Strife: S2 Games' Antidote To "Toxic" MOBAs

Strife: S2 Games' Antidote To "Toxic" MOBAs

Strife

An ironic name for a friendly game.

MOBAs arose from the primordial ooze of the Warcraft 3 modding community and rapidly evolved to the top of the competitive gaming scene. First generation commercial games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 earned millions of players worldwide, while contenders like Battle for Graxia closed after only a few months. S2 Games' Heroes of Newerth falls somewhere in the middle: successful, if not wildly so. Now, S2 Games has announced its new MOBA, Strife. When looking at the next generation of the genre, S2's goal isn't just to clean up the gameplay and tighten the graphics, it's to clean up the playerbase.

"It seemed the first thing that people started to latch on to was 'I tried to play this game and these people are mean. It is hostile," S2 chief executive officer Marc DeForest said at the press announcement. That kind of behavior limits the audience and turns new players away. S2's designing Strife from the ground up to limit that negativity and to weed out toxic players who make you weep for humanity.

"Rather than trying to fix people themselves, we're trying to make really intelligent design decisions to elegantly address those problems so there's less reason to be inflammatory," director of monetization Pu Liu said. The first step is to limit communication to teammates, and to provide an easy system to mute abusive players. S2's also removing the ability to see the cooldowns on your teammate's abilities. This will give an angry player less ammunition to sling insults linking your mothers sexual exploits to your healing ability's cooldown timer.

Outside of a match, a player-run karma score keeps track of problem players and reward good guys. After a game, you can give positive, negative, or neutral scores to other players, which will effect that player's karma. Players who seems to blame everyone but themselves and constantly down vote people will find their votes carrying less weight. Players with good karma will receive more rewards at the end of matches, letting them unlock more heroes faster. However, naughty players can find redemption if they clean up their act, as bad karma will eventually deteriorate over time.

Source: Polygon

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*grmuble* Here I was hoping, having seen some of the recent remakes and such out there, that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strife_(video_game) was making a comeback.

I am disappoint.

I like it! Current MOBAs are trying to clean up their player bases as well (LoL's Karma reportedly is doing an ok job) but they are pretty much just encouraging acidic players to hold their tongue. Not giving players a way to scream at each other or laugh at another player's stats is a really clever way to avoid that situation in the first place.

I really hopes this works out well for these guys, but as John Hammond always said, "[Trolls] will find a way."

Schadrach:
*grmuble* Here I was hoping, having seen some of the recent remakes and such out there, that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strife_(video_game) was making a comeback.

I am disappoint.

That was my first reaction too. My thin veil of professional was the only thing stopping me from posting a screenshot from Raven's classic game on the article.

Cleaning up the playerbase is a step in the right direction for any MOBA. That said, they say limiting communication to teammates is one of the ways to do that, which seems -really- counterproductive when you're stuck with a group of strangers trying to win, especially because it encourages the "every man for himself"-mentality that in part leads to so much toxicity. We'll have to see exactly how they plan on implementing this, because I'm not sold on this part of the idea just yet ;).

Mute options - yes, these are excellent, options are always nice and I agree with that. But anything that limits communication to "stop the angry people"? That's plain dumb. They might as well completely remove the chat box and remove ALL visibility of friendlies, and then everyone can proceed to play the the game on their own and do their own damn thing.
What if it's an organized group of friendly players? Why hurt their communication options and visibility?

All in the name of stopping people from hurting little Timmy's feelings, because he just can't deal with reading mean words online.

MOBA's are heavily team-based games, victory relies on working together...and people are acidic towards each other in random/public matches because things often don't go according to plan due to the random/public nature and huge gaps in skill levels.

The community is vast, the learning curve is steep and the result is that it is difficult for newbies to get into the game. That's both a gift and a curse. Usually it's because a lot of newbies are too lazy to look up the countless guides which veterans have spent hours creating, too arrogant to listen to any friendly advice, too uninterested to look up the endless how-to-play videos on Youtube.
"But a newbie shouldn't have to go through all that, what if they just want to have fun and learn through experience?" I hear people retaliate. Learning through experience is good but not everyone is a quick learner. And if someone flames them for being a clueless git even after they've spent tons of hours playing, I'm not going to call those players unreasonable.

IanDavis:
"Rather than trying to fix people themselves, we're trying to make really intelligent design decisions to elegantly address those problems so there's less reason to be inflammatory," director of monetization Pu Liu said. The first step is to limit communication to teammates, and to provide an easy system to mute abusive players. S2's also removing the ability to see the cooldowns on your teammate's abilities. This will give an angry player less ammunition to sling insults linking your mothers sexual exploits to your healing ability's cooldown timer.

