Heroes Of The Storm Producer On Handling Toxic Players

Just saying hi to my teamies...

Heroes of the Storm‘s [official site] lead game producer, Kaéo Milker, has gone into detail on how Blizzard are hoping to tackle toxicity in their fledgling MOBA. It’s a three-pronged approach looking at communication, incentivisation and punishment.

Milker was talking about the subject as part of a longer interview with Red Bull but this particular subject is one about which I feel strongly. It’s the worst aspect of actually playing MOBAs and gives the scene a bad name.

“Early on, we made the decision to remove cross-team chat in Heroes of the Storm in order to eliminate one side of the equation, preventing enemy teams from being toxic to each other,” says Milker. “That was a decent start, but we all know that your own team-mates are often the most toxic offenders in these games, so we’ve considered a lot of options for combatting things on that end.”

I was playing HotS at lunchtime solo and as it goes I didn’t encounter anyone losing their temper or flaming anyone, but at one juncture a teammate did accuse the rest of us of feeding after a fight went badly. It’s small potatoes in MOBA land but still casts a slight shade on the match for a few moments.

Combatting toxic allies is where the communication/incentivisation/punishment approach comes in.

On the communication front the first instinct was to just switch off team chat between people who weren’t in a party together but according to the interview it got vetoed when the team realised this would also switch off the ability for positive interactions between strangers. “Instead, we’re going to introduce a Mute All button in an upcoming patch to allow players a quick, easy way to opt out of allied chat at the beginning of the game,” says Milker. “This setting will be saved game-to-game and can be easily changed on the fly should you change your mind on your preferred setting, and like everything in our game we’re going to test it out and determine our next course of action based on our experiences with it and player feedback.”

When it comes to incentivisation I suspect the HotS team have been keeping an eye on Riot and League of Legends in particular. I remember I interviewed Jeffrey Lin, Riot’s lead designer of social systems – actually, that was for Red Bull too now I come to think of it – and he was telling me that he sees punishment as less effective because only a small percentage of players are persistently negative. The rest are just neutral or positive having a bad day and losing their temper. With those latter players punishments come across as overly harsh whereas pointing out the slip in otherwise high standards and reinforcing that with some kind of honour stat is more appropriate.

Look at this joker - STOP FEEDING, TEMPLE GUARDIAN GUY

Milker says, “we’ve seen some really cool honour-based systems across different kinds of games that encourage players to be good to each other while rewarding them for their positive actions.” He doesn’t offer specifics but mentions “dangling some carrots for those on the verge of being negative”. Punishments seem to be pretty normal fare – auto-silencing toxic players so they can only speak to people on their friends list and creating a low priority queue are mentioned

He also mentions that the Clans and Groups system could help in dealing with toxic players. As he sees it, they will “introduce an excellent way to give players the ability to find smaller micro-communities of like-minded people to interact with. These social systems will allow players to pick and choose the crowds they want to be affiliated with, providing safe, player-moderated environments to meet new people and form teams outside of the comparative wilderness of blind matchmaking.”

Clans and Groups isn’t an option that’s currently available but is on the “upcoming” list.

So, thinking about my time with HotS, my solo playing was back when the game was in alpha and with a far smaller player pool. Now it’s in beta I only dip in every so often when friends invite me so I’m usually chatting and strategising on Skype with two other people, making us the majority of the team. I think that’s insulated me from a lot of potential toxicity so I perhaps don’t have an accurate handle on what it’s like regularly playing with strangers. If you’re in the beta and have a sense of that let me know – I’m interested to know how it’s feeling to you guys at the moment.

