Ken Rolston Talks Kingdoms of Amalur & How it Will Change RPGs (INTERVIEW)

GF: Obviously, Skyrim is the RPG on everyone’s mind right now. One of our readers’ biggest complaints about Skyrim was that the PC version was an obvious port. How is 38 Studios structuring the PC version to avoid the issue, and will there be PC exclusive content? Also, how does Reckoning differ from Skyrim; what makes it unique?

KR: Hmm. Personally, I was perfectly happy with the Skyrim PC experience. But remember… I LOVED Morrowind and Oblivion… and loved seeing them on consoles. In fact, I feel they were too slow to embrace the potential delights of the console interface.

Am I the enemy? Do you hate me?

That would be bitter… because I was always a hardcore PC gamer, and had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, from the PC towards the Xbox for Morrowind. I credit Todd Howard with the Genuine Visionary Lunacy to inspire that transition, and I am ashamed that Tood often had to drag me along behind him, on his Pilgrimage to the Promised Land.

Now I love the consoles. And though I admit to playing almost exclusively on PCs, even today, I am more and more plugging in console controllers for action games [except shooters] wherever I can.

Reckoning doesn’thave PC-exclusive content. Reckoning was developed simultaneously on each of its three delivery platforms [PC, Xbox 360, and PS3], and designed, and aggressively user-experience- tested and revised, for all three platforms. Big Huge Games has always been crazy passionate about user experience, and I share that passion.

Here’s one example of an awesome platform design detail. When playing on the PC, the game senses immediately when you move from a controller to the keyboard, and vice-versa. That is, you seamlessly and effortlessly slide back and forth between the two interfaces. The PC keyboard is better at handling text, of course, and the utility bar is easy to use in that interface, but I like the tactile feel of the controller for combat. So far, I’m really liking the hybrid experience, and wondering why it never occurred to us before.

And what makes Reckoning differ from Skyrim? The simple answer is that Reckoning has the best, coolest, fastest-paced, most tactile and silly-exciting fantasy combat of ANY video RPG. The pace, fluid movement, tactical richness, and physical and visual theater of fantasy combat has always seemed the weakest feature of video RPGs, and Reckoning offers a fresh new answer in that department. There are a couple of other obvious contrasting features, like Reckoning’s more vivid, colorful art style, and easy-to-pick up, faster-paced gameplay in general.

They have a lot in common. Both games are Way-Too-Big, and have Way-Too-Much-to-Do, and they both seduce you into playing for hours and hours and hours. They both have whacking big epic storylines, and elaborate faction quest lines, and boatloads of quests, and lots of characters and books, and lots of crafting and alchemy, and lots of ways to customize your character.

But in many large ways, and in many small ways, Reckoning tries to take a fresh look at the RPG genre, and is trying to be What RPGs Will Look Like and Feel Like in the Future Utopia.

And pretty soon you’ll be playing Reckoning, and you can tell us what YOU think.

Go ahead. I’ll just wait here for your answers.

As you can see, Rolston isn’t a man who’s afraid of stating his opinions, and he’s obviously very excited about Reckoning. While we won’t have a final verdict on Reckoning until the game releases on Feb. 7, we’ve already given the demo a try. If you haven’t, you can grab the demo on Steam.

Need some help on your fantasy adventure through Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning? Check out Game Front’s text and video walkthrough right here.

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2 Comments on Ken Rolston Talks Kingdoms of Amalur & How it Will Change RPGs (INTERVIEW)


On January 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

“So many to choose from..”? In what alternate universe? We get at best two – or rarely, three – triple-A RPGs in a year for the PC. And, inevitably, one of them will be crap due to bugs, terrible design, repetitive content, whatever. nothing about Amalur sounds the slightest bit interesting to me. All I’m reading is “console port” in giant flaming letters, replete with over-the-top arcadey twitch combat, more attempts to push the inferior controller on PC users and all the other nonsense we’ve grown tired of hearing. This game will change RPGs? It sounds like the epitome of every bad trend plaguing the genre (and the PC gaming industry) right now.


On February 11, 2012 at 2:07 am

I’m sorry, but there’s a reason RPGs have the mechanics they do. The slow awkward combat you seem so keen to change is really what a lot of the genre’s consumers enjoy. We are interested in using our brains, taking our time to form deep tactical choices. Twitch based fighting has been tryed in RPGs before, and its failed before. I hope your game is successful as it seems to do the twitch RPG thing well, but I highly doubt it will be genre changing. I’m sure all the 15 year olds with their Xboxs will eat this “Kingdoms of Street Fighter” game up, but good luck pushing it on PC gamers.