Amalur Lead Designer Joins Turbine

Amalur Lead Designer Joins Turbine

image

Ken Rolston has landed on his feet after the 38 Studios debacle.

The wonderful thing about being the lead designer on Oblivion is that no matter how bleak the economy may look, there's still a big game company out there that wants you. Ken Rolston, one of the major minds behind the Elder Scrolls entries Morrowind and Oblivion, most recently helped Big Huge Games develop Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. After the fallout from the 38 Studios closure, Rolston found himself functionally out of a job, until Turbine Games stepped in. Rolston's considerable open-world design experience will now serve titles like Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online.

Turbine, known for its story-driven MMOs, hired Rolston earlier this month to serve as a Director of Design. Rolston's exact duties are not yet clear, but he describes himself as an "Extra Senior Designer, Visionary, Evangelist, and Mentor for development of Vast Narrative Computer Games." In addition to his Elder Scrolls and Amalur contributions, Rolston also spent years working on pencil-and-paper RPGs including RuneQuest, Paranoia, and Dungeons & Dragons. Given his familiarity with fantasy storytelling, Rolston's talents could easily benefit any of Turbine's existing games, although he could just as easily be overseeing a new project.

Rolston is not the only new hire in Turbine's stable. Recently, the company has brought in heavy hitters from NetherRealm Studios, Zynga, and Petroglyph Games to serve in supervisory and executive roles. Turbine has already released expansions for its two biggest titles in 2012; could the studio be gearing up for another major release? If so, expect it to incorporate a massive open world and a far-reaching story with lots of side quests. It's only a guess, but based on past experience, it seems like an educated one.

Source: Gamasutra

Image: Twitter

Permalink

Is the picture in the OP really Mr. Rolston? I hope like hell to be that completely epic when I'm that age.

Very happy for him, and also glad that the 38 studio debacle didn't affect everyone involved. These MMOs are about to get a bit more fantastical and mystical...

Still get an itch to play asheron's call once in awhile, now that was a great mmo.

So glad i not only gave away all my stuff off my level 140 ish character, on top of the fact i do not even remember my login or i would be playing it.

I heard him talk about RPGs on a podcast and that man knows his shit and really has some interesting ideas on what to do with them.

It's awesome that he's able to find something after the whole chaos that was 38 Studios.

"Recently, the company has brought in heavy hitters from NetherRealm Studios, Zynga, and Petroglyph Games to serve in supervisory and executive roles"

Heavy Hitters from Zynga? Is that the guy in charge of farm design?

*My thoughts while reading the article* That guy has the neatest beard ever!!

Oh um...the article itself...um...

This is good news, I didn't play much of KoA: Reckoning myself, but it is good to see someone with such a sexy beard experience keep working.

This guy seems like he's a wizard.

Glad he landed on his feet. I expect great things Mr. Wizard.

Aren't those Marti Gras beads? You guys do how those customarily acquired don't you?
Yer alright Rolston.

I hope they don't listen to him too much, and basically run what he says through a filter.

It was quite obvious that he was on the Amalur team before I even knew he was a part of it. The Oblivion influences on mechanics was super heavy with in Amalur, and that is why didn't like it. Chuck those out of it, and I my interest in buying Amalur would have went up 75%.

I play LotRO so:

Keep him away from the profession ingredient collection system, because I for one like always getting something when I mine or gather things.

Keep him way, from the item-wear system. I like only having to pay a little to repair my gear every few days, instead of every few hours.

Finally, Keep him away from the Burglar class and its stealing mechanics. I like enemies not noticing me stealing their stuff most of the time. If he fiddled with it, I'd probably have to fight an enemy every time I stole something, even if I stole the item successfully without being seen.

Pipotchi:
"Recently, the company has brought in heavy hitters from NetherRealm Studios, Zynga, and Petroglyph Games to serve in supervisory and executive roles"

Heavy Hitters from Zynga? Is that the guy in charge of farm design?

It could be, considering that one of the professions in LotRO is farming.

Wait...look at the fireplace behind him...

OH MY GOD IT'S SANTA!!

OT: Just goes to show that not everyone in a failed company is an idiot, just the one in charge.

I'm hoping this means they're going to release a game I would be interested in.
Not saying Turbine's games are bad, they just don't interest me no matter how much I'd like them to.

So in other words, Turbine hired Gandalf.

