With the broken dreams of millions of Boston fans on his shoulders, as the team’s arch-enemy–the NY Yankees–closed in on yet another crushing win to knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs and again cut short their hopes of finally breaking the dreaded Curse of the Bambino, Curt Schilling was all that stood between heartbreak or the beginning of what would become one of the most legendary comebacks in baseball history. With a bloody ankle that would become iconic, Schilling stood on the mound and exemplified the old saying of having “ice in his veins”, as he stared down the Yankees and helped lift the Red Sox to a decisive, and inevitably victorious Game 7, followed by a World Series win. Schilling did all that with composure and bravado that helped cement his reputation as one of the most confident and fearless pitchers in modern day baseball history.
So it was slightly odd, and even somewhat endearing to see the future Hall of Famer visibly nervous, as he stood before a crowd of assembled journalists and video game industry insiders, as he discussed his video game company’s newest title, Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning.
Schilling has had a long history as a fan of gaming, so much so that when his favorite tactical-level board wargame, Advanced Squad Leader, held its annual meeting in October, Schilling funded a second event in January out of pocket just so he could attend. When the game was threatened with discontinuation after its parent company was purchased, the pitcher then stepped in and created a company specifically to keep it and a handful of other titles going.
Even as his baseball career made him a household name, while others were out partying and living the superstar lifestyle, Schilling could be found trying out new RPGs. He has been a fan of the genre since the Ultima Online days, which lead to other titles including both EverQuest and Ever Quest II, as well as several others including most recently, World of Warcraft.
In 2006, Schilling founded the company Green Monster Games, which in 2007 was renamed 38 Studios. Following his retirement from baseball in 2008, two new games were announced, an MMORPG, and a single player fantasy RPG game. The MMORPG is still under wraps, but the single player RPG, Kingdom of Amlur: Reckoning was announced last July without much detail. At GDC last week, Schilling stood on and grinned like a parent watching with a mixture of pride and fear as their child takes its first steps, as the title showed off what to expect.
Schilling took to the stage to discuss the game, but absent was the sure footed pitcher of legend, instead replaced by a man that carried the nervousness that most of us have felt when we introduce something very personal to public scrutiny. It was the fear a writer has when he or she first allows others to read their work, or when a musician first plays the notes that they hope will be appreciated. Schilling obviously had an attachment to the title, and with luck that passion will bleed through into the finished project. At the very least, Schilling has done his best to bring in talent that is hard to fault.
Imagine back when you were younger, sitting around with friends, playing a game and discussing how to improve it. Inevitably, someone would say “if I had a million dollars, I would do ___”, then they say the things they would do introduce in a game, who they would hire to write it, and how their idea would be the best video game ever. Well, Schilling has the million dollars (plus a $75 million package from the state of Massachusetts for bringing in new jobs), and basically he went and found the people he wanted to form a fantasy dream team to help produce the game.
Although the game itself offered us little more than screenshots and enthusiasm, the names attached to it are hard to not get excited about.
The majority of the art work will be handled by Todd McFarlane, the man behind Spawn as well as several other comics, and the owner of a toy line known for its original designs. The lead designer will be Ken Rolston, thedesigner of Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, while the story will be from R.A. Salvatore, the writer of 22 NY Times best-sellers, including several Forgotten Realms novels, and The DemonWars Saga.
Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning was originally unveiled at ComicCon last year, but Schilling was at GDC to show off several images of the art, and to briefly discuss the game, which will be due out next year.
Set in the magical and mysterious world of Amalur, you play a character that is out to unlock the mysteries of the world. Ok, that isn’t the most detailish of details, but check out the artwork, and expect more on this game soon.