In the comments on yesterday’s post on Hellgate, Gahaz posted a link to this, which is a post from one of the last remaining programmers working on Hellgate. It is, as others have said, a depressing read.
The worst part is that he’s obviously painfully aware of the problems with Hellgate, but powerless to fix them. There would be hope for the project if it were still fully staffed, and they just needed a nudge from the fans to focus their efforts in the right place. But as it stands, it looks like the project is now on a skeleton crew and everyone else has jumped to other projects. They say that success has a thousand fathers, and failure is an orphan. That seems to be the case here.
It’s a shame because the more I look at things, the more it looks like Hellgate could have gone on to have some degree of success. People like the idea. They like the people behind it. They want to love the game. Lots of MMO games (which Hellgate sort of is) had rough releases and went on to fix the bugs and do well in the end. Hellgate isn’t getting that chance. When the game failed to become a cash cow, the staff was cut and the thing has been left to limp along until it drops dead.
It has to be rough for the people that left. They originally made an incredibly successful game. (Diablo II) Then their company (Blizzard) was bought out. I’ve never learned why, but something about the buyout made them unhappy enough to jump ship and form their own company. They started with a big vision, and worked away at it until they went broke. They were then forced to sell all of their efforts so far to EA in order to secure the backing to finish the thing. They avoided working for Vivendi Games, but in the end wound up working for a corporate monolith anyway, and this time it owned five years of their work. The game was released before it was ready – either because they were too slow or EA was too impatient, I’m not going to judge that one – and earned a quiet “meh” from fans. The staff was cut, many quit, and the dream ended.
I’m going to post the rest of my series of Hellgate, although it feels like beating a dead horse now.