Straight through ’til morning

I was reading the latest Penny Arcade story accompaniments when something Gabe said really struck a chord with me on game design, and why I like some games over others.

Gabe was talking about an upcoming game he is playing called Kingdoms of Amalur, and said;

A big part of the reason I play games is for โ€œnew artโ€. That is the thing more often than not that keeps me progressing. What will the next level or zone look like?

As soon as he said it, I knew it was true for me.

Before I go on about what that sparked in my brain housing group though, I want to say, I never heard of Kingdoms of Amalur before. I HAVE heard of a game that Gabe compared it to… Skyrim. Gabe seemed to think Kingdoms of Amalur had all the lore and exploring depth of Skyrim, but with much more entertaining combat gameplay, and with more beautiful worlds to experience.


All I heard talk about a few months ago, at least before SWTOR came out, was “Oh, Skyrim, Skyrim is so awesome, all I want to do is play Skyrim, oh I just want to have Skyrim’s giant-destroying shouty babies.”

To hear Gabe, who I respect, say that he thought Kingdoms of Amalur was more enjoyable than Skyrim made me sit up and take notice.

I saw the trailer for it on Youtube, okay, nice trailer, but I’m not playing a movie, I’m playing a game. Much like cover art, a movie trailer can show you awesomesauce , but reflect nothing of the final gameplay experience. Show me the gameplay.

SHOW ME the gameplay!

Then I found this;

Okay. Huh.

I haven’t said this in years. Actually, I think I haven’t said this in a decade. Maybe I said it for Starcraft II.


Curt Schilling, who I am actually aware of and also respect, is the design studio head behind this? Oh shit, is THIS the game his studio is coming out with?

And wait a minute, WHO is behind the lore? R.A. Salvatore?

Hmmm… I dunno, that could be a plus or a minus. He is the man responsible for giving us Drizzt, after all… and giving everyone that wanted to play an angst-ridden vampire in D&D and wasn’t allowed to the Dark Elf race for a replacement.

What he did by introducing scimitars alone into a medieval setting!

But on the other hand, I did love his writing. At a time when books based in D&D were mostly crap, his brought actual character and personality and placed them above stats, an incredible concept at the time.

As far as Todd McFarlane being behind the art design…

I know this is out of style these days, the cool kids mock Todd McFarlane, but I was a fan of the Spawn art style back in the first 50 issues. The characters I loved were the Medieval Spawn and Angela characters that Neil Gaiman created for Todd McFarlane for the Spawn comics, but the art was all Todd.

Something to remember. Neil Gaiman was responsible for my favorite character designs in Spawn, but the art style was all Todd’s, and as long as he is doing the art style of this game without the lore, that excites me.

Not interests, not intrigues, excites.

I really like what I see in that video.

A game world originally designed to be as huge as an MMO, made into a single player game? Character classes that are organic, growing and changing direction as you place points in different ways in skills that sound cool to you as you level?

Oh, hell yes. Sign my ass RIGHT up.

Everything I love about WoW, but without people.

On second thought, maybe it’s not THAT solid a must have after all.

16 thoughts on “Straight through ’til morning

  1. Way, way late, but want to put in my two cents.

    Finally played the demo. I saw one thing, one subtle thing, that told me these people just might be paying attention to the details.

    You get to see your character’s face during play.

    Yes, you have to hide your helmet to do it. But when you enter conversations with NPCs, a good portion of the time you’re looking over the NPC’s character at YOUR character’s face.

    There’s nothing original in the game as near as I can tell. Nor is it flawless. It won’t be to everyone’s taste. But a game that uses Chekov’s gun is one worth noticing, and just maybe worth playing. I’ll squeeze together the cash and get it, someday.


    • I played the demo through, and while I loved it a lot, I did immediately notice the God of War level of carnage and brutality of your character origins. It wasn’t quite over the top, but it definitely put it in the ‘Alex will not be playing this one nor watching me play it over my shoulder’ category.

      That’s okay, though. I will be fine playing it a bit at a time at night, instead of watching a movie. Movies take too long.


