fragster: What are your plans in the competitive direction? Where is HoN heading in the eSports sense?
Pu 'DivA' Liu: In eSports, we are continuing to develop new ways to involve both the casual and professional players. For example, we announced HoN Tour a while ago, and we’re still working on creating the best eSports event we can, to really continue building up eSports our eSports community. In our eSports, we want different skill levels all competing. We always want something the players can be a part of and really engage with directly. They can say "Wow, that player is really, really good! I am gonna work my way up to this because I am a part of this community!"
HoN Tour got criticised a lot because it is taking so long. Can you reveal why the development takes so much time and can you tell us when it is actually being released?
DivA: The reason why HoN Tour is taking so long is because we want it to be absolutely perfect and there are so many moving parts involved. We want it to be an ultimate experience, part of this awesome community we want to build up, not just a tournament. If we would've wanted it to be just a tournament, it would have been out a year ago. It’s definitely coming, and we hope to have updates about it very soon.
Do you have plans to hold the HoN Tour finals at an offline event like DreamHon?
DivA: Like I said, HoN Tour is still in development, but definitely coming. We’ll announce details about the structure as soon as possible, but it will definitely be structured so that everyone can play in.
Is this going to be a standalone event of S2 Games or will it be part of a convention?
DivA: Again, this is yet to be determined. We definitely want our community to be able to engage with HoN Tour as much as possible, and we’re working on a plan and will encourage people to do that.
That's of course a very big part of the competitive future. Do you still look into other established leagues like NASL?
DivA: We are definitely evaluating possibilities, leagues like NASL and MLG are always on our radar. At the same time, we want to carefully balance what our mission is and what our goals are with HoN Tour and other levels as well. We elected to not participate in the third NASL season, after being a part of the second NASL season, because we wanted to focus more on our own projects. That might change in the future however.
Let's talk a bit about the event. The DreamHon was marketed as a World Cup. With the expanding regions, is it going to take place every half year with DreamHack and become a bigger tournament?
DivA: HoN is a global game and we are definitely growing DreamHon to be a global event.We are planning to bring DreamHoN back to DreamHack Winter this year and it's going to be amazing to see teams from all of our regions competing. The EU, NA and Australian teams are very strong and have performed really well. But given the extra six months and that motivation for the SEA teams and the CIS region it will be awesome to see what the dynamic will be. So we are very excited to continue to run DreamHon at upcoming DreamHacks and continue our work on bringing all these regions together. HoN is a global game and we want DreamHon to be a global event.
Is this the only global event in development or are you planning more tournaments like this?
DivA: We are constantly looking for more ways to involve everyone who plays HoN. No matter where they live, we want to bring them all together. I wouldn't say it was the first time we did a World Cup online, but it was the first in a global LAN Event. It was the first but it won't be the last. I know we have DreamHon but I am sure we will do other things like this as well.
I also want to talk about the small tournaments. Like It's Gosu was keeping up a constant flow, when the official site was a little bit low after NASL and DHW. Are you supporting those tournaments in the future a bit more?
DivA: We have always supported those tournaments very directly and we will continue looking for more opportunities to make sure that there is always something going on. The competitive scene needs to have something going on constantly. People want to feel like there is always something they can measure themselves by. And I truly believe in that. That is another goal for HoN Tour, giving player something to strive for constantly. And we will also continue supporting smaller constant tournaments to keep people engaged, as well.
Honcast is getting a studio and will operate more professionally. Which impact will this have on the steady flow and the competitive scene overall?
DivA: The Honcast studio is going to be absolutely amazing and we have actually completed construction. It's going to be amazing not only for eSports, but for our entire community. It is building on the HoN experience, it won't just deliver eSports content. We have a lot of plans to expand the Honcast programming, like doing professional match recaps, having stats and doing interviews with players in this cool virtual studio. Beyond that there will be segments that teach people how to play better and really engage people in the community. Furthermore we will be talking about upcoming balance changes and why they are made. So we'll be really just interchanging with the community more than as the mouthpiece of the company. That is something we are really excited about.
Can you tell us an estimated time for the studio?
DivA: We plan on producing out of the studio. In terms of live casting and stuff this is yet to be determined.
Your game faces strong competitors in the MOBA market like League of Legends and the upcoming Dota 2. How do you think your company can deal with this competition?
DivA: We've been dealing with competition for a really long time now and our mentality has never changed. We are always striving at topping the bar we set ourselves, although we are always conscious about our competitors and respect what they do. It is good to see what they bring to the genre. All the MOBAs and all these companies bring different things to the genre, at the end of the day this is making the pie bigger for all of us. We love to see new things come out, we love to see new challenges and we love to set the bar higher and higher. That really comes from ourselves, we want to always improve our own work. So while we are very conscious of our competitors, we are really competing against ourselves.
Are you afraid that, at some point, those two will get all the viewers and HoN will be left aside?
DivA: I think one of the strong aspects of the genre is that the games are all different enough, they all bring different things to the table. Overall, HoN has a great player experience, and we’re constantly focused on making it better. I think our work speaks for itself. Also I feel that HoN has die hard fans, and they prove it right now.
Where do you see your biggest advantage against those competitions?
DivA: I think HoN has a lot of strong aspects over our competitors, but I also think all these companies have great things about them. What we do really well is that we are just a part of the community, for better or worse. And we are trying to improve, we are always looking to be a part of the community, but a better part, to set an example. We just try to be real, we are not carefully crafting burocratic messages all the time. We are there to say what the company thinks, what the individual players think, because we are all players of our game. At the end of the day I feel that we are able to connect with our fans in a very real way.
Do you have any final words to share with the community?
DivA: Just thank you so much to our community for supporting us, playing the game and sharing our passion. That's really my favorite thing to say because our community is really sharing our passion and that makes it so rewarding. When people make fan art for something you work on, or you see people lining up in front of your booth or staying up to 5:30 in the morning and returning at 9AM to see the resumption of those games – that is one of the most rewarding thing for a person. To all the people who offer that to us: Thank you very much!