Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The HoN community - how bad is it?

The HoN community gets a lot of shit, all the time. Every time I read a review of HoN or hear somebody's first impression of the game, it always starts the same way, "It's a good game", they'l say, "but the community ruins it for me."

Ah yes, the infamous "HoN community". Never before has a game attracted so many sadistic, trash talking 12 year olds and placed them securely within arms reach. It's always the same story, the new player doesn't know how to play, asks his team what items he should get, they yell at him, he learns nothing, and probably gets votekicked. But the community's evil doesn't stop there. Say you're playing a 5v5, and somebody on your team disconnects during the load. He isn't coming back. You politely ask the enemy team if they would please remake the game. They don't. You are forced to play an uphill battle for 50 minutes that ultimately results in a horrible loss.

What went wrong here?

Is the HoN community really to blame for what it is? Well, it would at first seem so, as it is the overwhelming consensus. But what if I were to tell you that, in fact, the community itself isn't to blame in it's entirety?

In order to understand why HoN as an exception to most other games carries with it a community that is almost literally foaming at the mouth, one has to consider what kind of game you are playing. What other kind of game can you play where you have to rely so heavily on 4 other people? In Heroes of Newerth, dying does not simply have a negative effect on you, it benefits the enemy team more than it hurts you.

In a game like Team Fortress 2, you dying does not have a large impact on the game. Even though you (hopefully) work as a team and try to defeat the enemies, you don't always have to work in perfect synchronization with one another, you can go do your thing while contributing to the team, so long as you do it effectively. Should you die- you will respawn, and almost nothing of value was lost.

In HoN, it's a different story. One wrong move, one twitch of the mouse, press of the button, can waste an ult, miss a spell, cause a hero to die and maybe even lose the game for you. Is it not realistic that following this kind of metagame the community would be a rabid animal, screaming at you every time you make a mistake? No other game punishes mistakes as heavily as HoN. If you bought the wrong items, you're useless. If you don't cast that spell at the right time, you're worthless.

For a game so heavily reliant on teammates, it should come to no surprise whatsoever that the HoN community hates one another.

So okay, I can see why the HoN community hates bad players. But why all the hate against new players? They just started, how the hell should they know what to do?!

To answer this question, you really have to put ethics off the table for a few minutes and start thinking like an Economist. In 9/10 scenarios when I am faced with a new player, I am never going to see him again. That said, the tremendous amount of effort required to tell him how to play whilst also simultaneously playing the game well myself is an opportunity cost (almost) no living man is willing to pay. It simply takes too much effort to teach someone how to play HoN while actually playing HoN. And since I'm never going to see said player again in my life, why bother?

This is not a cruel, "I am lazy" opinionated statement, but a harsh reality. Take it from me- I spend hours making Youtube videos to help new players get into HoN. I have payed my dues. But the fact of the matter is, most of the time, nobody is going to help a newbie in a game.

HoN is all about synchronization- and when one link in the chain breaks, the whole thing comes crashing down. Cause and Effect. When S2 made a game that makes you rely so heavily on 4 other people, no amount of tutorials and tips screens could prevent the community from becoming what they are today. They are the simple, predictable outcome of what has existed for years before them in DotA- a product of HoN's gameplay.

So keep this in mind next time you're raging- hate the game not the player.


  1. Well, the philosophy of HoN is complicated.

    That's why we need Socrates, Buddha and Plato.


  2. Couldn't have said it better... Dibs for Plato!

  3. Got to agree with you on most Nigma.
    However, there's a simple solution. It's called a tutorial, empasazing on it and making it better.
    The current tutorial simply is not effective. It teaches you how to move, how to cast, how to gain gold. That's cool. That's cool for a player who only played Bejeweled 2 and Solitaire in his life.
    The game has 0 [ZERO] official marketing, hardcore player base and mouth-to-ear spread.
    Would you ask your girlfriend who plays Bejeweled "from time to time" to try out HoN?

    What the Tutorial needs is not movement/camera control stuff, it needs several parts, one saying why you need supports, how to play them, how to play carries, the fact that autoattacking is BAD [make an invulnerable bot who denies stuff all the time, make the player with a slightly higher damage lasthit], etc.
    We see S2 get creative, however they forget many things too.
    And that's why we're here, right?

    Also, can you please make an RSS feed? :)

  4. I enjoyed the read; thanks for shedding the illumination of your wisdom so that noobs may acquire knowledge from these words.

  5. I was just writing a post trying to explain why HoN has a steep learning curve and why one can't compare it to other games. Then I watched your newest video, followed the url, and saw this post. Quite serendipitous.

    Anyway, thanks for all your work. Your youtube vids and guides on the forums have helped me a lot.

  6. Yeah I got first comment. So, tutorials are seriously bad. (based on s2's tutorial) One time my brother wanted to play HoN, because he saw the Hellbringer part. I told him he had to get a certain item before he could summon 2 Maplhases. So his first game was basically nothing but trying to farm for Resto stone, eventually he started asking me why he loses money so quickly. I told him that he shouldn't die. So he camped at base and was kicked for being afk. I think we should skip tutorials all together and learn from experience.

    Also, dibs on Aristotle.

  7. I agree that the in-game tutorial is very lacking.

  8. Is Maliken the one narrating that crap?

  9. This is a good post, Nigma. You are completely correct: the design of the game makes players dependent on one another (for the most part; some heroes have a degree of independence).

    Part of the problem can also be traced to the fact that HoN tracks individual stats in a team-based game. Even for a winning team, the hard carry will usually end up with a positive KDR, while support heroes and initiators will generally have fewer kills and more deaths (but many assists, and wards placed). Demented Shaman might have been the star of the team, but he walks away with 1-4-21 KDA (example of a MM game where I played DS), while the Chronos who spent 80% of the game jungling gets 80% of the kills in the last quarter of the game.

    Of course better players will look at heroes played and cross-reference them to KDR and other stats, but it's human nature to want to be rewarded for playing well, and HoN unfortunately only rewards the last hit on a kill. The problem arises from the fact that some heroes are designed to get kills, while others are designed merely to support the hero-killers.

    I saw a radical suggestion on the forums recently to combine kills and assists into one stat, and to always split gold gain for kills. While this may be going too far, it would have a huge impact on people being willing to play as a team and make sacrifices to achieve a win, rather than everyone hoarding their HP and trying to KS each other.

    Whatever the eventuality with HoN, it's the design of the game itself that will dictate how players play. Currently, the design encourages selfish, anti-team behavior in pubs. And when you have some players playing for the team, while others are playing for themselves, the raging starts.

  10. Addendum: HoN of course also rewards assists to a lesser extent, but the focus is still on getting the killing blow.

  11. Ah the bursh off attempt for the terrible HoN community, its just as bad as DOTA. Also the TF2 reference was a horrible attempt.