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The honor system is kind of bad

I mean, it could at least be better.

A few weeks ago, Riot released the updated honor system. It basically had everything that we all wanted: rewards for not being a jerk, punishments for jerks and cool new graphics. In theory it is perfect. In practice ... it could be better. The beautiful thing about the current Honor system is that it only needs a few tweaks to make it awesome and fun. At the same time, without those tweaks in place it feels a little lifeless.

OK, so let’s talk about it.

You jump into a game and you find that rare beam of sunshine on your team. Not someone who is overly smiley and annoying, but someone who is just positive all game, never tilts and praises good plays while forgiving poor ones. It feels good to commend that person at the end of the game, and it feels good to be commended for being that person.

But aside from the little boops and pings on the score screen, nothing changes. You roll over to your profile page and nothing sticks out. No meters have moved. Why?

I think we can all agree that going down should be pretty fast. Not so fast that one game where you act like a jerk can ruin you forever, but fast enough that acting like an ass should be strongly discouraged.

Going up should be a slower process, so when you hit people that are nice, it is noticeable. However, there is a difference between slow and “this system has been out for weeks, is level three real?” Honor three should be very accessible with something like four and five taking far longer. If I had to be the nicest man alive in all my League games for a year to get five, that makes sense to me. But three? Come on.

It is so strange to me that it seems that Riot took inspiration from the mastery system here, but didn’t carry over the best quality: the progress bar. Humans are pretty simple, watching numbers go up makes us happy. When those numbers are translated into bar forms and have visual effects associated with them, things are even more appealing. Every game you play with a champion, even if you were trash, you can see the numbers go up. Why don’t I get a progress notification when I am honored? Just a “hey, you are getting pretty close to level three, keep it up friend.”

I understand that a progress meter seems exploitable. Unlike the mastery system, I think Riot wants to keep the intricate workings of Honor behind closed doors, since it directly influences player behavior. But all of that being said, it simply feel like honor is forgettable right now. I was so excited to try it out and now I never even think about it. I get to the end of the game and either honor my friends or the person on my team that I hated the least.

That is not promoting the positive warm fuzzies that I wanted from this. I don’t feel a sense of progression. One of these days I will probably get level three and my reaction will just be “really?” Because how are you supposed to track this thing? I just want to know if people like me, game. Why can’t you tell me if I’m charming?

I don’t know if I am closer to level three or one at this point. I would assume and hope that its three, but how am I supposed to know? The game has no way to communicate that I am either being a good boy or an angry panda. It just sits there, waiting for me to be the best I can be or the worst, one or the other. It has no intention of updating me along the way.

Thats what we need, communication. A lack of communication stems from most (all) of life’s great problems, but this feels like an easy win. Opening up the science of this system is scary, I understand that. Some people will want to exploit it or figure out a way to gain everything and get all the keys. That creates extra work, people that Riot has to hunt down and ban. This entire honor system is a bonus, meant as an incentive for players to stay on the Nice List. People forget it’s there because it just doesn't matter, and if it doesn’t matter, its broken anyway. Right?

I also think that we should get rid of the three honor badges. Just do one. This person was cool. That’s all we need. Everything else feels a little arbitrary and weird. Keep it simple and give me a meter.

All of that complaining to say that I actually do like the system, despite its obvious flaws. In many ways, that is what makes these small annoyances into big problems for me. Its so close. I can just feel how awesome it would be if we could just make it a little farther.

In the first few days of this system’s release, I had some of the nicest people in my games. I was even super nice, nicer than usual certainly (not that I am some kind of saint on the reg, but I try to keep my mouth closed rather than yell at people for being bad, like a jerk). Everything felt positive, but everyone forgot about it, including me. If we felt its reverberations, how it was affecting your profile, maybe the world of League of Legends would be as nice as Riot wants.

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