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My thoughts on HoN and how the community let it down


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I wanted to make a post like this a while ago, but I think given the circumstances, now would be the best time.

I'm not someone particularly notable. I've started playing the game back in closed beta and managed the Fandom wiki. I spent many hours to get it up to standard and kept it updated for a long time, even after I stopped playing the game. So I'd like to think I at least have some stake in the game. I haven't touched HoN in maybe like 3-4 years, and I stopped playing regularly years before that. The reason is not just because of the typical toxicity of players and how there are other games I could play where I don't have to spend hours of my time just to maybe play a good game, which the genre is famous for. I've also grown disillusioned from the MOBA "community". Or as the kids would say, blackpilled.

MOBAs and their communities have been driven down to doing nothing but hating other games and other players within their game but at the same time worshiping their game of choice to the point of religious schism and preaching it's the apex and a pillar of competitive gaming. They judge the games by how much of an eSports game they are and how "deep" the mechanics are, and not by the average experience and how much you can mess around with it and have fun. Apparently, if a MOBA isn't a multi-billion dollar eSport game, it's garbage and a failure. Maybe the fact the genre is by design online-only puts more pressure on the games to stay relevant, but even then no one has anything good to say about anything except what their games are ideally supposed to be.

Nobody wants to play anything new because of this rampant elitism. Maybe it was because people got disillusioned by the dozens of quick cash-grab MOBAs made to ride the Dota/LoL popularity wave, but after that passed, people continued to not give a shit because they continued to worship their game of choice. Nobody plays a new game because they assume it's worse because the prize money pool isn't gonna be big enough, and because nobody wants to play it because it's not the same as whatever they play, it dies. Strife died exactly for this reason, Blizzard shot Heroes of the Storm out in the backyard because it wasn't a big eSports game, Dawngate probably committed suicide because of this, and hell, you can even consider LoL's Dominion mode as part of the death toll. And it's part of the reason why any map that isn't a 5v5 map based on the original DotA map stop being played after like a month for all the games and why trying to play mainly unranked regular matches isn't a viable strategy. They judge quality by one factor.

Compare MOBAs to the other big eSports genre, fighting games. The Fighting Game Community has its share of toxicity and people like to trash on other games, but the difference is that the overall community says it's okay to play something not everyone plays (or God forbid, play more than one fighting game) and the people within a game's community try to stick to each other. With MOBAs, play one of the two big games or die from irrelevance, and if you play more than one get crucified. You could say the lack of teamplay aspect makes this easier for fighting games, but for the MOBA "community", they don't even try. You can say it's tolerable if you play with friends, but that doesn't help you actually connect with the game's community because you're only connected between your social circle. No other genre has the level of enmity against the people they play with.

And this extends to HoN. Not even the players treat the game with any respect. They're too busy calling other games trash or saying the balance is broken or bad or that the noobs or trolls or The Russians are only there to ruin their game. Some of the problems are ingrained into how the game works, but how much have you done to not make the experience any less worse for yourself or others? A long time ago I realized too many people play MOBAs not to have fun but because it's a routine either out of habit or by social obligation, and HoN is no exception. They're chasing the high of a good game like a long-time heroin addict.

The reason I stuck with HoN was because I liked it from a gameplay standpoint. I never gave a shit about the eSports scene. HoN offers the depth the genre is capable of but without the dated, backwards philosophy Dota follows with its janky interactions and disregard for lower level play or is a badly made, badly balanced, and badly monetized game that is a F2P parasite like League of Legends, and I appreciate how it was there as a more playable DotA years before Dota 2. I like that FB is willing to try new things with old ideas, even if they're not gonna work out the first few tries sometimes. I wasn't one of those people who were constantly announcing how they only play HoN because Dota 2 isn't out yet. It was an underdog I was willing to give a chance. Maybe in a more ideal world, it could've coexisted with other MOBAs. Unfortunately, nobody wants that.

I can't blame HoN's failures on the people alone, though. HoN was destined to be a black sheep early on and the way S2/FB handled things permanently crippled HoN. I mean, the whole circumstances leading up to the game existing in the first place is a mess to begin with. From what I know, this game was made as an effort between S2 and Icefrog to make DotA Allstars a standalone game, but Icefrog left the project because things didn't work out, and then Valve picked him up to make Dota 2. So we have a game that had to switch gears from being literally Dota to being a game that's legally and creatively distinct enough from Dota, the original brand name back by a hundred times more money. You had a small-time indie team whose track record are two forgettable games competing against a video game developer and distributor juggernaut that also isn't hated by the consumers. Valve is going to milk that golden goose as long as the players continue to worship Dota as if it was a megachurch. Remember when randos who don't play or even knew about Dota started jerking it off once the prize pool for the first International was announced? How are you supposed to compete with that? The only way HoN would reach the top was if all the big names simultaneously got hit by a financial crisis or a Blizzard-tier scandal. And getting into how HoN managed by [S2]Maliken was a years-long game of playing catch-up and the failure of HoN China and other international branches except Garena is another can of worms.

