Q&A: Bill Roper opens up about Hellgate: London

Following multiplayer subscription brouhaha, the Flagship Studios founder and CEO says that his forthcoming game will contain "significant free online play."

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Earlier this month, a small firestorm of controversy erupted when Flagship Studios, a company founded by key veterans of Blizzard's Diablo team, revealed that its long-awaited debut game, Hellgate: London, could have some kind of subscription element for online multiplayer play.

The game, which lets you explore the gutted remains of England's capital and fight hundreds of different monsters and demons, will feature a complete single-player game, as well as a significant free multiplayer component. To set the record straight, Flagship CEO and cofounder Bill Roper talked with GameSpot about closing the Pandora's box of controversy before opening Hellgate.

GameSpot: What are the plans for the multiplayer component of Hellgate: London? Will there be free multiplayer gameplay? Are there plans for some kind of subscription content? If so, what would be the difference between free and subscription multiplayer?

Bill Roper: We have always had the intention of providing rich, robust, massively multiplayer online gaming experiences for our players. This means that we will be providing everything from a secure client/server infrastructure to 24/7 customer support to maintaining a complete live team to provide not only balance and bug fixes, but more importantly, continuing, ongoing content updates to the game. And while we are still finalizing the commercial and game aspects of our online plans, we can tell players that there will definitely be significant free online play.

GS: Regardless of the multiplayer situation, you will be able to play Hellgate: London entirely as a single-player game, correct?

BR: Of course! This has never changed and has always been a key part of our design. We know that not everyone has the ability or desire to play with others or online. Just as with the Diablo series, we have created a complete single-player experience whose longevity of gameplay benefits from all of the randomization, rarity, and customization you'd expect from us.

GS: When can we expect the details to finally get nailed down regarding the multiplayer situation?

BR: We're working to create a plan that allows us to provide all of the service and ongoing content while taking the interests and needs of our players around the world into account. It is a complex process, but we should be able to share these plans with our fans soon.

GS: The game will go into a closed beta test at the end of the month. What are the plans from that point in terms of development?

BR: We're going to begin testing of our online component in a closed "friends and family" alpha at the end of this month. Based on this testing process the pace and increased player base of our beta program will take shape. We are progressing on the development of the game at an excellent pace, and we're extremely energized by how all the pieces are coming together. Our weekly play days are pushing us further and further along the storyline and scope of the game, and our class advocates (developers who are responsible for making sure their class is the best it can be) started offering directed feedback last week.

GS: Is there anything that you'd like to add?

BR: We're actually excited to know that so many people are so passionate about the game that they want to know as much as possible about it. We continue to put every ounce of our energies into making the best game possible, and we can't wait to start playing with everyone in the beta over the next few months.

GS: Thank you, Bill.

Discussion

49 comments
Darkfighter2006
Darkfighter2006

To everyone whining about fee's IT SAYS THERE WILL BE PAY TO PLAY ONLINE AND SOME SORT OF FREE MULTIPLAYER.

can0of0cheese
can0of0cheese

",,,,,Definitivly be significent free online play" I will hold him to that and you should to. And in an other subject, it's amazing how many people who seemed to skip the whole reading part and went straight to the complaining bit.

J.Dalton
J.Dalton

This message is good for my ears. It's hardly to wait when the release of this game will be. I like to play this game as soon as possible and I like to be one of the Beta player to test this fantastic game. The grafics looking very good. And I try to follow the lasted news about this game all over the internet and the host site of HG:L 2038 looks also very nice. I wonna have this lovely game at my PC to play it 8) ;) The short films about HG:L 2038 are also incredible 8)

Vorlin
Vorlin

I'm glad they addressed this now. I've been a staunch follower of HG:L for a long time (pretty much since they initially started Flagship Studios after the 1.10 patch of Diablo 2) and don't mind that it might be a pay-per-monthly multiplayer. People tend to forget that if they do have to have servers and such that require maintenance and the like and we haven't touched on patching or new content which requires staff to come up with. As stated by others, as long as I get good content and a good storyline, I don't care if it's 15 bucks a month after I spend 50-60 bucks on a game. WOW being the case, as well as other MMOs I've played (E&B, SWG, etc).

davek93x
davek93x

This game looks incredible.. With Bill Roper on the Dev Team Its likely that this is really going to be Diablo III in disguise. And who cares? This game looks incredibly fun and i cannot wait to get my hands on this.

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

gooooooooooooood ... it's been too long!

recalcitrant1
recalcitrant1

Perhaps you should refrain from commenting until you actually have read it then. Seems like the pay to play aspect will probably apply only to people who intend to play the game online for years to come and actually meet other players as opposed to playing co-op with their extant friends.

Ahson_Khan
Ahson_Khan

Too many words... I dont care about the multi... I hate the fact that after paying $50 for a top end game i have to pay any more money... CS,C&C, DOD, Doom3, AOE3, COD 2, COH and other free online games are far greater expieriences because if the player sux he doesnt get irritated that hes loosin money... SO free content gets you more fans... I didnt read this interview because im tired right now and Bill (the best Beard) Roper talks like a woman... sorry :P

rugripper40
rugripper40

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

cb-spike
cb-spike

I'm confused... if there's a significant amount of free content... what part of the multi player will be on cost?

esrra
esrra

HMM, hopefully they dont screw up and put a fee of any sorts in the game. i stop playing guild wars when they started to make restrictions with names and all. and stop playing WoW becouse when u get to 50 is just a game for LOOT. and it sux big time waiting for 40 ppl 2 hours then 10 ppl need the itme and i may not drop after 6 hours of gameplay. "WOW" that was a huge waste of 50$ + 3 months of subscription. i think the only thing that ppl still play is the dance of the ELVES. i am playing eve becouse i like to shoot steroids while i am away from my PC. that is how BAD games came to this year. BORING.

