Random Wednesdays

Did you all hear that it was, apparently, the 40th anniversary of video games yesterday? Or, at least, it’s apparently thought that the first sale of a video game took place on or about the 28th of August four decades ago.

Oh, and I’m just going to come out and say it: Funcom should have gone ahead and made The Longest Journey 3, or Dreamfall: Chapters or whatever they were going to call it. The Secret World was certainly an interesting thought experiment, but appears to have fizzled. Funcom, as a result, has been financially hobbled, and will be pursuing smaller projects from now on.

Pity.

Steve Danuser has posted a couple of additional videos of Kingdoms of Copernicus…I mean Project Amalur…I mean that AAA free-to-play game that 38 Studios was working on. They offer a very insightful glimpse into the realities of game design:

The first video shows off Jottunhessen, seat of power of the Amaranthine. It was built upon the ruins of the Kollossae floating city of Pelios, which was brought down through the combined efforts of the Dokkalfar, Jottun, and Tyrgash about a hundred years before the start of the MMO. This event would cause the collapse of the Hyperian Empire and usher in the Age of Heroes. The city retains elements of Kollossae architecture, but was deliberately perverted as a way to remind the haughty giants that they were brought low thanks to the manipulation of the dark elves. (How’s that for a lorebomb?)

The first video shows the city as it was originally built, but we found that it exceeded our performance budgets and made the client engineers’ heads explode. An optimization pass had to be made, which is what the second video captures. This kind of rework is a reality of game design, especially when your engine is still being optimized along with the art. The lessons learned here saved us a lot of time on subsequent cities, such as Valiance.

I wanted to call out one of our philosophies in world design: if you could see a point of interest in the distance, we wanted you to be able to get to it. If you notice the huge spire hanging over Jottunhessen, that was the ruling seat of the dark elves and you could make your way up into that tower for an awesome view of not just the city, but of surrounding zones. You could jump out a window in the spire, and if you lined up your jump correctly, land in the Well of Souls that was positioned below. That was a ton of fun to do!

Watch the two videos. They are nothing if not a testament to the raw talent that was working on Kingdoms of Amalur.

And again, let me just say that I really wish I could have had the chance to play this game. Kotaku has three additional gameplay videos that were leaked to them by another former 38 Studios developer, one who took issue with the claim that the game wasn’t fun. Judge for yourself; I think it certainly looked like playable fun.

Oh, and remember last week how Black Isle Studios was suddenly jolted back to life by Interplay? Apparently, they will resume being a AAA RPG studio, and will produce new games using what’s left of Interplay’s IPs. Just so you all know.

Runic Games have announced where their booth at PAX will be, and have also announced that…uh…they will announce the release date of Torchlight 2 on Friday. Yes, that’s right…they announced that an announcement will be made. And Forbes has evidently only just discovered that the game will be massive compared to its predecessor.

On the other hand, Forbes also ranked Torchlight 2 first on their list of upcoming action-RPGs to keep an eye on. Which, actually, is a damn good list and well worth taking a look at; there are some top-notch ARPG titles in the pipeline.

And may I just say: this was a brilliant move by the Guild Wars 2 community team. Context is important!

2 Responses

  1. Thepal says:

    I feel kinda bad for The Secret World… it was an awesome idea and it dared to be different. But honestly, all I am really thinking is that I really hope this makes The Longest Journey finally continue. I need to know what happens to Zoe!

Speak thy Mind!