38 Studios has been having a rough few days. I don’t know a lot about the deal 38 struck with Rhode Island, and I don’t know if anyone really knows much of the truth surrounding what has been going on with their missed payment of ~1 million to the state and being unable to pay employees. Honestly, I don’t want to comment about the already over-publicized situation. You can read about it on any gaming news site or on our forums.
What I want to say has more to do with the game 38 Studios (Big Huge Games) has already made, and a little about the people and game they want to make from a player’s perspective.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning launched in February. Reckoning is an action role-playing game that I can best describe as a mix between Oblivion, Fable, and WoW. I’ve tried to find official sales numbers, but the best I can find is a number in the high 400,000′s for physical box sales plus however many copies sold on STEAM and Origin. I have no idea if that’s ‘good’ or not because their costs might have been extremely high. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that Reckoning did decent. Reviews were mostly positive.
I like the game. In fact, I still play Reckoning regularly. I find the combat quick, fun, and diverse with weapon choices changing the feel just enough to keep things fresh. I like the extent to which I can customize my character and be whatever I want. For me, they’ve captured what I want in a single-player action rpg. The story is stale at times and the side quests are entirely forgettable like an MMO grind, but the main story is fine. What I love the most is the world; I’m awestruck by its beauty every time I play. Amalur is a world from which a legacy of games can spawn (no pun intended). Maybe it’s the art style, maybe it’s the color, perhaps the architecture… something about Amalur has taken hold of me and all I can do is dream about the types of games they can make and the places we can go.
I want to play Curt’s MMO. I like Curt — a lot — and I want to see the game he’s envisioned. I know it won’t be anything earth-shattering, and it won’t reinvent the wheel. That doesn’t mean they can’t take this amazing world I love and create a unique experience within an already established framework. I can count on one hand the number of things GW2 is doing that I haven’t seen before, but they’re doing what Curt talked about which is to take what works and create a good game.
38 Studios has good people working on Copernicus. I like Steve Danuser and Ryan Shwayder (I hope you’re both still working at 38 Studios). There is a lot of talent at 38 Studios that has helped to create many games I have enjoyed in the past. That’s part of the reason I’m so trusting of what they can accomplish with Copernicus.
If I were to pick one thing that I believe, from my armchair, caused all of this it would be the scope of their IP. Their eyes might have been bigger than their stomach. Was R.A. Salvatore really necessary? Did they really need Todd McFarlane for the art? Was it too much to make an action rpg and hope it did well enough to set the stage for their MMO? They want (wanted?) to do so much from scratch to build this IP into an empire that it’s a little overwhelming to even watch it happen.
It doesn’t mean much, I know, but I support them. I like the people, the game they’ve already made, and the ideas they’ve danced around for their upcoming MMO. Best of luck to them as they sort things out.