With customary greetings in order, welcome. After some much-needed time to adjust, there is much to go through – some as regards the status of the team and project, and some as regards our future plans.
This will be a very special diary entry, as you can imagine, so please get comfortable.
First things first, a small update on where we’ve been. At the same time, here I’d like to offer some insights into the team as a whole.
In brief, we’re still on a break. Well, not all of us; work is still being done, as I’ll cover next. However, we’re still on a break as a team, and that means development is mostly limited to a casual pastime. This is also why we’ve been less active on the project’s Discord, and haven’t been engaging with player feedback as frequently.
What this means in turn is, we can’t quite resume properly yet. The Shady program is a great example of this, as there’s just not enough manpower to onboard a new wave of recruits at the moment. This I have to mention here, as there have been a few discreet questions about it. Yes, we absolutely will recruit new Shadies to ensure our internal tester team irons out all new content prior to release, as I’ve noted before. But at the moment, there’s neither a steady flow of content for such a team to test nor enough manpower to onboard and supervise them.
Speaking of manpower then, this bit I feel warrants a mention too. You’ll likely often hear of “the team”; a term vague enough to set off the imagination. It might kindle expectations for manned ticket desks, vibrant support channels, and perpetual development toward the new frontier for Hellgate. Yes, they might be volunteers, but surely an army of people should have the project running at blazing speeds.
Well… “the team” is small. At the moment, as regards active hands-on development, there are 4 people. That’s including me, so really 3.5 people. Other active staff, ie CMs and managers and whatnot, includes another 3. Out of past Shadies, there’s now one left. Singular, yes. And out of these ~8 people, some have multiple different duties to spread them even thinner, and/or not enough expertise to really get the proverbial train on the proverbial tracks – that would be me, yes. Never forget the Easter event.
Why does this all matter? It does, as regards expectations. I’ve come to understand that this information not being out there might be doing harm, leaving people to wonder why X or Y has not yet been implemented. Well, beyond Hellgate’s arcane innards being what they are, this is another primary reason I saw fit to share.
Now, all of the above aside, there are ample plans for the immediate future. 1.6 is under active development – so unless it happens to need to be split into 1.5.12 and 1.6 to meet some deadline, the next patch will be our biggest and most substantive yet. That’s because our expansion is in the works, and there will be minimal distractions in the way of finalizing this vital piece of content.
BUT, this can’t be an isolated piece of content. It needs to have the campaign flow logically into it, and the purposes it will hopefully achieve will leave room for other content to adjust (and in some cases align with player feedback more closely).
As such, you can initially expect a party-based expansion, complete with its own stations, dungeons, bosses, and items. No, it won’t be utterly impregnable and prohibitive for solo play. However, it will represent our next swing at party-based content on the whole.
This has a few different implications, however. Among them, the current concepts being discussed are:
- Toning down St. Paul’s Station. Yes, perhaps it’s time to do away with that needless difficulty spike and let Nightmare become less of a nightmare… as far as the main campaign goes.
- Adjusting Nightmare levels. If the final station is toned down, then so must the rest of the second playthrough. This includes ensuring a better level curve, and will by definition affect Quavontavius as well.
- Toning down the Emissaries. As in life, the new push down the old. An emerging power might be syphoning these demons’ essence, making them more manageable enemies for brave Survivors.
These are of course just plans and concepts. If time allows, they will hopefully be implemented in a refined form that best meets their goals. If not, we’d rather postpone them than risk releasing subpar changes that fail to serve their intended purposes.
Second come distractions; the little side-projects for us to take up when the main focus finds a roadblock, while also ticking worthy items off the list. The ones currently on the table are:
- Australia tiers. This dungeon doesn’t seem to have achieved its purpose, so some modifications might be in order.
- Blademaster tweaks. We do believe the class is largely in a healthy place, but that does not mean everything’s as it should be. Some initial tweaks are already on the table, and it’s my hope that new assets will manage to come through in time as well.
- New items. No, not ones that will push new metas, or ones that will pollute the global pool. Many, many item types simply don’t have Uniques to roll for, making for a less exciting experience across the game. This has become my personal pastime, so I can safely say this will come through – not for every single item, of course, but for many.
Finally come the absolute daydreams; the bits that will likely not even be touched in action beyond planning for them and creating base materials. At the moment, these mostly include codex entries and similar secondary tidbits.
Again, these are all merely plans. I can absolutely not guarantee any of them will make it into 1.6 in these forms, or even at all. However, that’s mostly what’s on the table right now – and after a modest period of silence, I feel these should serve to excite the imagination for a better future.
…though hopefully not too much, given our schedules and manpower. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say.
And there you have it. After our most tumultuous period yet, I hope these news bring you some reassurance and a sense of normalcy. And why not, renewed hopes for a bright future – within reason. 2038 will always march on, as our founder always wanted.
Until next time then, brave Survivors. All the best to you and yours.