46 Comments

  1. Marsh Davies says:

    I’ve not found HotS worse in terms of Bad Words than other online games, even when playing solo; you got just as many douchebags playing CounterStrike or Halo, say. But I do think that non-cooperation is a much bigger deal in HotS as it’s rare that the excellence of a single player can swing the match. Conversely, you can often find yourself in teams where the loss of interest by your linchpin assassin will throw the match. Me and Stanton were, ahem, wrecking fools in a game the other day only to have one of our team inexplicably succumb to despair and sit out, complaining it was hopeless. Later, they re-engaged but the level disparity had been created. Naturally, this created a lot of intra-team backbiting and excellent French swearing. Not from Stanton and I of course, the mild mannered creatures that we are. I think this attitude inevitably emerges from the ability to have a strategic overview of battle and issue commands. Naturally you begin to question what other players are doing, and when they mess up, you have confirmation bias of your own superior strategy and frustration when it isn’t followed. Not sure how you can ameliorate that, though. A tutorial on how to use the non-verbal commands and etiquette in doing so, perhaps?

    • amateurviking says:

      That would be Rich ‘Lord of the Pottymouths’ Stanton. Something about this story doesn’t quite ring true sir.

  2. airmikee says:

    The only PvP I’ve ever really enjoyed was old school Alterac Valley. Hours long back and forth pushes up and down the map. Leave the fight, log out, go to sleep, wake up, log in, and rejoin the exact same match that never ended. There was simply too much going on to bother reading the toxic chat, especially once Ivus and Lokholar entered the battlefield. Aside from that battleground during its heyday years ago, I’ve found toxic players ruining parts of any kind of online game. Even PvE raiding lost its appeal because of ninja looters, or raid leaders with short tempers and an affinity for abusive language.

    Other players ruin multiplayer games for me, which is why the only multiplayer games I play now are the ones that require little interaction with people I don’t know in real life.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I remember those games. At any rate, I wonder what, if anything, could be done to make people more wiling to coöperate.

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      I’m the same. I even avoid MMOs where cooperation is needed for content I would be interested in. I want the open world where the market is directly influenced by other players, I just don’t e-v-e-r wanna come in contact with any of those players.

      The only kind of multiplayer games I play are the ones where my own contribution to the match is completely irrelevant, chat is either non-existant or well hidden, and the matches are short. I managed to have a bit of fun with Titanfall, for example, and a lot of it was due to the short matches and the fact that I never even saw the chat. EVE was a blast as well (before I became a dad and MMOs of any kind became impossible to find time for), since it’s extremely solo-friendly, while at the same time sporting politics and economics that are extremely player-driven.

  3. Premium User Badge

    sharkwald says:

    I play in the beta most evenings, usually solo but v occasionally with a friend or one of the guys from the RPS forum. I’ve been surprised with how little of the classic MOBA animosity has been there. I think I’ve maybe played 3 games where a teammate has kvetched at the rest of the team, and even then that’s been of the “bah, we’ve lost because you’re all noobs” variety instead of “go and kill yourselves you retards”.

    So, so far so good, but I think this sort of thing really needs some systemic help to stop a bad culture developing, so I’m really interested to see what Blizzard do.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Don’t you think that’s because it’s still in beta? Once the floodgates open for the unwashed masses, there’ll be a much bigger number of jerks around.

      Anyway, the article mentioned them thinking of removing team-chat altogether. I immediately thought that’d be a great move, but then they say they’ll allow a toggle. I’ve had my fill of this disgusting genre, but yea, there’ll be a lot of people that will flip that toggle once and never touch it again. I may have had a terrible string of unlucky encounters, but never have I had a positive experience in a MOBA.

      • deffcap says:

        100% agree. The player base is still small and focussed so behaviour is better. The MOBA virus will spread soon enough.

        I think they are right to consider turning all-talk off, as a former LoL player, very few times can I think of when any useful or genuine advice was ever shared.

        • blueskin says:

          I’ve played nearly 4 years of dota 2 and sure there are some people who are mean, but mute has been there for a long, long time and solves the problem in less than a second. Chat bans happen and although I’m not convinced they really change behaviours (speaking as my friend regularly gets banned but still flames everyone) there are a step in the right direction.

