Former 38 Studios Employee: It Was Too Fun!
A screen-shot from 38 Studios’ game that never was, Kingdoms of Amalur.
When I got a chance to sit down and talk with Curt Schilling about the spectacular implosion of his video game company, 38 Studios, maybe the most surprising thing he said was that “the game wasn’t fun.” He was talking about Kingdoms of Amalur (code-named Project Copernicus), the massive, multiplayer online game his company had staked everything on. He told me that while Amalur‘s combat aspects were improving, the things you could do in it simply weren’t engaging enough. Although he was confident the game would eventually become fun, even after six years of development, he didn’t think it was there yet. “It was my biggest gripe for probably the past eight to 12 months,” he told me, adding that when he walked around the office at lunchtime, he mostly saw employees playing other games.
From what I gather, that assessment stuck in the craw of a number of former 38 Studios employees. They viewed it as another kick in the groin to a bunch of people who’d already been through the wringer.
I’m a previous employee of 38 Studios and I would like to set the record straight about something Curt said in an interview. It’s true that we were not playing the game during our lunch breaks, and that employees playing the game we were making was rare. It is even true that the game was not fun for the longest time. What is not true, however, is that we did not want to play the game.
Figuring out which servers we were “allowed” to play on was a nightmare, and half the time if we did want to playtest, we couldnt as those servers were reserved for private demos. Playing during lunch was not a possibility for 90 percent of the time. When we could play, some of us would come in on the weekends.
Heck, at one point six of us all logged on to run through the first dungeon of the game, and it was really fun, and we said as much to the rest of the team as well as giving constuctive feedback about the game. There would be frequent groups playtesting the game outside of regular work hours, and from my experience at least, it was thoroughly entertaining.
The employee also passed along three (rough cut) video captures and several screen shots of the game to try to prove his or her point. Head over to Kotaku and decide for yourself if Kingdoms of Amalur looks like it would have been fun.