Valve’s custom games negligence sparks protest led by developers cover image

Valve’s custom games negligence sparks protest led by developers

We reached out to the person behind the movement, Victor “xDes” to further understand the situation.

The custom games platform in Dota 2 has been one of the most integral parts of the Valve-developed client. The community plays and enjoys custom games, but the efforts of the people involved behind the curtains are often overlooked. The terrible state of the custom games scene has festered for years on end with no significant action from Valve. As a result of the prolonged negligence, custom game developers are starting a protest movement to make their troubles heard. We reached out to xDes, developer of Boss Survival Adventure and RANDOM DEFENSE ADVENTURE/ DOTA BATTLE, to reach a deeper understanding of the situation.

A protest is happening in the custom games scene

On April 10, xDes and his team created 12 custom games with images of the word #protest.

The games’ description attempts to deliver a message to Valve; highlighting the unreasonable hour ban penalty system.

The description includes a Github link that takes you to a detailed post listing the flaws of the custom games platform. These are the flaws that have been floating around on the platform for years - the flaws that Valve has yet to fix.

One of the flaws mentioned is the fake bot lobbies. In the Dota 2 Arcade, you will notice a lot of custom games with specifically 75 lobbies. These custom games likely use the same bot to boost their games on top of the list. To highlight their protest, xDes used the fake lobbies abuse.

"[We] brought [the Protest custom games] to the top using the very vulnerability we want to pay attention to," said xDes.

What caused the protest to happen?

The unreasonable penalty bans continue to ruin custom games. Source:
The unreasonable penalty bans continue to ruin custom games. Source:

An abundance of bugs and flaws have festered the platform since years ago. According to xDes, the Github post was created in 2015 to highlight the issues in custom games:

  • The game requirement to play Arcade
  • Hour-long ban for failing to ready up for a custom game
  • Penalty-abled custom games apply an hour ban for no reason
  • Kicked players can rejoin lobbies instantly
  • Games auto-start when the last player joins
  • Updating custom games is a struggle [FIXED]
  • Malicious lobbies with improper settings
  • Botted and fake lobbies
  • No ban player option for your lobby
  • Players in parties can exceed max players of custom game
  • Developers do not have access to server crash logs

After 7 years, Valve has only fixed one problem.

As a result, xDes decided to make a bold move and start a movement. The last straw that prompted the movement was the excessive abuse of fake lobbies and the ban system that has grown out of control.

What is fake lobbies or bot lobbies?

The Github link provides a list of custom games issues including suggested solutions. <br>Source:
The Github link provides a list of custom games issues including suggested solutions.

To put it simply, programmed bots are ruining the custom games library. According to xDes, the bots can:

  • Create 75 lobbies and raise any custom game to the top of the Arcade list, even if the game is unpopular.
  • Create 1000+ fake online IDs which leads to tons of difficulties.
  • Change the game data such as the game settings, the number of players, the region, enable or disable penalties, and more.
  • Send a player to any other game. If it sends you to the one that you don’t have, it naturally generates a ban for 60 minutes because you cannot connect.

Are there other custom games developers that are joining the protest?

We asked xDes about the support that they have received from the custom games community. According to him, none have shown 100% support for the movement. But small developers that are also a victim of the fake lobbies abuse have offered help. "There are those who want to help. Oftentimes, these are novice developers whose projects users do not see. This is due to the game library being spammed by bots and their projects are simply not displayed," xDes said.

Meanwhile, the more established developers that have taken advantage of the abuse, will likely refuse to join to guard their interests. "With the help of bots, already established developers promote their projects. They realize that it will be much more difficult for them to lose the opportunity to use bots, but at the same time, healthy and adequate competition will appear," he added.

A message to Valve

Custom Games that support the Github post. Source:
Custom Games that support the Github post. Source:

Custom game developers continuously create content and contribute to the scene. And over the years, it is understandable that developers are desperate to receive any form of communication from the game publisher. Here is a message to Valve from a struggling member of the community.

Pay attention to the game library, to the problems that are years old. There are a lot of talented people working in the scene who makes entertaining content for often without any self-interest, but because of these problems they experience enormous difficulties. Create feedback for developers and we will help to solve these problems.

Victor "xDes", Dota 2 custom game developer

More proposed solutions for specific problems can be found here. xDes and his team is currently working to update this post.