An auction to sell off the assets of shuttered game developer 38 Studios found no buyers for either its unfinished MMO—known as Project Copernicus—or the rights to RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, according to a report in the Providence Journal. The Wednesday auction was part of an ongoing effort to recover funds following the bankruptcy and closure of the Rhode Island developer in 2012.
Well this is awful. You might recall that, around eight months ago, Epic Games snapped up many of the developers left jobless after the collapse of Kingdom of Amalar's 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. This new company, Impossible Studios, seemed like the light at the end of a particularly dark tunnel - but it's just a few months later and the developers have been fired all over again. Epic founder Tim Sweeney made the announcement on their community site, stating that "ultimately it wasn't working out for Epic."
CEO of Trion Worlds, Lars Buttler has been offering other developers advice on how to sustain AAA online games. Trion Worlds are behind subscription-based MMO, RIFT which has recently been released in many Southasian countries and China.
There's a light at the end of the tunnel for a few of those left jobless by the closure of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning developers Big Huge Games, thanks to Unreal Engine chiefs Epic Games.
Epic President Dr. Mike Capps - who, I now realise, has one of the most dramatic titles in the industry - has revealed in a blog post that the developer will be setting up a new studio in Baltimore to house a number of ex-Big Huge Games staff.
Things took a downward turn for the Kingdoms of Amalur studio this month when they failed to make a big repayment to the state of Rhode Island. They soon managed to foot the bill, but missed payroll and lost their CEO shortly after. Now Gamasutra report that everyone at 38 Studios and Big Huge Games has been laid off with this email.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning developers 38 Studios have paid off part of their debt to the state of Rhode Island, governor Lincoln Chafee has announced. Earlier in the month, the studio missed a payment of $1.1m, prompting fears about the future of Copernicus, its long-standing MMO project.
As reported by Joystiq, Chafee went on to announce that Copernicus will be released in June of 2013. At the same time, 38 Studios released a showreel - which you can view above - revealing the game's environments. If nothing else, it all but confirms that Copernicus is set in the same world as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
38 Studios appear to be having some problems paying back hefty loans owed to the state of Rhode Island. Blue's News highlight a report from the Boston Herald saying that the studio missed a $1.1m payment at the start of the month and are now requesting more money.
Studio founder and former baseball star Curt Schilling held a private meeting with state officials earlier today to discuss the state of the company. Afterwards, officials responded by deciding to not decide anything for a short while. With taxpayer money on the line, the studio could face hard times ahead.
38 Studios, Big Huge Games, and EA have announced that a new Kingdoms of Amalur expansion, Teeth of Naros, will be released on Steam on April 17. This is the second DLC expansion for the game, and will include the floating city of Idylla, which contains over 20 side quests and "a mysterious new race," five "enormous new dungeons," three new Twists of Fate, nine new armor sets, six new shields, and 18 new weapons. As with the previous expansion, Legend of Dead Kel, Teeth of Naros will be priced at $10 or £7.
As with so many longform fantasy RPGs, the troubles afflicting the inhabitants of Amalur can all be blamed on the actions of a single mad gnome. Stupid gnomes.
This time one of them has decided to build a device called the Well of Souls to bring people back from the dead. You, a third-person fantasy hero, are its first and last success.
If you've already chopped and smashed your way through Amalur's lengthy campaign and have an urge to hit yet more monsters with those massive hammers, The Legend of Dead Kel DLC will add a new continent that will expand Amalur's landmass by 15%, a portion of which will belong to you. The DLC includes a large, personal estate called Gravehal Keep, a large fort that will also house a team of personal retainers with their own "back stories, side quests, perks and quirks."
The keep will serve as a good place to rest as you explore the new lands of Gallows End. There will be new monsters to kill and 18 new weapons with which to make them dead. The DLC will include eight armour sets and shields, too. It's out in just a few weeks, on March 20.