  2. I played the demo, becasue it also comes with unlocks for ME3 and well… I will admit, some of my experiences were tainted by the fact that the game originally refused to work with my video card. and then the very first boss you encountered – bugged out on me. and the camera being out of my control with no autotargeting but rather having to actually face the enemy to hit it – kept disorienting me. its not a bad game. but I haven’t found it impressive to start with, and after playing the demo for a bit, I pretty much went – meh, I’m just going to let it sit until my 20 minutes left of it run out and not give them my money.

    YMMV, but I would strongly suggest trying the demo first. I saw it change people’s minds about buying the game, both getting people to preorder it… and getting them to cancel their preorders.


  3. I played the demo, and I’m hooked. Although I’m going to have to set myself some serious limits on this game. The demo just flew by in terms of play. Once I’d created the character and started moving in the world… I was seriously upset when I got the “demo is over, but you can buy the game in only a few days” message. And I discovered that two hours of my life had passed without noticing it, I hadn’t started dinner and the cats and child had been crying for food for over an hour.


    • Okay… that sounds good, in a scary, life-sucking kind of way.

      Are you able to share what it is you liked about it? Anything you didn’t caer for?


  4. I’ve been looking forward to this… but it’s M-rated. Still, it’s good to see that they are doing some good game design, and I wish ’em well. (I would probably love the game design, but whatever garners it an M rating is the stuff I wouldn’t enjoy.)


    • Probably “just” blood and violence. The gameplay previews I’ve checked out on their website show some impressively detailed special kills. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Hmm I was listening to Curt on the Instance and was wondering what his studio had finally come up with. It does look good but I wonder how my 2 yr old computer would handle it?? Man I loved Spawn but my first experience with Todd was when he took over Spiderman for a while and that was the best artwork by far.


  6. There are demos for it available on both consoles and the PC. The husband and I played it (on Steam) and it sold us to the point we pre-ordered it so we could get the shiny weapons. It’s a grand mix of Fable, Elder Scrolls (designed by the man himself), and everything else I love about RPGs. And yes, one of the best parts; you can specialize in all 3 ‘trees’ and truly be a jack of all trades. The Fate cards are a cool way of further specializing to fit your play style. Nothing quite like being a sneaky assassin mage *laughs*.

    They are also looking at making an MMO based on the world; Salvatore did 10,000 years of history for the world.

    And the best part….smart Gnomes!!!


      • Ohhhh man, thank you for talking about this game. It pushes all my “ooh! shiny!” buttons… there are indeed free giftses for preordering, precioussss… and release day is my birthday. Guess who just solved her hubby’s “what do I get Mel for birthday and Valentines?” dilemma? ๐Ÿ˜€


      • Oh, I forgot to mention, if you sign in using your EA credentials while playing the demo, you’ll unlock items for the retail version; as well as for ME3. I think the same holds true for ME3’s demo.

        I read all the other comments and it is very true, it can suck your life away, but in a good way. There are plants and crystals to ‘harvest’ and unless you put points into the appropriate talent you don’t always get any reagents.

        Overall, I really like the whole game design and was very sad to see my demo time up. Just to clarify; you have unlimited time until you finish the ‘tutorial’ part and then 45 minutes to explore the world so hours can go by *laughs*.

        If you pre-order with GameStop you get one of each weapon and an armor set for each speciality. You can also pre-order through Amazon and they save you $10 on the digital download. They give you a dousing rod to see all the nodes to harvest (nice but meh in my opinion) and the weapons but no armor sets.


      • I do think I’m going to download and try the demo at some point this weekend. If it’s as good as you make it sound (and as the videos look), I might just pre-order at gamestop. It sounds crazy, but I really am excited by everything I see.


      • I’ve been keeping an eye on it since it was announced but I wasn’t sure if it could deliver. When I saw the trailer I thought “Oh great, a Fable clone” but it is more than that. It’s nice that there is a whole world history (for those of us who care about such things); it makes me more connected with the world and the characters. I actually got attached to the Gnome in the demo. It was also grand fun to run around and try to harvest everything and see the different types of creatures/what-not. Also, not being limited to one fight style is always nice.

        I know I can’t speak for everyone but my husband and I are sold and can’t wait until next week.


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