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Hellgate: London To Be Closed, Possibly Saved? 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-be-or-not-to-be dept.
Namco Bandai recently announced that Hellgate: London would be shut down on January 31, 2009. They'd been supporting the game's servers since Flagship Studios saw massive layoffs in July. Now, a fansite has located an announcement on the game's Korean site suggesting that it may be picked up by a Taiwanese company called Redbana. The English version of the announcement says, "In the meantime, stay alert: the Hellgate will soon re-open, and your valor will be needed again."
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Hellgate: London To Be Closed, Possibly Saved?

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  • Big Deal (Score:1, Funny)

    by Killer Orca (1373645)
    Not like it's even a WoW competitor, why should it get a second chance?
    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      I see it more as a Serious Sam competitor.

    • Remember when... (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Remember back when all these "FROM THE GUYS WHO MADE BLIZZARD WHAT IT IS!!!111!!!" guys made Hellgate, and said they would be putting WoW out of business?

      I find it as funny now as I did back then. Good times.

  • red bananas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dnwq (910646) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @01:39AM (#25551389)
    For those wondering if 'redbana' is a portmaneau of 'red' and 'banana'... you're right. In fact the Chinese name of the company, literally translated, is "Red Banana(s)". ... yeah, I've got no idea either. I mean 'redbana' works just as well as 'google' does perhaps, but Red Bananas...? I give up.
    • by Travis Mansbridge (830557) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @04:31AM (#25552021)
      With traffic lights, green means "go" and yellow means "slow down." But with bananas, it's the other way around. Yellow means "go ahead," green means "hold on." And red means "where the fuck did you get that banana at?"

      -Mitch
      • by Daimanta (1140543)

        "And red means "where the fuck did you get that banana at?""

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_banana [wikipedia.org]

        Ask these people

        • by hedwards (940851)

          I agree, those little red bananas are delicious. Not to mention that in 30 years they're likely to be the only ones available when the current one goes extinct. They've also been very popular with people in Banana producing regions because they're usually cheaper.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        And, no, I do not need a receipt for my banana purchase. We do not need to bring ink and paper into this.
    • Red bananas exist. The yellow, sterile, seedless Cavendish and closely related varieties are not the world's only bananas.

      Google is an intentional misspelling [google.com] of "googol" [google.com].

      Some have said that "ogle" [meriam-webster.com] plays a role in the company's name, too, (part of the reason for the particular misspelling) but the official company history says nothing of the sort. It'd be kind of funny, since it can mean to eye something with greedy interest. That's very apt for a major search engine, but whether that ever crossed the mind

  • by psoriac (81188) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @01:56AM (#25551473)

    Not having purchased or followed this game after release, I was wondering what the state of the in-game advertising is with this announcement? Will the single-player game still be downloading from the ad content servers, or will those go away as well?

    I sort of feel bad for those who purchased lifetime subscriptions, but not really.

    • by illumin8 (148082) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:24AM (#25553591) Journal

      I sort of feel bad for those who purchased lifetime subscriptions, but not really.

      I was foolish enough to buy a "Founder's Offer" and paid $149.99, plus $49.99 for the game itself, for a lifetime subscription. I did this based on the fact that the beta was a lot of fun, and sure the game had bugs, but it genuinely seemed like a blast the first 25 levels or so, which was about all they would let us play.

      After release, when I finished the game, I realized the bugs made it almost unplayable in groups. You could literally form a party, and you couldn't see the players on your own team. All you would see was a floating text name running around on a map. Also, the things they promised such as raid content, end-game, etc. just were not in the game period.

      So, I did what any other smart gamer should do when you're sold something that doesn't live up to it's promises by the developer: I called HG:L first and tried to cancel my lifetime sub. Then, they wouldn't allow that, so I called my bank and disputed the credit card charge.

      It took a few letters back and forth to the bank. I had to print out the text on their website promising content to lifetime subs that didn't exist. My bank refunded the entire $149.99.

      More gamers need to do this. In fact, I'd say, if anyone out there hasn't done it yet, get your money back. There is a time limit on these things, but if you're sold a lifetime subscription and the company shut down the servers, get your money back.

      If more gamers did this, we wouldn't have so many crap games getting released like this. For some reason game developers of the more sleazy variety (Bill Roper, I'm looking at you) look at the success of World of Warcraft and think "cha-ching": MMO = Easy money. Those game devs that are just in it for a quick buck need to get out now because you're making the rest of the industry look bad.

      • by Fozzyuw (950608) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @09:56AM (#25553989)

        For some reason game developers of the more sleazy variety (Bill Roper, I'm looking at you) look at the success of World of Warcraft and think "cha-ching": MMO = Easy money.