That's the first time I've ever heard that people actually mention ability CDs when insulting someone much less when talking about their mothers and relating them to their ability to play. Though I do find the fact that their Director of Monetization(? What on earth sort of job is that? Setting up Micro-Transactions?) is saying that they are making 'intelligent design decisions' slightly contradictory when they are limiting communication as well as leaving out a feature that would most likely be useful in a game (and genre) that in the end requires co-operation to win. Additionally I don't really see how limiting and removing features is actually addressing and or dealing with the problem of people who, lets face it, insult others as they identify clear faults in the management and play of their character (hero, champion, etc.) and view their form of communication as the quickest and simplest way of getting their message across (Not to say I support it or anything though). The only real way to deal with it would be to offer incentives to the people who are delivering the insults by suggesting that if they provide actual helpful information that would lead to the supposed failing player doing better with their character then they are rewarded for doing so. A mentoring system if you will.

Outside of a match, a player-run karma score keeps track of problem players and reward good guys. After a game, you can give positive, negative, or neutral scores to other players, which will effect that player's karma. Players who seems to blame everyone but themselves and constantly down vote people will find their votes carrying less weight. Players with good karma will receive more rewards at the end of matches, letting them unlock more heroes faster. However, naughty players can find redemption if they clean up their act, as bad karma will eventually deteriorate over time.

Now this system reeks of something that is going to be abused. I can already imagine post-matches people stating in chat "Rate me! +1" and leaving the lobby immediately without considering anyone else's ability or involvement in the previous match or simply rating everyone badly just because they can. It already happens in LoL after all.

As with any attempt to clean up the online gaming community, I wish them well, but I'm always cautious about how such stuff is implemented.

As a MOBA player, this is hilarious and it's clear that the person giving the interview has no actual idea what causes 'troll' behavior in these games. Annonymity x Time Investment x Difficulty Curve x Snowball = Hate. As long as games require a 20-30 minute investment at minimum, have a control curve (unavoidable for the genre really, LoL has shaved it as much as you can) and dying gives an increasing benefit to your enemies that can create insurmountable difficulty, people will get PLATINUM MAD. Anonymity increases this effect this (see the Greater Internet Fuckwad theory)

As far as I know, NO MOBA lets you see allies cooldowns. LoL has a little green dot that indicates if an ULT is off cooldown or not, but other then that, de-nada. It's an extra level of information that'd be hard to process.

The Karma System, if it becomes popular, will be exploited. Remember that a keystone of LoL's system in addition to Karma (the concept not the character) is REPORTING and the tribunal. If someone has a neg. attitude, you report them. Eventually it hits the tribunal where a random person can view the chat log and see for themselves. Riot maintains oversite over the process to prevent abuse.

Being able to mute people is nice I suppose, but strikes me more as a tool FOR trolling than anything else.

What happened to sticks and stones?

I ignore ragers and just continue on my own way, just as I ignored people who called me fat and reduced my weight to a healthy range.

Yuuki:
-snip-

I fully understand that people are competitive and they are going to get annoyed when you botch, or when you're new, or when they're losing, but that doesn't excuse being a jerk. Scream, shout and rage all you like, but just have the courtesy to do it in the privacy of your own personal Angry Dome, rather than spewing vitriol at people over the internet. All it does is reduce your community in both size and social standing. If you have something helpful to say, then figure out a polite way to say it because it makes people much more likely to listen to you.

This isn't about protecting "Timmy" from some bad words on the internet. This is about people that would otherwise play the game but don't because the community is so infamously acidic and unreasonable. I know it's certainly a huge reason I avoided even looking at the genre for a long time. I still refuse to even touch most of them outside of LAN parties because I don't want to deal with people being at each others throats, even if they're not at mine. It's just not fun.

And I do apologize if I'm being a bit of a jerk myself. This just happens to be something that tends to irk me.

A MOBA game that I'm playing a lot recently is Awesomenauts and the player base is (relatively) friendly. I believe it has to do with the fact that it isn't free to play and not that complex.

Maybe they should make the design less infuriating as well. When one player not having a complete grasp of the game's extensive number of systems can completely wreck a game you can't really stop it becoming a toxic environment. DotA is the way it is and it's very popular but that doesn't make cloning it a good idea. Learn from the corpses of a thousand failed MMOs that tried to copy WoW down to the least detail and make your own game.

