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This, Age of Conan, and Master of Orion 3 are probably the top 3 tragedies of the industry.
I won't get into the other two titles, but Hellgate held SO much potential.
In fact, it held so much potential that I'm actually going to try the F2P version - even if every fiber of my being tells me it's a pathetic and cheap cash-grab.
It SCREAMS amateur-hour and lazy handling of the work of Flagship Studios.
Yeah, I know, they totally messed up on the launch - and they utterly failed in terms of PR. I know people like to blame Bill Roper - and I'm not saying he's an angel or a particularly smart business person. That said, he seems very human to me - or he did in the interviews I used to follow during Flagship's time.
That said, we can't really know the full details of what on behind the scenes. We can but guess and estimate.
Personally, I saw a talented team that over-extended themselves. They simply didn't have the pragmatic business approach needed to make all of what they tried to do work well. They wanted a happy medium between a static "Diablo 2" experience and the dynamic flow of content of an MMO. They tried implementing a subscription model that was 50% cheaper - and they hoped this would provide them with the resources needed to make "mini-expansions". To call it a failure - is putting it mildly.
But looking at the CORE gameplay of Hellgate - I think it's the best hack/slash game in existence. It just "feels" right and has a fantastic pace. They did a lot of interesting things with the formula, and a lot of it went unnoticed. One small example was the way they handled "dynamic music" in the game.
The music would change according to how many enemies you were facing, and it would ramp up and become almost trance-like in a room shock-full of battle. That got the adrenaline pumping, and I thought it was a brilliant little feature.
I REALLY wanted the game to succeed - and I did all I could to make that happen, supporting them all the way.
In the end, it was not to be.
Now, we'll get this half-assed F2P version. They completely did away with the DX10 mode, which actually made the game look pretty damn good - especially in terms of shadows and the reacting smoke effects.
They changed the already weak story to something I wouldn't even call worthy of an indie title. It's just messy and non-sensical crap.
They even managed to introduce new visual bugs - like semi-transparent objects with "holes" in them.
The cash-shop will allow purchase of game-altering balance stuff, like vital skill points. Yeah, it's a "cash-shop" game - but at least they could introduce a subscription option.
I don't think it will be a success - and I don't see any shred of care for the game they're handling.
This is a whine-post - sorry. I just had to get it out
I want Hellgate back in the hands of people who care for it!