I support 38 Studios

Outside the city of Rathir

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.

Outside the city of Rathir
Taken near the city of Rathir.

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.

The Arena in the desert
Outside the Arena where I become the new champion -- they gave me a house and everything!

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.

  • They didn’t really make the action RPG KoA though – that was Big Huge Games’ property. I honestly don’t see any Todd McFarland in KoA, and if there is anything from Salvatore, it was the whole lore behind the otherwise pretty middling main quest. So I don’t think we have really seen anything that 38 studios has created yet.

  • 38 Studios bought Big Huge Games in 2009 and retooled the RPG BHG was working on with Ken Rolston to fit with the history and world of Amalur that 38 was making with Salvatore. That’s my understanding — am I wrong?

    Regardless, BHG was bought by 38 and I like Reckoning mostly for the lore and setting/world. Nothing changes there. 🙂

    I think you’re right in the sense that Copernicus will be the culmination of all their work. Reckoning definitely embodies a lot of work from 38 Studios, but Curt set out to make a MMO and we haven’t seen much of anything yet.

  • i know my $60 wouldn’t have made much of a difference… but i kinda feel bad for pirating it now 🙁

    i feel like if they would drop the price to like $30 right now they could probably make up that million dollars they’re missing… and maybe add a donate button to the website so fans can donate and show their support.

    i guess i feel like there are plenty of things they could do to try and stay solvent before just throwing in the towel.

  • @Keen You are pretty much spot on about the situation with BHG. BHG is located right here in the Baltimore area and I had a chance to talk with a good number of the team at the midnight release and basically they had the ground work for their RPG already laid out and pretty much just dropped the Copernicus IP into the system. That is why when Curt was doing all the media rounds for KOA it was mentioned several times that the MMO would not be exactly like the combat mechanics of Reckoning.

    Of course how much can you really believe when talking to developers 🙂 There is always some type of spin to their statements…

    One thing I would be very curious about was something that happened when I got up to the table to get my PC copy signed. They all made references to me be the only person buying for PC so far that night and just the way the conversation went it made me curious if the PC version was rushed later into production because of 38 Studios and their plans for an MMO in the future. Couple the general vibe about the PC version that night and the fact that the PC version was launched with that horrible design with no FOV fix and it just made me consider it.

    Still love the title though, that combat is so much damn fun.

  • I found this story particularly disappointing as I had recently purchased KoA as a game to pass the time between MMO’s. I have been enjoying the game immensely, although I would agree with the general comments that the combat is really good but the story is a bit lacking. The setting of Amalur is really interesting and has a lot of potential for further exploration. I really hope they are able to get their finances in order and complete the MMO project. Heh, Kickstarter anyone? 😛

  • Just bad project management with the MMO. Absolutely no reason to take this long, and spend that much, on an MMO, ESPECIALLY for a start-up company. They could have released an MMO that took 4 years and 40m to develop, but for whatever reason, they aimed much bigger. Silly for what is rumored to be an EQ-clone (in a good way).

  • I really hope 38 Studios make it to launch. “Copernicus” isn’t my most anticipated MMO but I was planning on giving it a run. It would just be such a waste if all that work and potential was dissipated into the Could Have Been.

    That’s one thing that really bugs me about MMOs that either crash and burn soon after launch or never get to launch at all. The waste. I always think surely the game could be sold on as an asset to some other company and run at a profit, even if on a much smaller scale than originally intended.

  • You guys need to get more information out there if we’re only ~a year out~ from release. I shouldn’t have to remind people what ultimate secrecy usually means with a MMO release these days, especially one under such a spotlight for unusual reasons.

  • Loved Reckoning by Copernicus will be another WoW clone.
    Taken from FoH forum where Curt had this to say:

    The problem is that works fine when you killing all the NPCs doesn’t impact other players, in an MMO, it does.

    EDIT: Copernicus, and as always this is IMO only, will be an amazing MMO, an amazing experience for reasons that I believe MANY MMO players here will find awesome. Some won’t, some of you guys will bitch and will gripe, that’s likely the reason FoH is FoH.
    It will NOT be an ability based sand box game, it just won’t. So those of you that want that need not continue following this thread. Apologies if that was what you were hoping for.
    It won’t reinvent the wheel in many ways, but I do believe it will introduce some things promised, yet never done, and some things thought un’doable’. It may not be your cup of tea, but I am betting, roughly 40mm of my own money, and crap ton of others, that we will change the MMO space forever.
    It will not be a twitched based combat system, it will have classes, it will have things I think MMO players love, and it will do them as well as anyone ever has.
    I do believe we will move the genre forward, how much we do will likely be on you, the players, to determine on your own if we did what you had hoped, or did not.

    Basically he is saying this is WoW clone# 1000

  • I wish 38 Studios all the best. I hope they make it. I’m a huge Ken Rolston fan from way back in the RuneQuest 3 pen and paper days, I love Curt Schilling for saving Advanced Squad Leader when Avalon Hill went under. I want them to succeed.

    That having been said… Rhode Island is running a significant fiscal deficit, and put millions of dollars into a video game studio? Note: I don’t mind the “video game” part of that, but we all know that these are *risky* companies.

    I love Curt, and I don’t blame him for taking the best deal he could find to help his employees keep their jobs. But someone needs to beat the heads of these politicians with an idiot stick.