        Oh please. Stop the bitter divorce bull crap.

        Bill Roper has gone on record [1up.com] stating the reason for the collapse of Hellgate. It had little if anything to do with this aforementioned idea of "greed" and everything to do with very poor business decisions by a guy who shouldn't have been making them to begin with. It's a very telling interview and worth a read. Speaking as a person who bought Hellgate:London but never purchased a subscription plan.

        With regards to the lifetime subscription, you did the right thing by contacting your credit card company. It's pretty much the only course of action you had because Flagship didn't have any money to refund. Your CC company basically swallowed the cost for your bad investment.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Still an AC (1390693)
          The CC didn't swallow, they spit the cost out to their other customers so they would have to cover the load.
          • by Fozzyuw (950608)

            The CC didn't swallow, they spit the cost out to their other customers so they would have to cover the load.

            Hench, why I said "basically swallowed the cost". Basically meaning that most people understand customers pay for everything and that there's no such thing as a "free lunch", etc.

            But nice pun on swallow/spit. I've got bad mental images now. =P

        • by illumin8 (148082)

          Bill Roper has gone on record stating the reason for the collapse of Hellgate.

          With all due respect, Bill Roper was the CEO, main developer, and pretty much the entire impetus behind HG:L. The fact that the game failed, in such an epic fashion, so soon after release, has everything to do with Bill Roper and little to do with the players, developers, and others that were passionate about the game. At one point in time, I really enjoyed the game (during beta).

          I read the interview. It basically boils down to

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tom (822)

        if you're sold a lifetime subscription and the company shut down the servers, get your money back.

        Depends on whether they specified your or their lifetime in the small print. :-)

      • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @11:12AM (#25555453) Homepage

        There is a time limit on these things, but if you're sold a lifetime subscription and the company shut down the servers, get your money back

        You paid for a lifetime subscription for the life of the game. I don't disagree with your course of action mentioned in your post regarding genuine gripes, but I don't quite comprehend why you are suggesting people should get their money back for the game ending. The life of the game is (perhaps) over. Contract ended. Still, it was buried in the terms and conditions in the first sentence so you can't be blamed for missing it. :-) Live by the sword, die by the sword.

        "Lifetime Subscription" refers to the lifetime of the online subscription component for Hellgate: London, not the user's lifetime. http://www.hellgatelondon.com/beta [hellgatelondon.com]

        • by illumin8 (148082)

          "Lifetime Subscription" refers to the lifetime of the online subscription component for Hellgate: London, not the user's lifetime. http://www.hellgatelondon.com/beta [hellgatelondon.com]

          Regardless of whether the lifetime is mine or their games, I received a refund based on the fact that the page promising certain features that the Founder's Offer delivers is not accurate. They promised features such as extra classes, extra monsters, raid level content, etc, that do not and never will exist in the game.

          That is the reason I got

          • "Lifetime Subscription" refers to the lifetime of the online subscription component for Hellgate: London, not the user's lifetime. http://www.hellgatelondon.com/beta [hellgatelondon.com]

            Regardless of whether the lifetime is mine or their games, I received a refund based on the fact that the page promising certain features that the Founder's Offer delivers is not accurate. They promised features such as extra classes, extra monsters, raid level content, etc, that do not and never will exist in the game.

            That is the reason I got a refund. I also got a refund several months ago, before the company actually went out of business. You might have more trouble now.

            I understood your motives for getting a refund were genuine. I didn't understand you enthusing people to seek a refund based solely on the end of the lifetime of the game in a later part of your post. Getting money back is actually quite easy, atleast in my experience (through visa chargeback) a company took hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of orders knowing full well that they were folding. Despite going into liquidation and this being obvious, every person who applied for a chargeback received th

          • The lifetime of this game was unreasonably short to be expected to eat the $150 as a loss.
      • by Renraku (518261)

        Get them for breach of contract. If they promised it and didn't provide it by even a longshot or forgiving definition, they owe it to you. Or they owe your money back.

  • Let it die. (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I can't believe you fucking morons waste your life in games like this. Listen, this is your LIFE. You need to be living with real human beings. You need to go find a girlfriend and spend time with her. You need to find happiness. Happiness is not in your online games, it is in other people.

    Do you really want to be 40 years old and look back to your 18-25 years and realize you pissed them away in fits of loneliness playing RPGs and crying yourself to sleep? I know most, if not all of you, had no real childho

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @02:50AM (#25551667)

      Some people play online games, some people post long, ranty posts on /.

