Much has been said about the 'three visionaries' leading development for 38 Studios' upcoming open-world action-RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, with plenty of interviews for Ken Rolston of Morrowind and Oblivion fame and worldwide famous fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, but in a bit of a change Digital Spy interviewed the one who may be the least familiar for RPG fans, comic book author Todd McFarlane, who helped define the visual direction for the title. Here's a snip:
What influences did you draw from in the fantasy genre?
"The genre in and of itself is a little flowery, you've got all the armour and the detail and all that. I think everybody has been influenced by Lord of the Rings. That set the standard for the kind of fantasy we have our heads wrapped around. I think there's plenty of obvious stereotypes that we have, things like King Arthur and anything that's a couple of thousand years in the past. We sort of have a mindset of what it's supposed to look like.
"The goal wasn't necessarily to go in there and invent any of that. To say all of a sudden 'Trolls are going to look like sci-fi guys from the move Alien' because it's a little too disruptive. We still had all the same trappings of elves, trolls, mages and wizards, and all those things, but the question is, can we design them in an interesting manner? Can they move in an interesting manner, and exist in an interesting environment?
"If we've got those ten categories that we're dealing with - spellcasting, sound, music and all those things - if we take them and add a couple of percent to raise the bar, we've got ten categories times 2% becoming a 20% lift overall
"All I want is for players to put down the control pad and say 'That's cool as hell'. In the end players shouldn't have to be in a position to explain why. Either it strikes you in the gut, or it leaves you flat. In this case, I hope they come away saying how cool it was and tell all their buddies."
What is the biggest differences between working on art in video games and working in comics?
"You write a novel it's just words. You make a movie and it's talking with motion and sound. Comic books, where I've spent a lot of time, it's words and pictures but it's all stationary. So what I have to do is find the key frames of the storyboards and do the directing with each one of those dramatic moments.
"Here, you have to embed all those dramatic moments, and put in all the melodrama and great lighting and give it thousands of possibilities, and literally build an entire world. Then once you've built the world, which is the vehicle, you hand the pilot seat to the player, and you go 'Here, have the experience you want, because it's yours'.
"I don't get to dictate it. Obviously we have an influence. We build a big village or something like that. You see the tip of it in the distance and you're probably going to be attracted to go and see it. But at the end of the day, we have to make all of it, no matter what direction you go, have some value because RPG players are a bit of a different lot.
"A lot of them have different wants and needs, compared to first-person shooters where the goal is just to drive through it. Here you're doing the same thing but you meander a lot more, so you have to make the traveling as interesting as possible, and if they want to play the action it better be cool. It should excite you, because if not, why are you doing it?"