Ok Here goes...
I have been thinking about how to write this out and get some thoughts off my head about the custom map situation for HoN.
S2 is a remarkable company because they brought together innovative ideas about early on about Savage and later Savage 2. The idea of an FPS/RTS was amazing and I remember playing the hell out of savage. With Heroes of Newerth, they came up with innovative ideas and gave immense structural support by extending the idea of what was, and still is, the amazingly popular DOTA custom map for Warcraft 3. I joined since BETA and was excited about this potential - and it has been a fun time.
Everyone knows the issues DOTA had, the limitations of the Warcraft 3 engine, the lag problems, the disconnects, etc... S2 provided a platform for expanding this idea and while the early start of HON was built upon DOTA, it has long gone its separate ways with its own unique hero lineups. HoN is a fun, creative game that has a strong community and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. My main point is that it has the potential to become so much more with the power of the custom map community.
Let me back up and explore the game of Warcraft 3, which undoubtably has had influence on HoN. Blizzard as a company provided WC3 in 2002, I bought it the first day, and I had already been in beta, but it was incredible - the leagues of upgrade it was from Warcraft 2 was beyond my understanding - just looking at the 3D images of threes would confuse the hell out of me - the art, the polygon graphics, it was awesome. Now I was alright at Melee - I played ORC and could beat the hell out of my friends, but it was not the Melee that keeps me, even to this day, playing WC3 - it was by far the immense amount of custom games that expanded the community and brought so much replay-ability to the game.
Whole communities are shaped around countless kinds of custom games - all sorts of Action RPG, Battle Arena, whatever the hell they are called now - I usually went with AOS - Aeon of Strife, a Starcraft 2 custom mod. Advent of the Zenith, Tides of Blood, Battleships, Fight of Characters, Hero Wars, etc.. and not just AOS style maps, but really anything involving so many creative sorts of games (TDs, RPG, Explorations,Parasite, MURDER AT THE MANSION!, and Vampire Hunters! - I am currently working on a HoN version). These mods had whole communities, forums, websites devoted to keeping this alive and going - some maps were terribly unbalanced, while others were incredibly precise and had been tested on so much there were countless updated versions.
Now the HoN community isn't dying out and its not that the custom maps will provide a way to keep the community from dying. On the contrary it may grow the community, by attracting people to play games as well as the main game of HoN. There have been constant times after a HoN game that I just want to relax, let my guard down about statistics and playing HoN better (I am ok haha), and sit back and play a nice custom game. Its something I did in between melee games in Warcraft 3, just jump back and forth and fully enjoy the best potential the game had to offer.
The issue I keep hearing is that HoN can not support custom games because of the potential for hacking that may occur by releasing the capabilities to host custom maps. I am not sure about these technical details, but any word or creative ideas around this - such as selling maps by coins so they are hosted by S2 (I am sure most map makers will compromise this - they were never paid for their warcraft 3 maps, but they were recognized for pulling off amazing mods and adding it to the open source community built by the fans for the fans). Or there may be other options that should be explored to allow the mod community to grow and spawn off whole communities devoted to creating maps and maintaining updates/balance issues.
Right now is the perfect time to jump-start this idea. The warcraft 3 community is much smaller and whole maps have lost support of their communities. There is though a large demand custom games built on a strong engine with updated graphics - something S2 provides with their much better HoN engine - I love how it looks and how it gets away from cartoony approaches (LoL, DOTA 2) and has this gritty realism that just jumps out at you. Starcraft 2 custom maps would be a competition - but they are based on a futuristic RTS that does not translate right into RPG medieval fantasy style graphics with nice interfaces. The mods on Starcraft 2 are at an infant stage with poor replay-ability and the futuristic look just kills it. The time is now to develop and grow the mod community - it will be a win/win situation for all involved.
I have heard rumors of a DOTA 2 custom map editor, but as I said before, DOTA 2 is too cartoony and they will lag behind S2 in that regard. S2 already has a custom editor out with a small custom map community that is waiting to unleash its potential. Why not jumpstart this - it makes sense from both the business/gaming side.
TLDR: Custom Maps have so much potential for HoN, lets get a dialogue going on this.
I hope we'll see S2 support custom maps one day. By now, there are tons of assets like Skins, Heroes, Sounds, ... so it would be tons of fun to toy around with them in the editor.
But i doubt it's that easy to properly support custom maps. Why would they host custom maps on their servers? People would just play them and pay no attention to the shop anymore.
I have been thinking about this for some time as well. The ability to play custom maps could be the big thing S2 needs to reignite HoN!
From my point of view it will be hard to compete against Valve in terms of competitive play in the future, because Dota has a much bigger fanbase and Valve way more money to promote Dota2. So why not try other ways to keep the community excited and have something that really makes a difference in the MOBA-competition?!
As for the problem of supporting custom maps: S2 could take a couple of coins for every custom game. That way they would still get money in even if the community does not play HoN anymore but some custom map based on it.
One thing I want to add: I still feel ripped off by S2 for not being able to play custom maps with friends - for me it was one reason to buy the game in the first place, since it was one of the core features HoN was advertised with afair.
TLDR: Sign OP; take coins for starting custom maps
I feel exactly the same as the OP does, but what bothers me more is that they won't just come out and say it. Like "sorry no custom maps" or "yeah lets get this started!" or atleast give a damn response after all this time. Seriously everytime custom map-related questions were asked they were like: lalalalaaa~~ ohhhh thats it!!! A.I.'s A.I.'s we need those bots and lots of them!!!
And no one was ever even close to asking for Bots to play against, its already multi-player... why the hell would we want computer player's who'll just repeat the same paterns over and over again.
So what I want to say is that I'm tired they keep avoiding the issue and bringing out random excuses, I just frickin' want to know if they'll ever do it or not, answering a damn question isn't that hard.
So please S2, can you tell us if you at all plan to integrate custom-maps?
if you want custom maps they are completely possible, join the ValkWarz channel ingame
Would having them in his map file be sufficient?
Just haven't tested it out enough yet.
Custom Zombie Survival Map for HoN
The Heroes of Newerth community would explode exponentially if custom maps were released.
S2 Games, I know you are aware of the power of custom maps. Heroes of Newerth is built based on a custom map. This game was released with promises of map editor functions! Let's get the ball rolling and open this game up to custom maps.