    • Re:Let it die. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by montyzooooma (853414) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @06:53AM (#25552631)
      I realise it's pointless to reply to posts like this BUT... the point of playing RPGs, MMO or otherwise, for me is to escape the mundane life that most of us do have in our 30s and 40s. We've done all that stuff you talk about and now we have wives, children and houses (not necessarily multiple of each but you get my drift) and debts, obligations and responsibilities. Some people watch TV, go to movies, play golf, go to their local bar or get a mistress to escape those mundane obligations. In the small amount of free time I do have I play video games. To each their own.
      • And some people just love playing games, especially with friends. No other reasons or excuses need to enter the equation :p

        A good question I think: why does this guy want me to stop doing what I love?
    • by pdusen (1146399)
      I play wow. I also work full time, go to school, and have a girlfriend. My life is doing fine, thank you.
      • by bugeaterr (836984)

        and have a girlfriend

        I've dated Rosey too, but I don't brag about it.
        How are her sisters anyway?

        • by pdusen (1146399)
          Aren't you creative. Perhaps relationships would come easier to you if it weren't for that little need to be a prick to strangers.
    • You should quit talking to your selves out loud, it makes you look kind of crazy.

    • There are interesting people all over.

      You must not get out much.

    • by Tom (822)

      You need to go find a girlfriend and spend time with her.

      As a matter of fact, playing online games is what we do for spending time with each other when we're not together (she lives in another city, not much longer though).

      According to some study I forgot the source link to, that is, in fact, a fairly common setup. Quite a few couples play online games together.

    • by SpacePunk (17960)

      "I can't believe you fucking morons waste your life in games like this. Listen, this is your LIFE. You need to be living with real human beings. You need to go find a girlfriend and spend time with her. You need to find happiness. Happiness is not in your online games, it is in other people."

      Happiness isn't in other people. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is happy with others until they are happy with themselves.

      "Do you really want to be 40 years old and look back to your 18-25 years and realize you pissed them

    • by brkello (642429)
      Not that I am an introvert (kinda in between an introvert and an extrovert) but you are assuming a lot. Introverts are more happy alone. Just because you are miserable when you aren't talking to people and cry yourself to sleep when you feel lonely doesn't mean that people who watch anime and are capable of spending time alone (because they actually like themselves) are unhappy. Introverts hate being in large groups. Extroverts look down on introverts because of this. You are just being stupid though.
    • Your comment is so short sighted that I would argue you have a problem with getting out and discovering the world. Not everyone that plays MMOs is a nerd living in their parents basement. I hunt, fish, am married, go out with the wife and friends, and play WoW. If your significant other is stuck in the game and does not come out of their dungeon that's another discussion, but don't attribute their character to everyone here. Most of the people I play WoW with are in the military and as it turns out that sh1
  • I know I was very excited about this game for a long time. Then when I purchased it I found that I'd purchased one of the most half-finished games I'd ever played. I for one am surprised that people are still playing this horrible game. I'm just glad I didn't bother to pay for the lifetime subscription like others who got suckered into it. Biggest waste of $60 I've ever spent.
    • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @07:01AM (#25552671) Journal

      Agreed. I wouldn't go so far as to say I was excited about the game, but it was certainly one I'd been keeping an eye on. After all, the people working on it had quite a track record and it sounded like they had some interesting fiction lined up for the game. Plus, as a Londoner, I love it when my city makes an appearance in games and I was interested to see what they'd do with it.

      Within 10 minutes of loading up the game, I was reeling from just how bad it was. Certainly, the intro was great - on a par with anything we've seen come out of Blizzard - and it seemed to promise a decent experience. But the game itself felt so half-hearted and amateurish that I honestly couldn't believe it had been released in this day and age.

      The engine felt just hideous, with clipping bugs running rampant. Combat was as dull as ditchwater. NPCs were all created from a few generic templates. Their portraits and voices seemed to have been randomly selected. In most cases, the few stock voice-snippets had absolutely no relation to what an NPC was supposed to be saying (and most of the voices sounded like they'd been recorded by somebody who couldn't even find the UK on a map). The "storyline" behind the missions, such as it was, was loose and disjointed. There was no apparent effort being made to tie together what happened in the game with the darker material seen in the pre-release materials and the intro; rather, it was just a procession of deranged people with silly voices. The game also suffered from numerous technical problems, including crashes and inexplicable slowdowns in sparse areas on a PC that can run Crysis perfectly well.

      The locations in the game bore only the very slightest passing resemblance to London. The heavy randomisation used in level design meant that areas that should be immediately recognisable to anybody who's spent a couple of days in London as a tourist were warped beyond all recognition. Even Resistance: Fall of Man, which depicted an alternate world version of a 1940s London in its later missions, did a better job of portraying the city than this.

