Remember Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning? I barely do. I played it a little, and got a few hours into its world and story, but it never clicked with me. It received decent reviews, and I know a lot of people out there who love the title, but I’m just not one of them. To me, Reckoning seemed like a Fable reboot set in a generic world. The cartoonish art style and bland voiceover work didn’t impress me. The lore failed to engage me, or give me a reason to care about what I was doing. I got a kick out of the combat style for a bit, and I enjoyed the finishing moves for awhile, but it got repetitive very quickly for me. Nothing about it gave me a reason to want to rush home to play it after work, or to set aside other titles in order to finish it. It isn’t a bad game, but I found it disappointing given everything it was built up to be at point of sale.
What really sucks is that I wanted to love it. I wanted it to be great. Curt Schilling (yes, THAT one) is the man behind 38 Studios, and while I may not be a fan of the baseball teams he pitched for, the man has the infectious enthusiasm about games that only comes from being an avid player. Aside from his natural ability to throw a baseball and the millions of dollars he made doing it, Curt is a gamer just like the rest of us. He even went so far as to sink $30 MILLION of his own money into his game company. If that isn’t passionate dedication, I don’t know what is, and I personally admire him for it.
The downside of passion is it comes from the heart, not the head.
Now Curt and his company are on the ropes, and are up to their necks in debt while still trying to promote the development of their Copernicus MMO. Being unable to meet payroll isn’t a sign that the quality of business decisions being made at 38 Studios matched their enthusiasm. There is a comprehensive article on the Forbes website that has more of the gritty details.
I really hope they’re able to pull through. Curt is exactly the kind of person who should be making games. If you need any confirmation of that, I encourage you to watch the full video below of the MMORPG panel from PAX East 2012. Curt isn’t reading from cue cards. He doesn’t speak like a man who was fed what to say by PR and Marketing reps. He speaks like a gamer, because he’s one of us.
I just hope his total contribution to the hobby we all love isn’t just one mediocre title and a cautionary financial tale.