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Former Dota 2 dev reveals airhorn was used to play test the game

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Dota 2’s development team is rarely transparent with fans, but one of the devs has shared an amusing story about how an airhorn helped make the massive MOBA.

Game development is hard. It’s obvious, but it’s something that many gamers, especially in multiplayer games, often forget to appreciate. Every minute detail, from simple UI changes to combat overhauls, can make or break a game’s lifespan. Still, even game devs aren’t immune to some shenanigans. Arguably, Dota 2’s development was a meme in itself. The sequel spawned from a mod of a Blizzard game, with several characters being in-jokes and pop culture references. Playfulness was ingrained into Dota 2’s DNA from the start, showing up even in the development process.

While Valve tried to open up more about Dota 2, one former employee went rogue to share a funny story about the studio’s trusty airhorn.

Dota 2 devs had to play a match every time an airhorn was honked

The Dota 2 team used an airhorn to signal mandated playtest games every day during development.

Former Dota 2 developer Zoid Kirsch shared a story on social media from his time with the Dota 2 team. Every day, at around 3 pm when the latest build of the game was ready, an airhorn would sound throughout the office. The air horn signaled every developer to stop whatever they were doing, queue up, and play a match of Dota 2.

Kirsch claims the process “accelerated development.” Given the frequency of Dota 2’s updates, the story makes sense. As a MOBA, Dota 2 had tons of factors to consider, and every match may reveal some bizarre exploit that ruined the game’s balance. If the side effect was devs getting to enjoy a game they’re passionate about making, then even better.

Dota 2 airhorn Zoid Kirsch

Dota 2 receives dozens of updates annually, and fans speculate the airhorn tradition still lives on to this day. Many were quick to joke that these games may be the cause for some controversial balance changes, particularly around the hero Tinker. Others joked about how the dev team could queue up with only three to four people, a common meme in the Dota 2 community poking fun at the supposedly small dev team.

Kirsch’s story is a nice reminder that behind every patch is a team of passionate human beings who love the game. Even when some changes don’t jive with fans, the efforts to step into the player’s shoes every day communicate the Dota 2 team’s dedication.

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