Over at Gamespot, they have a recap of a talk at GDC ’09 given by Stephen Goldstein, formerly director of business development and general counsel for the defunct Flagship Studios. He discussed what went wrong with Hellgate: London. A lot did.

The developers went into the project with talent and high spirits. Also overconfidence, no business plan, no real concept of management, and no one to really oversee the project.

As we all know, the subscription model was ludicrous. It was free to play, with a paid portion. It had a single-player mode. How did Flagship expect to make real money with this? Maybe their vision was clouded by dreams of WoW revenues.

On top of that, Goldstein points out that billing was left to the last minute. The crucial portion, and no one was giving it much thought. Perhaps they expected the money to flow in by osmosis.

Possibly the biggest mistake was the team’s overconfidence. They tried to do too much in one game. We have seen this sort of thing before, in single-player products. Everyone wants a “killer game”. Thus, everything that can be thought of is stuffed in.

Naturally, that means time runs out. So the game is shipped in a far from finished state, with features unactivated or omitted, to be “fixed” somewhere down the road with several patches.

And as Goldstein remarked, there was far too much hype that built up over over a long period. No matter how good the game might have been at launch, it couldn’t possibly satisfy expectations.

Overall, every possible mistake that could be made, Flagship made it (Goldstein’s talk covered ten points). A sad commentary on expert designers who didn’t understand how to run a business, or how to manage a project.

Flagship sifts through Hellgate ruins at Gamespot