Kingdoms of Amalur Pre-Order Bonus Items Revealed!

I always love pre-order bonuses with my games, although my enthusiasm does tend to diminish when there are 20 different sets of pre-order items to be had, thereby forcing me to make the toughest decision about the game before I even play. That being said, Electronic Arts and 38 Studios' Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning pre-order bonus items are shaping up to look very nice indeed.

The companies revealed today that the items come in three packs: one with a reagent Dowsing Rod that detects all potion-making vegetation on the map; another with a Twist of Fate Card, a Compass of Fate and three armor sets (one per character type); or, finally, a full Fae-touched Weapons Pack for all your monster-mashing needs. You can view images of all of the packs after the jump!

Senior Staff Writer Christopher "Pwyff" Tom is currently in Baltimore getting some hands-on time with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, so you can expect to hear some more details on this highly anticipated RPG in the very near future! The game is scheduled to launch on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in North America on February 7, 2012 and in Europe on February 10, 2012.

Close Gives Details on Big Huge Games Acquisition

Gamasutra has spoken with 38 Studios president Brett Close following the company's acquisition of Big Huge Games, and he provided them with more details regarding the move. According to close, BHG "will continue on development of some of their other products," but the "core focus" of 38 Studios remains its in-development Copernicus IP.

Close also had this to say about Copernicus: ""But part of our product vision and our business vision... was extending that across a variety of products and a variety of touchpoints that customers can access the world through."

38 Studios has acquired BHG's Mercury Engine, a console engine and toolset that will be used to "support the world of Copernicus." Also, Close confirmed that that staff of BHG has been retained and there will be no additional layoffs.

38 Studios Acquires Big Huge Games

38 Studios announced today it has acquired Big Huge Games from publisher THQ Inc. According to a press release, "The acquisition is a critical step in 38 Studios’ strategy to deliver a broad range of entertainment products centered on its original fantasy IP, codenamed Copernicus."

We spoke with Brett Close, the president and CEO of 38 Studios, at CES 2009 in January to discuss Copernicus, which has names such as Curt Schilling, Todd McFarlane and R.A. Salvatore tied to the project. At the time, Close said, "There's not much to say for '09; we just want to continue making the solid process that we're making."

Here's what Close had to say in the press release regarding the acquisition of Big Huge Games: "BHG’s cross-platform RTS/RPG engine will accelerate the realization of our Online Entertainment Experience for the Copernicus IP. The acquisition enables us to develop and deliver top-quality games in multiple genres that are based in a shared world, ultimately maximizing the value of our Copernicus MMOG and the intellectual property as a whole."

You can find the full announcement after the jump.

CES 2009: Interview with Brett Close

Some of the Allakhazam team are in Las Vegas this week covering CES (Consumer Electronics Show) . We had the opportunity to catch up with Brett Close, the President and CEO of 38 Studios to see if we could get any details about the project simply known as Copernicus. Unfortunately, Brett wasn't able to give any new details about the  other game than the announcement that the studio will be bunking down to continue the already 'ahead of schedule' development process. It's refreshing to see a company with so many opportunities to hype their game (because of the huge names involved: Curt Schilling, Todd MacFarlane, R.A. Salvatore), announce that their going to go mostly silent for an entire year.

We're actually ahead of where we want to be and things are going so well that we're going to turtle ourselves in and just keep focused on development. There's not much to say for '09; we just want to continue making the solid process that we're making and I think it's not only fair to us but I think it's even more fair to the fans out there that want to see something.

We were extremely excited to see more concept art like was given to us during Comic-con but we're just going to have to wait until 2010. Make sure to check out our interview with Brett Close after the jump.


38 Studios Adds Audio Director and UI Designer

In a surprise press release today, 38 Studios announced two new additions to the Copernicus team: Audrey Hodges and Irena Pereira. Audrey is joining the team as the Director of Audio which is exciting given his work on Kings Quest. Now Irena brings a great deal of experience to the team joining as a Senior UI Designer, which is exciting news for 'UI modders'. Her most recent projects included World of Warcraft expansions The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. She also worked at Verant back in the early EverQuest days. Below is the full 38 Studios press release:

Aubrey Hodges and Irena Pereira Join 38 Studios' team of expert game designers

Maynard, MA – November 4, 2008 - 38 Studios, a pioneering entertainment company dedicated to delivering a broad spectrum of immersive products, today announced that Aubrey Hodges and Irena Pereira have joined 38 Studios as director of audio and senior UI (user interface) designer, respectively.

Command Your Army with Your Voice

Type Less, Talk More with Vivox. Risk-Free Communication For Gamers.

It isn’t very often that you see a company gain such a successful lead so quickly in such a competitive space as online games.  Vivox has done just that with their voice chat technology. I was lucky enough to have a first hand look in September at Austin Game Developers Conference. They are touting the clearest and feature-rich quality audio conversation experience one can currently obtain for communication in online games.

As any online gamer knows, it is vital to communicate with your guild mates and those around you in-game as efficiently as possible.  There are typically three options immediately available in any online game.  The first is through body language and basic movements.  The second is the most common, through built-in chat windows that allow you to type in commands and directives that you wish your group to follow.

