The Hellgate: London website has posted the transcript from the first dev chat since the games launch. I've painfully spent the last few minutes going through and formattin git so that you don't have to go elsewhere to read it... and here's the end product.
Even after the chat event ended, a few of the participating developers lingered in #flagshipstudios to answer a few more questions and mingle with the Hellgaters. More than 300 questions were asked over the course of the event. With how wildly popular this developer chat was, you can bet we'll be doing more of them in the near future!
[Evan Berman]: Welcome Hellgaters! Thank you for joining us today for this chat event featuring the developers of Hellgate: London! Key members of Flagship Studios are here to answer questions offered up by YOU, the gamers. The event will last about an hour.
[Bill Roper]: Welcome to the chat everyone! We're looking forward to answering as many of your questions as we can tonight.
[Erich Schaefer]: Hello everyone, by the way, thanks for coming!
[Clythoss]: Hi. My question is about the Boss named Legendarys. Items like "Gulkars demonic Shredder" These are cool items when you find them in normal mode, but in nightmare, they drop with the same level as in normal mode. Is this made to be so? I would like the Idea of adjusting their level to the other items you find at this stage. What do you say?
[Erich Schaefer]: Certain named unique items don't scale to nightmare level equivalents. We paniced and thought there would be balance problems. After looking at it more we think it is safe so we will be scaling them soon
[Lupercaleb]: Can you please explain how accuracy effects the Evoker's spells?
[Erich Schaefer]: A handful of evoker skills have a tighter spread as you imporve your accuracy. Accuracy also increases the damage Evoker's do, when they score a critical hit
[EzCheez]: Are there any plans to add more Nightmare level type swords? As it stands now, interesting swords such as the cricket bat and cinderspike are not available in Nightmare.
[Erich Schaefer]: We are adding some really cool nightmare-level swords in patch 1. They will be subscriber-only. I was just playing with them and they are beautiful. Working on the blanace now...
[Erich Schaefer]: (acually cricket bats can drop in nightmare levels - they are very rare)
[Erich Schaefer]: (pardon my spelling...)
[dem0nicist]: Since I've read a lot in the forums about systems having performance issues, would you please send us a dxdiag.txt of a system that operates properly? or better yet, can we have ALL of the ones that work properly?
[Bill Roper]: There is more than one system that operates properly, and we’ve been making a lot of improvements on game performance. The biggest and best is yet yo come in patch 0.7 when we get our memory issue fixes in. There is also a new DirectX patch we’re looking at that potentially resolves a lot of issues. We’re very happy about this since some of our problems come from outside our game code.
[Muchacha]: Is there any sort of bonuses or extra content/items we can get on elite mode that we can not get on normal mode, and is it going to change ?
[Erich Schaefer]: Elite mode has no special items as of now, but there are around three times as many champion level monsters spawning, so you should be getting a lot more chances at good loot. My medium term plans include making some magic affixes that only drop in Elite-mode, but I hesitate to say it because its controversial around the office...
[Jordan_L]: hi there, when will the higher resolution option for player models be available?
[Phil Shenk]: THe memory fixes coming in on the .7 patch should address this. We had to turn that option off to address the memory issues we were having as a quick solution. We'll be evaluating whether or not to turn that back on, but we're optimistic.
[Lupercaleb]: Can we expect better PvP options within the month, like an arena?
[Erich Schaefer]: We are working on more formal dueling arenas right now, with some cool options. These will likely go into patch 1.0. They will still be one-on-one duels, however. Longer-term plans will include party-versus party battlefields, capture-the-flag type matches and more.
[Erich Schaefer]: Within the month? I hope so, but I really hate to make time estimates... Its not my best strength
[Sp3tSnAz]: what sort of stuff have you got planned for the Founder's subscribers in the future?
[Bill Roper]: We are going to be introducing Veteran Rewards for long-term subscribers, and of course, Founders will get all of these automatically as they are created and rolled out. We’re also working on some special items that will help Founders stand out in the game so you’re instantly recognizable. I’d also like to see us have some special outside the game offers for our Founders, but we’ll have to work on that with our partners and publishers.
