Your Heroes of Newerth Questions Answered - Plus More Free Beta Codes
A few weeks ago we asked you, our readers, for an assortment of questions for the “Heroes of Newerth” developers, and in return we gave you 500 free beta keys for the game. Today we present to you the answers to 24 of those questions as well as another 300 beta keys… that’s right, 300 more keys.
All the questions were hand selected by TrueGameHeadz’ resident “HoN” expert MarkyX (check out his preview of the game) and they were answered by “Heroes of Newerth”’s Lead Designer James Fielding. Read on to find out if your question got answered, or, if you missed the first batch of beta keys, how to get your very own.
Did you ever consider creating this game as your own take on the Dota formula, similar to how Demigod did it, or was it always clear to you that you want something that’s practically the same in so many aspects?
We considered it, sure, but pretty much since day 1 the plan has been to emulate the DotA formula, with engine improvements and the like to make the whole experience more enjoyable. As hardcore DotA fans ourselves, we experienced much of the same difficulties and complaints that players in the DotA community experienced. The goal was to recreate that fantastic DotA gameplay while alleviating much of the down side of playing DotA online (lag, cheats, peer to peer, leavers, etc). We also wanted to enrich the experience with cool features - friends lists, ranked play, stats tracking, reconnecting to games should you disconnect mid-session etc, tournament play, built-in league support, etc. We wanted to bring the DotA gameplay to a professional level, that it may be taken seriously as an e-sport and grow even further in the competitive gaming scene.
Of course, as game developers we can’t help but add some of our own ideas, too. While HoN is faithful to the DotA gameplay, you’ll find that we’ve added (and are adding) a number of heroes unique to HoN, and new maps as well. We’ve also revisited a few mechanics, such as DotA’s orb effects. We have a similar system in HoN, but each orb now belongs to its own unique category. Items in the same category won’t stack with themselves, but have no restrictions to how they interact with other items. It allows for some more interesting item builds, and so far we haven’t seen it create any serious (realistic) balance issues.
How will balance be maintained as more heroes are introduced and the gameplay continues, specifically, will the game be balanced as icefrog balances it, or take on a completely different path?
We’ll evaluate HoN’s gameplay needs independently of DotA. It is a different game afterall, with different hero lineups, maps, and modified item system (referring to how things stack). Our foundation is going to be incredibly similar to DotA, but being a different game, the need for different balance tweaks will surely arise. We won’t be blindly copying DotA balance changes post-release, however if a particular feature or fundamental change is added and our community expresses significant demand for it, we may add it.
I have been playing DotA for about 6 years, playing competitively for about 2 of those years. Needless to say I love it and consider it without a doubt the finest example of technical, skillful team based gameplay in the competitive arena at the moment. I have read alot about HoN and am extrememly excited for it but I have two major questions. The first is simple: is HoN going to follow a pay to play model?
Secondly, and this is more complicated, how closely are S2 planning to follow the DotA metagame. i.e are they trying to recreate the gameplay exactly. I am aware that heroes, items, maps and skills are similar but imo the most important aspect of DotA is its pacing, micro/farming and juggling of lane control vs ganking and finally mindgames such as juking. In a word, its complexity. So my question is how closely are S2 following this idea or are they going for their own feel simply based on the DotA base game and not the metagame itself?
HoN will not have any recurring charges or subscriptions. It’ll be a one-time fee to pay for your account, and beyond that it’s free to play.
We are absolutely developing HoN with DotA’s metagame in mind. We have a very strong grasp on what makes DotA so well paced, and all of our mechanics emulate that same feel. This is part of the “base level” of DotA that HoN has inherited in its gameplay, and its part of the formula we will not be changing. All of those same decisions exist and a skillful player must consider and judge many different variables when making decisions in HoN. We’re big believers that DotA’s success has depended on the existence of many different mechanics that allow for skill differentiation. DotA’s steep learning curve is largely what has made it so successful - it keeps the game interesting to learn, and we definitely wanted to emulate that in HoN. We’ll be keeping all this in mind with future hero additions and use those additions to help shape HoN’s metagame as needed.
will there be different maps for this game? and will it adapt to how many players are playing it like if it’s a 3 on 3 game, will there be a map for that which is different from the map of a 5 on 5 game??will you be increasing the capacity of players (which is 10 in Dota) per game in the future?
