Weekend Confirmed 95 - Ken Rolston, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

by Garnett Lee, Jan 13, 2012 11:00am PST
Related Topics – Weekend Confirmed

Two game design heavyweights lend their voices to the show this week. Weekend Confirmed welcomes the legendary Ken Rolston, lead designer on Morrowind and Oblivion, who is currently working on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Big Huge Games' lead combat designer Joe Quadara also joins us. Together, they provide new insights from the creator's side in our ongoing discussions around Skyrim and storytelling within large-scale open world role playing games. Of course, the conversation naturally then turns to the approaches they took with Reckoning, and we get into some detail about the upcoming game. There's much more as well with news and your comments from last week's show before we wrap it all up with Finishing Moves.

Weekend Confirmed Ep. 95: 01/13/2012

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If you're viewing this in the GameFly application, you can play Weekend Confirmed Episode 95 directly.

Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

    Show Breakdown:

    Round 1 00:00:00 to 00:29:13

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 1 00:29:47 to 00:58:46

    Whatcha Been Playing Part 2 00:59:44 to 01:28:13

    Listener Feedback/Front Page News 01:29:17 to 02:00:27

Thanks to our special guests, legendary designer Ken Rolston and lead combat designer Joe Quadara (@bazooie).

For the latest on the game, watch the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Facebook page.

Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest Album, The Wait is Over on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter delriomusic.

Jeff Cannata can also be seen on The Totally Rad Show. They've gone daily so there's a new segment to watch every day of the week!

Follow the Weekend Confirmed hosts on Twitter, too! Garnett Lee @GarnettLee, Jeff Cannata @jeffcannata, and Xav de Matos @xav.

Remember to join the Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page and add us to your Facebook routine. We'll be keeping you up with the latest on the show there as well.


  • I loved skyrim, I logged about 300 hours playing and didn't get anywhere near 100% through it, and it may easily be one of my favorite games of all time, but I have the same complaint about it as Garnet Lee.

    Here's how I would articulate it, though. When most people praise Skyrim, they will say that it's like this whole wide world where things are happening, and you're just one small piece of it making your mark in various ways.

    However, the illusion that things are just happening and you're just a part of it all can quickly be shattered and you realize that the whole game is like a lawnmower simulator with quests instead of tall blades of grass. Every city is a mess and EVERYONE is instantly dying to unload all their problems onto you the instant you first talk to them, and while you're taking care of their problems, a few more untidy blades of grass come up along the way.

    I can give you a specific example. When I went to some city for the first time, I forget which, it may have been Winterhold but I think it happens in a few different towns. There was a little posse of people standing outside, ready to be 'coincidentally' spilling their guts about all their problems right when I walk past. So, I avoided it. I didn't want a new quest at that moment, so I went and played another 50 hours and when I returned, they were still there, standing around waiting for me to show up. It ruined the immersion. Why couldn't they, when THEY are good and ready, come to me and ask for help? Why do the quests have to be peppered everywhere like weeds, waiting for me to come by and pluck them?

  • The discussion about “Gamer’s Guilt” has been fascinating; and I’d like to offer a different perspective. One listener implied that achievements in gaming have as much value as achievements in real life, arguing that neither will have an effect on the world 100 years from now. I would argue that decisions made in the real world can have an impact that goes far beyond 100 years. A tangible example: I often feel the temptation to sit down and “veg out” playing a video game while my 3 year-old daughter is asking me to sit on the floor and play with her. Sure, choosing the video game may result in some entertainment for me that may even have a positive impact (such as stretching my imagination), but at the end of the day I am still staring at a screen during that time and not engaging directly with another person. The same can be said for other mediums such as blogging, Facebooking or even texting. Choosing to sit on the floor with my daughter and play blocks, on the other hand, has value that is (in my opinion) immeasurable. While I am not saying “technology is the devil,” I am saying that spending intentional time with my kid without having a TV or computer on will impact her life now, and can also influence her as she grows into adulthood and has kids of her own. This cycle of influence can continue through generations. Sure, I could choose to let her play a video game with me, in the same way that I could choose to play an online game so that I have some “human interaction,” and that would be fine. However, each layer of technology between us and others has the potential to diminish the level of connection we have with one another. Despite the fact that we live in the most “connected” time in our history (in terms of technology and social media), I would argue that we continue to grow more disconnected from one another than ever. So, “game on” every one, but when the Gamer’s Guilt sets in, maybe take a moment to set technology aside and go spend some time (in real time, in real physical space) with someone you care about. There will be no Gamer’s Guilt in doing that.

  • I'd like to give my 2 cents about the whole 'gamer-guilt' thing.

    I used to have a very busy career in the music industry. I worked for over 10 years performing in a band and we toured internationally. Some people would describe this as really successful and fulfilling but with the amount of time I had to spend away from my family (one year I spent a single month at home) and the shallow nature of the music industry I found myself completely burned out.

    As an avid gamer since childhood I found gaming to be one of the constants in my life and as my apathy for music turned into bitterness and cynicism I found gaming to be a very grounding aspect. One thing a lot of people don't realize about a touring lifestyle is that you have so few friends. As you constantly move around you never get the chance to build up a home base and network of close friends and although you're constantly surrounded by people those interactions are tied to and sustained by your career.

    So, I found that the relationships I developed with my friends on XBOX Live were more meaningful and bonding than a majority of people offline. They were people I could always spend time with despite location or timezone. And I found that the accomplishments of 'real life' to be hollow and numbing. People in the music industry just want to have a lot of drugs and party and there was little comfort in creating music since that process was extremely commercialized and governed by all sorts of external pressures; it's hard to maintain artistic creativity when you have a deadline to write 40 hooks/songs in a certain time frame.

    So you might imagine that accomplishing something in a video game carried as much weight, if not more, as anything that was happening in 'real life'. I enjoyed a lot more meaningful friendships on XBOX Live than in 'real life'. I remember one point I was ready to go on stage and I found myself thinking "man, I really wish I was playing Halo 3 with my friends instead of being here" and that was a shocking thought to have because it wasn't laced with any sense irony. I really and honestly would rather have been playing XBOX.

    To wrap things up, I left the industry, moved back to Australia with my family. I ended up moving to a city close to a number of my XBL friends and a bunch of them met me at the airport and I spend a lot of time with them these days. And I'm now out of contact with almost all of my associates from the music game. I'm not trying to say that the music industry is a terrible place because my experiences were my own but I think the thing that is really telling about this sense of gamer-shame is that while I don't have a single piece of memorabilia displayed in my house from my band days, I have print on my wall that is a screen-cap from Halo 3 myself and 3 friends all piloting Ghosts, commemorating the proud day that 4 of us achieved a particularly difficult achievement.

    I really believe that video game accomplishments can carry just as much weight as anything else in life. I also believe that video games can provide us with social interactions as strong as any others in life and they can certainly paint memories as vivid as anything else in life.