5 Years, 350 Million (2018): Dota Builds Project Year in Review

This is a continuation of last year’s article, “4 years, 275 million“, 2017’s “3 years, 170 million“, 2015’s “2 years, 100 million” and 2014’s article: “1 Year, 40 million: Dota Builds Project Overview


**some images may appear smaller than intended, click the images to see their full resolution/detail

I am now celebrating 5 years (and a half) of the Hero Builds Project since I started back in February, 2013. In February 2013, I was just finishing my university degree and really had no idea what I wanted or could do. Here at the end of 2018, I’ve moved over 8 times to 5 different countries and been a part of many unique start-ups. If I wrote in 2016 to 2017 that those were the most prominent years for the project and myself, I would say that 2017 to 2018 was considered the most difficult and enduring for me and the project.

Within this review, I will provide some statistic detailing the impact the project has had in public matches, an outline of the work involved to maintain the project for all these years as well as concerns and future of the project.

275 Million to 350 Million Subscriptions – A Year of Statistics


There are  two statistics I want to display for this year. In the previous years, I would display the project’s growth, projected subscription numbers and comparison to other guide-creators. Each year, I felt that these statistics only echoed what most people have already assumed: the project is continuously growing and continues to be popular.

The final question I wanted to answer regarding this project is the following: “What impact do the hero builds have across all public games in a day?” or more accurately: “What are the chances that at least 1 of my hero builds will appear in a match?”


From what we were able to simulate, approximately 82.67% of all matches use one or more of my guides. The percentages represented show the likelihood of 1 to 7 guides simultaneously being used during a match. If interested in the data, I keep a public record of all data for reference and interests and welcome everyone to verify or further research the data available. Feel free to contact me regarding the data.

 

My long-time friend and data scientist, James Hu, did a Monte Carlo simulation to determine the amount of 82.67% of daily games have at least one or more of my guides. This is his comment on the matter:

Given that we know that how many games are played daily (dota.rgp.io), how many games are played for each hero (Dotabuff.com), and how many games for a specific hero use a Torte de Lini guide by day (available in-game), we can then get an estimate of how many games have at least one person using a Torte de Lini guide. This was calculated by using a Monte Carlo simulation method. While it could theoretically be calculated to exact precision given that we have the percents, there are a possible 81,572,506,886,508 possible team combinations, which is an unrealistic amount of calculations required for very little upside. The Monte Carlo simulation created teams of 10 different heroes, based on play rate and calculated the probability of that person using a guide given the numbers provided. This was then run 100,000 times and stored. Across multiple tests, the percents were fairly stable. So the Monte Carlo simulation shows that roughly 17% of games have no one in the game using a guide, but in the other 83%, at least 1 person uses a guide, which is a pretty remarkable number.
To semi-validate this data, given the numbers we have, it seems like roughly 15% of all games use a Torte de Lini guide, which means that 85% of games do not. If we take that basic assumption given all heroes are picked equally, the probability of a game having no one using a guide is .85 ^ 10 or 19.68%. Not too far off from what our Monte Carlo simulation shows, so the results look fairly reasonable. So even though only 15% of games played on any individual hero uses a Torte de Lini guide, the combined probability of among 10 people, at least 1 person using a guide is around 83%. Some assumptions are made that are not representative of the real world. Heroes were selected at random, whereas more realistically, you would assume some level of team composition. There is also the assumption that players will use guides at random, whereas the truth is probably less skilled players use guides more often than skilled players. So realistically, more than 17% of games will have no one using a guide, but there is no better way to calculate this skill based guide usage.
On March 12 2018, Dota Plus was released. There was a personal and public concern that this project would be hindered or slowed due to the inclusion of the automated service. However, when I reviewed the growth in subscriptions and data, I am still earning approximately 5.5 million new subscriptions on a monthly basis. This has been the norm since May 2014.
The large bump in 2017 is the release of patch 7.00. You can determine where the release of Dota Plus happening around February of 2018. Other big spikes on this graph are due to the release of a new patch or the population interest in the game which has a strong influence on the rate of growth in the project’s subscription.
On average, for every hero that is picked in a game of Dota 2, there is a 23.03% chance that the player is using one of my hero builds. For heroes like Naga Siren or Beastmaster, the statistic was as high as 50 to 68%. In addition, I collected the lifetime matches played statistic from the top 10 guides. Out of 1,605,684,445 lifetime guide-used matches, 85% were by my own guides (1,357,244,780); a 12% increase from 2017.

Achievements & Challenges


Beyond the statistical achievements for the hero builds, there has also been a nice bump in publicity. I’ve been awarded my third year of /r/Dota2 MVP awards including ‘MVP Community Figure”, “Most Educational Post” and “Honourable Mention for MVP Redditor”

I’ve also done some nice press pieces with podcasts like The High Ground, interview with Spectral Alliance as well as PCGamesN. In every interview, I try to be as personal and honest about the project, my character and life.

