Flagship: “We ended up rushing Hellgate”

It's Albi the racist dragon

I recently had a bit of a chinwag with Flagship COO Max Schaefer for Eurogamer. Primarily it’s about free MMO Mythos, a game they sound supremely confident about: “Can we take down the big boys? I think we can take down some of them. And I’d like to put a dent in the others.” He’s also remarkably honest about its similarities to Diablo and WoW, adamant that being so is in their audience’s best interests.

There’s also some interesting light-shining on the Hellgate: London balls-up. Of course he doesn’t actually say it’s a balls-up, but it certainly sounds as though Flagship are no longer pretending all is sweetness and light in Hellgateland: “When you’re starting with a brand new game studio with very limited budget and no existing technologies, that was probably biting off too much.” Read the full interview here. It was a long old chat – there’s another 3000 words on the cutting room floor, which I may lob up here later on.


  1. kenok says:

    Heh! Good for them to finally acknowledge that.

    Now, if someone from Flagship fix the SEA patching issue (we’re lagging behind really bad)… oh wait, I uninstalled the game eons ago!

  2. Meat Circus says:

    They also ended up making Hellgate shit.

  3. rocketeer says:

    No kidding.

    It’s a real bad, ugly game, plus the limitations (no LAN?, different subscription models?) make it even worse.

    Flagship dropped the ball with Hellgate. Hard. I certainly expected waaaaaaaaay better from Bill Roper & co.

  4. cullnean says:

    also the spin off novels (sucker for sci-fi) were pure shit filled with spelling mistakes. no suprise really

  5. martin says:

    ahh, hellgate. the hyped game i anticipated last year and that bombed after release.

    ahh, aitd. the hyped game i anticipated this year and that bombed after release.

    does anyone else see a pattern?

  6. MeestaNob! says:

    When they (if ever) get it sorted out, I hope they issue a new demo to re-introduce the game to the gaming community again.

    It was shit, but they really tried their best from all reports, I’d be happy to give it another go if it’s improved.

  7. dhex says:

    spin off novels?

    jesus christmas and a barrel of fudge.

  8. neoanderthal says:

    oy – have any of you [people] played hellgate since launch? i see an awful lot of ‘it sucked at launch because of (insert various reasons relating to unfinished state, it wasn’t diablo II.5, etc.)’, but i haven’t seen much from anyone who’s tried it lately to see if their opinion still holds.
    You have no problem with a shite game like crysis, where repeated attempts to improve the performance of the game had little effect, and which the developer has given up on (instead correcting their mistakes with the sequel of the game), yet continued development on hellgate gets not even a grudging ‘least they could do, but it’s getting better’.

  9. Ian says:

    @neoanderthal: To be honest, I think more sites/magazines would do well to revist MMOs anyway. Is it holding up after being initially great? is it better after starting out badly? We want to know without having to trawl forums to find new opinions.

  10. terry says:

    This story really needs a “no shit, sherlock” tag.

  11. Chris R says:

    I still have Hellgate installed… maybe I should fire it up to see if anythings changed… I have a level 50 Evoker using mainly the Arc Lightning skill along with some other lighting spell… can’t remember now.

    It seemed like an all right game at the time… but didn’t hold me for more than a month and a half sadly. I was a non-sub by the way, and SO glad I didn’t get suckered into that “Founders” nonsense.

  12. Pseudonym says:

    I nominate this post for the ‘Best Alt Text of the Month’ award.

  13. Shadout says:

    Hellgate isnt as bad as it was received at launch, and it has certainly improved. Something like a 1GB patch should be released soon too, with major game balancing (for better or worse, havent tried the test server).
    Still, its not exactly a super great game, lots of game design mistakes, and it will likely never be a great game. But a decent Diablo clone “while we wait for the real deal” none the less.
    Unfortunately not worth a subscription and not good enough without a subscription.The subscript-model was surely their biggest mistake for the game.

  14. Noc says:

    Yeah. I hear Blizzard’s just putting out another Diablo clone, though.

  15. Optimaximal says:

    Too think, if it had been released without the ‘lifetime sub’ option, or even as a free MMO supported by more micro-payments and advertising (like, say, Mythos!), people would have cut them some slack…

    But asking for £100 up-front based on some members of the teams contributions to another companies game released 8 years prior with nothing else to show for it other than a shit-load of empty promises (most of which turned out to be lies) was tantamount to piracy – and the bad form, at that!

    Flagshipped, indeed!

  16. malkav11 says:

    Hellgate is what it is. Meanwhile, Mythos is shaping up pretty well. I don’t know whether it will compete with Diablo III when that comes out (except on price, of course), but it and Titan Quest are, I think, the best inheritors of the Diablo legacy to date.

  17. Chiablo says:

    I played it in Beta and loved it… when it went retail I lost interest and never actually picked it up.

    Once it hit the $30 mark, I bought it (this was almost 8 months after launch)… it has come a long way and is a ton of fun with a group, but overall it failed to keep my attention for long.

    Mythos is amazing though, definitely worth playing if you’re a fan of fast paced action.

  18. Phil H says:

    Founder and fairly regular player of Hellgate here, I’m personally enjoying it, but if you had fits with it right off, I’d wait for the upcoming 2.0 patch(currently living on their test center) to hit before attempting to jump in as it is definitely bringing about some huge rebalances to the game.

    Primarily- stat feeds, along with armor and damage calculations, have been completely overhauled, the Blademaster’s skill tree has been totally reworked, smaller tweaks to the other class’s skills, adding 3 skills for each class, more weapons and armor, a new item class- trinkets, new weapon/armor grades(Double-Edged, Mythic), a half dozen or so new zones(including a party-oriented area that goes ~10-15 levels deep), Achievement bonuses, new mobs and bosses(with new models), along with a host of other small tweaks and additions. Some of it is sub only, some items only drop in sub areas but can be used by anyone, and some is for all.

  19. Hmm-hmm. says:

    Although I never purchased it, I followed the game for a bit. Reading reviews, waiting trailers, etc. It was disaster, mostly. And every time I think of the game I think of this trailer ( link to gametrailers.com ) and what might have been. Then again, maybe it will be (or is) worth a second look, regardless of the awful payment scheme. As long as the gameplay is good.

  20. GeorgeR says:

    I admittedly had high hopes for hellgate, and kept playing through the server problems and bugs. But two months ago I uninstalled it and haven’t thought about putting it back in since. It was fun for what it was, and had a lot more potential, but sadly the ball was dropped way too hard.

  21. Redford says:

    If you ever saw the old videos of hellgate, it looked awesome. It was an FPS, except with custom weapons and many, MANY more monsters then what you might expect. The sad part is they tried to turn it into diablo. Why didn’t they just stick with an FPS which swarms monsters at you with upgradeable weapons and limited RPG elements? Think Serious Sam with a shotgun that can be upgraded to shoot lasers.

    We may never know.

  22. Dominic White says:

    As has been mentioned, Hellgate was rushed out early, but the patch that just went up on the test server (which everyone should play on anyway, as it has double XP gain) weighs in at an almighty 1.3gb, and really does make it into the game it should have launched as.

    Here’s hoping that they can rebuild the subscriber base after some time. Other games have done it – Everquest 2 was a trainwreck at launch, and now it’s excellent, and has a very healthy playerbase. I figure Hellgate could well do the same. Sure, it’ll never be as big as Diablo 3, but it’s a different game, by a much smaller developer.