Although I would rather avoid talking about these types of games all together as I’ve spent far too much time doing so over the past 12 years, I think I can still add something to the conversation. Recently, there has been people talking about custom maps in Heroes of Newerth and Defense of the Ancients 2, which are both evolutions of the Warcraft 3 custom map, Defense of the Ancients. If you’re unfamiliar, a custom map is simply the closest thing to a mod that an RTS can have without actually changing any of the games original coding. Warcraft 3 had an expansive custom map editor, which allowed for games like DOTA, Advent of the Zenith and Desert of Exile to thrive. After games like League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth dethroned Warcraft 3 in popularity, most of the development community for War3 disbanded and either pursued other games with active modding communities (like Starcraft 2) or gave up on that part of their lives entirely. While games like League of Legends completely ignored the possibility of custom maps, Heroes of Newerth has had a custom map editor since release, with the caveat of it being a worthless pile of garbage. Only recently has S2Games been promoting it, almost five years after Beta, and with the added bonus that the custom maps that are available for people to play are hand picked by S2Games, rather than being accessible to everyone, like in Warcraft 3.
In this video, S2Games proudly announces the release of a custom map for Heroes of Newerth that is a direct, carbon copy clone of a famous Warcraft 3, Warlock. The only saving grace is that they actually acknowledge that they’ve stolen an idea, as opposed to their competitors, who would rather rely on the general ignorance of their audience to cover up their laziness.
The question you might be asking is, “Tom, you spent almost 10 years of your life making Warcraft 3 maps for fun. Surely you are excited to continue that legacy in another game?”
And you’d be wrong. For the longest time I’ve proposed that whichever mainstream 3rd party (as opposed to Warcraft 3 custom map) ARTS releases a functional custom map editor will win the race for supremacy. Sadly, it’s far too little, far too late, especially for Heroes of Newerth, which has played third (maybe even fourth or fifth, at this point) wheel in the competition for the most popular ARTS. It’s still too late for League of Legends or Dota 2, though, as the majority of the Warcraft 3 custom map development community, which each of these games owes their entire existence to, is gone onto other things in their lives and will not return. The world will never see another Advent of the Zenith, Desert of Exile or Tides of Blood, and even if it did, they wouldn’t have the same effect on mainstream ARTS development as they would have if mainstream developers actually gave a crap about the games that came before theirs. Instead, we are stuck with these half-baked, almost juvenile attempts at recreating some of the genius that came out of the Warcraft 3 era of ARTS development, instead of giving players the tools necessary to make something truly great.
The time of great ARTS is over and I happily hand in my AoS badge with pride, knowing that I experienced what the genre had to offer, and knowing full well, in my heart, that we will never see anything like it again. Luckily, I’ve gone onto bigger and better things, namely the Fighting Game community, speed running and Magic the Gathering, which all scratch that creative gaming itch that I’ve been yearning for.