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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con

Posted Fri, Jul 23, 2010 by Ethec

The 38 Studios / Big Huge Games crew officially pulled the wraps off of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning at an entertaining San Diego Comic-Con panel Thursday afternoon. The cross-platform, single-player RPG takes place in Amalur, the fictional world envisioned by bestselling author R.A. Salvatore that also serves as the backdrop for host of unannounced titles and products from 38 Studios, including the upcoming MMORPG codenamed Copernicus.

Reckoning is something of a prequel to Copernicus, preceding it appreciably in the 12,000 year timeline of lore laid out by Salvatore and others for the IP. One major theme of the game will be the Well of Souls and the world-changing implications surrounding something that MMO players tend to take for granted: resurrection of the fallen.


In the real word, ideas and discoveries might have a tremendous impact of their own accord, but it’s often the reaction to these events by the community and social establishments that multiplies or hinders the force of the impact. It’s much the same in Amalur, and Salvatore explained that part of his role is filling the writers with a sense of how profound a discovery resurrection is in Amalur, that it’s a “big deal” and much of the game’s immersiveness comes from how NPCs are reacting to the events unfolding around them.

The second member of Schilling’s dream team to speak, Executive Producer Ken Rolston explained how he hopes to lead players down the rabbit hole with gameplay in like manner to his previous two blockbuster Elder Scrolls titles, Morrowind and Oblivion.  Vast narrative and open world were two of Rolston’s key words, but he didn’t use them lightly. Vast narrative means essentially that the story frames a world that gives you the sense it contains more interesting stories than anyone could ever tell. Rolston cited Buffy and Battlestar Galactica among others as examples of vast narrative.


Open world, according to Rolston, is a much more unsettled phrase. In his view (and to paraphrase him), open world means the world has a central conflict that you never really want to resolve (because you’re having too good a time), and never really have to due to the wealth of other interesting and worthy content the game provides. Additionally, Rolston hopes to clean up the “clunky” presentation of today’s RPGs and, short of making an action game, borrow elements from the action genre to “increase the pace” of the combat gameplay. Unfortunately, and with Rolston’s apologies, the team isn’t quite ready to show combat gameplay yet.

By far the most animated member of the panel (pun intended) was Todd McFarlane, whose tabletop parries and thrusts drove home another one of Reckoning’s core concepts: “combat theater.” Feeling that combat looked far too unnatural in most games - the A -> B -> A of stance, swing your weapon, resume your previous stance found in most swords and sorcery games - McFarlane showed us the less formulaic actions that people step through, illustrating how this plays out in game. He also explored the concepts of mass, scale, and bone structure, explaining that characters, items, and animations in Reckoning would essentially act their weight and add a layer of realism to the game that’s seldom or never been seen before.
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