On May 24, 2012, Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Bailey of the United States Army sent us the following message on Facebook: "I've spent the last year in Afghanistan with the Army, and haven't had a chance to play HoN in going on 12 months! When I get home, I've got a brand new PC waiting for me to put together, and one of the first games I'll be installing is HoN! Can't wait to see what changes you guys have made in the past year!!!"
Although we would never be able to say thank you enough for what Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Bailey and the other members of the Armed Services all over the world do, we wanted to honor his contribution to protecting our country and his love for HoN. To embody our appreciation, we conducted a short interview with Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Bailey and hooked him up with some HoN swag. You can find his interview and an impromptu thank you video below.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Waco, Texas prior to joining the Army in 2005. Since then I've been afforded the opportunity to travel the world many times over. It may be to somewhat austere conditions, but it's travel none-the-less.
Being away from home for a year must have been tough. How did you handle it?
Being deployed for a year (or more in some cases) at a time away from your friends and family can be pretty challenging. Early OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom i.e. Afghanistan) operations made communicating with loved ones next to impossible on a regular basis. It wasn't uncommon to go weeks or even months without a call unless you were lucky enough to be in the communication field or knew someone that was. Snail mail was the only real option. The technology we field today in places like Iraq (until the end of 2011) and Afghanistan have fortunately made it much easier to talk to family back home. Most major bases have established satellite Internet providers who charge an arm and a leg for atrociously slow and unreliable service. For example, on my most recent deployment I paid $129 a month for around 25KB/s down, around 1,000ms average latency, and 10GB a month bandwidth. Fast enough to browse, send emails, and voice Skype. That's about it. You also have the option of setting up your own dish and service for an outrageous price which is often split between an entire unit. I'm in an aviation unit so we are usually in larger bases. Some of the infantry/artillery/engineer/etc (ground forces) can have it infinitely worse being stuck in tiny bases no larger than the size of a football field. Combine the lack of technology with schedules that varied but in my case averaged working 7 days a week for 12-14 hour work day and you get an extremely challenging environment to stay in touch with loved ones. I've seen many marriages and relationships fall apart from deployment stress.
Can you briefly describe your experience as a soldier?
I guess my official title would be a Pilot-in-Command/Air Mission Commander for an AH-64D unit. I'm a CW2 (Chief Warrant Officer 2) in the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade. I enlisted in 2005 as an Aviation Operations Specialist, deployed to Iraq from 2006-2007, returned and attended flight school from 2007-2009. I deployed to Iraq again as an aviator from 2009-2010 and just returned from a year in Afghanistan. I'm still active duty, and will be heading to Fort Rucker, Alabama for the maintenance Test Pilot course followed by South Korea.
What was it like being a gamer in the Army? Did you miss your normal gaming habits? Did they have any games available to play?
One word: frustrating! So many games require an active Internet connection. Even platforms like steam that have an offline mode also have drawbacks. Steam has had issues in the past with forcing updates which can vary in size up to the entire size of the game. 8+ Gig updates weren't uncommon regardless of if you disable updates or not. If you log in to attempt downloading a new game and updates for other games are detected you are essentially locked out from that game until you download the update. This may have been fixed in the past month, but it was definitely an issue while i was there. Trying to download an 8 gig update at 25KB/s takes a hot minute. Origin games were impossible to play with our horrible or non-existent connections. It is extremely painful, and usually just results in more console gaming over PC.
I understand that you had a brand new PC waiting for you when you returned home. How's that been treating you?
Awesome! I built a liquid cooled i7 Ivy Bridge with two eVGA GTX 680 SC+ in SLI, and Intel 520 SSDs. It's a little overkill for HoN, but it runs BF3 like a champ! I'm going to need all the help I can get when I go to Korea. They have the natural advantage when it comes to gaming!
When did you start playing HoN? What keeps you playing?
I made the transition from WC3 AoS/DOTA shortly after HoN came out of Beta, and haven't look back since. I dabbled with DOTA2 and LoL for a bit, but ended up coming back to HON. It comes across as much more polished, and I've always had the general feeling that HoN developers do a much better job of listening to their customers. The whole "free-to-play" thing adds an entirely new dynamic, and I think S2 has done an excellent job of allowing verified players to continue only playing other verified players if they wish. The matchmaking/MMR aspect of HoN is hands down the best out of all the competitors. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the other games. I just enjoy HoN a lot more.
What's your favorite thing about HoN? Favorite hero?
I'm currently addicted to Midwars. I almost wish you guys could set up a competitive Midwars 5 on 5 mode with team and individual MMR. It definitely shook everything up, and is a huge winner in my books. I like to change it up as far as heroes go, and usually don't play the same hero back to back. It'd be nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite, but if I had to, it'd be Deadwood.
Now that you've had some time to catch up with HoN, how are you liking the changes over the last year?
Midwars is awesome! 'Nuff said about that. The new shop system looked pretty cluttered initially, but I'm finally getting used to it. Range Indicators are a nice touch also. Biggest change for me is getting used to all the new heroes! I'm still trying to work my way down the list.
Finally, do you have any shoutouts?
Yup! Shout out to my buddies Dan, Kevin, Z, and Charlie!
Thanks again to Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Bailey and all of the HoN players that are in the military. No matter what country you hail from, we appreciate your service.
But this still fail to mention his HoN nick! That could be useful xD
Good way to show thanks to our service members!
Half my friends who play HoN are in the army.
Hell one is in Afghanistan right now and he still plays with 800 ping.
"Our ports will block out the sun."
Hey guys. Tony here. (The guy from the interview) Just wanted to say thanks again! I've been doing a lot of traveling the last week or two while on block leave, but I'll be catching more games when I'm home!
I made this username a while back to play with all my army buddies. Feel free to add me. (AH64D)
Very cool! AH64D, you're awesome man.
HoN developers do a much better job of listening to their customers
That's awesome ! I was just amazed to see a soldier that is actually enjoying video games and he is still able to do his duty...Keep it up with the good work ! Best wishes .
Wow! Nice to see a fellow Warrant playing some HoN! I recently just got out of flight school (2 months ago) but was a prior crew chief for the KY NG since 05. Rarely do I see a fellow aviator/computer gamer. Good stuff. Congrats on getting back home and the new rig!
Nice interview, would read again.
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I feel bad for the people in Irak and Afghanistan with all the bombs.
But at least americans are playing HoN.