          Regarding allowing no speaking between teams or any chat at all, its a social game with an emphasis on teamwork, you gotta take the bad with the good.

          When I make mistakes, i say sorry and ask for advice, and get this, people give me help!

          • Vin_Howard says:

            Yah, removing team-chat from a team game has to be the dumbest idea I have ever heard. If you don’t want to be dealing with other people and playing as a team, then just don’t play MOBA’s. Period.

            And removing all-chat is also a dumb idea as well because in all my years of playing multiplayer, receiving negativity from the other team is the rarest of the rare. More usually, all-chat is used for friendly banter between the teams, and I would have no interest in a game that removes it.

            With that said, Dota 2 has this thing call low-priority queue for those who misbehave. In other words, if you want to be a jerk/asshole, then you get to play with others of your kind. And I like that approach much better then these dumb, anti-social moves HotS is considering/using.

      • Premium User Badge

        sharkwald says:

        Probably it is because it’s still in beta, yes. However, I am hopeful that a positive beta culture will inform the early days of the game when it goes live (realistically into open beta).

        If that culture can be backed up with some smart tooling from Blizzard, then I think things can work.

        One example of this is the contextual pinging (which may or may not be in use in other MOBAs, I don’t know — I last played Dota when it was WC3 map); by making it much easier to communicate via pings, it reduces the impetus to use chat, which, in turns makes people less likely to type anything, including abuse. At least, I think so, I could well be proven wrong.

      • GHudston says:

        I always assumed that the lower rage levels were due to much, much shorter games. Getting trapped for an hour in a game full of rude, inconsiderate arsehole with no chance of victory in site is enough to make anyones blood boil. If you get back to the lobby faster you get a new chance to roll a team of different arseholes that might be more suited for you.

      • bstard says:

        The fanatic thrash talking inbreds will never take this game seriously. It’s the moba for the old people so to say.

  4. mtomto says:

    I dont get this game… shared levels and no items?! I understand that it might be more “fair”, so people wont snowball. It just wasnt fun when I tried it. It is a shallow experience.

    • Skeletor68 says:

      I am a shockingly bad Dota player. Really enjoy it. but mostly play co-op bot matches with pubs and my brother. I thought HoTS might be a really nice substitute for the intensity of Dota with more merciful mechanics and shorter matches. I found that it I didn’t really have engaging interaction though.

      No denies or last hits, item builds or amazing single player plays (from what I could perceive). I ended up uninstalling the beta pretty quickly. It has that nice Blizzard polish but individual player moment to moment gameplay felt very slow. I might also just be a bit bitter as Witch Doctor is my favourite class in D3 and Nazebo seemed a bit crap.

    • FuriKuri says:

      It’s practically everything I wanted from MOBA. A total reduction in boring yet stressful gameplay such as last hitting/denying minions, leaving maps with a good 15mins of utterly tedious play shaved off. No fucking “summoner’s rift” map (imagine if every FPS had one map and it was always just a slight variation of 2fort). No terrible meta progression like LoL’s rune system (although to be fair they did try it for awhile and wisely reversed course). Fights to me actually feel like they’re more based on skill and teamwork since there’s no item snowballing. And to top it all off, a handful of heroes which actually do something new and unique in terms of playstyle instead of being iterations of DotA 1 tropes.

      I’ve played this genre on and off since the original DotA and certainly had my doubts about HotS – but Blizzard really nailed down what makes these things fun IMO. Before I switched I was only really involved in LoL, and about the only joy I was getting was ARAM. Even then it was irritating due to often being completely boned due to a bad team comp. Anyone in this same position should definately try HotS.

      Btw Nazeebo is one of the strongest champs – his vengeful spirit ult is one of the best in the game. And his zombie ring is a great counter to some other champs.

      • Skeletor68 says:

        I guess I just wasn’t playing him right then. But his squishiness versus his range seemed off to me.

