I would like to know what you visionaries have learned from each other during this collaboration. – By Cjail01
Ken: From Todd, I learned a little about art direction. When hunting for a distinctive look early on in the concept art creation, I remember we usually started with the weirdest fantasy creature we could imagine, thinking that would set the tone for the distinctive vision of our fantasy setting. But Todd suggested instead that we concentrate on making our human characters distinctive ... that crafting a distinctive human look was the most difficult task, and the most important. It IS hard to make a distinctive human figure ... but that's the sort of thing that Todd understands from instinct, experience, and gut.
From Bob, I learned that the player must love his or her setting in order to want to defend and protect it. I've always just assumed that the player would ALWAYS want to defend and protect their home (which is probably true, to some extent), but Bob appreciates the importance of establishing that player-love for the setting as an early and priority task.
It would interest me to know how big the visionaries’ influence was in the “making” process of the ideas, and if the visionaries just “work out stuff on their own” or if they sit down, brainstorm and discuss things or anything of the like. – By Wolfhorde
Ken: I work out stuff on my own ... and then document it for broader distribution. I don't sit down and discuss and brainstorm that much. I did have a very important, early meeting with Bob where we discovered that we had a lot of the same basic setting design impulses and references; after that, I felt very comfortable with Bob's work, knowing he shared my basic rules for building settings on sound foundations. And I relied mostly on the documentation of the Amalur setting that Bob and the 38 Studios design team developed. That was eloquent and detailed. I'll never know how much of that was Bob, and how much of it was the 38 Studios design team. And that's the way it should be. An RPG setting is a collaborative creation.
We know that new tech constantly pushes forward the games industry and changes how developers create RPGs. But aside from those kind of tangible improvements, where and how did the RPG genre improve, change, and mature? And what have been some of the more important reasons as to why the genre did move in the direction it has? – By Goatrek
Ken: I could probably write a couple doctoral theses on that topic.
Off the top of my head, I can think of four major developments in CRPGs (Computer Role Playing Games). About two of them—MMORPGs and BioWare narrative games—I can't speak as a developer.
About the other two—freeform-open-world RPGs and action-combat RPGs—I have some insight.
The freeform aspect of CRPGs was prefigured in tabletop and LARP gaming, and followed a logical evolution into CRPGs. The open-world aspect of CRPGs was the result of Bethsoft's [Bethesda Software] development of engines that could produce vast, procedural worlds, and the tools to make the titanic boatloads of content to fill those worlds (relatively) easily.
The long-neglected and somewhat underdeveloped state of RPG combat looked like an opportunity—in particular, on consoles, which already had lots of models of compelling action combat—which Reckoning was designed to exploit.
Why does the RPG genre move in certain directions? Because the genre moves in the direction of underserved player fantasies and desires. First, someone has to identify an underserved player fantasy or desire; then, someone has to figure out how to make systems, engines, and tools that can create the CRPGs. And then someone has to figure out how to get the message and product into the minds and hands of the gamers.
Which game has been the single most influential game in your life, and why? – By Goatrek
Ken: The most influential game in my life was the tabletop game, RuneQuest, and its game setting, Glorantha. And the primary author of the Glorantha setting, Greg Stafford, was the single most influential narrative game designer in my life. There's one computer game where you can explore the Gloranthan setting: King of Dragon Pass for the iPad, by David Dunham.
What is your favorite RPG besides Reckoning? – By TheTerror25
Ken: Morrowind would be my favorite ... if I hadn't ruined the experience for myself by developing it. Planescape: Torment is my favorite narrative RPG. Baldur's Gate is my favorite gameplay RPG.
How were the first few days when the visionaries came together and started working on Amalur? Was it serenity? Chaos? Confusion? – By TheTerror25
Ken: I was totally serene, then, and thereafter. Bob, Todd, and Curt are awesome. (And mostly quite mature.) Curt is bigger than I would like, but I have learned to live with being loomed over by a cheerful giant.
What feature do you like most in Reckoning? – By TheTerror25
Ken: Chakrams are awesome. I keep trying to build a character that doesn't use them ... but I'm always seduced back into using them as my Ultimate Weapon.
Many of us would like to know, what specific involvement has each of you had with Reckoning? (and Amalur as a world and MMO, if possible) We want details! – By iluspook
Ken: For Reckoning, I mostly served as a role model and lonely beacon of wisdom and restraint ... as living proof that vast narrative RPGs could be designed and implemented by mere human beings. I didn't do any honest work or writing or implementation. Heavens forefend! I did a lot of cheerleading and made Venerable Sage speeches. And sold the hell out of the basic concepts, internally and externally.
What was high school like for you? Hate it, love it, not memorable? – By Artificer
Ken: High school was a major trial for me. I was a total jackass. I failed my junior year, was in a junior homeroom in my senior year, and graduated in the bottom third of my class. And if you think it was bad for me, imagine how bad it was for my parents! But I survived, and lived to teach high school English and film for eight years before I became an Internationally Celebrated Game Designer. Because of my unhappy high school years, as a teacher, I always had a special sympathy for the Doomed.
Will you be playing the MMO together once it's launched? – By LeoX
Ken: Wow. I haven't even thought about that. I am a Less-Than-Enterprising MMO player, having been completely consumed by single-player RPGs most of my life (with brief sojourns in Guild Wars, WoW, Asheron's Call, and EverQuest). Certainly I will want to play Copernicus, if just to tour the entire world of Amalur. I am not sure how much I want to be mocked for my newbie gameplay. And I suspect I don't have the Right Stuff for exploring an entire MMO setting. But perhaps I'll be able to slipstream safely behind the majestic figures of Curt's characters.
—Muse, Reckoning Community Manager