Published By: EA
Developed By: Big Head Games
Genre: First-person RPG
Release Date: Q3 2011
Most gamers may not know the name Ken Rolston, but chances are they've played one of his games. Rolston worked on Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Now he's bringing his considerable talents to a new venture, teaming up with 38 Studios (with the likes of Curt Schilling, Todd McFarlane and R.A. Salvatore). While there's little of the game to show at this time (just a CG trailer), there was plenty for Rolston and his cohorts to discuss.
38 Studios has teamed with Big Huge Games to make Reckoning, an RPG set in the world of Amalur. This new land was created by Salvatore (he's a writer… of books). He's part of what could be considered an all-star team. Salvatore creates the world -- even wrote a 10,000-year history -- and Todd McFarlane helps set the visual tone. Admitted game-aholic Curt Schilling provides his own mix of ideas, enthusiasm and (we'll assume) financing. And Rolston handles the overall game direction.
Expect something similar to Oblivion but, as McFarlane put it, they will "turn up the volume a little bit." What's that actually mean? McFarlane wants more consequences when you're going between quests and less time when nothing is happening.
Rolston agrees. "I want to steal the good parts [of an action game] for my vision of a roleplaying game," he told a captive crowd at Comic-Con. "I want to increase the pace."
If you've played Oblivion or Morrowind, you have an idea of what Rolston likes. Big open worlds with a vast narrative. For Reckoning, he wants to smooth out what he calls the "clunky" elements of RPGs. We tend to accept the poor animations and moderately good combat system of Oblivion because it's an RPG. Ralston isn't accepting that excuse anymore. Reckoning needs to look good, play brilliantly and have all the expected elements for those who loved Oblivion. Uh, yes please.
If you needed any further convincing that Rolston has a vision for what makes a great RPG, he set all doubts to rest. He explained the secret to making great games like Oblivion. "It's giving you a powerful, compelling story," he said, standing to make his point. "Powerful enough to be a great movie and a great novel and then giving you a world with so many things to distract you from getting to the ending." He knows he's succeeded if he can "sucker you into the dark world where that story isn't, because you don't want it to end."
McFarlane, who admits he's not a gamer, but says he observes people playing games, is confident they can deliver something special.
"We will kill some people in this game better than anyone has ever killed anyone in a videogame," he promised.
Now that's one way to hammer out your problems! Get it?
His role isn't just to design some creatures, but to oversee all aspects of the visual world, including how creatures move and interact with the world. When you take on a big creature, it requires you to make big, exaggerated moves. If you're going to kill something, you go all out. He demonstrated by standing on the table, swinging wildly, and frightening several small children. But the basics are spot on. You want to feel the scale of the world and when you come across something big and nasty, you want the earth to shake beneath its feet.
This design philosophy goes from big picture to basic character creation. There's more than one type of mage, for example.
"Some mages and some wizards are poets, if you will," McFarlane said. "And it's almost like ballet. Then there's the angry wizard -- still got his music, but he shoots magic like he's fighting. He will step, launch the same magic, but the sequence and way he delivers that will be different than the other mage."
In some of the screenshots and concept art, we got to get a look as some of the creatures being created. These aren't signature McFarlane monsters. In fact, I don't know that most would even pick them as being from McFarlane without knowing in advance. But they do have some scale. One image shows a horrendous creature, easily as big as a house, crawling out of a pit with its giant pincher arms. Its single eye fires a green beam at some haggard-looking heroes. Two riders have chains lashed around the beast, tugging to control it. Who knows how that will actually play out in the game (or if the gameplay will be any good), but it certainly looks promising.
While Rolston handles the gameplay and McFarlane tackles the look, it's built on the base that Salvatore's created. "I want a place to care about, to call home, worth defending," Salvatore said. He created this vast history and then let the designers determine when the story should take place. They settled on the Age of Arcana.
The narration in the teaser trailer states, "All that lives must die. One birth, one death. For each life a reckoning." During the Age of Arcana, something interesting has happened to the world to change this. The Well of Souls is allowing people to be resurrected. Reckoning examines the consequences of this. "What happens in the world when you break that bargain?" Salvatore asked, referring to the basic human compact that we only live once. "What about the NPCs around the character? How do they feel about it?"
That's a question that will be taken into account throughout your time in Reckoning. But the bigger questions for gamers remain a mystery -- how will the game play and will it be any good? With Reckoning slated for a Fall 2011 release, it may be a while before we find out.
But as far as Rolston is concerned, we shouldn't be worried. He assured the crowd, "I feel personally, this will be sweet."
Edited by tridenthawk, 29 July 2010 - 07:54 AM.