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Flagship holds forth on lessons learned

Adrian Bott

Max Schaefer, operations chief and co-founder of Flagship Studios, is forthright about the mistakes made on Hellgate: London. In a lengthy interview with he explains how that game tried to be too many things to too many people, and ended up being rushed to market without being 'kept in the oven long enough.' They simply took too much on for a fledgling studio without any existing technologies to cope with.

Flagship is now working on a brand new MMO, the free-to-play microtransaction-driven Mythos, which is nothing like as 'hardcore' as Hellgate. Resemblances to the likes of Diablo or WoW are justified by Schaefer in terms of the relief they give players; the idea is to cultivate a sense of 'familiar novelty', in which the gameplay is comfortable enough to welcome a player in and get them settled, but innovative enough to excite and keep interest.

The interpretation of microtransactions is particularly eye-catching. It's focused not on regular items such as armor and swords, but on cosmetic pieces and special map access. In an additional twist, one player can purchase access to a version of a dungeon that gives better drops and increased XP, then take some friends along for the ride. There's no need for the rest of the group to have made the same purchase. The system thus allows free players to have access to some paid content without paying for it themselves.

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