Game Mechanics and Dynamics Analysis – DotA (Defense of the Ancient)

79815 I started to play DotA when I was in middle school. I really like this game, so I want to write this essay to analysis mechanics and dynamics of DotA. DotA pits two teams of players against each other, and the objective is for each team to destroy the opponents’ Ancient, heavily guarded structures at opposing corners of the map. Each player controls a single powerful unit called hero, and is assisted by allied heroes and AI-controlled fighters. Each heroes has four unique abilities. Heroes need experience to gain levels to enhance their abilities. Gold is the only resource that players need to manage, and is used to buy equipments to strengthen heroes and gain extra abilities. Heroes obtain experience and gold by killing hostile units, base structures, and enemy heroes. The first mechanic is called “farm”, which refers to the act of systematically killing hostile and neutral units to earn gold. Every players “farms” throughout the entire game, because gold plays a vital role in updating equipment which is extremely important for victory. Each team has a core hero called carry who is able to obtain the greatest power and equipment as the game progress. Carries bear the responsibility for ultimate victory, so they are dedicate and concentrate on farming most of the time. maxresdefault “Gank” is an other important mechanic in DotA. “Gank” means bringing several heroes to gang up on a target to kill it. Gank is one of the most useful ways to prevent carries from gaining more gold, because when a hero is kill, it takes a period of time which is determined by the level of the hero to rebirth. “Gank” is usually toward carries, because they need gold to become strong. “Gank” is not always toward carries. “Gank” can be toward anyone to prevent him or her from getting enough gold to obtain some specific vital equipments. AAW_Attack_GankerVenn There are three lanes that connect two Ancients of the two teams. In order to destroy the Ancient to win the game, each team needs to travel along a lane to work together to fight and kill enemy buildings. This action is called “push”. According to the objective of the game, “push” is the most important mechanic. Your hero can be low-leveled and poor, but as soon as you destroy your enemies’ Ancient, you will win the game. “Push” is the only mechanic which works directly to destroy buildings, so I believe that “push” is the core mechanic of DotA. You can be high-leveled, have fancy equipments and kill a lot of heroes, but you may lose the game if you are not able to destroy your enemies’ Ancient. Thus every time when I play, I will keep the ultimate goal which is to destroy the Ancient in mind. I also apply this to my daily life. I have numerous options of what to do every day. I always set up goals and keep them in mind, so I can complete the most important things to achieve my goals. The dynamic I want to analysis is the constantly changing of the visible area on the map. Only area around your hero and your allies, including allied heroes and allied computer-controlled units, will be visible to you. Farm, gank and push result in the change of the position of your hero and your allied heroes, so your visible area changes accordingly. You can see your enemy heroes only when they are close to you. You can see them when you are ganking or pushing. However, when you are farming, you can not see them, because they are not around you. In order to avoid being ganked, you need to anticipate your enemies’ position based on your analysis of the game, which is one of the most challenging parts of DotA.

The MDA Framework

The MDA Framework



  • Mechanics: Player actions articulated with larger game / the rules and concepts that formally specify the game-as-system.
  • Dynamics: The run-time behavior of the game-as-system + players.
  • Aesthetics: The emotional responses evoked by the game dynamics.


  • MDA has actually been written about with two ideas of mechanics, but both work for the concept. (I prefer the second one, which is the rules and concepts that formally specify the game-as-system)
  • “Core mechanics” are almost always what players do over and over.

Designer/Player Relationship


Case Study: Congo Jones

Game mechanics: classic platforming, like Pitfall!

Game’s opening message:

  1. Stop the logging. No preserving aesthetic
  2. Help local people take action. No collaboration aesthetic

A key challenge for my games

Putting together engaging play and an appropriate world/theme