        I guess the progression seems a bit flat to me in the game then. Being able to be the player who farms well and makes some really dynamic play feels more exciting than what I have seen in HoTS. Playing someone like Storm Spirit or Mirana and zipping around making interceptions and fun plays just seems way more dynamic. Even if I don’t always use that extra complexity correctly! Maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance but I think if I had the choice of spectating a game I would definitely go with Dota.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        I played ALL of them including a truckload of WC3 mods, even HoN that seems disappeared and that one from some EA’s ancillary studio, which i think was… Dawngate?

        Anyway, point being, i also played HotS and indeed i can relate on some things, it surely has a good appeal and some extra diversions coming from all the other samey MOBAs, but in the end i think all their “streamlining” actually started to violate it’s literal definition a bit too much.

        I’m getting back to MOBAs now after having played them far too much in the past, and as it stands for now only SMITE really picks my interest. Not only it is pretty different and fresher, but it has it’s extra challenges aswell, it can be extremely twitchy at times and 95% of what you do is “skill shots”.

        The graphics are off course secondary but since they’re here i don’t see why i shouldn’t welcome the effort, and i can’t help but feel how pretty much any other MOBA is still playing it safe with that clicky clicky movement that only made sense when such modes were actually map mods of a RTS game, let alone the archaic stat systems and so on.

        Too many are playing it safe by being the “real” DOTA of yore, but that thing had obvious limits being a WC3 map, limit that didn’t need to be cloned. Still, i can give you that at least HotS is still trying to set itself apart.

    • GHudston says:

      DOTA is my preferred poison, but I play HotS when I feel like playing something a bit more laid back. Hardcore MOBAs like DOTA are exhausting to play so it’s nice to have something in the same vein to play when you’re not up for a 60-minute rage-fest.

    • Voqar says:

      To me it’s a game that’s more about teamwork and ease of teamwork than about individuals.

      I suck at LOL – I only play bot matches and gave up on PvP because while I can play decently from the bottom I’m a huge detriment to a team playing from the top, and bot matches in LOL are miserable due to how everybody is a monumental tool only doing what they want, which is usually ganking, jerking off in the jungle (pointless in a bot match and bots don’t jungle or deal with junglers), or people who think they need to tell everybody how to play.

      I like how storm is much more firmly objective based with less emphasis on the power of ganking.

      IMO the systems for building your characters are different but the end result is much the same without some of the tedium – which is kind of Blizzards MO – max fun, minimize tedium – it’s what they did the MMORPGs with WoW and IMO, they’re doing the same now with MOBA.

      I would be fine with the me first/me only and/or ganker types NOT playing storm and sticking with inducing misery in some other game. I’d much rather play games that emphasize team and teamwork over epeen and bratiness.

  5. El_Emmental says:

    Turning off teamchat is a poor decision, it’s cementing failure rather than addressing it. People refusing to communicate will inevitably move away from teamplay and won’t be able to coordinate with their teammates.

    In my opinion, devs mostly need to work on:

    – making the core elements of the game structure clearly visible and detailed to all players (and not just ‘something you learn by being insulted by your teammates over and over’), to make sure everyone is aware of the ‘rules’ of online MP games. Players shouldn’t have to find out about the simple meta or basic tactics by repeatedly failing to be a proper teammate.

    – making the ingame voice commands (not VoIP) much more fluid and useful than what they usually are in these games. A positive example of voice commands is the Tribes series: a specific voice command corresponds to a series of keys that can be typed very rapidly (using muscle memory) (see: link to tribes.wikia.com ).
    Orders such as “Don’t go solo!” or “Go mid!” should obviously be there, same with “Don’t feed, they’ve got the advantage!” or whatever. And, when failure happens, have snarky and sarcastic voice commands (with a spam prevention system) ready to use, so players don’t have to type their anger out using very insulting words.

