I don’t usually care when I spend an evening losing at League of Legends. I’ve always accepted that losing is part of the game, and sometimes, you just have off nights. What actually got to me a little bit was something else I lost tonight – my Honorable Opponent Badge.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this system, and you might not be because it really isn’t something you hear about any more, the Honor initiative was designed to allow summoners to reward each other for positive behavior. You could even reward opponents who you felt were particularly nice. This was the badge I was proudly wearing. To keep your badge you needed to consistently be awarded the Honor related to that badge. I found that if I was given Honor by an opponent once a week this was usually enough to keep my badge active.
Today, without warning, my badge was gone. I am actually a little surprised that this upset my as much as it has. Since they made some minor changes to the system last February, Riot has seemingly been content to let Honor fall by the wayside. There really is no incentive for players to maintain their Honor, other than out of a sense of pride or accomplishment. I was quite proud of my Honorable Opponent, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that maintaining it was more or less a game I played with myself, not a code that I lived by.
I always try and stay on my best behavior in League of Legends. I don’t appreciate people being mean or rude to me, and I try and treat others the same way. This is something I did long before the Honor initiative was ever considered. When Honor was first introduced, my normal behavior was often enough to win me Honor from opponents and teammates alike. Lately, when I have wanted to obtain Honor to keep my badge active, I have found that I have to resort to fishing for Honor.
To elaborate on this a bit more, my fishing process generally involves me throwing a bunch of empty niceties at members of the other team. Often this is done while my friends accuse me of brown nosing or being a suck up. Usually I identify these “likely to give Honor” players in the post game chat by what they are saying. Then I would hit them with some compliments, agree with their gripes and bam, Honor would be mine. I worried that I was the only one who was doing something like this, but I went to the forums (always a scary experience) and was actually able to find a guide someone had written up to help people obtain the Honor badge of their choice. Check it out here. It comes complete with talking points and everything.
On the one hand you have to admire people for trying to do anything possible to keep their Honor intact, but is that really how we want it to be? Do we want a system that has grown so stagnant that the only way to get Honor is to develop a system, totally separate from your normal behavior, that allows you to chase Honor just for the sake of chasing Honor, without even caring about what that Honor represents?
Heading in to season’s end Riot had a golden opportunity to do something with the Honor system. Even as they were coming up with unique ways to reward us for our ranked exploits they could have been offering us skins, ward skins, summoner icons, anything that would have kept the Honor system in the spotlight. I know offering rewards to keep people “honorable” isn’t really a solution. There is a risk that the Honor being given is just as hollow as it is now. But if it keeps the system relevant and encourages even a couple thousand players to act a little bit nicer towards each other I would consider that a successful restarting of the system.
Even though much of what I say when fishing for Honor is meaningless, I still believe that hearing nice words is always better than hearing mean ones. There are also times when I genuinely do like to give Honor to my opponents or team mates who I feel have done a really good job, been very nice, or have put up with some really nasty teammates. In these instances, I really wish that they would get something for that Honor even if it is only a cool icon or a cheap ward skin.
Maybe Riot does have some great plan for the Honor system in Season 4. Sadly, my guess is that a lot of their effort has been put into the new Team Builder feature that they will be implementing soon. Don’t get me wrong, I think this new feature has a lot of potential. I just wish that Riot would show a little more willingness to continue to work with a system that had once shown so much promise.
For a while, Honor made all of us behave a little better, Riot had the stats to prove it, and I will always support and cherish anything that encourages this community to treat each other in a positive manner. I just worry that no end of season news is bad news for this system. What would have been a great time to make a change has simply become another opportunity to strengthen the system lost.
Without any major changes or new initiatives I can’t help but feel that the Honor system will slowly fade away, much like my own badge did.