TsunamiWombat:
Being able to mute people is nice I suppose, but strikes me more as a tool FOR trolling than anything else.

I'm going to assume it will only mute them from your own perspective/client.

shirkbot:

Yuuki:
-snip-

I fully understand that people are competitive and they are going to get annoyed when you botch, or when you're new, or when they're losing, but that doesn't excuse being a jerk. Scream, shout and rage all you like, but just have the courtesy to do it in the privacy of your own personal Angry Dome, rather than spewing vitriol at people over the internet. All it does is reduce your community in both size and social standing. If you have something helpful to say, then figure out a polite way to say it because it makes people much more likely to listen to you.

This isn't about protecting "Timmy" from some bad words on the internet. This is about people that would otherwise play the game but don't because the community is so infamously acidic and unreasonable. I know it's certainly a huge reason I avoided even looking at the genre for a long time. I still refuse to even touch most of them outside of LAN parties because I don't want to deal with people being at each others throats, even if they're not at mine. It's just not fun.

And I do apologize if I'm being a bit of a jerk myself. This just happens to be something that tends to irk me.

As I said just the mute option alone is enough of a fix. Someone raging too much at you, set them on Ignore/Mute, you won't hear from them again.

Lots of MMO's have that option to drastically lessen harassment/abuse claims, also saves staffing & resources for the company because they don't need people manually going over millions of chat logs. Throw in DOTA's karma + tribunal systems and your game is set. No need to kill communication between players.

The real issue with MOBAs is the same issue that exists for just about every competitive multiplayer game out there: A complete lack of face to face contact with the other people playing the game. I've never seen a competitive arcade cabinet match go into a mud slinging contest between the participants, and this is likely because they got a dozen or so other people watching over their shoulders. I think the company behind DOTA has the best solution right now for the whole ordeal.

Ummm, it doesn't sound like they've done too much differently. Yeah there's a report button and a good/bad rating system but that's pretty much textbook. What they removed the little green light that tells you when your team's ults are up? Ok. Cool. Hardly revolutionary though.

Just hit mute. GG

People will always be assholes. It's the people in the thread that always say the "grow a thicker skin hur dur" that need to wake up. All the negativity and hate on these MOBA's are the prevailing thing when these games are talked about. What do we all hear? "I'd love to get into the game, looks really fun but the community..." If you are the publisher and dev team you probably don't want to be hearing these things. So they take steps to counteract some of the vitriol and anger, more power to them.

Yuuki:

MOBA's are heavily team-based games, victory relies on working together...and people are acidic towards each other in random/public matches because things often don't go according to plan due to the random/public nature and huge gaps in skill levels.

The community is vast, the learning curve is steep and the result is that it is difficult for newbies to get into the game. That's both a gift and a curse. Usually it's because a lot of newbies are too lazy to look up the countless guides which veterans have spent hours creating, too arrogant to listen to any friendly advice, too uninterested to look up the endless how-to-play videos on Youtube.
"But a newbie shouldn't have to go through all that, what if they just want to have fun and learn through experience?" I hear people retaliate. Learning through experience is good but not everyone is a quick learner. And if someone flames them for being a clueless git even after they've spent tons of hours playing, I'm not going to call those players unreasonable.

Maybe with a MOBA (and Awesomenaughts is about the only one I play) this sort of thing is unavoidable but the moment I see the suggestion that new players should start by go reading guides & FAQ's or watching instructional video's I get completely turned off. From my perspective, playing a game by simply following a step by step path others have already laid out is the lazy ass way of doing things. Or it's kind of like cheating, someone who rather than figure the game out themselves through playing & experimenting immediately hit the guides to get the absolute best uber build.

Now this is more of an RPG thing, and from my perspective I've been playing RPG's for over 20 years so I know how to make that shit work. I don't know if it can apply the same way to MOBA's, but is there really no way to use some sort of ranking system to make sure newbs are playing with other newbs or weaker players?

I think people have the wrong idea. Limiting what people can say to each other is the perfect move. Dota 2 did a good job by having the quick options for the most basic things such as when a lanes defenders are missing. You can mute an obnoxious player and still receive useful information from them if they use the system that is in place. I used to play LoL and I basically threw in the towel when people I knew spent more time trash talking other people for messing up than actually playing. Dota 2 is basically following suit and they have this reward/punishment system that isn't immediately effective. No one has immediate fallout from anything they do bad. That means that only the people who are devoted to a game and that is THE game they play are the one's who are likely to use it. Humans do this thing called "Vicarious Learning". If someone is a useless dick and they are not punished in a way that is meaningful at the time of the transgression, others start to mimic that bad behavior. This has been shown to be fact. In all situations that something like this has occurred, bad behavior that is not squashed leads to others doing the same bad things.

