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Default Hellgate London - NDA Lifted, Patch 0 Details

October 20th, 2007, 11:35
From the Hellgate: London site comes news that the NDA has lifted and details of Patch 0 and the beta process. Here's a partial post:
Beta NDA Lifted
The NDA period for the general Beta test is officially over! THANK YOU all for being as good as you have been on this. Feel free to post, email, phone call, and alert your local news station about your play experiences!

How Our Beta Process Works
We wanted to take a few minutes to talk about how we run our Beta tests, the differences of and timing for getting builds out to the testers, and basically let you in on what makes our test tick.
Our development path is quite different from that of the vast majority of game developers. We utilize what we call an organic process, which is basically shorthand for our way of constantly iterating, tweaking, tuning, and making changes that are difficult to set months or years ahead of time in a traditional design document. When we get into the last 6 - 9 months of development time, this process really kicks into high-gear. We are making an immense amount of changes, both large and small, and if we tried to push these out to our Beta testing community, wed literally be giving you new code up to a dozen times a day. Obviously, this isnt going to be of any great benefit, so we wait until we have done a lot of internal testing and can batch changes into larger, meaningful updates.

We have a core team of testers on-site dedicated to working with our programmers and designers to give immediate feedback and address bugs in a focused manner. We also have a massive amount of testers at EA that work on builds that have been promoted as release candidates. When we get a patch release candidate that we feel is solid, we then promote that to being a Published candidate, and it undergoes patch testing. When we get something here that we like, we push it to you, the Beta testers.
What this means is that we are, at a MINIMUM, 2 weeks further down the road on the game than the testers see. Commonly, this time gap can be upwards of 4 weeks. We push hot fixes as quickly as possible, but please remember that we have also been working on numerous language builds, the single-player gold master, and of course, the fixes and features for our first day online what we call Patch 0.
We know that it can be frustrating at times to hear that things are different in our internal builds than what you have, but it is just how timing has to work in order for us to meet all of our deadlines and make sure that the testing time we get with you is as beneficial as possible. Thank you all for the hard work, the hours of testing, and your continued support and excitement for the game.
More information.

-= RPGWatch =-
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October 20th, 2007, 11:35
I've been in beta testing since Thursday. I must say that albeit the game is ultimately shallow at core (I can't recall a case, ever, being so put off by the utterly blatant conversations that I don't even bother reading them, just simply click the "Accept Quest" button) and bug-ridden, something still makes it terribly addictive. I wonder if it's the Sims (or Barbie )-like "dressing-up" of your avatar or the feeling of advancement and achievement as your PC progresses, but something's definitely made me click with this one. And it is most surprising as I was highly cynical and doubtful about the game - dare I say I wrote it off completely? I'm still not going to be a subscriber for sure, but am considering getting the game. If only there were LAN support…

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October 20th, 2007, 12:33
Our development path is quite different from that of the vast majority of game developers.
? From what they say below this statement, it doesn't sound any different from the game developments I've had experience of.
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October 20th, 2007, 13:30
They're simply trying to wash their hands IMO, saying "the game's not as crap as you all have experienced it to be".

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October 20th, 2007, 21:50
Heres a full summary from f13 boards:

k, I have been in beta for a while now. Here are my impressions and such.

Let me start by saying, this is going to be a very negative post. But I want to say first that the game at its core is pretty fun, and VERY addicting. Even with the stuff I am going to say, I still plan on keeping my preorder, and playing the game at release. Subscription, that I'm not sure on yet.

I started playing about 2 months ago. And the game, while having a lot of addicting qualities also has a LOT of problems and errors and bugs and "interesting" design choices. I personally feel this game is really suffering from having EA as a partner. They need another 2 to 3 months in Beta. They really really need it. As it is, I expect a 200mb+ patch for release day.