[Lamech]: When can we expect a fix on the Level Achievements? Its a rather insignificant problem but causes many players to second guess continuing on with their main characters.
[Erich Schaefer]: Yes I apologize for that. With our solution, I will try to make sure that no one ruined their character by missing these acheivements. If I can't do that I will remove them completely. They shold not only apply to new characters.
[Gale]: Are you going to tweak melee system anytime soon? Particularly the lunge attack is repetitive and boring. Why not just allow players to move and attack at the same time? Maybe with movement speed reduction, so it wouldn't make melee too good.
[Phil Shenk]: We're looking at a two-stage solution. In patch one we'll be introducing some new animations that should make melee feel a lot smoother. After that, we may explore a more radical change, but that will depend a lot on how people like the first change. We totally want to make melee feel smoother and more impactful.
[Muchacha]: Are you going to add an auction house and mailbox soon in game? Considering it would add a lot of value to cash and items.
[Bill Roper]: We have started working on our in-game email system that is the technological foundation for the auction house. This should also address the desire for a shared stash between characters (or account stash) since you’ll be able to send items between characters. We don’t have a release date for this yet, but it is at the top of the list.
[fpir]: What is the release date of the next single player going to be?
[Bill Roper]: The next Single Player patch is coming up VERY soon. It is currently being tested by our QA team internally and I’ve been working on the patch notes, so you know it is close. The patch will cover single player fixes equivalent to what our multiplayer gamers have seen through patch 0.6 and we’ll look at another update to single player after the holidays.
[Sp3tSnAz]: any info on the three new classes and when they are due?
[Erich Schaefer]: I'm not going to go into specifics, but the new classes will fit into the faction structure. A new Templar, new Cabalist, etc. We have a lot of the art and varying degrees of design and implementation done. We know which one is next... We want to take the factions in new directions, so expect a suprise.
[Cidreck]: Most online games that make you purchase the game before subscribing come with a free month of subscription. Why haven't you embraced this ideal with Hellgate: London? I think it would be a good idea to do it for this month and extend the founders offer another month, since subscribers don't yet know what they're getting for their money. How are we to know that we want to pay 150 dollars for a permanent subscription?
[Bill Roper]: Most online MMOs don’t let you play for free past that first month. Hellgate: London let’s you play for free as long as you want. If you want to see if you like the game before subscribing, play for free for as long as you like. We don’t limit you like the games you’re noting.
[Bill Roper]: Maybe it would have been simpler if we would have just made a game with no single player or free online play, given players a month 'free' with their $50 purchase and then charge $14.95 a month. We tried to give everyone something - free online play, a way to get new content by subscribing, and all while charging a lower monthly fee.
[Bill Roper]: We have extended the Founder’s offer through the end of the year, and if we think it will help people who are on the fence, we can always extend it further. We’re just very focused on getting people the play experience they are asking for on both the free and subscription sides right now.
[Lugard]: Currently reputation is being tracked for each station (and incidently the broker), will we be able to do anything with that reputation in the long run, or is it just for show?
[Erich Schaefer]: Yeah, reputation got started and then abandoned as we changed the quest structure. We have some cool ideas for it in the future, though, so we didn't want to remove it. Trying to think ahead and not penalize old players. Honestly its a bit of an albatross. The game seems to be passing "station reputation" by... But it will live again someday!
[Military]: any plans to redo the look of the engineer drone?
[Phil Shenk]: yes, we're working on some changes to the drones. We want to make them look cooler
[Lugard]: There are a few AoD Guardians that have already reached a 98% damage reduction, is FSS planning to reduce/rebalance that?
[Erich Schaefer]: While I guess its possible you could get to 98%, I suspect it would be for very limited periods of time and/or situations. And even then, you wouldn't be as invulnerable as that sounds. On the other hand, one of our designers is working on a bunch of skill balance isssues and I know he's been talking about that one
[Norfanin]: How hard was it to create a new engine that supports the wide range from low-end to high-end systems and how long was it in development? Oh, and does it have a name?
