S2 Working On ‘Second Generation’ MOBA, Strife

Heroes Of Newerth developers S2 send word that work has begun on Strife, a new MOBA. They explain: “Unlike other MOBAs, Strife is built entirely around the idea of a collective, contributing community. Predicated on creating a more connected multiplayer experience that incentivizes cooperation, Strife streamlines communication between players with innovative, in-client social systems and rewards players for team collaboration, not simply placing highest on a leaderboard. It also employs design elements that instruct and inform, providing immediate feedback for genre newcomers and veterans alike.” Sounds like a game with a very specific problem in mind, eh?

More details below.

S2 continue: “Strife aims to make strides in MOBA storytelling, delivering an engrossing world with a layered backstory to further connect players with the heroes they choose. It all begins when the invasion of the Dharkwave, harbingers of darkness foretold by prophecy, is imminent, promising catastrophe upon the world. Its only hope is an Army of Light, forged in the crucible of battle to hold the line against their impending arrival. Players must overcome “The Trials of Strife,” as well as one another, to prove themselves as champions worthy to face the Dharkwave.”

But yeah, the real news is that they want to manage the anger that MOBA gamers end up feeling. Speaking with Polygon they said:

“It’s the difference of providing information players need to know to hit their highs and not providing ammunition for people to use that for harassment,” DeForest said.

“[When dealing with toxic players], it’s generally a reactive thing,” DeForest said. “The way our game is, there are people that are jerks. And again, we can’t fix the human race. There are jerks. We know this. But internet anonymity, the way a game is designed, a number of things seem to elevate the number of jerks that there are. In Strife, rather than having a reactive approach, it’s proactive in the design … There’s a number of other things, but when you start making decisions, realizing that every decision impacts a number of other things, then you begin to make better decisions from the ground up.”

And the solution? A community-driven Karma system:

Karma is Strife’s method for policing bad behavior. After a match has concluded, players will be able to either make a positive, negative or null action against another player. The higher a player’s karma score, the better they’re rated among the community. Those with a low score are generally going to be the jerks. All of this loops back into the reward you receive at the end of battle.

Bad reputations will eventually deteriorate out, so outliers won’t always be at odds. Additionally, the game will naturally weed out opinions of anyone who “cries wolf,” DeForest said. If you’re finding a problem with someone in every match, the weight of your votes will be less than someone who is fairer.

Here’s hoping…

There doesn’t seem to be a release date attached to Strife yet.


  1. RaveTurned says:

    Dharkwave? Really?


    • RedViv says:

      Because poor literacy is kewl!

      • RaveTurned says:

        I can picture the scene in the writers room now.

        CEO: “Gentlemen, we really need to come up with an edgy, original name for our antagonists in out next game. What trope are we wheeling out this time?”
        Writer 1: “The design doc says they are ‘a wave of darkness that sweeps over the land’. Anyone got any ideas?”
        Writer 2: “So, they’re like some kind of dark… wave?”
        CEO: “What was that? Say that again.”
        Writer 2: “Uhh… dark wave?”
        CEO: “Yes! I love it! Write that one down”
        Writer 1: “But sir, don’t you think it’s a bit, you know, obvious? Lacks a certain, uh, finesse?”
        CEO: [Gives Writer 1 a cold, dark stare]
        Writer 1: [quickly] “Yeah, Dark Wave. That’s good. I like it!”
        Writer 3: “Maybe we could give it an edgy spelling or something? We could… make it all one word?”
        Writer 2: “Ooh ooh, why not add an H after the D? That’ll make it sound all mystical and stuff!”
        CEO: “BRILLIANT! Give that man a raise! Great work people, I think we’re done here.”

        • RedViv says:

          Curse that man for ruining my dream of seeing a laney pushy thing pitting Siouxsie Sioux against Robert Smith!

          • SKapsniak says:

            You guys are aware that the (in)famous Black Dagger Brotherhood series of Romance Novels is well known for this kind of naming scheme, right?

          • RedViv says:

            I was not aware of this and my brain does shut down, as an automatic fail safe, on the site after processing the part with “paranormal roma


          • Tancosin says:

            Oh my god. Main characters include: Wrath, Rhage (son of Tohrture), Zsadist (son of Aghony), Butch/Dhestroyer, Vishous, Phury, Rehvenge, Tohrment, Tehrror, and Qhuinn.

          • The Random One says:

            They really missed the bus on not calling it Bhlahkkdahgggerr.

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            And the distant relative they don’t talk to but their mothers insist on inviting to all the parties: Bhill.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          I read all the CEO lines in Cave Johnson’s voice.

          • TheDR says:

            When I read the CEO lines I was thinking of J. Jonah Jameson voice, which is the same actor. How odd!

        • BooleanBob says:

          CEO: Something like.. “love day”.. but y’know, not as lame.

          [Writers look blankly at one another]

          *Smash cut*

          Marge: Happy Love Day!!

    • kwyjibo says:

      They’re the harbingers of dharkness foretold by prophecy.

      • RaveTurned says:

        Surely their arrival spells certain dhoom! Maybe they lock people in their dhungeons?

