Introducing: Layerth

Baby Steps

Back when Elimination Mode 3.0 was running, Moonduck invested into some additional ingame production features, the networth indicator and a talent skill up pop up. What started as a wild idea from SUNSfan was quickly written by bukka and viewers absolutely loved the features.

Networth Indicator 1.0

Shortly after EM3.0 concluded, bukka and I had several meetings about similar features. We brainstormed about what we think is missing in the current spectator experience, how we’d realize these features and how we can implement them in any production from a smaller 1PC setup to a huge, professional premier level tournament.

Talent Popup

The answer to these questions was a flexible software stack, an app any caster/observer can run on the production PC and our server doing all the data crunching.

Goals for the app were straight forward:

  • Simple to install
  • Simple to run
  • Simple to integrate

Bukka already had a proof of concept running and we quickly had a very early product ready which would reliably work on any machine you’d run it on with only minimal setup time required.

Immediately we decided we want to work more on this idea and with that, Layerth was born.

Layerth: Noticeably Invisible

Features, features, features

Funnily enough, directly after the Talent Indicator was shown off, PGL decided to also implement this and shortly there after, Valve put both the Talent Indicator, and the Networth Bar into the game (and as of today, Valve’s take on the Courier-Kill indicator is also added to the game).

Valve’s implementation of the Networth Indicator

Clearly we were doing something right!

With new energy for the task ahead, we designed several other ingame features and worked on finishing these in time for the Manila Masters and Epicenter.

For all the features we worked on, we decided on these requirements:

  • Easy to understand, just by looking at it
  • Provide meaningful information
  • Make it look as natural as possible

Ideally we would want viewers to question how our features weren’t always part of the game. Every feature had to be subtle, yet effective. We were very careful, not to overload our additions, and all of them were styled accordingly, to blend in. Our principle: Noticeably invisible.

Courier Kill Indicator and very early concept for Recipe Icons

The Polar App

Lastly, the Polar App is our solution to the requirements initially set:

It installs, you point it to the Dota directory, choose the data sources and launch the overlay. It’s as simple as that.

The Polar App

The overlay works independently of any specific hardware: For a professional production, no extra work is needed after launching our overlay, the capture works the same way as it would with any observer machine. If it’s a smaller scale production, the window can be captured via OBS or XSplit using Browser Source.

The Road Ahead

We’ve only deployed Layerth at The Manila Masters and Epicenter, but so far we really enjoy the features that casters use to enhance the story telling of the game and create relevant talking points.

Hero Graphs

Case in point: Usually you’d see Bristlebacks having half of their team’s damage after early skirmishes, yet here it’s FATA-’s Ember Spirit and MSS’ Night Stalker who are absolutely rocking this mid-game phase. Visualizing these abstract numbers and thus making it very easy to follow the casters’ argumentation just feels so much more natural when watching.

Speaking of stats, we’re also very happy how our live gold stats turned out (we had more than 5000 gold fed by Naga illusions!) and would like to go more into these very dynamic sort of live stats.

Here is where you guys come in:

We have a big stash of other ideas which are ready to be implemented, and we’re incredibly excited to show these off to you in the future. However with only the two of us working on the project we’re relying on you, the community, to help us chose which features we should focus on.

In the following weeks we’ll try to actively gauge the interest on some of the ideas that are floating around in our heads and, depending how the feedback on those looks, we’ll prioritize them in the future.

Maybe you want to see how long EternaLEnVy held on to his Divine Rapier? Or maybe how many kills the observer missed so far? Or something larger scale like a farm breakdown? We can’t wait to hear what you think.

We plan to post several updates in the next weeks on this blog: From in-depth analysis on our production features to sneak peeks of upcoming concepts. Definitely keep an eye out for those!

Until then,