news\ Oct 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Valve Addressing "Player Leaving" in Dota 2


One of the biggest problems facing today's MOBA games like Dota 2 and League of Legends is players AFKing or leaving a match early.  It's frustrating, unfair, and a waste for players who have invested time playing the match.

The trickiest part about AFKing or premature leavers is how to deal with them.  Let's be honest, we've all been guilty leaving a match early.  Sometimes things come up and there is no way for you to continue.  Even Valve admits:

"There are many reasons why players leave or go AFK. Aside from the obvious ones, there are many rare cases: they may get an important phone call, they may be having configuration issues with their computer, their team mates might be saying horrible things to them, they may get up to open the door for the pizza guy and accidentally lock themselves out (yes, someone at Valve actually did this). Some of these reasons are fundamentally undetectable to the game."

That last part is the what makes dealing with AFKers and early leavers so tricky, and it's a problem Valve plans on solving in Dota 2.  Do they ban repeat offenders?  As I said before, sometimes things come up, but the majority of the time it's a player frustrated with how the game is going.  It's a slippery slope.  What these players don't realize is that sometimes it's possible to come back from what looks like a certain loss.

"Dota is a game where it sometimes look like it’s impossible for your team to turn the match around, but the large number of variables in the game can often lead to cases where a team in that position still manages to win," claimed Valve in an open post to everyone.

The problem with early leavers is how does Valve handle the players affected by the game?  It's not just the early leaver being penalized, but the team that loses as a result.  Do you give them less of a loss penalty because of a leave?  Then every time a team is about to lose they could have one person intentionally disconnect.  Maybe they give the player who leaves more of a penalty.  Then again, where do they draw the line?  Do they start off with harsh penalties no matter what?  Maybe a 24 hour ban after three disconnects and then amp up the punishments from there.  Apparently, Valve isn't quite sure either, but they have informed us that they are testing solutions.

"So, like all thorny design issues that can’t be play tested internally, this is something we’ll be working on for some time in public. We think it’s a key problem in Dota 1 for us to solve in Dota 2, and hence, it’s too important for us to just rush into. So far we have been focused on gathering data about what’s really going on. Now you’ll see us starting to venture into additions that actually perturb the system. As these come on board, we’ll be measuring each carefully to make sure it’s making the overall ecosystem better, not penalizing legitimate players or missing those who are out to hurt other player’s experiences. As a result, don’t be surprised if we measure something we’ve released and then choose to remove it after we have the data. It’ll be an ongoing process for us as Dota 2′s player base expands, but it’s one we’re not going to stop working on until you tell us we’re done."

The only thing holding games like Dota 2 back are intentional griefers that leave early.  It's nice to see Valve taking the initiative in dealing with these AFKers before the launch of Dota 2.

How do you think Valve should deal with premature leavers and AFKers?

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