There are currently three maps in total, though the other two are definitely still in their beta stages (they’re fully playable, the gameplay just isn’t quite where we want it yet). One of those maps is limited to 3v3 (although we may increase this to 4v4) due to being designed around smaller, faster paced games. Ultimately, many players won’t be looking for a new map to play on, but for those that are, we’ll have them available.
We certainly have the capability to increase the capacity of players per team. The main map in HoN, Forests of Caldavar, really isn’t designed for it, but the capacity is there. We may release maps in the future that allow greater than 5v5, or players themselves may be able to do so with the map editor. It really depends on player demand and what our players want to see.
I’ve been playing dota for a few years now and noticed that this HON is taking this to a complete new level, but are you guys planning on using this game in future leagues and tournaments worldwide or nationwide? And also will you guys have separate servers for different regional players?
We will absolutely be cultivating HoN’s e-sport potential. We’ve got an integrated tournament system and league system in the works (in addition to standard ranked play and arranged team). You can expect to see some big things on the competitive front!
We have many servers in many regions available. When you go to host a game in HoN, the game is actually hosted on a remote server and you get administration privileges. The server used is selected by ping, so in this regard, many players should have servers available near them that minimize the lag. If I do say so myself, I think our programmers did a pretty awesome job on our netcode, and even the few players who don’t have a sever local to them find that they’re able to play with extremely low delay.
Mustafa Wakilpoor writes:
ive been playing dota for 7 years and love it. but leavers, hackers, and noobs piss me off. is there any type of penalty in heros of newerth for these people? the banlist in dota was marginally effective
There absolutely is. First, I’ll address leavers. Every time a player leaves a game of HoN prematurely they get a permanent “leaver” mark on their record. Hosts can create “leaver-protected” games which prevents anyone with a leaver percentage above 8% from joining (we may lower this number further, if needed). Additionally, if you rage-quit in HoN, you’ll find that you can re-join the game you left if you rejoin within 5 minutes of disconnecting. This not only helps with rage quits, but if a player’s internet dies or computer reboots, he’s able to rejoin to continue playing.
Next, hackers. I know it’s a tall boast for a game developer to try to claim that map hacking won’t be a problem in their game, but for HoN, it’s true. We just released the patch a few weeks ago which effectively makes map hacking impossible. HoN uses a server-client configuration, unlike DotA which used peer to peer. In many RTS games, map hacking is possible because all players involved have all information about the game, and the hack simply displays that information. In HoN, the server doesn’t send information to the players that they don’t need to have. This means that you can’t simply write a hack to show you where the enemy team is or remove the fog, because your local client simply doesn’t have that information available.
We’re aware that there are hacks other than map hacking, of course, and we take an aggressive stance on players who choose to use these. It’s against our terms of service to use any third party programs to gain unfair advantage, and we’ll be enforcing that policy via account bans. HoN can only be played online, and an account ban essentially means you have to pay for the game again to play. We have several detection methods (which I can’t go into detail on) as well. With this in mind, we think hacking will be an incredibly uncommon problem in HoN.
As for playing with noobs - we’ve got several things in mind that will help here. First, there’s ranked play and league support, which will allow players to more easily play with players of their skill level. We also track a statistic for pub-play called “PSR” or “Pub Skill Rating,” which is essentially a measure of how well you play based off your wins and losses (and who you are winning and losing to). Hosts will be able to create games that only allow players who meet a certain PSR threshold to play. PSR isn’t a perfect statistic, but over time it becomes pretty accurate. Some players like to think it’s inaccurate because they don’t have enough control over if their team wins or loses (or if they get a feeder on their team), which is probably true with only a few games in mind - but after many games have been played this statistic is pretty accurate of a player’s ability to contribute to his team.