Makes sense.

Who wouldn't hire such a beard?
It's beautiful.

Glad to see he landed on his feet. I hope the other members of the Amalur team can also find some sweet gigs - they made one hell of an RPG. One of the best this year.

Tiger Sora:
This guy seems like he's a wizard.

Glad he landed on his feet. I expect great things Mr. Wizard.

Technically, he was never in any trouble as he always prepares Featherfall.

Mardi Gras Hippie Santa Claus has joined your adventure.

Well, you can't say that dude doesn't have serious chops when it comes to storycrafting.

Heheh... heavy hitters from Zynga? Well, if you're trying to guess what game Turbine might release, factor that into the equation. Whatever kind of game they make, will it be 2D sprites programed in Flash? Or will they instead incorporate the "play so many times a day unless you pay" pricing model?

I'm poking fun, of course, but really... what IS a "heavy hitter" from Zynga? Certainly not the programmers, the designers, the artists, the accountants, the executives, the web-masters...

Marshall Honorof:

Turbine, known for its story-driven MMOs

Oh, yes. And we do have a title for the story, actually: "Once Upon a Grind".

Pipotchi:
"Recently, the company has brought in heavy hitters from NetherRealm Studios, Zynga, and Petroglyph Games to serve in supervisory and executive roles"

Heavy Hitters from Zynga? Is that the guy in charge of farm design?

Design? At Zynga? Surely you mean the guy in charge of the copy/paste button?

Also it's good to know that the creative minds behind previous games like Oblivion are still respected and coveted in the gaming industry. Come on Turbine, let's get some innovation going!

That is good, but I have to say: Turbine huh? I'm sorry you were so desperate. And the projects he is going to be working on are not really worthy of the guy. His design background is impressive and they are going to throw him onto their generic game projects where he will slip into mediocrity with the rest of them. But, you gotta get paid.

Isn't this the guy that likes breakable weapons and equipment in games? I hate that game mechanic.

Hmmm, well I'd imagine he's going to be starting work on another big project for Turbine, and only poking his head in on others. To be honest he's not really "right" for their existing stable.

DDO isn't an "open world" game, when I played it, it was more of a giant hub where you departed from one area to another to adventure zones/modules with a team, and those were generally pretty linear. It was an approach that worked, but it wasn't like being able to just head out and go tromping accross the landscape of Eberron like you would with Azeroth or Norrath.

LOTRO is a tradtional MMO, but it's also one with a style that seems fairly opposed to what Rolston does. He's a high fantasy guy, and probably has some respect for the work and might even be a fan, but his successful work like "Morrowwind" and "Oblivion" has had a fairly differant vibe to it. "Amalur" was okay, but as the debacle shows it was at best a moderate success in the big picture.

I'm sure his name will show up in connection to some tweaks here and there, but I'd give it 2-4 years before we really know what they wanted him for.

To be honest I also wouldn't be surprised if Turbine is engaged in a sort of "denial of assets" strategy. That's when companies hire up valuable employees for the simple reason of preventing the competition from using them. Turbine runs two solid, but hardly blockbuster MMOS, a couple of the lasting "also rans" which more or less crawled back from the brink due to the free to play model. It's fighting companies like Perfect World (which has Cryptic), NC Soft, and others for this niche. I could see why Turbine might be willing to pay Rolston and give him a fancy, undefined, title and few actual duties, just to prevent Perfect World from grabbing him for "Neverwinter" or whatever, especially seeing as that's going to be going directly head to head with DDO when it comes to D&D fans, and also carrying a more popular setting (Forgotten Realms generally has a bigger and more fanatical fan base than Eberron does, a slight expansion into Faerun won't offset this I don't think).

I'm not saying I know anything, that's just my speculation on a lot of levels. We'll see what happens, it seems most likely he's heading up a new project though.

Therumancer:
Hmmm, well I'd imagine he's going to be starting work on another big project for Turbine, and only poking his head in on others. To be honest he's not really "right" for their existing stable.

Considering the quoted description I think you're correct. Although given Ken's long and varied history with RPGs of all sorts I imagine he could contribute to just about anything they throw him at.

I may be biased, but I really like it when RPG and in particular MMORPG studios hire people from the pen and paper old guard.

Lead designer Oblivion =/= Lead designer Skyrim?

>_>

is that why the games felt kind of different?..

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here