Also during beta, the game was so buggy and had so many "wtf" designs, it lead to a huge portion of players hypothasizing that the game we where testing was a "throw away game" and that the "real game" was being tested only in house. Also, I have never seen a forum more full of rabid fanboys and myopic followers. Any word of doubt or negitivity was greated with ether "Duh this is beta" or "GTFO the game is fine". during the early stages of beta, myself and quite a few others posted many threads on the games problems, and gave solutions and possible fixes. After a few weeks as more and more people joined, our threads got buried under waves and waves of Vault like posts.

Bugs. Oh my god is this game buggy. I mean buggy in a "we just started Alpha" sort of way. As of this writing, there are still so many game breaking bugs in the client it is insane. Ranging from equipment disapearing when you try to equip it, to swinging your sword attempting to activate every single skill at the same time but doing nothing and eating all your mana, to crash bugs, and one nasty bug where you lose synch with the server and it stops saving your EXP from that point on.

Classes. The game has 3 parent classes, and each parent class has 2 sub classes for a total of 6 classes. The parent classes are Templar, Hunter and Cabalist. The sub classes are Guardian and Blademaster for Templar, Marksman and Engineer for Hunter, and Evoker and Summoner for Cabalist. Now, each class has 1 skill tree, and they share half that skill tree with the other sub class. So half the Evoker skills, are shared with the Summoner and so forth. Also, several of the classes play a lot the same, the major one being Engineer and Summoner. Gear is also Parent Class specific, so, sorry, no Melee Hunters or Cabalists. Swords are for Templar only.

Gameplay. The general gameplay is fun, and only gets better as you get higher in levels and the mobs start coming in bigger and bigger groups. I have had some VERY fun fights. But there are some problems also. Even more than diblo2, the gameplay is very repetitive. Due to the fact that skills take a lot of mana, you cant spam very many skills. This leaves you with autoattacking for the majority or your gameplay, and doesnt lead to much variance. This is especially true with melee classes. Ranged can vairy it up by equiping different guns. This leads me to the Feed system.

Feed. I feel the Feed system is broken right now. First, the feed system is how equiping items is handled, let me explain. Each stat in the game has 2 uses, a normal stat like use, and it also provides stat feed. The stats are Accuracy, Strength, Stamina and Will. Accuracy gaves you higher crit chance, Str increases the amount of damage you do with melee weapons, will increased your mana pool and mana regen, and stamina gives you hitpoints. Each item has a Feed Cost associated with it, say I found a new gun, this gun would have feed requirements of 2 Str, 5 Stam, 3 Will, 10 Acc. This means it would subtract that amount of points away from your Stat Feed total. All gear has this. So, if I had a pair of pants with a 10 stamina feed also, that would mean I could equip these two items, and be at 15 stamina feed. If I only had 16 stamina, I couldnt equip any more items with Stamina feed cost, inless it was 1 sta feed cost.
The system its self isnt horrible, but it leads to having to put points in all stats as almost every class. Some items require specific types of feed. Armor needs more Str and Stam, guns need more Acc, and all items need a small amount of Will. It is worse for some classes than others. My engineer is pretty much constantly capped in all stats, and I have a bank FULL of items that have dropped for me, but that I cant use yet because I need more stats, in every stat. The Guardian can get away with out putting much in to accuracy, and the hunter can get away with out pumping Str (to an extent, as some guns need str).