Is there a good connection utility that will make 3rd party latency reducers such as “list checker” and the like unnecessary? These are necessary in DotA to improve latency because of battlenet’s poor pings, and battlenet is a very powerful network.
Third party latency reducers are completely unnecessary in HoN. As stated above, HoN uses a server/client network setup, which essentially means you don’t get the peer to peer latency you had when playing DotA. The host of the game is a remote server, meaning that even as the host, if you are on a laggy connection it will not make other players lag. In fact, as the host, if your computer shuts down in the middle of a game, it won’t disrupt the game in progress (plus, you could even reconnect to the game if you get back online within 5 minutes).
But, don’t take my word for it. Ask around to players currently in our beta. The overwhelming feedback from most players has been one of amazement at the low latency gameplay HoN provides. You’ll have to join us when we reach open beta and see for yourself!
Daniel Mullet writes:
How many heroes are going to be available upon release, and when is release going to be?
We plan on having 60 heroes at release (with many more added post-release). Our release date has not been announced yet - the game will be ready when it’s ready We want to make sure it’s a hit and meet’s our players high expectations, so we’re taking the time to do it right.
Will you continue to support the game after release by adding new content such as heroes, maps and game modes, or will there only be balance patches after the release??And will there be support for modding so people can add custom heroes and skills, etc?
We will absolutely be supporting the game after release with new content - for a long time, too. DotA would wither and die without support, and the same is true of HoN. We dont’ feel like HoN is the kind of game you can put together and call it “done” - it’ll constantly be changing, getting tweaks and new heroes and the like. Not to mention new features.
We’ll be releasing more information in the future on the ability to mod and edit HoN, but I can say that players will have some real power behind what they’re able to do. We respect the DotA’s existence is purely based on the ability to mod a previous game, and we’d be foolish not to allow the same in our own game.
Are the games going to be hosted on your servers or on local machines similar to DotA? Also how often do you predict you will be putting out updates?
On our own servers. Hard to say how often we’ll update - but we plan to have frequent patches with new heroes and content. We’ve got a fully professional development studio working behind the scenes - it really gives us the power and freedom to pump out content (though, not TOO fast - patching too frequently can be as bad as not patching enough).
Will there be any functions for us to watch live competitive games(and the like) within the engine itself?
There is support for spectating matches and the like, yes. We’ll have more details on this in the future.
What will the matchmaking system be like and how will it keep skill levels fair for all players and fun at the same time?
Hm, there’s not a whole lot I can say about the match making system just yet, other than ranked play will probably support a pre-determined game type and mode at first (probably similar to captain’s mode). Teams will be balanced by skill level and no one player will act as the ‘host.’ It’ll all be pretty automatic. We’re confident in the system’s ability to rank by skill - it may take a few games to properly rate players, but once players have enough games under their belt its pretty accurate.
Will it be possible to play on LAN without internet?
We definitely want to offer LAN play, but there are some details we’re still working out as to how exactly this will function.
Daniel LeBlanc writes:
How will new players be introduced to the game, away from the hardened veterans?
Well, as stated above, hosts will be able to create games with a PSR (”Pub Skill Rating”) threshold. This will essentially allow the veterans to play games without allowing low-skill players in, and allow the low-skill players to play games without letting the veterans in. Also, match making and league support may keep a lot of the top tier players segregated from the new players.
Do you have any plans in mind already for a sequel or an expansion to Heroes of Newerth or will it depend on the success and feedback you receive?
We have plans for a lot of things.. none of which we can reveal just yet Most of our plans are on “wait and see” mode. The benefit of being a smaller company is that we at S2 can adapt to the needs of our players very quickly and efficiently. If some of our plans are not in line with what the player base may want, they can be changed quite easily. So to answer your question - player feedback will play a big role in our future plans.
Georges Jean-Jacques writes:
What kind of consumers are you trying to attract? New players? DotA players? How are you going to deal with such a large spectrum of skill, to keep the veterans away from the newbies?