Main quests are overrated. You'll probably get to save the world, perhaps fight a dragon or two along the way and all that jazz. We've done that all before. The real treasure lies off the beaten path, in all the extra quests and characters you discover for yourself.
Rubbish sidequests can feel like padding, which makes the whole game world feel insubstantial. Conversely, good sidequests can make a game world feel vast and interesting. We'll have to wait and see which camp Kingdom's of Amalur falls into. Will we be killing giant rats in cellars for meagre coin, or vanquishing sky-demons for magical plate-mail? US players will find out on February 7. It's out on February 10 in Europe.
Looking for a big new fantasy RPG to play? Kingdoms of Amalur might just fit the bill. A new demo is now available on Steam, giving everyone a chance to dive in and fight the various things that live in artist Todd McFarlene's head. There's a "destiny" system that lets you switch between combat styles in the middle of a ruck, and there should be plenty of mad weapons to mess with. Completing the demo should unlock some bonus items for Mass Effect 3 as well.
SOPA protests: Minecraft, Firefall, Reddit going dark next week. Nvidia, Runic and Frozenbyte come out against the bill
Earlier this week Reddit announced that they would be switching off for twelve hours next Wednesday from 8am–8pm EST (1300–0100 UTC) in protest at the Stop Online Piracy Act. Today Red 5 Studios and Mojang have announced that they will also go dark and Nvidia, Runic and Frozenbyte have voiced their opposition to the bill.
Red 5 CEO, Mark Kern confirmed to Shacknews that "Red 5 Studios is joining Reddit in protest of SOPA by going dark on January 18. We will be taking down our website, community site and Firefall beta for 24 hours on the 18th."
"We are extremely disappointed in this misguided legislation. We are also ashamed of the ESA for supporting a bill which is clearly not in the best interests of gamers or the game industry. This bill, and it's sister bill, Protect IP, will shut down live streaming, shout casting, user generated content and have a chilling effect on game innovation and social media," he added.
On Twitter, Notch has mentioned that Minecraft.net and Mojang.com will go down next Wednesday in protest.
Kingdoms of Amalur will be out next month, hopefully bringing us another meaty RPG with some impactful combat. There's some interesting talent putting it together. Comic book artist and Spawn creator Todd McFarlene is behind the game's art, Morrowind and Oblivion lead designer Ken Rolston is executive producer and fantasy novelist R. A. Salvator handles the story. From what we've seen of it so far, it looks like it'll be very bashy, with plenty of combat customisation and freakishly large hammers (the best kind).
If you're thinking about picking it up, developers 38 Studios have released Amalur's official system requirements on the Kingdoms of Amalur forums. If you've got a Core 2 duo processor and 10 GB of hard disk spare, you should be able to run it quite nicely. Check out the full list below.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - if you don’t know - is a totally new RPG franchise developed by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. It’s the brainchild of former Boston Red Sox pitcher (we think that has something to do with rounders) Curt Schilling, it also employs the talents of designer Ken Rolston (Oblivion), fantasy author R. A. Salvatore (The DemonWars Saga) and comic book artist and writer Todd McFarlane (Spawn) onboard.
The upcoming action RPG from 38 Studios (and the team formerly known as Big Huge Games) made an appearance at this year's GDC and PAX East, and now the developer-guided tour has been posted online. The video focuses mostly on fighting, which is best described as a flashy union of Fable and Mortal Kombat. The UI is very console-oriented in this video, but we're told that the PC version will be getting special treatment and attention. 38 Studios founder (and former Boston Red Sox pitcher star) Curt Schilling is a die-hard PC gamer, and only a fool would give the boss a sloppy version.
You know what must be cool? Being a best selling novelist called RA Salvatore, writing a bunch of fantasy novels and getting famous, and then having them made into a big RPG. You know what must be cooler? Having that happen, but with the help of Todd McFarlane's art direction, and with a design studio headed up by Ken Rolston, lead designer on Morrowind and Oblivion. Interested? Yeah, our ears pricked up, too.