Hell3ent
Hell3ent

I dunno...after reading and rereading that interview, my head's still spinning from all Roper's double-speak...not to mention the fact that he never truly confirms or denies whether or not there will be an online fee.

ObiKKa
ObiKKa

It could be similar to Guild War's free online play, so they'd probably keep making expansions and/or microtransactions (wiht substantial content, mind you, like the quests, etc). Bill Roper: "We're going to begin testing of our online component in a closed "friends and family" alpha at the end of this month." Lol, they're probably gonna jot down these people's names into the credits at the back of the manual.

TryDaBeardON
TryDaBeardON

I'm glad they addressed it straight on. I feel much better about this game now.

JLCrogue
JLCrogue

HGL FTW!!!!!! w00t!!!!!!!!!!11shiftplusoneonelol :P

Romanticide
Romanticide

I don't mind Pay to Play, as long as I get what im paying for. I pay for WoW and I am very satisfied.

Oni
Oni

Been following this game since it was 1st announced. Every gameplay movie and screenshot I've seen of this game makes me believe it will be a winner. Thank god it's not another WWII or Fantasy game ... If HGL offers enough without being another WoW loot experience, I would pay a monthly fee. It's great to know it will have an abundant amount of content for free. Can't wait.

ldonyo
ldonyo

I'm on the fence on this one. I would need to play a demo before making a purchasing decision.

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

significant free online play, yay woohoo

aimmy79
aimmy79

whatever....i'm not gonna play it online anyway, cuz there's something called world of warcraft.

bigmit37
bigmit37

charging for a guild wars type game....ehhh I lost interest in it...

slickr
slickr

It will be interesting to see how this game shapes up, especially knowing how good the Diablo series was and well basicly the developers are sord of blizzard 2, and the main people from diablo are doing this so yeah full support from me!

mik_evil
mik_evil

I'm not saying that they shouldn't be proud having the biggest following of any PC game to date. However, I wonder if Flagship ever gets sick of being compared to Diablo. This game is going to be innovative, whether or not it resembles their previous work.

rallykupojr
rallykupojr

It looks like most people decided to skip the "substantial free online play" part and went straight to the "OMFGMONTHLEFEEZOMGWTF!!!!!!11!!1!!!!!111!!11" phase. This game looks amazing enough that it might actually be worth spending money on every month. I'm sure they wouldn't do that just because they're greedy, but because they'll be constantly adding more to it, which isn't free.

kretyn
kretyn

this game is gonna be fun

BassForever2
BassForever2

I really want this game =D It looks really awesome!

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

I wish they would've stayed with blizzard, but this game looks pretty good. So I'm not too mad.

sneakbyte
sneakbyte

this isn't An MMO Type Game,charging monthly fees of any sort and your gonna flop Guild Wars is an MMO and it doesn't have monthly fees this is an expection and it has worked well for guild wars so far 2 expansions and still going strong, i hope this game flops the developers are bunch of idoits, i mean who would leave Blizzard at the height of D2? why didn't they just make D3 isn't instead of this random game They could have finished D3 by now.

BigC_072
BigC_072

Please make the entire multiplayer component free. I can't stand paying online fees for MMO. Games like Guild Wars have pulled it off.

chalonverse
chalonverse

If the "fee-based" portion was just being able to download mini-expansion packs or something, it would have almost certainly been mentioned in the interview. it sounds a lot better if you say "multiplayer will be entirely free, but we also plan on releasing periodic mini-expansions which will cost a reasonable fee" then the ambiguous responses here. From the way they responded, it seems to me that the fee will be for the top-tier support. Diablo II for instance has "open" and "closed" battle.net. I wouldn't be surprised if the free online play will be the equivalent of "open" battle.net, but if you want to play in a secure environment with ladders and persistent online character storage, etc., you'll have to pay.

EyeNixon
EyeNixon

I still don't under stand it. @Gerrad - This trend started before Bethesda, their updates were just more advertised since the game was bigger.

gerrad2003
gerrad2003

now everyone that has a hyped game wants to charge for content...thanks alot Bethesda!!! although i would pay if its actually any good :P

robbie_basic
robbie_basic

I lost respect for these guys when they left Blizzard. The thing about Blizzard is it's not an amazing company because of a few smart people, it's the collective effort of the whole company. No matter how amazing a developer you are at Blizzard, if you leave. You're dead.

noah09
noah09

I agree with radiocreed. There should be an open public beta so that the developers get feedback from a wide and diverse group of gamers. You can't have too many opinions when it comes to how to improve a game.

Knighty
Knighty

"From what I get of the whole story is that you if you want patches/updates and cheat free games you have to pay for it. It's funny how Diablo still does this for free. " You'd also be totally wrong. What you will choose to pay for is additional levels and content updates, akin to minor expansion packs with a much lower cost, all patches and updates, and cheat prevention will be free forever. Just like Diablo II. It'd be like buying an extra Act if you wanted.

radiocreed
radiocreed

We need an open public beta, like Guild Wars do it 2 months or more before its release.

Truth01
Truth01

I just want this game to come out so that I can figure out how much I'll need to spend on a new PC.

kilaan
kilaan

From what I get of the whole story is that you if you want patches/updates and cheat free games you have to pay for it. It's funny how Diablo still does this for free.