SO I've been playing a lot of Awesomenauts lately (check the video for my take on it, and you can win a copy while your at it) and have been giving a lot of thought to the idea of MOBA games in general and what a game like Awesomenauts means for the genre. In the past a game could be defined as a MOBA if it: had an overhead view of a battlefield divided into 3 lanes with each protected by opposing towers and each lane led back to a base wherein NPCs spawned at or near a central base that must be protected at all costs. The NPCs helped a cast of unique and interesting player controlled heroes (each with a basic attack as well as several special abilities) to attack and eventually try to destroy the enemy base.
That's a pretty damn specific set of criteria for a genre. Awesomenauts uses a lot of those ideas, pretty much all of them in fact; and yet it is so different from other MOBAs. Perhaps its the fast paced platforming that has been introduced, or the streamlining process Ronimo has gone through to make the game appealing to console players as well as make the genre playable on a console. In doing this, they have changed the way that I think about the genre. Let me explain:
Would Awesomenauts (or any MOBA for that matter) still be a MOBA if the creeps were removed? What about the turrets? Would it still be a MOBA if the goal was no longer to destroy the enemy base, but to steal an enemy flag and take it back to the friendly flag? In other words, what are the REAL defining features of a MOBA game, and why has the genre not evolved?
Most people would point at Riot's Dominion game type in League of Legends as the first real evolution in the gametype, but do MOBA purists consider Dominion to still be a MOBA? Or is the problem that MOBA isn't really the right way to describe the genre in the first place? I'd love to hear what you guys think, so hit up the comments!