      There were a few small positives. The class selection was quite nice and, had the game been capable of keeping my interest, I can see I would have had fun tweaking characters. The designs of the enemies were pretty decent, although they suffered from being over-used and from AI which basically just had them all run at the player in a straight line.

      But overall, the impression I took from the game was of a huge, massive waste of potential. I know that they developers have since said they never really had a clear idea for what the game should be. In my opinion, they should have ditched any pretence of being a "massive" online game. The game would have worked best as a relatively linear action-RPG, focussed on single-player and small-group multiplayer co-op. They should have spent more time on level design and made more out of one of their unique selling points; the London setting. Any randomisation of areas should have been strictly confined to underground areas and sewers. To be honest, I got the impression that nobody involved in developing the game had even visited the city it was set in. Even spending some time online looking at photos would have helped them develop a far more atmospheric game. Getting in some people who know how to actually write plot and dialogue would also have helped. The story concept was awesome, but the execution was woeful.

      I've not read them myself, but I have heard from others that the Hellgate novels are actually "not half bad" as video-game conversions go (I know this isn't saying much). It therefore beggars belief that they managed to give us a game with less narrative impact than the original Doom.

      • by Mr Foobar (11230)

        "NPCs were all created from a few generic templates. Their portraits and voices seemed to have been randomly selected. In most cases, the few stock voice-snippets had absolutely no relation to what an NPC was supposed to be saying..."

        Not that WoW has any of those problems. Say, like certain Scarlet Crusade NPCs at Light's Hope Chapel, whose text statements indicate their hatred of your toon, yet if you click on them, they voice things like, "Do ya...need help?" or "Have a nice day!".

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Endo13 (1000782)

          One of my kicks is the dwarven flight masters that tell me to keep my feet on the ground just before sending me off on a flight.

    • It was a wreck at release but is very playable with the latest patch.

      But they'll never live down the rep they got at release.

    • by erdraug (962369)
      I for one welcome our new red banana overlords.
  • Seriously ask the developers for it.

    Liquidators find selling code worthless and if you don't try now then the copyright will forever be gone down the blackhole and you'll never be able to find the right owners or even get a copy of the code.

    • Actually, the game assets were put into escrow as assets against investment from other companies. I don't remember if this "Redbana" is the investor, but there's someone that is interested and has a claim against the assets. So, no open sourcing for this game. Plus, consider that open sourcing a project like a game of this scale is not a non-trivial bit of work.

      Anyway, the whole situation with Hellgate and Flagship was a pretty fucked up affair. You can see an interview with Bill Roper here: http://www.1up.com/do/feature?pager.offset=0&cId=3169356 [1up.com]. I also wrote a book about business and legal issues: Business & Legal Primer for Game Development [psychochild.org], which would give you some insight into the business and legal issues in game development.

      • by Bieeanda (961632)
        This Redbana thing is news to me, but everything about Flagship is a gigantic mess. Their regional distributors/licensees have had some head-scratching spats over who owns what, and where, since they went down. The ones in Korea are apparently planning to release the core game for free, with expansion content (Stonehenge, at the moment) available for purchase separately, instead of the bizarrely complex subscription system.

        I'm not surprised that they're still trying to make money from this debacle-- all of

      • Was in HG beta, played from release to Mid March, never did the founders thing though. It could have been a really good game, but it failed someplace along the way (try serving a half baked cake at a banquet sometime). Ive read all the interviews with Roper & Company. Basically, I find the collapse of the game quite sad. My wife and kids also miss the game.

        But hey, its always playable on single player.

        Red banana can do what they want, but the people here in the states already fell for this one
      • by ricree (969643) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @01:53PM (#25558265)

        Actually, the game assets were put into escrow as assets against investment from other companies. I don't remember if this "Redbana" is the investor, but there's someone that is interested and has a claim against the assets. So, no open sourcing for this game.

        There is a bit of precedent for something like this. Blender came to be in a similar situation. When the company failed, their creditors agreed to open source it for a payment of around $100000, which was met by community donations. Now, I doubt that Hellgate: London could get the same level of donations that Blender did, but if the company is looking at a total loss they could possibly be persuaded to let it go relatively cheaply.

        • Yeah, the problem is that the Hellgate assets were put up as collateral for millions of dollars in loans. It's not impossible that they might take a small sum of money to do open source, but that seems unlikely if the company thinks they can run the game to make more money than that.

