Messaging a problem for Kingdoms of Amalur - Rolston

38 Studios designers Ken Rolston and Joe Quadara discuss the difficulty in talking about their latest effort and the way it integrates aspects of both action and role-playing games.

Considering that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a collaboration between renowned creators like Spawn artist Todd McFarlane, best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion lead designer Ken Rolston, one might assume its biggest problem might be too many cooks in the kitchen. But to hear Rolston tell it, describing to people exactly what sort of dish those cooks are creating has been the real sticking point.

38 Studios thinks action and RPG are two great tastes that can taste great together.

In an interview with GameSpot this week (video below), Rolston and Amalur lead combat designer Joe Quadara discussed the difficulties of describing exactly how people should think of their blend of fantasy action and role-playing games.

"[That's always] a difficult problem for our messaging," Rolston said. "This is a role-playing game because I would be killed if it weren't. I make role-playing games."

Having created open-world and narrative-driven RPGs in the past, Rolston said his goal with Amalur was to make an RPG with top-notch combat, because he hadn't seen that yet. He admitted that he didn't know exactly how to pull that off when he started, noting it was made possible by the rest of the development team, including Quadara.

"I've never experienced a game like it before, and that's been the difficulty of talking about this game," Quadara said. "It's an RPG with good combat, and people have a hard time figuring out what that means in their own heads, because there's no example of it, really."

That problem might be compounded because even the terms used to describe the sorts of games that already exist are rapidly changing in meaning.

"Now we're in this age where we have all these action games that have RPG elements, that right there has just destroyed to me what an RPG means because we're talking about RPG elements," Quadara said, adding, "There are all these different ways we can spread out, and these are all valid representations of RPGs. But you ask any different person what an RPG is and they'll give you a different answer."

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is set to launch on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on February 7. For more, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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Discussion

59 comments
lewishim666
lewishim666

With Todd McFarlane art directing I thought this would be a little bit darker in atmosphere.

asmartkid50
asmartkid50

I might catch a lot of hate for this but, It seems to me that KoA might be what Fable 3 should of been.

richiec7
richiec7

As a PC gamer, I'm concerned it's just another console game that will be ported to PC as an afterthought. The demo didn't do much to assuage that fear.

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

The demo was.....er.....I'm not going to say anything because my Mom said "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all".

JamesX007
JamesX007

I tried the demo but the WoW type graphic really make me hate the game. Hopefully it has enough depth to turn me around.

TERMINATOR-SSD
TERMINATOR-SSD

Ken Rolston is a scary person........ action rpg in an sword monster world, with gd combat and gd rpg elements .....Witcher 2 lol i will see how this game turns out, may just rent it...

rasputin177
rasputin177

I don't care what they call it. I call it awesome. Only RPG with great combat I can think of are Dark Souls and Mass Effect 2 if you count that as an RPG.

AzulSoul
AzulSoul

Finally, a game that will let me know the rpg genre with an action taste. The closer rpg game for me was diablo, but in consoles i'm an action/adventure gamer. Playing usually games like POP or GOW is kinda annoying try Dark souls with clumsy movement. Amalur's mechanics seems more fluid, I'm very excited :)

ruggedy95
ruggedy95

@Darnasian yh i have heard of alpha protocol but i have never played it ..... let me ask you something yh .... when someone says RPG, what image is painted in your mind. am gonna tell you the picture i get and am pretty sure most ppl will agree with me, the picture i get is, u have this character u created in ur own image or any image u fancy ..... and his/her(and yh u can decide to make your hero in most 'RPG's' a male or female character) ......... then u get to choose ur sort of fighting style ...... which is either a mage, warrior or rogue, though the genre is evolving in such a way as to allow u create hybrid classes ...... and the best aspect or element is that fully explorable world.... e.g skyrim ... u can climb every mountain, . as long as u can see the area in skyrim then it is possible to explore said areas .. and i know u cant do that in dark souls .... so u see all the characteristics i stated above are 'RPG elements' stuff that defines a role playing game .... so if a game has some of this characteristics then its not an RPG just some game that has got 'RPG elements' ... but if it has all these characteristics stated above .. then yh that's an RPG game... one more thing a very good rpg game has more than one ending .. because your decisions during the course of the game affects the way the world of the game is shaped example skyrim and oblivion ..... that's all i have to say ... if u don't agree with me feel free to prove me wrong

risako9
risako9

I've been waiting for something new in like... 2008?

xerxes5678
xerxes5678

Looking pretty good so far. I'll try the demo before making a final judgment though. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those hits that go under the radar.

Al3xki
Al3xki

I've become very excited about this game recently, but I have a sense that its gonna be one of those best game no one played awards in the making. I'm an avid gamer yet heard about this game only lately and nobody I know has a clue. Considering its an EA game I find this puzzling. Skyrim and Dragon Age had massive interest before release. My only guess is the game is being delayed and they just havent told anyone yet

EtherUnion
EtherUnion

IF... Origins must ON to play.... I'll think twice before I buy it.

fieryermine
fieryermine

I don't like all the flashing lights and colors when your character swings his sword or whatever. It looks like they're using laser energy swords and if I wanted to play that, I'd play some science fiction thing. Leave the lights to the wizards, I'd say. I didn't like all the special effects in DA2 and I don't like it here either.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

I like the trend towards more action-oriented combat systems in RPGs. Turn-based is fine and it has it's place, but it's a model that has largely been unchanged since its inception. Games like Star Ocean and Tales of... have gone a long way toward making combat less of a chore. If this game can pull off that killer combat they are promising while providing a solid RPG experience, then we may finally have a real revolution in the genre. Technically, all games would be RPGs, since you do play a role in the game. That said, how would a game like Tetris be classified? You don't have an avatar, and you are simply guiding oddly shaped pieces into a particular arrangement. While we can't all put a solid definition of the genre "RPG", we all have a pretty good idea if a game fits there or not. I'd say it's more about what the focus of the game is. RPGs tend to focus on story and character development first and foremost, but even saying that is a slippery slope and not entirely accurate.