Skills. The skills are pretty crappy. They really dont add that much to the game, and are one of the biggest complaints of the testers. There have been hundreds of threads about them. Lots and lots of constructive posts and ideas and such. Just 2 weeks ago FSS totally changed the way the skills worked with skill points, but it didnt help much, except for mean you had to put more points in to a skill to make it viable. Also, a LOT of skills suffer from diminishing returns. Lets that a Hunter skill. Tactical Stance. When you use this, your character crouches down, and gets increased range and crit, and more accuracy when shooting. Now, one point in this skill gives you 25% increased range, 6% increased crit. You can put this skill to 10. Each level bringing 2%crit or so. And thats it. Basically every gun user should take this skill. But putting more than 1 point is mostly a waste, as more points dont give very much increase. This same type of thing is repeated over many of the skills.
Many skills also lack power. Several people actually played all the way through the best, from level 1 to 22(the cap in beta) with out putting a single skill point. Also, many skills have really stupid prerequs. As an engineer, if I want to get their pet "Haste Bot" I need to put 3 points in to Inhibitor bot, and then 3 points in to "concussive Crash" than make the inhibitor bots explode. Then I can take "Haste Bot" but i the majority of Engineers are not going to use Inhibitor Bots, so thats 6 points out of 50 total that I have to spend just to get to the skill I want. This is repeated with just about every class.

Level design. Up to level 22 you have the ability to play through Acts 1-3 out of a total of 5 acts. If some one hadnt told me I was playing Act 3, I never would have known. The levels are identical and there are mostly the same monsters. There is no visual difference between the acts. Also, the levels are random, but the majority are very linear. So if your playing Destroyed Street level, the random part is weather the street has a left turn then a right turn, as aposed to a right turn then a left turn. You basically have one way to go, and it all looks the same. This leads the random levels to not really feel random. There is also no real big zones like in Diablo2, where you left town and went outside to a big land zone. You basically leave town, and go straight to a linear random dungeon. They have a very limited amount of random tilesets also. Streets, Sewers, Warehouses will make up the majority of your playtime. There are a few unique zones thrown in, but this is what you will see most of the time.

Their upgrade system is overall pretty awesome. In Hellgate you should NEVER, EVER sell an item to the NPC shop keeper. You can disassamble items you arnt going to use. This is equilivant to disenchanting an item in WoW. When you disasemble an item, it gives you parts, you can then use these parts at different machines in town to create new items from a list that is randomly generated every time you load in to a station (town) or upgrade your current gear. You can also pay money to add "magic" abilities to your current weapons and armor. Now, the only problem is that the upgrades and abilities are random. When you add an ability to a weapon, it has 3 options, Common, Rares and Legendary. Adding a Legendary property to your item will cost most of your current money, and you wont know what your going to get. It really sucks to empty your bank to add a legendary property to your weapon, and then have it be a skill bonus for a different class. This is minor in the long run, and I really like that you can upgrade an item. This was if you dont get a good drop as you level up, you arnt totally screwed.

The backpacks are also way to small. during the course of one instance, you usually have to stop between 1 and 3 times to disassemble items. If you could have a setting to auto disassemble "white" as in none magic items, it would be very very cool.

This game could really use another 3 months in beta, and it could be a very great game. As it stands right now, I think its going to go down as a fun game with a huge amount of wasted potential. I will buy it, and I will play it, but its just to repetitive, to buggy, and the classes dont offer enough difference for me to want to level more than a couple classes. Also with the way the skill tress are set up, you are going to have a limited amount of builds, but due to spending more than half youor time auto attacking, different builds are still going to play a lot the same.
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October 20th, 2007, 21:54
Another summary:
I like the game but it's nowhere near great, I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed honestly. Unless they are pumping out new items and levels every month I really don't think it deserves a monthly subscription either.

I enjoyed playing all of the classes and can easily see getting to fifty with each of them, it doesn't feel like you're doing the same levels over and over because the layouts are dynamic and change each time. The game definitely gives you that really powerful feeling from Diablo, you just wade into enemies and start slaughtering left and right. You might actually be too powerful because you rarely have to worry about dying unless you stumble onto an elite while in the middle of a fight. The skill system is good but not great, there is some (arguably understandable) over lap between classes as well. The gunners share some skills as do the sword wielders. The loot is pretty good although quite often the blue stuff isn't better than the green and with six different classes you don't often see something you can actually use, but that's not a complete loss because of the crafting system.

