Last night, midnight CST the US and EU servers and forums went dark for Hellgate: London.
I had hoped to get more time in Hellgate its final month, but didn’t quite get to it. I played for awhile yesterday around noon, completed a few quests with my Marksman, Traeginn. Later last night I played some more, explored some new areas and got myself totally stumped on how to finish one of the quests I was working on.
Traeginn’s last quest hub was Templar Station and while running around I stumbled across an NPC (or something) who opened the portal to Stonehenge for me!
Some of the areas Templar Station linked to had groups of NPC Guardians who would attack the demonic hordes wandering the streets. Great help at times, and I even pulled a trick out of my old Guild Wars “North Wall” hat and aggroed a boss and several other mobs and kited them back to the Guardians for some easy kills! I’ve never played a Guardian class, so I don’t know if they have aggro management skills or tank via collision detection but they sure kept the mobs off Traeginn so he could stand in the back and light them up with his rifles! I suppose that’s what WAR was aiming for as well, but I never got to see it in action in the T1 Scenarios… But it drove home the regret that never once was I ever able to get a group in Hellgate. It’s the reason I stopped playing last year. Not the bugs, the repetitive environments or the memory leak. I don’t play multi-player games to only solo. The NPC squads made me realize that Hellgate should have had some type of NPC companions (Guild Wars’ Henchmen, DDO’s Hirelings, etc.) to fill out a group.
Despite the lack of a group, I found myself enjoying the game yesterday. Some of the places linked from Stonehenge were awesome, like Wake Hollow! If I’d found this stuff last year (and had found a guild or someone to group with) I may have been compelled to play more. With 40 minutes remaining, Traeginn reached level 22! The extra percentages of power and faster demon-killing was noticeable and quite fun!
The server was packed with players all day! Most people knew what was coming, and many of the wealthy level-capped characters donated to the War Drive NPC who puts buffs on every player. Those were handy! The chat was mostly friendly banter, people sadly exploring places they’d never visit again. Of course there were the occasional rants directed at Bill Roper but those were few and far between and for the most part everyone had accepted Hellgate’s fate. What was striking and perhaps even more emotional were the players who obviously enjoyed the game and had absolutely no idea it was counting down its final hours. They weren’t bitter in an “OMG Flagship sucks! Kill Bill!” way, but they did seem to be profoundly saddened and shocked. I would be too if I’d found an online game I liked, made friends and formed social relationships with others only to discover at the last minute that it’s all going away. How would you feel?
Former Flagship Community Director Diane “Tiggs” Migliaccio — yes, the same Tiggs that SOE fired for allegedly taking the players’ side after the NGE was released (many opinions on that debacle, your mileage may vary) — was back yesterday and spent nearly the entire day chatting and saying goodbye to Hellgaters. She’s currently the Community Director for Fallen Earth but she was given her powers back for Hellgate’s final day and placed in charge of “flipping the switch” for the forums. Someone else was in charge of shutting off the servers; if she ever said who it was, I wasn’t online for it. During the final couple hours, Tiggs went from simply chatting with us to using the Announcement channel, which is how the aforementioned uninformed players discovered the game was shutting down.
Tiggs’ first announcement read “Reminder that the Hellgate London NA and EU servers as well as the forums will be shut down at midnight CST.” That’s when the uninformed started asking “Is this for maintenance? How long will the server be down?” and some of us began explaining what was happening.
At 11pm CST, Tiggs announced “Sadly the servers and forums will be shutting down in one hour.” Every so often she would update with a countdown of time remaining.
She did manage one plug for her new job with “Since this world is ending why not join another world that ended… FallenEarth.com”
Tiggs’ final announcement read “The servers and forums will be shutting down in 10 minutes. Thank you all for sticking with Hellgate.”
At this point I had discovered how to complete the quest I’d been previously stumped on but with only ten minutes remaining there was no time to travel three zones to complete it. I would much rather get a gage on the players’ social reactions so I traveled back to Stonehenge, which was jam-packed with players! I got to see plenty of level-capped characters with really cool gear. Everyone disabled helmets as a sort of role-playing way to humbly honor Hellgate and its community.
The last few lines of chat that came across my screen were:
Take care all, let’s kick ass wherever we go!
love u all
dang this really SUX
Seconds after that final goodbye, there was a sudden jolt of lag as we were all sent back to the Hellgate title screen and greeted with the message of a virtual world that no longer exists: