Bill Roper admitted that the team may have been spoiled by working at Blizzard for so long.
The team at Blizzard is infamous (that's more than famous) for never shipping a project until its done. So when a game needs 6 months more work on it before it's perfect, Blizzard gives it that time because they have the luxury of time and money to make that decision. After making Diablo and its sequel, Bill Roper left Blizzard to form Flagship Studios, and he still worked under that mentality. Unfortunately, he didn't have the same resources and the publishers forced him to ship his ambitious Hellgate: London before it was ready. The game received lackluster reviews and a tepid consumer response after it launched in 2007, and Flagship Studios soon folded. The multiplayer servers for Hellgate closed in January 2009, and Roper is just now able to see that he may have had too many goals for the game.
"The biggest failure with Hellgate is we just tried to do too much," said Roper. "We were a single-player game, or you could go online and play for free. And there was also this hybrid subscription model that you could get into. We shipped in 17 languages, we had a very high-end graphics engine that we had built but at the same time we did low-poly versions of the game. I mean, the list just went on and on and on."
Roper was the first to admit that he and a lot of the ex-staffers from Blizzard that he hired at Flagship were unwittingly hamstrung by such a great experience at the Studio of Warcraft. "I think that was where our 'growing up Blizzard' hurt us, right? Because at Blizzard you just go for it. Every time you swing, you swing for the fences. We'd go in there and say, 'We need to take six more months. This is why. This is the benefit you will see from it,'" Roper said. The response from higher ups at Blizzard was always: "'You know what? If that's what you need to make this game great, then that's what we'll get for you. We'll figure it out.'"
But there was no such leeway at Flagship. "It still eventually comes down to dollars and cents and time," Roper said. "I think when Hellgate: London came out... we knew it needed another four to six months. The publishers knew it needed another four to six months." Despite that knowledge, both parties were reluctant to pur more money into the project. "The publishers were like, 'Hey, we're invested. We're in. We're as in as we're going to get.' So, the game's got to come out, right? You get to that point."
So is it ever a good idea to just get a game out there and hope for the best? "I think it's a horrible mistake," Roper said with a laugh.