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38 Studios Revealing Big Huge RPG  Kingdoms of Amalur  At Comic Con
38 Studios Revealing Big Huge RPG Kingdoms of Amalur At Comic Con
July 20, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

July 20, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Gamers will get their first look at Big Huge Games and 38 Studios' console RPG this week at San Diego Comic Con at a panel featuring the project's top brass: Big Huge lead designer Ken Rolston, best known for Elder Scrolls' Morrowind and Oblivion installments; fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, artist Todd McFarlane (Spawn) and 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling.

The single-player PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 RPG formerly known as Project Mercury will be titled Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. It's the first incarnation of the universe that will underpin future games developed by 38 Studios, which acquired Baltimore-area developer Big Huge last year. Rolston has been working on versions of the project with Big Huge since 2007 -- at the time, publisher THQ had agreed to publish the title.

With the project now part of a planned 38 Studios product family, Electronic Arts revealed earlier this year that it would handle publishing duties when the game launches in fall 2011.

"We are thrilled to be developing an open-world RPG under the leadership of one of the greatest RPG designers in the industry, with creative direction by one of the most iconic artists of our time, set in a rich universe imagined by one of the top fantasy genre authors in the world," commented 38 Studios CEO Jen MacLean. "We canít wait to share the first details of this universe we have been so dedicated to building over the past few years.Ē

As part of the announcement, Rolston said the Big Huge team has taken the visual and narrative work of McFarlane and Salvatore, respectively, and built "the open-world exploration, vast narrative and character customization fans expect from the best RPGs."

Added Rolston, "And we've added something new that we've always wanted from the genre -- a fast-paced, graphically stimulating action combat experience with fluid control and immersive, discoverable gameplay fans haven't seen before in other fantasy RPGs."

The project is separate from the massively multiplayer online game that 38 Studios is building, but both titles are intended to be set in the same universe and share IP extensions.

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Andrew Grapsas
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I have to say, I'm thoroughly excited :)

Christopher Engler
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The last two Elders Scrolls games have been incredible, but the combat has always been lacking. I'm glad to see they're addressing this.

Bart Stewart
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I'm really looking forward to learning more about this one.

BioWare's Mass Effect focused tightly on the main character, as is appropriate for a developer who is known for emphasizing characters and stories. From the info-snippets provided here, it sounds like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will -- more like Bethesda's RPGs -- pull the camera back a bit so that the world itself plays a larger role in gameplay content.

In Mass Effect, the world is primarily a backdrop for the character stories or action -- essentially a series of generic science fiction sets. Although the Citadel could be explored in the original Mass Effect, that area was a bit small to be considered an "open-world" design. The sequel mostly did away with even that, emphasizing small spaces and relatively linear corridors. Again, this is not "bad" or "wrong"; as I said, I think this design works well for keeping the focus tightly on the characters. That smartly plays to BioWare's recognized strength.

On the other hand, world-as-scenery does mostly eliminate exploring the gameworld (as opposed to exploring character histories and motivations) as a substantial proportion of active gameplay content. I'm looking forward to seeing whether Big Huge Games, by designing KA:R as more of an open-world game, will choose to emphasize exploration gameplay as a distinctive strength of the games from their studio, or if they will try to enforce a tight focus on characters like BioWare, or whether they'll wind up trying to strike a balance between these approaches... which could mean doing neither well, or doing both so well as to raise the bar even higher for single-player RPGs. (And choosing to support consoles -- rather than making the single-player game exclusive to the PC and thus able to use all the PC's resources for explorable areas -- may have some impact on the "focus" question as well.)

Building an online game (and I seem to recall from previous news stories that that's where Curt Schilling's real interest lies) at the same time as the single-player game might imply that the single-player game is really meant to be not much more than a bit of advertising for the online game. (Making Warcraft III as a "gateway drug" for World of Warcraft worked out pretty well for Blizzard.) I hope that's not the case for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. As their first game, I'm not expecting it to have the size of Oblivion/Fallout 3 or the slickness of Mass Effect/Dragon Age. But I do hope it stands alone as a game worth playing, and that it's more than just a single-player demo for the online game. We'll see.

J Benjamin Hollman
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Are we still ending game titles with ": Reckoning" in the year 2010?

Mark Harris
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Yes. Did that word fall out of fashion or something?

Michael Mucci
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I hope Curt Schilling is rendered into the game and hurls 100mph fastballs of fire to slay antagonist forces

Chris Remo
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Boy I sure can't help being slightly--but noticeably--less excited about this game because it ends with "colon Reckoning." Is that really necessary? If you're making a big crazy fantasy adventure story, there's basically a 98% chance that your plot includes an event or series of events that can be classified as a "reckoning," so in addition to being a word that is now completely cliche in this medium, it's one that is generally completely redundant.

Kevin Bray
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I reckon that these are all great comments!

David Rodriguez
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What's everyone got against reckoning? as long as it's applied well and is relevant to the story/characters/design scheme then it's fine. Red Dead Redemption is about a man trying to Redeem himself for his evil past, great game. Where as Matrix reloaded was...about..reloading hope in mankind? no now that was stupid. I know there are others like Warhammer: age of reckoning, haven't played it though...but anyways I'll wait till I see something from Big Huge before passing judgment..Reckon that's the best thing to do.

Carl Chavez
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I still can't get over Big Huge's logo. It's so similar to Saltmine Creative's old logo...

Majed Al-Aleeli
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Gothic 4

Witcher 2


Kingdoms of Amalur

to look forward too in the RPG non MMO world

hope they donít disappoint