League of Legends‘ community – while easily one of the most populous in the MOBAsphere – isn’t exactly the most popular. People say mean things, feelings get hurt, and the winners are the ones that come away with the least emotional scarring. But, given LoL’s competitive nature, it’s not exactly something that can be avoided under a safety blanket of solo play. For years, then, it’s been Riot’s unsolvable enigma – the towering door of twisted rage and anonymity that keeps far too many potential players outside a land of creep-crushing bliss. Now, though, it’s taking a new approach: positive reinforcement. Make a stranger’s day, and hopefully they’ll give you Honor points. Problem is, for now, that’s kind of the whole system.
First off, here’s Riot’s official introduction to the new system:
“Through Honor, you can acknowledge summoners who helped make your game awesome by clicking on the ‘thumbs up’ icon next to the summoner name at the post-game lobby. You’ll also receive Honor of your own when you impress your fellow summoners with your sportsmanship in the game.”
At the moment, Honor pools in four categories: helpful (sharing useful knowledge, etc), friendly, teamwork, and honorable opponent. Your total for each shows up in your profile. If nothing else, it sounds like the foundation of a solid system. For now, though, that’s all it really is. Riot explained:
“Your total Honor represents your ongoing commitment to making games better for your fellow summoners. It’s not a currency, and you can’t spend it – we’re going to experiment with some potential bonuses to being an honorable summoner in the future.”
So for now, it’s just a number. The next step, then, is figuring out how exactly to make it significant without skewing LoL’s balance or opening it up to abuse. In the meantime, Riot’s at least put a number of counter-measures in place to make sure players don’t exploit the system. For instance, Honor can only be exchanged in matchmade games, so you can’t simply arrange a game for the sole purpose of patting each other on the back. Meanwhile, being awarded Honor by players you’ve only just met will up your total significantly more than anything else, so hopefully that’ll cut down on anonymity-born jerkitude.
Players also have a finite total of Honor to hand out, and Riot noted that “the average, responsible user will probably never run out of Honor. However, players who spam or trade Honor will soon find themselves with nothing left in the bank to award.”
So it’s a fairly well thought-out start, but for now, it doesn’t really have any teeth. Honestly, though, it’s probably best for Riot to root out further potential exploits before raising the stakes. It’ll be interesting, then, to see what happens when LoL’s Honor system fires off its punchline.