Lion is one of the most popular supports in Dota 2, but no one would choose him if he still had that ridiculous prototype model.
A Dota 2 developer has revealed a very first prototype image from the game’s production. While there’s a lot to learn from the image, it mostly features a placeholder model for Lion that has to be seen to be believed. . Modern Dota 2 players may also recognize other modern elements from the first internal test. Here’s how the image surfaced and what makes it so special.
Lion Prototype Makes Dota 2 Players Laugh
The image was posted by Dhabih Eng, a concept artist who has worked on multiple Valve projects. On September 21, he posted an image of the start of Dota 2 development on his social networks. The image shows a screenshot of a very, very old version of the MOBA.
Thanks to Dhabih Eng’s comment, we know that the character depicted in this first image is supposed to be Lion. The sinister wizard often confuses players with his predatory name, and this clearly impacted his early development.
The tiny face only takes up about a fifth of his head, and the rubbery yellow material makes Lion look like Spongebob Squarepants. The little bright pink wand may have finally transformed into her signature demon finger, but here she looks like a grape popsicle.
As to why this model even exists, video game developers often use placeholder models and textures during development. This allows them to roughly visualize what the game will look like in motion. These models are being phased out of the game as new assets are created. One of these wacky models could exist for all the initial heroes released in Dota 2.
Dota 2 prototype screenshot shows rough first UI
In addition to the hilarious prototype of the Lion model, this rare image also gives an interesting insight into the development of Dota 2’s UI.
In this first rough interface, hero attributes are positioned on the right side of the menu bar with very basic graphics to display stats and gold. Strength, Intelligence, and Agility use different symbols and colors that differ greatly from their current appearance. Instead of abilities, most of the hotbar is empty with the Source Engine’s classic purple and black checkerboard texture.
However, some of the DNA from that early prototype is still present in modern gaming. In fact, the modern UI overhaul of 7.00 returned the empty spaces between the minimap, hero info, and shop tab.
Several important stats, including armor and damage, are both displayed on the right side of the health bar, and the stack bars have remained true since early development. You can even spot a small mana and health bar floating above Lion, showing that this was a very early design choice.
Dota 2 now looks like a completely different game compared to its initial release in 2013 and prototype images like these show that the game has evolved even more than fans realize.