Both of the first two choices are tedious, lengthy, and often result in errors when your chat history is scrolling like crazy with others around you also trying to communicate.  How does the guild leader or those in command rise above the chaos at hand to actually lead the group into battle?  The third and final possibility is with their voice.  The problem in many previous software solutions has been poor voice clarity, difficult to set up and operate, and a high price point that only a few could afford to purchase.

38 Studios at Comic-con - Exclusive Concept Art!

38 Studios which was formally known in the community as Green Monster Games made an appearance at Comic-con this year and we had the privilege to meet with them on Friday.

We sat down with Thom Ang, Scott Cuthbertson and Mary Kirchoff to talk about their first game in development code named "Copernicus", though despite our greatest efforts, we were still unable to get a real look at. To our disappointment they didn't announce or show Copernicus on an official level this year but according to Mary, they 'didn't want to reveal anything if they couldn't reveal everything'.

Thom, who was very recently hired and thrown into the 38 Studios frying pan, took charge from early on and made it clear that he wanted to talk about the concept art that they had to show us. One of the first topics of our conversation was "Idealized Reality", which is going to be the official art standard or rather ‘calling card' of 38 studios. The vision is that a game enthusiast will be able to look at a screenshot or video and be able to tell that it's a 38 Studios game. They certainly seem as if they all have a very clear idea about the direction of the art: this game is going to be visually stunning.

We talked a little about the art team makeup and how Todd Mcfarlane has played into how things are created. There are 4 art leads on the team handling different areas of the game all with their own unique expertise. Thom commented on how hands on Todd has been and how he is in the office all the time giving his feedback and making sure everyone is on the same collective page.

"I feel like I've been handed the best team in the world" - Thom Ang, Director of Art


38 Studios Licenses 'morpheme' Animation Solution

It looks like Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's 38 Studios has a new game in the works. It was announced today that they have licensed morphme, NaturalMotion's animation solution, for developing an "unannounced MMO".

SAN FRANCISCO - July 15, 2008

NaturalMotion, the animation technology pioneer behind the revolutionary euphoria engine, announced today that 38 Studios, baseball legend Curt Schilling's online entertainment studio, has licensed morpheme, the first graphically authorable animation design tool and engine.

"morpheme's time-saving qualities become even more beneficial as the scale of games increase - the bigger your game, the more time your animators and programmers save thanks to an intuitive user interface and seamless front- and back-end integration," said Christian Staack, vice president of sales in North America, Japan and Australia for NaturalMotion. "This makes morpheme an invaluable tool for the development of MMOGs, arguably today's biggest and most ambitious games."

Boston Globe Announces MGC Winners

Last Monday 38 Studios and the Boston Globe announced the winners of the Massachusetts Game Challenge, sponsored by the MMO development company .

The game challenge was announced in December of 2007 and was aimed at students in the area, giving them a chance to showcase their talents.  The Boston Globe story talked to all three of the winners, and ran quite a large story on the event.
The three finalists were invited to the Maynard headquarters recently to collect their prize from Schilling. The first-place team members took home $3,000 each, the second-place teammates earned $2,000 each, and the third-place squad got $1,000 apiece.

"You say, 'I want to make video games for a living,' but you never really think it could happen. I guess now it's starting to seem a lot more real," said Walley, who added that the team didn't begin designing Munch's Vacation until a month after the contest was announced.
We asked Brett Close, CEO and President of 38 Studios what he thought of the success of the MGC, and he told us:
Our goal was to make the Massachusetts Game Challenge a fun and engaging way to energize local game development students to show off their talent and gain recognition, and the WPI team really shined.  The quality and depth of their design exceeded our expectations, particularly coming from first-year students. They’ve set the bar pretty high for what we’d like to see from them as juniors and seniors in upcoming challenges.
Congrats to the winners, and we look forward to seeing your game featured on the 38 Studios webpage soon!

Thom Ang Joins 38 Studios

38 Studios has added yet another talented member to a team which is already being called "superstar"!  Thom Ang is known for many years of video game art, and his resume is nothing short of stellar.
An accomplished digital artist and illustrator, Ang joins 38 Studios with more than 15 years of experience directing the artistic vision on high profile, worldwide brands and franchises. Ang most recently served as art director at THQ, managing more than 25 titles. Prior to THQ, Ang was art director at EA LA, responsible for visual concept development, art production, and team management for the Medal of Honor franchise. He has created illustrations for TV shows such as The X-Files and was a storyboard artist for Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star TV Animation programs including Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles  and Max Steel. Ang also was a senior artist at Disney Interactive for numerous games including Toy Story II and Tarzan. His illustrations and designs have been published by BusinessWeek, The Village Voice, Simon & Schuster, Jim Henson Studios, Random House, White Wolf, and both DC and Marvel Comics.
Ang is the recipient of numerous artistic awards including Spectrum, Society of Illustrators LA, Society of Illustrators NY, and PRINT Magazine's Illustration Annual. He holds a bachelors degree in fine arts and illustration from The Art Center College of Design and has been a guest lecturer and visiting artist at California State Polytechnic University, San Jose State University, and the University of Arizona at Tucson.
The entire press release brings nothing but more excitement for "Project Copernicus"!