by Kai Zheng
During the “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” panel at New York Comic Con, I expected in-game footage of this upcoming RPG and detailed discussion of game mechanics. No gameplay was shown, and the mechanics were not broached. Yet, I walked away from the panel anticipating the game even more than when it began. The panel, titled “Creating a World Worth Saving,” actually focused on RA Salvatore, who not only crafted the world and story for “Reckoning,” but also developed a 10,000 year history for the world of Amalur. “Reckoning” is but a small fraction of that rich history, centering on the Age of Arcana and the introduction of the Well of Souls.
R.A. Salvatore was joined by Lead Designer Ian Frazier, Creative Director Steve Danuser and Narrative Designer Andrew Auseon. Salvatore had one major point he stressed to both those attending the panel and his staff – how to make the world believable and how to make the game fit comfortably into the rest of the Amalur universe? Salvatore jokingly explained that always blaming the existence of something in Amalur to wizards or mages was not a viable option. In Amalur, nothing it put into the game for merely fantasy aesthetics appeal. It all belongs for a reason. If a player bumps into something that doesn’t make sense to them, it does belong in the world, and the player has simply not “figured it out yet,” according to Salavtore. Auseon followed up the claim by saying that all that exists in the game is “hand placed.”
A great story is always needed for a role playing game. “Reckoning” is hoping to take that conceit to a new level with what Salvatore calls “levels or layers of story.” Because the game starts with the player being the first to be resurrected by the Well of Souls, society as a whole cannot adequately comprehend what is happening. Aside from the familiar story elements of a fantasy world, questions still exist, such as “Who created the Well of Souls,” or “What are the consequences?”
“Reckoning” plans to delve deep into its society to create a believable world, using what Salvatore calls “multi-dimensional consequences.” Existing as a resurrected being, the player has broken down the wall of “fate.” The player will witness the crumbling of religion, as most of the religions in Amalur promise an afterlife, but the religiously devout react angrily to being robbed of “the promise land” by the Well of Souls.
“Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is shaping up quite nicely, and if all of the panel’s promises are fulfilled, the “Amalur” IP will surely rise and challenge the likes of the “Elder Scrolls” series. The team is clearly driven to achieve this level of success, as Steve Danuser said “We want you to hold us to a higher level” while they create this entirely new world. That commitment should be music to RPG gamers’ ears everywhere.
Kai Zheng is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com