RandV80:

Maybe with a MOBA (and Awesomenaughts is about the only one I play) this sort of thing is unavoidable but the moment I see the suggestion that new players should start by go reading guides & FAQ's or watching instructional video's I get completely turned off. From my perspective, playing a game by simply following a step by step path others have already laid out is the lazy ass way of doing things. Or it's kind of like cheating, someone who rather than figure the game out themselves through playing & experimenting immediately hit the guides to get the absolute best uber build.

There is some breathing room because newbies typically only get matched against other newbies. Matchmaking systems try to factor in stuff like rank/skill (roughly) and do their best, but ultimately people are all very different and learn at different speeds (or plain refuse to learn) and matchmaking can only go so far. There will be conflicts especially in the intermediate levels.

When you're talking about an online competitive game it's generally moot to play the "I'll figure it out on my OWN!" card because...well, it's competitive. You need to use every advantage you can get, and turning down basic handy advice from veterans (i.e. guides) is only gimping yourself, these are games with EXTENSIVE skill curves and there is a shit-load to learn.

I must make it clear that going through guides/videos is not going to turn anyone into a champ overnight, heck no, it's silly to compare it (even remotely) to cheating. A newbie is still going to be a newbie no matter how many guides they go through in a game like DotA or League of Legends. 95% of skill is primarily obtained from learning, practicing, applying and improving in real matches. Having friends playing with/against you and giving you advice is really nice.

I'll give you an example I'm very familiar with (or at least I was) - World Of Warcraft PvE, raiding & equipment customization. If some newbie came along to a raid saying "Don't worry I'm just trying out different stuff, I'll eventually figure out the best talent setup/enchants/gems for me and what ability rotation works best!" he's going to get fucking BOOTED and yelled at to look up a guide on how to play his class optimally and min/max his gear optimally. He's already supposed to have figured that stuff out, the ACTUAL "figuring out" part happens in how to work together as a group to beat the boss, that's what the challenge is supposed to be!

Same thing in a MOBA, people can't be taking forever to learn the basics when could easily learn that with guides. The "figuring out" part is how to use your hero optimally, how to work in a team, and how to win the match. That's what happens when a game has such an extensive skill curve.

If you think MOBA's are bad then a game like Starcraft II will make your brain explode. I still haven't ventured into SC2 multiplayer because that game's skill curve scares the shit out of me.

Yuuki:

If you think MOBA's are bad then a game like Starcraft II will make your brain explode. I still haven't ventured into SC2 multiplayer because that game scares the shit out of me.

If so, you need to watch BRONZE LEAGUE HEROS and see some people who are guaranteed to be worse than you.

Escapist writers seriously need to stop using the term MOBA, it is setting a bad precedence and making people think MOBA is what these games are called. They are A-RTS games, MOBA doesnt fucking mean anything specific to this genre.

I'm confused by these tactics in reducing harassment. Didn't "Guild Wars 2" already get released months ago, and was praised for its mechanics in encouraging "stranger support" against hostile forces? Could the same mechanics of "Guild Wars 2" be applied to a MOBA game?

My biggest concern is the Karma system as that could be abused. There seems to be a safe-guard where players with low Karma's vote is of less value than a high-Karma player, but a rotten player can still "Blitzkrieg" a series of negative-votes to ruin another player's reputation.

It's great reading the comments on this, makes it very clear who comes from the cutthroat circle of players.
Sadly some of the features will make it less of a competitive / cooperative game but they also aren't the only MOBA out there, you get 5 new ones every week.

How fucking hilarious

It's like they don't understand the very basics of the human mind.

You CANNOT have a high Karma score give real benefits, to do so will INSTANTLY render it meaningless.

Let me break this shit down.

If a high Karma score gives real benefits, then it is in every players interest to rate every other player in the game highly, completely disregarding their actual behavior. Because if every rates everyone else well, then everyone will get the rewards, INCLUDING YOURSELF.

This system will not work, it is easy as fucking shit to exploit and will instantly be rendered meaningless because of that exploitation, no one has any interest in ever rating any player poorly, because despite the fact that it makes you less likely to meet him again, you probably wouldn't ever meet him again anyway.

This system is so poorly thought out, you'd think it was created by children.

Yuuki:
As I said just the mute option alone is enough of a fix. Someone raging too much at you, set them on Ignore/Mute, you won't hear from them again.