    – balance the game in a way that keeps the game interesting and challenging, even when one team got the upper hand. Something like giving rewards for coming back in a game, giving the losing team a chance to achieve something, etc. Too many games (especially MOBAs) are over after a handful of encounters because of the snowball effect. Delaying a defeat with a good synchronized defense should be properly rewarded.

    (opt) Allow players to flag moments of a match as “negative” (with a replay function if possible), to later indicate (using “bricks”, assignable to a specific timestamp) what should have been done to prevent it: better accuracy, better timing of abilities, better evasive maneuvers, more aggressive chasing, earlier retreating, earlier regrouping, better communication, etc.

    If a team gets wiped in a killing spree, they can use that system during the respawn timer to communicate what they think went wrong and not make the same mistake again. The system would also be an interesting debriefing tool once the game is over.

    Players disappointed by their teammates would be able to channel that frustration and anger toward a constructive interaction, while the struggling players could better figure out what went wrong. I think it would reduce the amount of “you all sucks, learn to play or uninstall f*cking scrubs” messages.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Yep, this makes more sense.

      Also, while i absolutely welcome any effort ( that is not too restrictive to communication ) to solve the solution, this will always remain a genre in which you necessarily have to harden up a little, sad but true.

      Fortunately there are various way for people to train some thicker skin. As a random example, this very website features a “block” function. First pro tip: never use it.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        ‘harden up’ , ‘thicker skin’. Sorry but no. There’s no reason why people should have to put up with that shit in a video game or other online communities, they certainly wouldn’t put up with it in real life. And victim blaming doesn’t get us any closer to a better situation.

        The solution isn’t people sucking it up, it’s people not being assholes.

        • pepperfez says:

          And until we get to people not being assholes, it’s about the people in charge not allowing assholes to thrive in the community.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Sorry but no, this is actually what you have to do in the real life you so love to talk about.

          Talk to any “normal” person in the real world about your problems with people harassing you in videogames, then grab a chronometer and please report back the lenght of their laugh.

          It’s not that i can’t understand your point, mind, games are a pretty nice retreat and all, but you’re not going to get your My Little Pony pinky universe of choice if you dabble in any highly competitive game. You’re not gonna get your perfect social scenario in every internet place, truth be told it’s actually incredibly stupid that you should expect such a thing.

          You don’t need to believe me, you can just as easily grab some evidence here and there about how highly competitive titles are utterly unable to quell toxic behaviour to prove it. Nothing short of simply disabling all forms of communications would do.

          Playing something esle is a decent solution though.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Pro tip: the real world is filled with the same shitty people you meet in MOBAs, the fact that they speak more freely with the anonimity of the interwebz doesn’t make them any different.

            If you want to retreat to videogaming because you don’t want to harden up to the real world, then at least leave some kind of games alone, as those will attract all kinds of people in need of competition, including those who don’t give a shit about playing fair, but are just there to harass you and make you “rage”.

            It’s the same as the real world, there is no real difference, the fact that the scum of mankind finds it easier to express themselves in the safety of their chair doesn’t change anything. Maybe they’d be kinder in your face, but they still think you’re a jerkwad regardless.

          • jrodman says:

            I think it’s kind of telling that you’re the only person in the thread who I regularly consider using the block button on.

            Sometimes shutting down or blocking out negative behavior is really the answer, instead of accommodating it. And indeed I am being negative here, but saying “you have to tough it out” combined with the frequent stridency suggest a personality that could probably learn to untoughen.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Do as you want, really, i’m just trying to help.

            I’m not really against walling the problems off, i’m mostly advocating the idea of looking somewhere else. I don’t see why you should make this personal, or rather, i would still welcome it if only you brought any evidence of MOBAs ever finding a decent fix that doesn’t straight out involve blocking off more or less all communication.

            I really don’t think i have to untoughen, i have some negative experiences in the MOBA world but most of it was still positive, the criticism was almost never constructive, that’s absolutely true, but that’s life. Other than that i’m pretty happy of all the positive feedback i got when i tried to be helpful, work for my team and admitted my mistakes.