Our target is definitely the DotA audience, but we hope we’ve created a situation in which those who have not played DotA before will be able to pick up the game and learn. The steep learning curve of DotA is still there in HoN, but with various hosting options and the like we feel that HoN will allow these players to learn to play in a much less stressful environment than what DotA allowed.
How will matches be set up? Are players experienced with DotA/HoN going to be in the same brackets/wait rooms as new players, or will there be separations so that newbies can get a feel for the game? If so, how will this be handled?
There are (and will be) ways to host games in a manner that will ensure veterans can separate themselves from the new players. The system currently in our beta separates veterans and new players by overall account experience, but we’ll be reworking this to use a rating system soon. Keep in mind, this is just an option when hosting - if you have a friend who is new to the game and you are a veteran, you’ll still be able to play with them if you wish.
How will you work to prevent maphacking and other cheating in Heroes of Newerth? Also, how are you going to prevent piracy without messing with the people that legitimately bought the game? (Assuming it will be sold)
Map hacking is already impossible in HoN. Map hacks work by displaying information about the game that the client has all along. In HoN, we use a server/client setup, so the client simply doesn’t have the information available to it to hack. I know it may seem unbelievable, but you really can’t hack information that isn’t available to be hacked - the local client just does not have the type of information that map hacks usually display.
Piracy is a non-issue for us. We won’t need to use any anti-piracy programs or anything like that - all players must have a legitimate HoN account to play. Simply having the game client won’t guarantee your ability to play, you need an account.
Will HoN incorporate a vote kick system so that people will not feed and leave ruining the whole game?
HoN has a votekick system, yes. If one player is intentionally ruining the game, both teams may vote that player out of the game. The restrictions on our vote kick are pretty harsh. We don’t want it used as a way for players to kick noobs out of their games, it’s meant to deal with players that are intentionally feeding or otherwise ruining the game in one way or antoher. You’ll be able to host leaver-protected games to deal with the leavers, and use one of several options to make sure you’re not playing with new players, as well.
Will there voicechat built in to the game?
VoIP is fully functional and built into HoN, yes. We have both team-wide voice chat and AoE voice chat. The AoE voice chat is used to talk to nearby teammates (like your lane partner) without broadcasting to the whole team.
DotA had a very elitist culture surrounding it, which made it very difficult for someone new to it to get into it. Did you take any measures to make it easier on newcomers?
HoN has the same steep learning curve and tons of skill differentiation, so naturally it’s going to adopt some of that elitist culture. That asid, we feel HoN is easier to learn and get into than DotA. Our tool tips are thorough, we have a local practice mode, we have ways for new players to host “noob only” games, and we have tons of information available on our website (and plan to have a tutorial, or at least tutorial videos).
Will HoN be free to download, with a micro-transaction billing structure (ala LoL), or will you charge up front for a retail / digital download product?
HoN will not have any micro-transactions. There will be a one time up-front fee for your account to play, and that’s it :). HoN will be available via digital download.
Will there be a way to track player stats? i.e. wins/losses, kills, assists, deaths, favorite heroes, etc…
Absolutely, there already is. All wins/losses/disconencts, kills, assists, deaths, etc are already tracked in game. There’s actually a LOT more statistics that we track, and we display many of those on the website as well as in game.
Is there going to be any type of ladder or ranking system in HON? If so hows it going to work?
There is, and we’ll be releasing more information on it in the near future. Sorry, no details just yet!
Now that you know a whole lot more about “Heroes of Newerth” I know you want to play it. So, if you’re still looking to get a beta key, just comment on this post and tell us one thing that stood out the most about James’ answers: what you were happiest to see, what you think is missing, what you were expecting to see but didn’t… etc. Or tell us what you hope still makes it into the game’s final release. Just make sure to include your email adress when you comment (you don’t need to include it in the comment as your email is a requirement to comment), and we’ll get back to you in the next few days with a beta key.