I can't even blame society or tell them to reflect on themselves because as far as I can see, there were only animals to begin with. In the end, the game's going to die and be remembered not for what it's done, but for what it hasn't done. The fact that HoN has managed to stay running for over a decade but is widely considered a failure says something.

Again, I'm not anyone important and all this will fall into deaf ears, but that's my say on the whole thing. The only thing left for me to do is to outlive my resentment.

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1 hour ago, TheJohns said:

In the end, the game's going to die and be remembered not for what it's done, but for what it hasn't done. The fact that HoN has managed to stay running for over a decade but is widely considered a failure says something.

It highly depends on who is the one who remembers.
If you read through all the posts since the announcement of HoNs end (I actually read them all), you will realize that a lot of people will definitely remember good things about HoN. Sure not everything has been perfect and in retrospect a lot of things could have gone better and could have made HoN the top played Moba today. But it's always easy to point at what was wrong later.
Similarly people will always point out what is bad and only rarely what has been good. Because they try to achieve an improvement by complaining. Usually people don't think about thanking for what has been good (tbh I'm the best example for this - also outside of HoN). So the public view of agile games like HoN will always mostly contain negative opinions even if players actually like the game.

Also: A project that gets finished and actually generates more money than you had to invest into it, is not a failure in my book.

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Definitely sucks that there's been so much negativity in and around HoN. For the majority of my stay I've just played casually with friends and those times have been an absolute blast. For a brief period when most of my friends had left and I started solo queueing, it really hit me how most players seemed to just not have fun. There's so much hate and negativity which I find hard to ignore unless I'm playing with friends. I found myself becoming increasingly negative as well, so I took longer and more frequent breaks. Today I pretty much only fuck around with like minded people and do whatever to just enjoy the games our own way.

With that said, I'll always remember HoN as the greatest game out there. It's given me so much joy and connected me with so many awesome people. Say what you will about the community and the decisions that led do its downfall. For me, the good memories will outweigh the bad by far.

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It is remarkable that HoN lived for such a long time. From the mechanics it was arguably the best moba - I always preferred it over other mobas. It imho still has the best balance compared to other mobas. People complain about wza heroes but games like Dota2 have exactly these heroes as well. Either they are overpowered or nerfed to be unplayable as certain heroes can not be properly balanced.

The game and the game developers really did nothing wrong. It's not the community or any new map or any unsuccessful hero rework that brought us to this point. It's simply that other famous mobas had companies that supported the game continuously while Garena simply stopped to do so at some point and just kept it running for as long as it was valuable.

That's just my personal opinion but I noticed lots of things going on within the past years and I noticed how much this company actually cared about the game. Selling the game to Garena was the only huge mistake that happened as they never seemed to be really interested in doing what's required to push the game to the next level.

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I think HON is the best moba too but they did too many dumb things. They allow too many trolls, if someone spams the chat and flames their own team the entire game, purposely blocks his own ancients with wards, and then rage quits half way through, that's perfectly o.k. I reported a guy for this and they responded back saying he didn't do anything wrong. If they want people to troll the game this way then how would they expect people to want to play? And why the heck would anyone want to pay for a game with this kind of garbage? So I'm not surprised at all this game is coming to an end. 

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Maybe when we were more childish?

but most of us are 25ish now and all of us play other games or do other things with our lives.

HoN is trash

just like

Anime is trash

but I still watch it.g

I got 2k hours in both league and dota 2; and both are non-comparable in terms of entertainment.  

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10 hours ago, LeahhGotti said:

I think HON is the best moba too but they did too many dumb things. They allow too many trolls, if someone spams the chat and flames their own team the entire game, purposely blocks his own ancients with wards, and then rage quits half way through, that's perfectly o.k. I reported a guy for this and they responded back saying he didn't do anything wrong. If they want people to troll the game this way then how would they expect people to want to play? And why the heck would anyone want to pay for a game with this kind of garbage? So I'm not surprised at all this game is coming to an end. 

Being a terrible reporter with not even 50% successful reports will lead to your reports being ignored. There is a huge difference between "the case was reviewed and the player was not found doing anything wrong" or "the game not being reviewed at all" cause your reports usually turn out to be a waste of time. This is on you and only on you.

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1 hour ago, hegelsohn said:

Being a terrible reporter with not even 50% successful reports will lead to your reports being ignored. There is a huge difference between "the case was reviewed and the player was not found doing anything wrong" or "the game not being reviewed at all" cause your reports usually turn out to be a waste of time. This is on you and only on you.

