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Curt Schilling has many talents. Pitching in the playoffs, bleeding into socks, butting his nose into steroid hearings without cause – the list goes on and on (and on and on, given Schilling’s talent for ranting).
But apparently one talent Schilling doesn’t have is making video games.
Kate Bramson of the Providence Journal reported Tuesday that 38 Studios, Schilling’s video game company, defaulted on a $1.125 million loan guarantee-payment. Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee has called an emergency meeting of the Economic Development Corporation to discuss the $75 million loan-guarantee – two-thirds of which has already been paid – Rhode Island awarded 38 Studios to entice the company to move from Massachusetts.
While the EDC took no action against the company following a meeting Wednesday, fiscal problems like these can’t help but scare the Rhode Island taxpayers whose money went into the loan to 38 Studios.
Clearly, trouble’s brewing in the Kingdom of Amalur (38 Studio’s only game).
Schilling’s decision to get into video games post-retirement wasn’t a bad one. Globally, video games have become a $65 billion industry. A game that actually gains a foothold in such an industry could translate to jaw-dropping profits and widespread jobs proliferation. Everything Schilling promised Rhode Island could be done with the right game.
Schilling, unfortunately, just made the wrong game. Or, at the very least, he made the wrong decision to change the game midway through. Originally, Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning was supposed to be a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Such games have advantages over their single-player console cousins, bringing in extra revenue from membership fees and easing the deployment of expansion content.
But the final version of Amalur turned out to be a single-player RPG with the size of an MMO but lacking all of the other players that make the world fun. Single-player games shouldn’t take so much time to get anywhere.
Amalur is a giant world devoid of activity beyond you and your mission at hand. Pretty, but static.
“Everything is sorta scripted, and for the long hours, you don’t get the satisfaction of having done a lot,” says Kris Jenson, game and movie expert for DigBoston. “It’s just big.”
The market’s flooded with knockoff RPGs – MMO or single-player console –all trying to be the next World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Amalur offered barely any variation from these already-established successes, and consequently it got swallowed up in the non-stop flood of similarly flawed copycat games.
Kingdom of Amalur does offer a slow-motion finishing mode in which your character – the horribly named “Fateless One” – can perform particularly brutal sequences for more points. But if you think that sounds like God of War, you’re right. Another derivative element typical of the “fun but derivative” description Jenson most people gave the game.
“If they’d been a little less ambitious and kept it as an MMO, I think they would’ve been a bit more successful,” Jenson says.
Curt, if you’re going to make a video game, make a new game. The approximately 700,000th inferior replication of the fantasy model J.R.R. Tolkien created can’t help but be pretty similar to the 699,999 that came before it.