The NPCs are great, I actually read the quest dialogue because I enjoy it. They are either crazy or rude or fawning all over you, quite a bit of character. The quests are well laid out in that you always just happen to get half a dozen of them for the area that you're about to enter as part of the main plot line. They have a system where instead of being an FPS a mission gets turned into an overhead command a squad type game, it has a lot of potential and is a nice break when they use one (rarely, and it was quite short). You can call in air strikes, tell them who to attack, where to take cover and so on.

There are quite a few augmentations and systems as well. Most weapons have slots in which you can put ammo mods, magic mods, etc. All loot can be broken down into their components and used to build new items at crafting stations, you can also buy items with the components from another NPC. Each piece of gear you get can also be upgraded using the components by adding a random tiered effect (stuff like +38% chance to crit or +9 health regen).

On the bad side - as most people point out the UI isn't exactly clean. This was also one of the worst betas I've ever played when it comes to bugs, and not little bugs either, big ones. Entire stations (the towns of the game) disappear for hours/days at a time, if you are at the point in your progression where you needed to get to the next station and it's down you might as well roll an alt. Some stations have warping bugs in which everyone in the station is pulled to the exact same point and you have to run back to wherever you were. This is the only beta I have played where entire characters would bug out and be completely inaccessible, I had to roll alts because my mains were stuck in limbo after crashing while porting to a station. I dared not use the equivalent of the Diablo town portal because half the time I would crash and lose all of my progress. They had to manually distribute files over the forums because the patcher screwed up and couldn't complete the file. These are mostly core system type bugs, I'm not even going to bother mentioning all the little bugs like display and game play… except for one, ravagers. I only mention it because I hate them so much, they are the only enemies which "jump" at you and they are frustratingly screwed up, they either disappear or get stuck in mid air or land nowhere near where they were headed. Hopefully most of the worst bugs will be fixed by release and things will be more stable.

If you played the demo I hope you really liked the enemies you saw, because you are going to see the exact same ones for at least the next twenty two levels and probably further (the beta was capped at twenty two). By the time you've gone past the second or third station you have seen all the enemies in the game, they just get stronger and change colours/armour. Flying enemies really suck for melee because you can't bloody well reach them, you have to constantly switch weapons to a grapple, which takes a few seconds to charge up, then hook and pull them to you, then switch back to your sword and kill them. Ranged classes should get used to running backwards. I'm also already really tired of the gray/brown. Yes, I know the game is being fought in the ruins of London but there are always imaginative ways to travel to different places, with some fucking colour in them.

Basically I'll buy it but I'm a consumerist whore for these types of games. I mean I bought Vanguard even though I knew it was going to be a disaster so it would be unwise to go by what I purchase…

Oh yeah, in game ads… At least they fit in, I ignore them in the subway stations just like I do in real life.

Edit: Typos…
Edit 2: My lava dye kit really sucks, the wasp ones look great. Mostly because they are beautiful yellow and I'm desperate to look at colour.
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October 21st, 2007, 10:06
Wow i dont really know what to say all of this stuff sounds really horrible, i mean i played the demo and thought it was a joke but the online part sounds even worse ???!!!
I mean what the fuck is wrong with this guys? They made really good games over at blizzard north and now that?
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October 21st, 2007, 10:14
I started on Thursday and got o play by Friday night and other than trying to figure out the problem that was causing me to not beable to run the game I haven't had any problems so far playing the game. I have only got to the first Station and have done 2 quests but so far it has been a pretty good game even though I have hated the Diablo games.

I'll play more tomorrow and see if I can find any bugs but sofar I haven't seen any.
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October 21st, 2007, 13:10
I'm in the beta, and I have to say it's a much better experience than the demo was.

Not a perfect game by a loooong stretch, but it has certain core elements in place and overall will most likely entertain me enough to be worth a purchase.

Note that I'm an extremely jaded and cynical gamer, so I would expect most fans of the genre to be rather more enthusiastic about the full game.

I'm too tired right now to post a detailed summary, but perhaps later.
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