Ringx55
Ringx55

I'm very excited for a fresh new RPG IP.

Danny_1993
Danny_1993

Haha, RPG's don't have to be Open World, technically even games like Gears of War and hell even CoD are RPG's - because you are playing the role of someone else. There's no solid definition, but games like Elder Scrolls, Fallout etc. etc. Fall under the RPG banner because it's the genre they are most associated with

Darnasian
Darnasian

@ruggedy95 You obviously don't know a damn thing about RPGS...heard of Alpha Protocol?...heard of the words Role-Playing Game?...do you know what elements define it?...lol not even the people who make them know for sure... @Vraeth So true...

Vraeth
Vraeth

People in the comments section arguing about what an RPG is when even people who make RPGs say it's not a solid definition. Irony.

BlueRaptor7
BlueRaptor7

Not sure if these guys have played Witcher 2...

ruggedy95
ruggedy95

@Tsuchikage dark souls is not open world so you cant call it an RPG ........ at the best, you can say it has RPG elements

Xeogua
Xeogua

I'm ready for February.

thegamegod
thegamegod

He's a bit mental,but he's a fascinating person to watch. I'm very much looking forward to this though, I'm bored to death of skyrim (for me it was only fun for 2 weeks) so I need a nice deep RPG game with half decent combat, I'll make my decision when the demo gets released.

Ronaldius
Ronaldius

Cant wait for this game, counting the day`s. Tnx for the tip there 187umKILLAH, didnt now there was gonna be a demo.

187umKILLAH
187umKILLAH

Can't wait for the playable demo on the 17th, it even unlocks armour and weapons in the full game !

GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

@TrueProphecy22 I do, there's no way to forget Blue Dragon, specially since Awakened Shadow on the DS was better than the original.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

I look forward to this game. Hope it does well.

Master_cheat001
Master_cheat001

I don't have high hope for this game. If it is a 7.0, I 'll pass.

TrueProphecy22
TrueProphecy22

I have a feeling it's setting up to fail. Blue Dragon was a collaboration between big names... look what happened to that one. How many people here even remember Blue Dragon?

Darkhol0w
Darkhol0w

NIce interview,looking forward to the game.

ronnet
ronnet

@advocacy, I'm not sure how much longer you have to live, but BD: DA2 is available second hand on ebay for around 20 dollars, I'm sure you could receive a copy in less than 5 days ;)

Tsuchikage
Tsuchikage

Dark Souls has amazing combat that is on par with the best action games. Last time I checked, Dark Souls is an RPG.

Goatlord6669
Goatlord6669

This February will be EPIC! Kingdom of Amular!!?? Twisted Metal!!?? SSX!!??Darkness 2 !!?? * Head Explodes*

advocacy
advocacy

Still want Baldur's Gste: Dark Alliance 2 sometime before I die, but Kingdoms looks sweet.

JS0123456789
JS0123456789

Looking forward to it. One of the few new IP's to get excited about. There's always room for another good rpg.

SHINRIEL
SHINRIEL

I can think of a few RPGs with good combat : tales of vesperia (any tales of game) , star ocean the last hope, magna carta 2 , final fantasy 7 crisis core , hack GU vol 1,2,3 etc.

Thisnames
Thisnames

Can't think of an RPG with good combat? The Witcher 2 comes to mind

roganth
roganth

@H0RSE Santa just wants to give her a present

psycho75
psycho75

Yes its understandable,its really hard to describe all awesomeness of this game with words,we have to try it ASAP:P

ProjektInsanity
ProjektInsanity

@SolidTY Yeah, this is one of those titles where I can really feel the developer/producer's enthusiasm shining through. If it lives up to 1/2 of what it promises, I'll be impressed. I cannot wait to break a faeblade off in some monster's skull.

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Just bought the special edition hehe..Thats how much faith ive got in this game..Been following this since the studio was released..Big fan cant wait..Skryim you will loose your luster after Kingdom of amalur comes out..Reckoning is nocking on your door..Cant wait Cant wait Cant wait..Two games ive been following for years come out back to back..Possible that diablo 3 is in feb also that will be awesome if its true )..

H0RSE
H0RSE

Ken Rolston is like that creepy Grandpa that asks your big boobed girlfriend to sit on his lap.

Peralia
Peralia

Looking forward to this game!

AzulSoul
AzulSoul

I hope people give this the same good welcome given to Borderlands, and don't feel disappointed not being the typical rpg.

Cataclysmm
Cataclysmm

SolidTy Co-Sign i hope so too because i am planing on getting it bass off what i have seen so far and other stuff.