Lots of MMO's have that option to drastically lessen harassment/abuse claims, also saves staffing & resources for the company because they don't need people manually going over millions of chat logs. Throw in DOTA's karma + tribunal systems and your game is set. No need to kill communication between players.

It seemed to me that this was just reducing communication between opposing teams, which doesn't strike me as particularly problematic. I'd actually be somewhat surprised if there's not some kind of all-talk for friendly matches, and if there's not there's always Skype. Either way, you're right that the mute feature itself is usually enough. We'll just have to see what happens.

shirkbot:

Yuuki:
-snip-

I fully understand that people are competitive and they are going to get annoyed when you botch, or when you're new, or when they're losing, but that doesn't excuse being a jerk. Scream, shout and rage all you like, but just have the courtesy to do it in the privacy of your own personal Angry Dome, rather than spewing vitriol at people over the internet. All it does is reduce your community in both size and social standing. If you have something helpful to say, then figure out a polite way to say it because it makes people much more likely to listen to you.

This isn't about protecting "Timmy" from some bad words on the internet. This is about people that would otherwise play the game but don't because the community is so infamously acidic and unreasonable. I know it's certainly a huge reason I avoided even looking at the genre for a long time. I still refuse to even touch most of them outside of LAN parties because I don't want to deal with people being at each others throats, even if they're not at mine. It's just not fun.

And I do apologize if I'm being a bit of a jerk myself. This just happens to be something that tends to irk me.

And you can't imagine a world where people get irked by extremely poor play and ignoring teammate pings? If I b ping someone 6 times and they still go in, I have every right to be irritated with them.

Frostbite3789:
And you can't imagine a world where people get irked by extremely poor play and ignoring teammate pings? If I b ping someone 6 times and they still go in, I have every right to be irritated with them.

I do see where you're coming from, you probably don't even take it to the stereotypical extremes, but surely you can see some benefit is getting it toned down. Swear and curse all you like, insult their mother if you must, but in private. If they're ignoring you, that's a legitimate problem, but resorting to abuse doesn't accomplish anything, and that's really what I'm against. All it's done is make the community infamous for its acidity and created a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle where those players that are abusive become concentrated in the genre. It's just not good for anyone.

I can't explain it, but I have zero interest in MOBAs. I also have zero interest in SC2, WoW, and Call of Duty. It's almost like I don't want to play my video games with a bunch of racist, homophobic, misogynistic 12 year olds.

Chalk me up as someone who might play these games if the communities weren't so reliably terrible.

TiberiusEsuriens:
(LoL's Karma reportedly is doing an ok job)

She is, but there's only so much one woman can do!

... jokes aside, their suggestions don't go beyond what is currently on offer in say League of Legends. Easily mute abusive players? You can already do that on LoL with the click of a button. A karma system? Already implemented in LoL, alongside a report system overseen by a player-run tribunal.

And the other suggestions are bizarre; limit player communication? That's going to severely curtail the possibility of cooperation, friendly communication and actually coordinating a team. Make cooldowns invisible? Again, limits teamplay, and probably leads to more frustration: "Well that would have been a successful mid lane gank but it is literally impossible to tell if your abilities are on cooldown." etc.

So really the people being rewarded here will be the ones going "honor plz" at the end of every match?

Otherwise disagre with not being able to see cds for ulti, if anything showing ulti cd would have saved me a ton of grief in lol when playing karth and paired with players expecting me to spam his r like an angry god.

"The first step is to limit communication to teammates, and to provide an easy system to mute abusive players. S2's also removing the ability to see the cooldowns on your teammate's abilities"

This, to me, would only help to enforce my existing idea of only playing if i play with a group of friends i'm in skype with.

The karma system seems to be a nice idea. Dunno if it would work best as an anonymous system, to lessen begging, or as a fully visible system, so people will realize who despises them, and for what.

A thing i think could help, would be to keep K/D/A stats a team thing, and not personal thing, as it will increase the focus on teamplay, and not turn it into an internal competition for beeing the best on a loosing team.

Possibly even make kill rewards shared evenly. I know i've had my share of rage thrown at me for "kill stealing" and when i tried to not land the killing blow, our target sometimes slipped away, and that was suddenly my fault as well. (used to always end up playing support/babysitter in support hard-carry lane in HoN)

Make sure to keep a (possibly hidden) player skill tracking system, so players get's paired up with equally skilled players, and a leaver tracking/punishing system, so games aren't ruined by the rageing idiots leaving mid-game.

 

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