Lastly, the mention of the OpenAI bots being scripted to use my guides was a very fulfilling moment for me as it highlighted that this project has been involved with nearly every facet of the scene. I even had the chance to meet them in-person during TI8 and I cherish that moment deeply. Over this year, I met many great and admirable people who professed their enjoyment for my guides. It’s always a surreal and happy feeling to think back on those times and it is one of the greatest reasons I continue this project. One time, on my return flight from an event, a professional player, and now personal friend, tapped me to ask for an autograph. It turned out his friend was a fan of my work and asked him to get my autograph. I’m usually too embarrassed to tell pro-players and casters how great they are and here I was digitally signing something to someone (for his friend) who plays my favourite game at the highest and incredibly skilled level. During The International 8 party, Liquid’s MinD_ContRoL told me to add magic wand to all my guides – it turned out he also used or currently is using my guides for some heroes. At another point at TI, I met a Valve employee, now friend, and his entire family that play Dota 2 together with guides (so adorable!). Talking to him, his wife and seeing their family all enjoy The International together was an incredible sight. These are the times I think about a lot and continue to smile about in disbelief. I take pictures with almost everyone who comes up to tell me they like or have used my guides and I love just talking shop about Dota with them. When I first started playing DotA, I was a young kid who repeated secondary school twice – a failure. I had no purpose, direction or self-esteem, I hated myself but could only tell people how much they sucked, an attempt to disguise my own confessions as unnecessary hate towards others. This project and the subsequent people I’ve met by following my passion has really changed who I was ~15 years ago.

Meeting OpenAI was a highlight of the year for me. I am a huge fan of the work they are doing.

In terms of work challenges, I’ve made a variety of changes to the project to reduce the workload. Changes such as no longer doing bi-weekly public statistical posts and summaries, reducing the amount of day-to-day reviews as well as retiring many builds from the project that no longer suit the current meta. In Feb. 2018, IceFrog announced he would be making patch changes every two weeks. This change was a heavily toll on my life as it demanded me to be more readily available throughout a month but also spend more time observing and determining what ramifications these changes had hero builds (both skills and items). The resulting updates made to the guides were only a marginal increase of about 270 across 6 months.

  • Total guide changes from February to June 2017: 1,777
  • Total guide changes from February to June 2018: 2047

For the player-base using these guides, the changes were gradual and almost indifferent to the previous patches For the producer (myself), it meant a larger consumption of my time since feedback had significantly dropped, patch updates were subtle and there were a lot more competitive matches I needed to watch and track to keep up with changes in the meta.

I have always been open about my work and progress in updating the hero builds. Over 32,000 changes were made across these years. 2018 has had significantly less changes than others because I will not be doing my annual review of all the item, skill and hero textboxes.

 

As noted before, feedback about the hero builds has significantly dropped. The drop in feedback meant that my effort needed to compensate for the lack of communication heavily exhausted me. A reoccurring frustration I would face is passive blanket criticisms. I would often have to read countless put-downs about the project, specific guides or my character to decipher if the user had a legitimate issue or was simply voicing an opinion. Often times I would message the user privately to ask what they specifically didn’t like about XYZ build only to find out that I had rectified their complaint months ago. Other examples would include the user not realizing that I had two guides for a hero or that a build was meant to be a reflection of the current state of the meta (or my attempt to do so) and I could not deviate from this effort to include what they thought was good (or bad) for a hero. This back-and-forth was very challenging on my mental fortitude and connection with the community. After my AMA 9 months ago, I stopped responding to comments or discussions across social platforms and after The International, I stopped making announcing guide updates beyond my social media. The rate of my involvement with the vocal community has no effect on the growth of the hero builds.

Lastly, I responded to bugs and issues users had when making hero builds for the past two years (at the launch of the Hero Builds System). I ended this outreach when Dota Plus was released and users were mistaking issues with the service with my own personal project. Instead, I offered assistance with users who were looking to make their own collection of hero builds for the community and I continue to offer my advice, expertise, thoughts and warnings to those wanting to make free hero builds in-game

Hiatus


For the past 5 1/2 years, I have never stopped providing Hero Build updates to the best of my ability, efforts and love for the game and community. Over the past years, I have created over 158 hero builds and applied 32,542 changes, garnering 350 million subscriptions and an estimated 1,357,244,780 games. Many don’t remember when the guides first launched but it was riddled with server-crashing bugs that would delete user’s guides and work. It went unfixed for 3 years until 2016 and then a new system replaced it in 2017 (which I enjoyed a lot in building). The system and the project has come a long way since then and your undying support was and is the reason it’s still around today.

The dev.dota forum topic I made to compile all the issues from 2013 and onward.

 

Starting in December, I will be going on hiatus until March 2019. I will be exploring other areas of my life and experiences to see what I want and can do more both in terms of my career (this was always just a personal project) and in my life. For the past 5 1/2 years, I have never stopped providing Hero Builds to the best of my ability, efforts and love for the game and community. Thank you to those who supported, used or provided good criticism to the project and the guides involved.

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