S2 Games, creators of Heroes of Newerth, want to tackle rudeness and jerky behavior with Strife, their “second-generation” MOBA game. S2 chief executive officer Marc DeForest told Polygon that Strife is being built from the ground up to proactively work against the toxic players that drive off other customers.
Simple design decisions are used to head off harassment. For example, team communication is an opt-in choice rather than being automatically enabled as in their own Heroes of Newerth. Instead of hundreds of heroes, there will be about 25 at launch with greater flexibility so that role specialization isn’t a requirement. Players choose their heroes before the match, lessening the chance of team imbalances. Power cooldowns aren’t visible to other players which means the pro next to you can’t blame you for screwing up the timing on your ability.
Deeper design elements of Strife are intended to encourage good behavior through the reward system. Positive Karma is gained for good behavior as rated by other players and directly influences the end-of-match loot.
“If you’re an outlier and we can identify you as being problematic, you may earn coal for playing Strife,” DeForest said. “Literally.”
“You’re going to realize that there’s a tangible, binary impact to you by making the decision to be a detriment to the community.”
It’s a tall order to take on the MOBA community’s rough and tumble reputation, but S2 Games expects Strife to have less hostile player interactions based on their experience managing Heroes of Newerth since 2006. S2 estimates Strife will launch in 2014.