3 Reasons Budding Game Designers Should Dig Into Dota 2's Map Editor

If you don't know where to start your journey in the game dev business, then consider making custom maps and games for Dota 2.

Video games are not only fun to play, but also fun to make. Except when you're first starting out -- because it seems scary how much knowledge you must accumulate in order to make your first steps as a game dev. But if you're willing to get creative, there are other ways to learn game design that are considerably more enjoyable than trudging through piles of tutorials. 

If learning code is hard for you, then the best way to enter the world of game design is through in-game map editors. So many games have them, including Skyrim, Crysis, Counter-Strike, and more. But if you're an aspiring developer, then the one you should really be looking at is the Dota 2 map editor.

This is not just some random level generator, but a tool that can open the gates to professional game development for you. Here's why it's such a powerful way to learn.

You will learn how to design levels professionally

There are many ways you can start learning level design. Lots of people learn through creating modifications for their favorite games, but that's not always the best starting point. Creating maps in a top-tier MOBA game like Dota 2 allows you to really feel what it takes to design your first levels.

There aren’t that many great offers on the game market, but the one from Valve is truly intriguing. So, if you really want to enter the game dev, now’s the time!

All you need is to install Dota 2, if you still don’t have it, and add a free Dota "Workshop Tools" DLC to the install queue. It includes a whole package for creating, editing and scripting custom maps in Dota 2. The level editor is called Hammer and is very simple to use, which is great for those who only start designing levels.

The Hammer manual is simple and intuitive, so you will easily start creating your first custom maps for Dota 2. The results of your level design in Hammer Editor can be included in your future resume, if you are planning to apply for a job in game dev.

Make it easy for yourself and begin with a simple solo map, and later you can create full-fledged games within Dota 2, such as Roshpit Champions or Warchasers.

You will have a direct access to Source 2

You may have heard that Dota 2 has been recently transferred to Valve’s own Source 2 graphics engine. This is a huge step forward for everyone involved in the development of the game, including third-party developers. Here’s what Gabe Newell had to say about Source 2 in his recent AMA at Reddit:

“We are continuing to use Source 2 as our primary game development environment. Aside from moving Dota 2 to the engine recently, we are using it as the foundation of some unannounced products. We would like to have everyone working on games here at Valve to eventually be using the same engine. We also intend to continue to make the Source 2 engine work available to the broad developer community as we go, and to make it available free of charge.”

This is amazing news for all aspiring game developers! Now with this announcement anyone who wants to create content for Dota 2 will have a direct experience of working with the Source 2 graphics engine. With this kind of knowledge your qualification will be of highest priority and you can be confident that entering the game dev community will be easier than ever before.

Later you can start making your own games on Source 2 and Valve will be happy to see your games in their top lists. They really, really want people to use the same engine for all their projects, and they’re welcoming everybody who will follow their call.

You will start making real money

If the two reasons above are not enough to make you pursue the goal of making content for Dota 2 on a new Source 2 engine, then maybe this third reason will give you some food for thought. It may sound trivial, but money is always a good reason to start doing something in your life.

Valve fully supports their third-party developers -- it lets them receive payments for custom game passes and even shares a few percents on top. If you want to know more about the Valve reward system, then check out this official FAQ.

This is a really great deal, since right now there aren’t that many custom games with passes in Dota 2. This means that the competition is very low and you can enter this market with no drawbacks at all. There is only one condition -- your mods should be really good.

Hopefully, this information was useful to you. There aren’t that many great offers on the game market, but the one from Valve is truly intriguing. So, if you really want to enter the game dev, now’s the time!


Sergey has been a freelancer in the video games industry for more than five years, writing for various publications around the world. His favorite games are MtG, Dark Souls, Diablo, and Divinity: Original Sin.

Published Feb. 21st 2017

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