Hellgate: London Second Look – Hellgate Chronicles Chronically Bugged

hellgate_london_preview_video.jpg

Flagship Studios released its first major patch for Hellgate: London yesterday after a short delay. Unfortunately, it appears that it should have waited a little longer before releasing this one into the wild.

stonehenge.jpgI covered the contents of the first edition of Hellgate Chronicles (as it is called) yesterday, so I’ll only briefly sum up the new content. The Evoker and Guardian classes were completely overhauled, and multiplayer subscribers were treated to the new Stonehenge content. After several hours of multiplayer gameplay here’s what I have found:

  • There’s a new display option to help with virtual memory issues by filtering how many unique characters will be displayed.
  • A number of tweaks have been applied to the item modification process, such as requiring nano shards to use the Nano Forge to upgrade weapons.
  • All in all, most of the changes are for the better.

However there are several problems with this patch that haven’t been ironed out even after two weeks in beta. There are sound distortion issues with some sound cards. The lag was incredible on a server with an average population making mouse movements difficult. After I’d been killed by four identical rare MOBs spawned at one point, I found that my video display didn’t revert to color after I revived. I wasn’t able to normalize my display even after using a PRD or traveling via the Station Terminal.

When I first reviewed Hellgate: London, I gave it a fairly good rating. I did cite the difficulties with release, but chalked them up to a new company pushing to meet a deadline. Flagship Studios has several veterans on staff, however people still need time to learn to communicate effectively and work together well. Unfortunately, it seems the Flagship Studios’ team may not be functioning as a cohesive unit yet. Despite the firm launch plans and the extra month delay, part of the reason for further delay of the patch was the release had been broken thanks to a developer putting in “some strings (lines of text in skills and such)” that are meant for the next big update. Perhaps Flagship just isn’t ready to sail into the open ocean yet, and should follow the coastline a little longer.

The bigger question I see on the game‘s website is “Is this worth $10 a month to subscribe to?” and unfortunately the answer at this point is wait a little more. Let Flagship pull out a few more content updates and see if you want those. The current crop – Stonehenge included – is not even as much content as free MMO’s like Guild Wars pushed out shortly after launch and definitely isn’t on par with 1st tier games like Lord of the Rings Online or World of Warcraft.

Personally I hope this product survives and thrives, but it is becoming unfortunately clear that Flagship Studios may not quite be ready to support all their grand plans.

via Hellgate Forums

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6 Comments on Hellgate: London Second Look – Hellgate Chronicles Chronically Bugged

Shawn Sines

On January 23, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Didn’t want to make the article too much longer but as you must login to get this from the link, here is the official announcement from Scapes-Flagship, community manager for the studio at 1-21-2008, 1:50PM:

“Hellgaters,

For those who aren’t aware, a new build was pushed to Test Center late last night. This build accidentally had some strings (lines of text in skills and such) that weren’t intended for Stonehenge Chronicles. In fact, it had entirely previously-unseen skills that are intended for a future Chronicle. Naturally, this gave us some pause. I learned of this one just as I walked into the office about 45 minutes ago.

I hear your frustration. I know there’s disappointment. However, yesterday, when we were battling the “stat feed” bug, the consensus was that if the bug couldn’t be fixed in time that the vast majority of players would prefer communication and a delay, both towards receiving a more solid launch. These unreleased skills wouldn’t function, would be imbalanced, and would essentially BE a giant bug.

I’ll be getting word on changes to our launch time shortly. Stay tuned. And Hellgaters: thanks for your patience.”

jzn

On January 24, 2008 at 12:37 pm

I’m a hellgate player, I enjoy it a whole lot. Just wanted to let you know that the lag problems you experienced were a bug that was hotfixed the day after patch release. The other bugs you described are quite rare. The game is unique and tremendous fun.

Shawn Sines

On January 24, 2008 at 1:17 pm

@jzn: I admit the second post patch patch did resolve the problems caused by the 1.0 patch.. which honestly is not good for FSS. However how is it that I managed to have multiple ‘rare’ bugs all at the same time in the same play session if they are in fact so rare?

Somnophore

On January 24, 2008 at 1:50 pm

I also love hellgate. I found that your article is a little out dated. There are no lag issues anymore with stonehenge, and they were fixed very quickly. Also, those ‘bugs’ you experienced have been there since day one and are still on the list of bugs to be squashed. None of them are game breakers, but they certainly are not NEW bugs since stonehenge.

Overall, you didnt say much about stonehenge, I wonder if you even played it through to the boss?

-Xaeli

jzn

On January 24, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Shawn- I can’t say why you happened to experience the uncommon bugs, but it is too bad that you did. The last couple months, FSS has made tremendous strides in polishing the game, but because you happened to experience these rare ones, instead of a headline saying “Hellgate Improves”, we get a headline basically saying “Hellgate will never improve”.

Shawn Sines

On January 24, 2008 at 2:52 pm

@JZN: True, but all I can report on is my experience. I’m a founder, I like Hellgate also but I am disappointed. I don’t think I was being unfair to Hellgate, I didn’t fabricate anything to drum up the position I stated above. I was one of many according to a sampling from the Hellgate:London forums who spent three days waiting for the Stonehenge patch release to finally get it right – despite a month delay and further beta on the test server.

I’ve played Hellgate since launch, I continue to play it and will continue to do so in the hopes that one day it reaches the high bar the developers set for it initially and in hopes that many of the problems are fixed promptly.

Note my final line: “Personally I hope this product survives and thrives, but it is becoming unfortunately clear that Flagship Studios may not quite be ready to support all their grand plans.”

I’m warning people to hold back and watch the situation.. I’m warning people that the problems are not gone and that they should enter with eyes wide open. My enthusiastic optimism has tapered off a bit since I wrote the initial review.

As to the question from Xaeli, I didn’t talk a lot about Stonehenge, true. I experienced a few bugs (which you mention have been corrected to some extent) that kept me from playing through to completion on the boss content so far. The party portal system being broken was a factor. Now that said I’m also not a huge fan of the Essence farming mechanic in Stonehenge, some of the rebalancing is nice but the Wild gameplay does not quite feel like it was worth the wait for me.

Games are evolving products. I’m glad Flagship responded to patch the bugs that their software development process introduced. I had never had the bugs I mentioned above before the patch and they repeated despite multiple play sessions on Tuesday evening.