[Bill Roper]: We spent quite awhile working on the 3D engine as it had to support all of the randomization we use in the game. It is also very scalable (believe it or not) and this will become much more evident once some of the memory issues are addressed and DirectX patches come out (and are hopefully pushed as auto updates). The graphic engine itself doesn’t have a specific name, although our internal name for the game engine as a whole is Prime.
[Naturzauberer]: In Diablo 2 one of the best apects were that every character could wear everything - as long as he had the attributes needed for it. Sadly we can't ever see a Summoner swinging a sword, neither an Evoker with a sniper rifle and so on. Therefore exotic builds are disabled. But these are the ones who increase the replayability a lot, so why aren't all-faction items included?
[Erich Schaefer]: Hellgate has a few big differences from Diablo 2, and the important one here is that in Hellgate, the weapons function a lot more like Diablo 2 skills. So in practice we found it to be way out of balance to give high-defense Templars the long-range mMarksman weapons. And stuff like that...
[Volatile]: When will you guys be improving the Autoparty feature? [Erich Schaefer]: Auto-party is due for a big improvement with the 0.7 patch. Now we search towns for auto-party-desiring players and group them together, instead of waiting until the jump into an instance.
[Erich Schaefer]: Much bigger improvements in Looking for Group type interfaces coming with patch 1.0
[heprea]: what is the secret behind warts leg?
[Erich Schaefer]: I can't tell you, but it might be wise to hold onto it. It seems like it might combine with something somehow
[Ilantio]: What can we expect from the December content patch, aka 1.0?
[Erich Schaefer]: Patch 1 has a lot. Most incredible to me in testing are the new backgrounds. Completely different from the base game. New monster to go in it, with new drops, or course. But below the surface is a cool new structure. In brief: it combines structured boss runs and some party-only content.
[Guest650]: What is your plan for the next SP patch? 0.6 or 0.7? When? Will the lag time between MP and SP patches be reduced in the future?
[Bill Roper]: The current single player patch is the rough equivalent of 0.6 with multiplayer only issues and items removed and other extra single player-specific issues addressed. The plan for the next patch is to get single player up to the same basic equivalency as the Stonehenge patch (1.0). We don’t have a timeline, but we want to make these happen as close to the multiplayer releases as we can.
[althai]: What plans do you have to deal with the in-game spammers other than the messages about ToS being in force which so far have done nothing?
[Erich Schaefer]: Well we are banning people pretty fast. I think better now.. I hope... But some tech improvements are on the way, like an account based /ignore...
[zx86]: Is there any plans to make Founders subscription plan avaible for all people who want it?
[Bill Roper]: We have extended the Founder’s offer through the rest of this month. We may re-evaluate keeping the offer available longer towards the end of December, but that’s where things are as of now.
[Rigald]: The achievement window shows us few recaps like ,how many undeads or demons we slayed. Is there any plan to improve this part, like giving to the player to ability to look at some statistics like how many hits the player took, how many monster were slayed in the zone giving details between members of the group ect... ?
[Erich Schaefer]: Yes we have cool plans for a monster-pedia, as David Brevik calls it, but it keeps getting pushed out for more immediate fixes and emergencies. I hope it happens pretty soon, but we are mindfull that a lot of people are haveing problems playing at all. So our best minds are working on smoothing out the base game first
[Kira]: Are there any plans to increase "shield strength", or decrease the amount of shield overload mobs have? As it is, in normal nightmare mode, or non-nightmare Elite mode, nearly all mobs wipe out your standard player's shields in 1 hit.
[Erich Schaefer]: Statisitically, we are finding that shield-based characters are not having too hard a time in nightmare, but sometimes statistics aren't the important thing. I like the idea of reducing shield overload in mobs in the harder difficulties... I will look into it
[Looks]: Will Hardcore Elite players have exclusive perks?
