The Importance of Being HoN-est
The community of Defense of the Ancients’ spiritual successor Heroes of Newerth was rocked this week after an announcement from S2 Games that HoN had suffered “a catastrophic hardware error”.
For anyone who didn’t know, HoN is an adaptation of popular Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne mod Defense of the Ancients (or DotA). The original mod once boasted around 60% of all custom games played on Frozen Throne and involved a RTS (Real-Time Strategy) approach to a hero based game where you control one character and gradually level up and gain better items. It was almost an RPG in an RTS shell, or what a friend of mine deprecatingly referred to as “The poor man’s WoW”.
Heroes of Newerth was developed to be more of a clone than a successor, improving the engine and graphics of DotA while keeping the same (or very similar) heroes, items and strategies. This isn’t the first game to try this, from League of Legends (supposedly from the original creators of DotA) to the recently announced “Blizzard” DotA being developed for StarCraft II. But these similar replications aside, HoN was generally thought to be the closest adaptation to the original game as well as being the most popular.
Or at least it was. Following what S2 Games calls a “almost statistically impossible” error when upgrading the processors on their database boxes, the file systems on both their main and backup systems were accidentally destroyed.
What does this mean in lay man terms? Well as S2 so eloquently put it:
“This leaves us with no hardware to operate our DBs from until we can get new servers online. The reason for such a catastrophic situation is that this hardware is not the type that is simply sitting around, even in the largest hosting facilities in the world (in which we host at). We are scrambling to bring our systems back online temporarily so you can play the game through other short term methods while we get new hardware online.”
Not exactly the most reassuring statement they could have put forward, but something to note is that the company is being very, very upfront with people. Other companies (*Cough* PlayStation: “It’s only short term, we haven’t been very severely hacked” *Cough*) may have tried to put a brave face on the problem, claiming “short scheduled down time” or “unexpected volume of traffic”.
But S2 has been refreshingly frank about the situation they face which, against all odds, actually reassures me more than veiled responses about results “to be delivered very soon” or the traditional “Servers are down at the moment. Will be back later.”.
Something big companies forget when they decide not to panic their player base with details they “didn’t really” need to know is that the more involved we are in the restoration process, the more we can forgive the parties involved. I know that now I personally have faith that as soon as there is more information to be shared about the state of the HoN servers S2 will share it with me, and that’s quite a rare thing to have in this media-wary industry.
Sometimes we have to remember that although a mistake tends to look bad, often lying makes you look worse.
UPDATE: S2 Games released another statement where they had this to say:
"Following the DDoS attacks in May, we retained a world renowned internet security firm to secure our network (this required significant software and architecture changes). After our network was secured, our then current hosting provider began experiencing connectivity issues. On June 9th, we began a transition to one of the premiere hosting companies in the world. Though the transition period was rocky, we had the system in a near 99% functional state. It was at this time that CPU upgrades to the database boxes were needed to allow for additional capacity and consistency of service. On Tuesday, June 21st, the replacement of the CPUs was started. Upon bringing the boxes back online, the engineers noticed anomalies in the raid setup, causing a total loss of data on the master and slave boxes. Following these events, they immediately attempted a restoration process on the data, it is unknown at this time if any of the data is recoverable. Concurrent to this happening, we began work to bring up our previous provider’s network that was still in place with the data from June 9th, which brings us to today. We are currently running on a temporary system while we construct our new environment at another hosting firm. Due to this system’s temporary nature, not all services may be operating at 100%.
We are planning for another maintenance window at which point we will switch to the new infrastructure. During this transition, we intend on having the game playable and will inform the playerbase of this maintenance at a later time."