The Game That Could Have Been

Yes, internet news, Kingdoms of Amalur would have been free to play. The idea was to have no cost for the client and no monthly fee–as few barriers to adoption as possible.

Curt’s “atom bomb” comment was referring to how we planned to market the title. We would have revealed the game, teased its ongoing storyline and world-changing events, demonstrated cool gameplay, and shown off its gorgeous world, characters, and best-in-class animation. Then, when the audience saw how vast and fun the game was, we’d reveal that there was no cost to play it.

It wasn’t going to be crippled. You weren’t going to be kept from certain parts of the world if you didn’t pay. The transactions were intended to enhance your experience, to give you more options (like buying vanity appearances, stuff for your house, pets and mounts, etc.), but would not limit your play of the core game. And there would be a premium membership option, much like a subscription, that gave you perks and currency so you wouldn’t need to fiddle with microtransactions if you didn’t want to.

Here is an environmental fly-through made by the head of our city building crew for our May milestone presentation to the team–an event that never happened because the studio went under. It was shot in engine with population turned off; again, this was built as an internal asset to show off art, not as a game trailer. It does an incredible job of demonstrating how gorgeous the world of Amalur was.

There’s a lot more I’d like to tell you about the game, such as how our fully planned four-year story arc was driven by player participation. How the theme of choice and consequence permeated our systems, content, and world design. How the choices players made during our chapter-based story arc would cause permanent and lasting changes to each server–changes that could be different from other servers. How expansions to the game world had already been mapped out and were tied into that chapter storyline, so the world would grow in a very organic and logical way rather than feeling like expansions were tacked onto the core game by a new team that was bored with the work that had been done before. How our storyline had a real conclusion–because you can’t tell a great story without an ending.

But I should probably keep my mouth shut. The glorious state of Rhode Island now owns the assets and code that would have been our game, and some company might come along and buy it… though anyone who does won’t be releasing the same product we had planned to put out–only a pale imitation of it.

I wish you could know what we were shooting for during the years we labored to build Copernicus… a game that was loving crafted, that was starting to show how fun it would be, and that absolutely did have members of the dev team playing it, no matter what anyone else might tell you.

But sadly, we’ll never really know what could have been.

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