            Still, If you think it’s a sin to suggest some people who can’t fathom that some realities can’t always be reshaped in a safe haven to set their sight elsewhere, just push that button and call it a day.

          • El_Emmental says:

            “… the fact that they speak more freely with the anonimity of the interwebz”

            False assumption marketed to every citizens by authoritarian politicians, in order to provide even more power to the executive power on the online world. Do not fall for that fallacy.

            Most online platforms provide anonymity
            Aggressive behaviors is prevalent online
            Therefore, anonymity causes aggressive behaviors

            Also, Socrates is a dog

            All the social networks, all the games with a customizable profile, featuring the complete identity of the people involved, proved several hundreds (if not millions) of times that anonymity does not result in more aggressive behaviors. Anonymity does change the mindset of the people involved in a discussion, but it does not result in more attacks: correlation does not imply causation.

            The increased aggressivity and lack of inhibition seen online is caused by multiple factors, with the 2 main ones being:

            (1) Lack of visual and audio feedback: people can’t see the facial reactions of their opponents, nor hear the tone of their voice when they answer (along with the timing of it). Experiments communicating the face and/or the voice of the other person reacting to one’s messages showed a sudden change in behavior.

            (2) Lack of immediate social/physical control: people can say whatever they want, they will not be socially excluded (beyond the online place where they say these words) – nor have to deal with physical contact either (a threat, a a grab, a slap, a punch, etc). Offline, it is often seen among young tourists who: 1) do no have a social life to risk in that location 2) do not expect a physical response to their misbehavior (because of the strict ban on physical violence in most tourists places – locals have everything to lose/nothing to win in attacking tourists).

            Anonymity is NOT a significant factor when it comes to online aggressivity:

            Put 2 strangers in a room, both sitting at a table (add eye-mask if needed to really prevent any identification) – ask them to do an impossible task (that initially looks easy to do) – when they will inevitably fail, they will not attack or insult each others as they would do online, because they’ll immediately see if the other person is hurt, frightened, sorry, frustrated – and they can’t go beyond certain limits, otherwise they might get a physical response.

            Put 2 strangers in separate rooms. They have access to the identity (name, location) of the other person, but will not be able to meet each others (and do not live near each others). They can only communicate through printed messages. They have to cooperate on a complex task. The aggressivity will rapidly rise between the two, they’ll accuse each others of sabotaging or being too stupid to do simple tasks.

          • El_Emmental says:

            Also, TacticalNuclearPenguin has a point when s/he says users have to do their part and adapt to the various situations they’ll have to face through their online experience – same goes with offline life.

            It is not possible to establish a regime, a society where it would be impossible for bad behavior to ever exist – even if we could perfectly and objectively determine what is bad behavior and what is normal behavior misinterpreted as hostile.

            A society and its members that is not capable of tolerating a certain amount of misbehaviors and anti-social behaviors is a totalitarian one and we all saw how it clearly didn’t work in the past.

            No matter how shocking it may sound, it is because we are tolerating borderline sexism that we are also tolerating activists like the Femen setting up public naked protests desacralizing various elements of our cultures and morality. It is because someone can publish a mildly racist or disrespectful piece (risking lawsuits, boycotts, protests) that our society will also tolerate people marching for equal treatment and against discriminating policies. It’s only by accepting that we may not hold the Truth and accepting variance that we can move toward actual progress.

            That’s also why each citizen has to play its part in that system, and resist the temptation of using authority to forcibly remove what’s unpleasant to them.

