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.
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.