense that OAI5 went extremely focused at first and had slowly added heroes/playstyles. Compound that with a single neural net interacting with its other four personas is mind-blowing.

  • I like that all Heroes are free at all times in the game. If I remember correctly unless you purchase Smite’s God pack you only had a random assortment of heroes to choose from in game.

  • I am still getting used to the top down the 3rd party isometric view. I have seen a bunch of other views when watching a broadcast so there must be some specific third party views when broadcasting/streaming?

  • I feel like the gold cap (and its advantage creations) at the beginning of the match is a MUCH more significant variable in DOTA 2 than Smite. So far (only after 4 -5 games mind you) it seems like on the surface it pays to bait and farm. This I think is due to the “last hit” mechanic which I feel like an A.I. can keep track of much better than a human.

  • There seems like an extra layer of fortifications around the Ancient in DOTA 2 that I don’t remember Smite having. So not only do you take out towers in the lanes but also some buffer buildings for each lane before you can get to the Ancient for the game win.

  • Again, how the hell does anyone remember, let alone, play all these heroes?

More reading:

  1. Competitive Self-Play
  2. Welcome to Dota, You Suck

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