In anticipation of the release of his new novel, Neverwinter, on this Tuesday, October 4, R.A. Salvatore sits down with Unwinnable’s own George Collazo and talks about his new book, his craft and future projects.
Unwinnable: Unwinnable is primarily a videogame blog, so could you tell me a little bit about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning?
R.A. Salvatore: In 2006, I was sitting at home and my phone rang. The voice on the other end says, “Can I speak to Bob Salvatore?” I said, “Speaking”. He said, “Man, I can’t believe I am talking to you. You are my favorite author. This is Curt Schilling. And I swore at him. I’m like, “Yeah, right.” This is the guy with the bloody sock calling me up saying he is starting a videogame company and he wants me to come create a world for him.
So we took off and we did it. I met him up in Kansas City, where the Sox were playing that week. My wife and I flew out there to meet him and go to the games and from there we went back to Gen Con. It was in August and we came back and we put together 38 Studios. I was in on the ground floor of it.
I got to put my gaming group together and we created the world. I had my seven or nine researchers doing the side work for me. We put together this presentation for the core group of people Curt had brought in to start the company, and the IP was off and running. For two to three years I would be there two, three, four days a week talking with the content people and the art people and helping everyone get on the same page. My job was creating the world, making sure it was consistent and made sense and really creating the deep threads of history for the world of Amalur. Everybody coming in was painting on the same canvas.
It seems to have worked. Everybody bought in and we acquired Big Huge Games out of Baltimore to do single player RPGs. We showed them the history and the Wiki and they picked the place in history; they came up with a story that makes sense to the meta-story of our game and then worked with me and some content people here at 38 Studios to make sure that we were all on the same page. Then they went ahead and made a videogame with us.
The first game is Reckoning, and it comes out in February. I can’t wait to start yapping about it because for five years I really haven’t been able to tell anybody about the world. In February, we are all going to be able to blab because it’s going to be out there and I am really proud of it. I can’t wait to see what the reaction is to this game.
Unwinnable: It does look fantastic. The E3 stuff was amazing.
R.A.: I gotta tell you, I mostly play MMOs so I am really looking forward to our MMO. But I have also played a lot of RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and the Icewind Dale series. I have watched the evolution of them up to Dragon Age.
I really think that this is the next step, because it is visually gorgeous and it is open world and the stories are compelling and the combat system is exciting. In my books when I do my battle scenes, I want the readers on the edge of their seat. So in the games when we do the battle scenes, I really want the players on the edge of their seat. And in a lot of RPGs, the battles are just something that you have to go through to get to the next part of the story. That is not true in Reckoning; you will be looking forward to the fights as much as you will the story.
This is the guy with the bloody sock calling me up saying he is starting a videogame company and he wants me to come create a world for him
Unwinnable: It’s almost seems like he formed The Expendables – he got you and then McFarlane and all of these heavy hitters involved in the project.
R.A.: It bothers me a little when people talk about me, Curt and Todd and Ken, because they seem to do that at the exclusion of what’s next. I mean, if you look at the engineers and game designers we brought in for mechanics and narrative, if you look at the artists we brought in and the team that BHG has, it is pretty amazing what Curt has brought together. That is all on him. He has an advantage – if Curt Schilling calls, people are gonna answer the phone. He poached some pretty good people from all of the game companies.