          Also note that many times games have licensed stuff from third parties that must be re-licensed. That makes open sourcing everything much more difficult. If the game used stock sounds (which many games do), then those assets

  • Oh noes, my e-properties. I invested so much time in gathering virtual wealth and upping numbers in the database.

    In all seriousness though, does anyone actually play this?

    • I actually liked it. I've played it online with a friend of mine quite a bit (we bought copies from the bargain bin at a store knowing that it could go under any minute). It was sort of a 3d post apocalyptic Diablo, that is, a game that did not require much involvement or depth, just login and start stabbing stuff. I would be excited to see this other company picking it up.
  • GPL Server Clone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by protektor (63514) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @06:24AM (#25552527)

    Sounds like people should start doing packet dumps of the server so that they can create a clone server. According to the 1UP article it's a bank (Comerica Bank - Dallas,TX) that now owns the rights to Hellgate:London. I don't see a bank doing anything with it other than maybe trying to find a buyer for it. I would doubt that any company seriously would by the rights to it from the bank given that it wasn't a great seller. In fact Metacritic shows it only has a rating of 70% which is pretty average, but a number of people have commented on numerous bugs with the game. So I doubt it would be of much value to a game company since they could create a similar IP without having to pay for it and pick up the negative community opinion due to the company going under.

    But of course I could be wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by killmofasta (460565)
      A ?Bank? owns it? I dont see a bank doing anything with it other than bleeding it to death with the cheapest advertising, and getting every last dime out of it.

      Did you know the servers for Third party servers for Nox are still up? and the servers for Dungeon Siege (Microsoft) are dark?
      • by kcbanner (929309)
        Not to mention the thriving UO community.
      • by rpillala (583965)

        If you read about the Comerica deal at the hellgate site, they present it as financing similar to what filmmakers get. I know nothing about how to finance a computer game, so maybe that's code for "and now they're looking for someone to buy it.

  • Seriously, at this point, is there anybody on Earth who cares about Hellgate: London?

    Why does Slashdot keep posting stories about this? It's very simple: Flagship had a good concept. They built up all sorts of hype around it. Then they released a half-finished game that looked and played like crap, so people ignored it and they went out of business.

    And pretty soon the Hellgate servers will go down, and the five people who play it will have to deal.

    Can we please just let this whole embarrassment die?

    • It launched at least 6 months too early, if you play the latest patch it's stable and fun.

      But the first impressions were so poor it killed any chance the game had, hopefully a lesson to other game developers.

      • It's a shame Flagship didn't bring the "when it's ready" philosophy with them when they parted from Blizzard.
        • I'm told the publisher forced them to ship over strenuous objections from Flagship. But it doesn't matter, the damage is done and the franchise is almost certainly dead.

  • I recently bought a used copy of Hellgate: London for $6.99 at a local shop. While the game installed fine with the key code from the manual, I could not create a multiplayer account because the previous owner had used the code to create the account. I contacted EA support and asked them for a new key. They asked for my personal information, screenshots and I even sent them a scan of my reciept and the manual with the key on it. After days of back and forth, they finally told me they could not identify
    • by epicar (885334)
      Speaking of multiplayer accounts, does anyone have one they aren't using anymore? I'd like to give it a try before the servers are shut down. cbodley@gmail.com
    • by garylian (870843)

      The whole missing ability to LAN was because they know full well that Diablo II was pirated out the ass by folks who used a crack and then set up LAN parties. I think Diablo II was one of the most pirated games I've ever seen.

      It was never intended that HG:L would be a MMO model. It was simply their version of DRM, and it was a colossal failure. I think knowing you couldn't go LAN was one of the biggest negative selling points the game had.

      I saw the lack of LAN support in beta, and I wasn't overly concern

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      How are your dreamcast games doing? Oh wait...

      and buying any game that is published by EA is just dumb. Bad decision making and screwing people seems to be all EA does.
  • ..really.

    Playing Hellgate in Hardcore Elite mode (one life - when you're dead, you're dead. Lose all your stuff and start again) is one of the most intense gaming experiences you will ever have.

    If you've never felt your heart pounding in your chest *before you've even seen the boss monster*. Or had your hands shaking and your palms are sweating after a particularly intense battle, you haven't really played it. I've walked away from the computer and been *scared* to continue playing...

    The repetetive tilesets

  • LifeTime Subscriptions are a sign of desperation. And to have them available out of the gate... That's just a clear sign of poor product!

    No I didn't follow this game. No I wasn't least bit excited when I heard about it. I didn't even blink when I saw their cinematic trailer. StarCraft Trailers are better than that and they are many years older. And yes, deep down I felt it would die.

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