[Bill Roper]: One of the things that we discuss with the ongoing content team is more ways to distinguish and reward different types of players. Obviously an Eilte Hardcore character is a big undertaking, so we’ll definitely be looking at how we can give them special ways to be recognized in the world. One thing that will definitely help is when we get our online ladder system launched. And no, we don’t have a date for when that is going to happen...
[Carch]: Any plans to improve the artwork of existing areas? More variety would be great, like more buildings you could enter in streets, or big crypts in the mausoleum areas.
[Dave Glenn]: Yes. We have a ton of ideas we're working on to add to existing areas. Some entirely new set-piece type of areas, think boss-fight rooms and quest areas. As well as new themes in regards to environment types, etc.
[Gale]: Randomly generated levels are great, but what about more random elements? For example random stores would be a nice addition to the outdoor and underground levels. Example a merchant that has barricaded into a building or settled in a basement.
[Erich Schaefer]: Yes, we had a more of these at one point in development, but they got slighted. We DO want to improve the randomness, features, and rare events that happen throughout the base game. Watch for a trickle soon, and more later
[Secu1ar]: what is evasion and can you explain what exactly evasion +2 does with an example?
[Erich Schaefer]: I'm not sure whay it says +2... But evasion is a straight % chance to avoid any direct damage. So +2 should probably be considered 2% chance to evade an attack
[Naturzauberer]: Many players think that HGL Multiplayer is a "singleplayer game with a chat mode". One of the reasons would be that the stations always seem kinda empty, which is because of the instanced system. Why aren't the stations increased in size and there are simply more players (around 100-200) allowed to join the same instance?
[Erich Schaefer]: We reduced station population density to help solve memory problems. We should be able to ratchet it up. Going forward, Stonehenge will feel like more of a multi-player game, both in town design and game dynamics
[[SF]Ayana]: There has been a lot of discussion and arguments on how 'luck' works. Can you give us a official statement on how 'luck' works in HG:L. Thank you.
[Erich Schaefer]: Luck is a bit of a mystery even to me. It increases the chances that random drops will be of higher quality. I do know that, and it does work. But when we looked into the system it seems overly complex and scary. It’s due for an overhaul soon.
[Reddimus]: The fire from the Fawkes event seemed to add new life to a bulk of the zones in Hellgate. Is there a chance it'll be a permanent feature with maybe a lower chance of happening than occured in the Fawkes event?
[Dave Glenn]: We agree! We're working on even more such themes as I mentioned earlier. We have a great system to make changes and additions to levels and we built it just for this reason.
[Fate]: Are hardcore elite players going to be able to participate in future PvP content without permadeath? I can't imagine enough HCE players participating, otherwise.
[Erich Schaefer]: No. Hardcore is hardcore. Some proud few will play and they will be much admired by us mortals!
[Bill Roper]: Fear my Elite Hardcore power!
[Cheerio]: The question everyone wants answered: Will respecs be allowed? If so, when? If not, what is the reasoning?
[Bill Roper]: We know that players want a chance to try out some different skill builds, especially with the blanace changes we’ve made and will be making in 0.7 and Stonehenge. So we’re going to do something we’ve never done before and provide a way for players to respec a character. I’m going to be all secretive on just what and how, but we’ll have details for you in the coming weeks.
[Evan Berman]: Hellgaters! This has been an AMAZING developer chat with more than 250 champions of humanity in attendance! We'd like to thank all of the developers who took the time to visit with us today as well as each and every one of you, the players! HELLGATERS! FALL OUT!
[Tricia Gray]: Thank you all for participating in our chat!
[Tricia Gray]: We will do more in the future
[Bill Roper]: Thanks everyone!
[Erich Schaefer]: Thanks everyone!
[Taylor Balbi]: Thanks guys!
[Dave Glenn]: Thanks all, good chat.
[Bill Roper]: See you online!
[Evan Berman]: Thank you devs!