        • RedViv says:

          Dhreadful behaviour, I say! We should dho something about it! Dhown with that sort of thing!

      • cpt_freakout says:

        They bhring dheath, dhestruction and lactose intolerance to a peaceful world! Only You ™ can save the world from modern dhairy products!

      • The Random One says:

        It was spelled “propecy” before they came along.

    • Turkey says:

      Dharkwave – Ohrigins

  2. AngelTear says:

    Not sure if I should be glad that someone is thinking about ways of making their community nicer (calling them “jerks” is pretty brave for a dev who needs to sell their product, and I applaud them) or sad that we need these kind of systems without which the abuse will get so bad.

    • darkath says:

      A jerk doesn’t self-identify as a jerk, rather he think everyone else is a jerk, and therefore will consider that the dev is speaking about every other jerk out there but him.

      • baby snot says:

        All this time they were talking about me?!?! And not all you other sick fucks?!?!

        • RedViv says:

          Son of a sockless elf! Calm down or I’ll report your butt, damn it!

    • Moraven says:

      Riot already does a lot of this superbly, coming out with new tactics and methods to combat toxic behavior.

      The Science Behind Shaping Player Behavior in Online Games

      link to polygon.com

      One of Riot’s experiments in curbing negative behavior was a simple one: turning off all-player chat as a default. Players had to opt-in to it. Prior to the experiment, Riot says that more than 80 percent of player chat was “extremely negative,” compared to 8.7 percent positive.

      A week later, after turning off all-player chat as the default, many players still opted in, but behavior changed. According to Riot, negative chat saw a decrease by 32.7 percent. Positive chat went up, by 34.5 percent. A drop in offensive language and verbal abuse was also observed.

      Hmmm sounds familiar S2??? yah.

      They pushed their Summonern’s Code.

      After the Tribunal system they came out with the Honor System (which the Strife Karma system copies from).

      Riot has neuro-scientists and psychologists hired and constantly experimenting with different methods. I have a feeling S2 does not have these resources.

      • RedViv says:

        Nothing bad with just seeing what works for others and copying it for something else! Never went wrong! Anywhere! At all! Exclamation mark!

      • maximiZe says:

        The honor system is a direct copy of the commendation system Dota 2 has had since the beginning of closed beta. Some serious science going on here for sure.

        • Moraven says:

          Jeffrey Lin did work at Valve before joining Riot.

          • maximiZe says:

            Interesting. In any case, even if this system was Lin’s work alone, which is purely speculation and the system isn’t that intricate in the first place, Riot didn’t “come up with” it.
            It’s a bit weird that someone would call out S2 for being copycats while praising Riot of all developers for originality regarding the combat against “toxic behavior” – all of that in a highly iterative genre within an inherently iterative medium.

        • darkChozo says:

          All three are basically implementations of the upvote-type system that’s existed for forever, so any accusations of stealing on any side are a tad silly. Dota 2 started with the Slashdot-y commendations by category. LoL’s system does actually have some minor additions to Dota 2’s system (honor badges, mostly), though as a LoL player I would say it’s been a minorly successful system at best. It sounds like S2 is going a bit further, given the suggestion that karma loops back into post-battle rewards (guessing this would be whatever Strife’s SpaceBux are), though if it’s a Reddit-style single-value karma system, I don’t see how anyone could naturally keep positive karma.

          • nearly says:

            my instant response is “what’s to stop any given jerk from just downvoting everyone he comes across out of spite?”

    • Captain Joyless says:

      It is beyond ironic that Marc Deforest thinks he, of all people, can do this.

      This is a guy who played in his own game (HoN) and is notorious for calling people “nigger” and “faggot” and ragequitting out of his own games.

      Marc Deforest is [S2] Maliken in the screenshot below:

      link to patchtimer.org

  3. RedViv says:

    Why is Hiccup blond and Toothless horned now? Why would you wear a Venetian Carnival masque when you’re an archer? Questions and questions and questions!

  4. pakoito says:

    Left HoN since they embraced the “Less is less” philosophy, along with everyone else.

  5. cpt_freakout says:

    Oh man, nothing against MOBAs, but S2 should really get to making Savage 3. I think there’s a lot more people now that would be interested in such a game than when they made their first two. Savage 2 was fantastic, and I always had lots of fun with it until the community pretty much died out because no one new was coming in.

    • Moraven says:

      There is Nuclear Dawn and Nautral Selection 2, the former RPS describing as Savage/NS baby.

      I think NS2 is still thriving to an extent. They keep pushing out new updates. I would be curious if a game like this could go F2P. Sell skins? Force a leveling system onto the players and sell exp boosters? Hard to say.

    • Frogee says:

      Savage 2 was an excellent idea. I hoped S2 would one day return to polish Savage 2 or make a Savage 3.

  6. bstard says:

    I kinda like MOBA’s, but this is getting ridiculous. ‘There doesn’t seem to be a release date attached to Strife yet.’ let us pray this never changes.