What a great system you bandwagon there where only 100% obvious griefers get punished. Being in the 0.9% of the community who studied your rules meticulously enough to only make successful reports doesn't even mean anything because you still won't review subjective griefing, which is almost always the case. RAP has never worked, stop deluding yourself.

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I was sitting at 75+% guilty rate before I joined the GM team and I never read through any rules. Most of the things are common sense. The main issue is not the system but the attitude people have. Only a minority is self-reflective. People tend to see other players mistakes but not their own. People have the mindset that only their way of playing the game is the correct one and if someone has a different style it's considered "griefing". People rage report (the majority of the reports we receive are reports out of rage) which lowers their reporting karma. Smurfing/playing on newly created accounts also is not helping when you expect successful reports.

The very few really grey areas are surely not the reason why people sit at <50% guilty rate and why the "reporting system is not working". 

Edited by hegelsohn
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1 hour ago, hegelsohn said:

I was sitting at 75+% guilty rate before I joined the GM team and I never read through any rules. Most of the things are common sense. The main issue is not the system but the attitude people have. Only a minority is self-reflective. People tend to see other players mistakes but not their own. People have the mindset that only their way of playing the game is the correct one and if someone has a different style it's considered "griefing". People rage report (the majority of the reports we receive are reports out of rage) which lowers their reporting karma. Smurfing/playing on newly created accounts also is not helping when you expect successful reports.

The very few really grey areas are surely not the reason why people sit at <50% guilty rate and why the "reporting system is not working". 

You just admitted that the system didn't work throughout its unfruitful lifetime - it didn't accomodate the needs of the community. Simple as. Your input on how effective RAP was is rich, coming from the literal enforcer of said system.

It is absolutely mindnumbing how people who cannot see faults in what they support hinder any potential progress for the community in question just because you cannot comprehend that MOBAs incentivize shifting blame and that there are processes within the matchmaking system that aggravate the unconditioned average player. That is why Dota 2 requires 100 hours unranked and phone verification. That is why ranked roles exist. That is why low priority exists for repeat offenders who get picked out by the system, not understaffed volunteer GMs. Sure, the root of the problem is related to the bigger picture. Sure, it may seem harsh to dish out this criticism. But it doesn't take away from one simple fact: RAP has been an abysmal failure.

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3 hours ago, twoscoopsREE said:

RAP has been an abysmal failure.

It works for me.

Of course I would sometimes prefer if I could just get nearly every single jungle banned because we usually loose games because they insta-call jungle and just afk farm for 30 minutes with Parasite.
But I guess if I had been banned for every time I was reported (I wish I had an actual number 😅), I'd probably be banned a couple of times because I died more than 10 times a game, because I failed whatever or because I was actually the reason we lost the game (not intentionally of course).

I don't see a way how to improve the system easily - and every "difficult" way involves a lot of AI to automatically find out players that tend to rage across multiple games and a lot of GMs that have to review that system. And that's nothing HoN could ever have, and I don't think any other Moba has either.
The only alternative is to ban people without reviewing anything and just ban players that get reported enough. At least I prefer to have actual rules I can follow instead of "people don't like my accent".

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5 Queues were the only reason I still played this game after a while. I used to just solo queue and have everyone muted 🤣 But eventually I started to add people I thought were decent and we started to play together. Was way better 🤷‍♂️ There was like this pride from people who solo queued that they're true gamers, while they raged at everyone and blamed their team for every loss 🙄

Really HoN should've emphasized party queueing way more, cause the best way to have someone keep playing your game is for them to have friends on the game. I still can't understand how people were able to play this game solo for nearly a decade. Blows my mind, and all the power to them I guess but it wasn't even remotely fun to do that practically ever.

You avoid so many of the annoying things about this game if you aren't solo Qing... All the need to report people doesn't exist if you just don't allow the idiots to be on your team by having 0 pubs LOL You won't have any language barriers, you won't have people running it down when they don't get mid and best of all... If you all aren't having fun you aren't trapped in a game because of 2 angry pubs refusing to CC for 20 minutes to spite each other lmfao.

Edited by Reo
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3 hours ago, Reo said:

You avoid so many of the annoying things about this game if you aren't solo Qing

True, but you also don't meet nice random people you eventually become friends with.

Tbh that probably was only true a long time ago. The last friend I found in HoN games (outside of volunteer and friend groups) was probably around 2014 in All Random. And I believe that that mode was the reason why games were way more enjoyable - I preferred to play alone instead of friends because games were equally fun in solo queue.
The reason for that is that most griefers can't grief well if they can't choose their hero (so they don't play random modes) and they won't grief if you offer them your hero so they don't have to play stuff like Ophelia 😉.

Edited by Manu311
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