Reckoning’s Ken Rolston: RPGs “are Slow-paced, Abstract, and Awkward”

Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our full-length interview with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s Ken Rolston. The full interview will appear Monday.

Ken Rolston is a legendary game designer. Not only was he the the lead designer for iconic projects like Morrowind and Oblivion, but he’s done a ton of work with tabletop RPGs as well, including Paranoia, Warhammer, Runequest and more. As such, he’s uniquely qualified to talk about the genre. As an added bonus, he’s always an awesome guy to interview. He gives long, detailed answers, he’s funny, and at least when I’m interviewing him, he’s without question the smartest guy in the room. He’s also working on one of the most anticipated RPGs of 2012, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

We recently had the chance to talk with him, and quite naturally, the conversation turned to the state of RPGs today. Rolston’s take was both positive and a bit negative, as he said,

Video game RPGs are so good now, and there are so many to choose from, that I make the frequent mistake of thinking we live in the Perfect Golden Age of RPG Utopia.

And then someone goes and makes something new and cool, and we’re off to the races again.

But despite the fact that video game RPGs have made such deep and passionate inroads into the mainstream market, I still feel they are slow-paced, abstract, and awkward.

This state of affairs has affected the way he’s designing Reckoning. When asked how his new project would be different, Rolston replied,

RECKONING reflects my hunger for a faster pace of action and combat drama, and a desire for simpler, easier-to-use interfaces. Video game RPGs are naturally the deepest,longest, and most complicated kinds of video game entertainment… that’s whatmakes them great. But making them just a tiny bit less clumsy in the interface, and just a big, fat, huge amount more physical and exciting in combat, gives them more fun-per-unit-time. Me? I want All-Fun, All-the-Time, Right-Now, thank-you-very-much.

We’ve got a lot more from Ken Rolston in our full interview, which will be available Monday. Wondering what we think of the recently released Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo? Well, you’re in luck. Our very own Mitchell (yes, he of Minecraft Show fame) has played the demo, and he’s documented that experience for your enjoyment. We’ve embedded it for convenience right under these words.

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3 Comments on Reckoning’s Ken Rolston: RPGs “are Slow-paced, Abstract, and Awkward”


On January 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I haven’t played an RPG I’ve felt was good since the turn of the century.

Brandon James Clark

On January 21, 2012 at 7:06 am

Whatever, genre’s change. Skyrim might not be a classic RPG, but it’s what the current RPG genre is based around and I ING LOVE IT.

Do I fire up Baldur’s Gate once in a while? Sure.

But, it’s about immersion, and story was so heavily needed because graphics couldn’t immerse the way they can now.