Building A Fantasy World - The Art Direction Of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
November 28, 2011 Page 4 of 4
When you're talking about getting so many assets back, and you wanting to give your stamp to each one and say, yes/no, is that a real challenge to you? How do you handle it?
TC: Currently how I'm handling it is just throwing lots and lots of hours at it. It's an incredible process. I think with this, one of the things we want to do is make sure it's all cohesive. That's really important to me, that it feels like it's all fitting together into just like one big universe.
You mentioned Todd McFarlane. What is he, to this project?
TC: Todd's a visionary. Ken Rolston has a great line about it. Like, he's the high-level person that comes in and says, "Okay, once you've got something in place, maybe you need to think more about this, and less about this."
Todd will be the first person to tell you he's not a hardcore gamer, but he's got a really, really good art eye. He's fun to work with. I mean, the coolest part about working with Todd is he's just... I can't describe it. You have to meet the guy.
You talk to Todd, you get about two sentences before he starts getting excited. And he's like, "Oh, you're going to love this! This is going to be great!" He's just got a ton of energy that he brings to it.
He and I, we have phone conversations every week, so we're constantly talking back and forth about stuff. He's like a really, really great mentor. He's somebody you can call up and say, "Hey, I had a thought on this. This is the angle that I think might be really good." He'll be like "Well, you know what you might want to think about... Think about this, this, and this. This is what we did on the toys, and when we did a toy, we had a toy that had this similar kind of idea to it. But what we found was that this, this, and this made it a lot stronger." And he's got really good insights on this stuff.
And the fun part about it, too, is a lot of people at the studio grew up reading his comics. So, there's something about working with somebody that you admired before you even got into games. He's a very passionate individual. So, from that standpoint, I think he brings not only the art skills, but I think there's a passion that gets people excited about working on the project.
I know about the history of the game. It started as an original IP. With 38, you came together, and made something new out of it. I mean, for you, personally, how was that, in terms of re-imagining things?
TC: To be honest, it's great, because the amount of depth that they put into the lore is fantastic. There was so much material to draw from. It wasn't like starting over 100 percent from scratch. It was a question of how we would imagine that section of the lore. So, we really were able to dive deep and develop a lot of stuff.
Working with the 38 folks has been fantastic. I mean, Curt is awesome. He's another person who, if you haven't had a chance to meet him, you should meet Curt. All these guys, they bring -- I don't know how to describe it -- like an excitement to the project.
One of the things I have to say with Curt is, he'll send out an email to everybody across both companies and be like, "We just made this new poster. It is AWESOME!" and it's all caps. It's like he's so excited about doing this stuff. It's like he reminds you that it's fun to make games. He's doing this because he loves it. He genuinely loves it.
When he comes into the studio, he will walk up and down, and shake everybody's hands, he'll pat you on the back, he'll say, "Ah, man, you're doing great stuff. Keep it up! This is how we do stuff that's great." It's like, "When I was doing the baseball stuff, the reason we were able to do this is because we cared about it every single day." He brings that action to it, so everybody gets all fired up about making something great.
I really do feel like we're building that, building an IP from the ground up. In a year of sequels -- and I love all the sequels that are coming out -- it's so cool to be doing an original product. I wish more developers had the opportunity to do that. So, from us, I see this as like this perfect constellation of things coming together. I'm 100 percent honest. I'm loving working on this project. It's great.
So, from a process perspective, working with 38, in terms of ensuring consistency between the MMO project, Copernicus, and this, how does that work?
TC: Thom Ang is the art director for Copernicus. He and I basically talk every week, so we're constantly going back like, "Here's our version of X." I can't go into any details on the MMO obviously -- we're not announcing that stuff right now -- but we basically work together on things, things that are core to the IP.
There's also Steve Danuser. I don't know if you met him. He's in charge of the overall IP, and so whenever there are questions about something like, "Would this creature or would this race do X?" or "Would this type of structure make sense in this world?" those are the kind of people that we have those conversations with.
Again, what I keep saying is everything is considered. We don't kind of casually do stuff and just throw it in the game. Everything has a back story. So, for instance, in the first opening area, as soon as you get out... I don't want to spoil too much, but there are ruins that you'll come across, and those ruins actually have a back story that aren't presented in the games.
There's lore, there are books you can find about it, and there are people in the town who will talk about it, but it's not something that's directly covered. So, there's that much story to pull from for everything in the game, so there's nothing in the game that's just arbitrary.
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