            Say we ban insults, because it may hurt some people – it is now impossible to use any word that may be interpreted as an insult.
            = people switch to irony, sarcasm.
            = we ban irony and sarcasm. It’s not wild speculation: it happened in countless times and countries, and every time an online authority is challenged, irony and sarcasm *is* banned (along with anyone who dare to use it).
            = people switch to comedy, parody, burlesque.
            = we ban comedy, parody, burlesque, because it may hurt some people.
            = people switch to poetry, hiding what they mean behind verses, double-entendre and spoonerism.
            = we ban poetry, double-entendre and spoonerism, because it may hurt some people.
            = etc…

            There is no limit to that mindset: there will always be someone to be upset at someone else sharp criticism and mockery. We can’t justify restricting and abolishing so many freedoms for the entirity of citizens, simply because some of them refuse to tolerate unpleasant behaviors and speeches (up to a certain level) in return.

            That’s why I believe TacticalNuclearPenguin makes a serious point here: if we do not learn to tolerate a certain amount of unpleasant behaviors and instead expect – demand – that society suppresses them, we’re consciously disarming ourselves (condemning us to a life of passivity) while advocating for a more oppressive and rigid society. I do not support that.

        • P.Funk says:

          I’m sorry, what fantastical wonderland are you speculating about? People need to suck it up and not be assholes? Is that advice for just gaming, just the internet, or just the whole human race?

      • Frank says:

        Nah. The “block” button has many plenty of use beyond defending my sense of self. For example, I can block folks whose comments waste my time.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Yeah, I think letting players easily mute all communications at the start of the/every game is a bad way to go. I have had massive problems with toxicity making me nervous to play MOBAs, but in these last few months it has entirely ceased to be a problem, for one very, very simple reason: I mute people the instant they say anything at all caustic. It’s insane how much it helps.

      I think a system which encourages people to do just that is what should be worked on, rather than a system which encourages people to block all communications. For instance, have a very broad filter which detects everything that even might be toxic, and a popup appears with a button to mute the player. Or have a system which automatically mutes anyone who says things like “wtf” “bad” or “suck”.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Also, I think HotS does a pretty good job at making losing situations remain interesting. The only games I’ve ever played which just felt pointless, were when we got a 3 level deficit, which is huge, and even that can be made up for with just a few kills…but if you got that far behind, your team can rarely pull themselves together enough to ever catch someone out that bad.

        People still get discouraged though — I think bonus gold for a “comeback win” would be a really awesome idea, but I fear Blizzard might be too greedy with their monetization to be willing. Nobody would care if it was bonus experience, just like nobody cares about the bonus holiday XP, so…

  6. kael13 says:

    I just hit level 30 and entered the Hero League. Holy crap is it a whole different game now. The skill ceiling has apparently rocketed. Not sure if it’s because of my MMR or what. You’re either playing in matches that come extremely close to the wire or you’re getting creamed by what feels like MLG-level teams. At least, that’s my experience from the two games I’ve played so far. MOBAs give me extremely highly elevated emotions. No idea why, I’ve often been called an emotionless rock by friends (and my girlfriend) I’m an awful person to be around after a loss. So I occasionally offer uhm… Constructive criticism… To my team. But then I also sing their praises when we do well. Swings and roundabouts.

    Seriously though, the Illidan last night just WOULD NOT DIE.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Such games don’t give a shit about your emotionless rockyness, some people stop playing only after they are out of usable peripherals to actually play.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      “It’s one of these 2 experiences, based on a sample size of 2”. lol

  7. xfstef says:

    They should just ban Jesse Cox and their toxic players problem is going to be solved :D.

    • Skeletor68 says:

      That salty fecker! Make sure to watch the Cooptional Lounge laying Battlestar Galactica.

      • xfstef says:

        I’ve only watched the first part and I’m 100% sure that Dodger is the Cylon.

  8. derbefrier says:

    I sure would like to try this as it seems right up my alley but Blizzard insists on keeping their now decade long tradition of never inviting me to their betas.

  9. P-Dizzle says:

    It’s all very toxic and problematic. Gross.

