Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Comic-Con 2011 Panel
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning promises to be one of the must-have RPGs of 2012. Since anticipation for the game is rapidly building, a Comic-Con panel seemed necessary. Before the panel started Adam Sessler urged to the crowd to tweet that attendees were "in the best panel ever." Sessler went on to gush,"there aren't many new IPs," and he's right. Not to mention the fact that there aren't many new IPs to be excited about. With that glowing endorsement, Sessler introduced Todd McFarlane.
The first question Adam asked was, "How did you approach creating Reckoning?" One of the members of the panel answered, "We wanted to make something unique. We had so much material to pull from, we worked with Todd. We thought of ideas, bounced them off Todd, and he added 'the super sauce.'"
One reason Reckoning will stand out is the amount of thought that went into each character and each creature. With movies, the creators know everything about their characters -- including in some cases such detail as 20-year backstories -- regardless of what makes it onto the screen. RA Salvatore knows his characters this way.
The E3 trailer began, which showed all in-game footage. After the trailer one of the panelist noted, "To be clear, this is an RPG, you're seeing the sexy, not as appealing as showing someone looting." If you're not into action, it's an RPG that lets you play play action if you want to. "If that's [action] not your gig, you can bypass the sexy." Action's probably something hardcore RPG players probably have too much of. Am I right?
That being said the artists clarified, "the combat rocks!" If you're going to do it you might as well do it big. Adam Sessler described why realistic fantasy is a weird way to describe this genre, and how Reckoning has its own feel.
You may notice Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has bold colors. They wanted color, more than gray and brown. 38 Studios made this game, and it's tailored to the studio's unique vision, not what's right or better to the rest of the RPG world. They "intentionally gave you a variety" of color pallets. As you explore, the lands will change color, tone, and enemies. "In the end you should be able to pick favorites" and that idea pertains to armor and spells as well, but also to the places, colors, lands. They want you to be able to say, "I like this cave because it has so many shades of blue."
Next up was the Bolgan, a creature in the game. Adam asked, "how did you design the creatures?" In game Bolgan is a red ogre looking dude, covered in swirls. He was based on Irish mythology and cyclopes. Bolgan, like all the creature in Reckoning, has a backstory. Theirs is that they ritualistically take out an eye at adolescence.
A story is written for each character -- just words -- and the art team takes that and creates the characters from their descriptions. McFarlane sited inspirations like weird uncles and grizzly bears. These inspirations are implemented into the creature's design. From there, they create that design on the computer and begin to animate it.
The animation are what bring the creatures to life. The walk cycle conveys strength, personality, and intention. Everything has been animated by hand and moved for a reason with great attention to detail. McFarlane said, "Our body is a computer and it's always recalculating." The Bolgan, for instance, is trying to handle heavy swings, his feet are pivoting as he nearly loses balance. They wanted to convey the same level of reaction a human has with their characters.
After he showed us what he meant, McFarlane stood up and began acting out how to attack, swinging his arms over the heads of other people on the panel. He began adding his own sound effects as Adam asked, "Is this how all your meetings are?" The other panelist laughed, so I'll take that as a "yes."
The world itself is a character and the environment is just as much a part of the world as anything else. This was obvious with the next image they showed us, which was the City of Rathir. To create it, they researched Gothic architecture. Gamers should feel like these places are real. When designing each city, they took into account the colors, shapes, and how they relate to the people who built them. Each race has their own cities, and each city has its own design quirks. Reckoning will tell a story but not just with words, but with visuals too.
To demonstrate scale, they introduced the Balor, a gigantic slug monster who shoots a beam of death from his eye. He moves like a tremendously over weight elephant. An in-game screenshot of it terrorizing a town showed just how big it is. The animation for this character would have to convey its heaviness. McFarlane noted the advanced boob physics it had as its boobs flapped with each movement. He joked Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning would boast an advancement in "man boob physics."
Todd McFarlane closed the panel with a tease. Kingdoms of Amular: Reckoning is "scheduled for February unless EA tells us otherwise." I think I speak for everyone when I say, EA, please don't tell them otherwise.