  7. JackShandy says:

    “Strife aims to make strides in MOBA storytelling… It all begins when the invasion of the Dharkwave, harbingers of darkness foretold by prophecy, is imminent, promising catastrophe upon the world. Its only hope is an Army of Light…”

    I don’t want to believe that these devs are deliberately bullshitting everyone. But I also don’t want to believe that they’ve fooled themselves into believing crap is cream. How can I reconcile these two?

    • pupsikaso says:

      Have you never seen a press release before, son?

    • HighlordKiwi says:

      ‘Make strides’ in bedtime storytelling perhaps, I found it hard to stay awake during that paragraph.

  8. Shadowcat says:

    How about not calling it “Strife”? That game already exists, and is an incredibly fond memory for lots of people, due to Rogue having made it so awesome. Now I’m going to be confused and bitter whenever I see the name crop up and I happily expect they’re talking about the old awesome game, only to be disappointed to find they’re actually talking about the new crappy game (I’m assuming it’ll be crap, because I’m already bitter about this.)

    • JeCa says:

      I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be a reference to “Aeons of Strife”, the StarCraft: Broodwar custom map that the original DoTa was based on.

      Does that make it better? Eehhh…

    • Prime says:

      I’m with you, Shadowcat. Strife is a legendary game that must be protected from all nomenclatural besmirchment at every opportunity!

  9. SkittleDiddler says:

    Another MOBA? Well holy shit, color me Surprised Pink.

    • Aardvarkk says:

      hmm all I got is cynical orange.. well, here’s jaded grey, will that work?

  10. KikiJiki says:

    Much like Savage 2 and HoN this will be getting $2’d sooner or later.

    Maliken needs another Ferrari to scream racist abuse from

  11. cyrenic says:

    Considering Heroes of Newerth had, by far, the worst community I’ve ever seen in a game; they can only go up from here.

  12. Crosmando says:

    Ban this shit game for stealing the name of that awesome Doom clone during the 90’s

  13. andrmegawatt says:

    “Those with a low score are generally going to be the jerks”.

    No, this is not going to fix it. People use “report” function for anything but actual reasons to report; when someone’s making them angry for whatever reason, being it too much deaths, too much kills, or simpy not playing really well. Please see this nice and somewhat funny video about it: link to youtube.com

    So those “jerks” will still be taking away karma from people for stupid reasons, even more so. Actually, as much as I’m thinking about it—this system is going to make matchmaking even worse than it is around all MOBAs with different matchmaking and ranking systems: this is going to be a ladder out of jerks, and nothing more.

    • The Random One says:

      Case in point: when was the last time you saw an youtube comment flagged as spam that was actually spam, as opposed to just an unpopular opinion relative to those likely to watch that video?

  14. Freud says:

    Patchnotes v. 1.01

    – Changed human nature

  15. misterT0AST says:

    S2 is using the term MOBA!
    If their community notices I’ll be able to hear the grinding of their teeth from here!

  16. darkChozo says:

    Not to be pedantic, but wouldn’t the current generation of MOBAs be the second generation? Because, you know, original DotA is ancient at this point?

    • misterT0AST says:

      What would that make Aeon of Strife?

      • darkChozo says:

        Considered it, vaguely filed it away under the *Craft (hehe) mod generation. Generational delineation is more of an art than a science, anyway.

      • Fenix says:

        generation 0

  17. ZPG Lazarus says:

    Story in a MOBA or a fighting game is like a story in a porno. Its there but you’re like “Screw the story, look at the tits!”

    • Fenix says:

      Seriously… they start saying things such as ““Strife aims to make strides in MOBA storytelling…” and then they go on to talk about an Army of Light.

      Fucking barf

  18. Captain Joyless says:

    Given that Marc DeForest plays as [S2]Maliken, and given that this is how he behaves in HoN:

    link to patchtimer.org

    Forgive me if I don’t take him seriously.

  19. mr.ioes says:

    Some interesting changes:

    – lasthitting a creep will spread the gold to all allies in a certain aoe.
    – after being not hit for 10 seconds, you gain “insane” regeneration (changes quite a lot)
    – some other interesting stuff i forgot about

    Why they didn’t simply make it a different gamemode for HoN is beyond me. Oh wait. $$$

  20. Lunarpac says:

    S2 has proven they can’t handle running a free-to-play model in a satisfactory way balance-wise, so they need to either prove us wrong or go for a different approach than F2P. Either way, there won’t be many people playing this game. It’s a shame, because I loved HoN prior to F2P. Playing DoTA2 now.

    • Memphis-Ahn says:

      S2 has removed the early access stuff.
      Coincidentally, they also stopped releasing new heroes.

  21. realitysconcierge says:

    I feel like this genre craze is basically the exact same thing that happened after WoW came out.

  22. Darkwings says:

    The common problem with what seems to be a generic rating system is that everyone can vote whatever they want to. If the system is made so that jerks will end up with a low rating, nothing is preventing said jerks to downrate everyone randomly, or even picking on the higher rated players.

    It all comes down to trolling hard enough to make a difference.

    There was an XKCD strip about this behaviour having the typical classhole sistematically rating down each good hotel he was going to stay to improve the chances to find a vacant room the next time.