  10. Karshan says:

    I haven’t got round to trying Heroes of the Storm yet (too much Diablo 3 in my life right now…) but I’ve plenty of experience in League of Legends and I think that “toxicity” as a topic transcends individual games within the genre as it tends to involve a reasonably small number of variables which create the problems.

    I think that firstly it’s a problem of perception – people think that MOBAs are full of foul mouthed individuals which turns off people who want to avoid that kind of community and draws in a certain type of person who is just looking to giggle to themselves and say “trollface!” when they get a reaction. I can see what Blizzard are trying to do here by putting a marker down early and being firm about saying “we won’t tolerate this” but the flip side of that is to people who aren’t following the minute of the MOBA scene will read it as “Oh, so that game has problems as well”. That’s especially prevalent when the reviews filter up to mainstream press who will run with the clickbait headline or when you’re looking at a title like the one to this article – “Handling toxic players” will mean people skimming will form a set conclusion and that a subset of gamers will interpret it as a “SJW” issue (I’m not saying it is, I’ve been shouted at plenty in LoL, just that there’s a chunk of people who will).

    In terms of stopping it from happening I think you need to have carrots for people that do just occasionally type things in the heat of the moment and for situations where something is viewed as being toxic but where that isn’t the intention of the person doing it. A classic example of this is where a player isn’t talking very much and a member of the team gets cross because you’re “refusing to communicate”.

    Something Blizzard did with WoW might be worth looking at here – rather than just clicking “Accept” on the terms and conditions you have to scroll to the end of them before the button becomes available. You could set up the chat function so that it doesn’t just filter expletives (code they already have because they use it in WoW) but that it actively makes a note that a player has used one. Then at the end of the game you have to sit through a video (people won’t read text) explaining that you’ve been naughty and that if you keep doing it then the stick will come out. If people Alt+F4 out of the video or if they don’t watch it (stick a timer on clicking “OK” to confirm you’ve watched it and understood so if it isn’t clicked in, say, 30 seconds, the game can work out you’ve wandered off and haven’t watched the video) then it keeps playing until you do watch it properly. If you don’t do it again for a set timeframe the counter resets and if it keeps happening then you keep getting longer and sterner videos which lead to being queued with others who troll and then a ban if it keeps happening.

    If you *really* wanted to stamp it out properly then Blizzard have two excellent tools they can make use of – 1) you don’t just get banned from Heroes, you get banned from all of Blizzard’s games and 2) get some form of payment information off people and if they do get banned that information goes off to law enforcement to be looked at as online harassment.

  11. Arathain says:

    I don’t get to play all that frequently, but I can say that at the lower skill tiers, which is where I imagine I must be, toxicity is minimal. Some folks get frustrated sometime, but I haven’t seen a decent into rage addled insults more than once or twice.

  12. rbsupreme says:

    No individual play in here, if you want to blame someone when losing you must blame yourself too.

  13. Haymaker19 says:

    I’ve been playing for almost 3 months now (just hit lvl 40 with over 300+ games) and its been fairly tame luckily. However, this is not counting the occasional “you are all noobs” and minor bickering between teammates, that I usually try to stay out of. However, last night I had my most toxic interaction to the point that the punk worked in a go kill yourself comment, the first I ever received!

    To give you the scenario, we are in a fairly tight match on Blackheart’s Bay and I’m Illidan. This guy calls me out as the “epitome of what is wrong with HOTS”, out of the blue. To this point I’ve got same number of take downs as him and been doing well collecting coin. My hero dmg & exp numbers are lower then I like them to be but not many opps to gank or many team fights at this point, with everyone focus on coin collection. So it escalated from there…

    Now cut to the end of the match, our team wins of course and I finish with only .25 less take downs as him and have less deaths while finishing with the highest map mechanic score… and to top it all off I find he is only level 13! Unbelievable! Of course I just should have taken advantage of the chat mute button as soon as he started being toxic and brushed it off. The pinging system is enough to communicate effectively in a quick match anyway. Lesson learned.