CS: I played 10 years in Philly and five years in Boston, so I've taken my share of flak. I don't want to say I was surprised; I was caught off-guard by the volume of passion. Because at the end of the day, it's free content for the gamers in the world who commit to us. It's different for us, right? I mean, we're a new company with a new IP, so we're asking more from players than other companies are. We're asking for a lot of trust, because in the economy that we live in, players and gamers and everybody have to be a little bit more wary how they spend their entertainment dollar.
With the strength of the game releases over the last 8 months and going forward the next 8 months, people are going to be picky and choosy.
I was surprised that the opinion was the opposite of the intent. The intent was to reward players for making a commitment to us before they really knew what we were about. But it didn't come off that way. There's nothing I can do or say to change their opinions. Perception is reality in gamers minds, and there's nothing I can do to change that. But hopefully players will see that it isn't some nefarious scheme to get them to give us more money.
JR: "Reckoning" is entering an already crowded genre at a time when many gamers are still digging through "Skyrim." Are you concerned at all about releasing an RPG now given the current landscape of the genre?
CS: In all honesty, you have to release at some point. I mean, we were inititially slated to launch late last year, in September. And once we saw the competitive window, we decided ... EA recommended and again, it was another call that they made that I think initially I was opposing that turned out to be right, and they've done that time and time again, and that was another one. This is a great window because I think that whole 'window' thing is horribly overplayed in some instances. Because again, being a gamer my whole life, short of MMOs I don't remember the last game I played months and months and months on end. I mean, my window of time is not that big.
At the end of the day, you have to release sometime. I guess I would tell you, you didn't not go see a great science fiction movie because you saw "Star Wars." Great games are going to sell themselves. That's why I think the post-launch life of this game is going to be as strong, if not stronger, than the launch day, launch week energy because I believe once players start playing the game and once the depth is out there for people to talk about, this game is going to go ballistic.
JR: I've heard some criticism directed toward the perceived lack of originality in "Reckoning," that it borrows a bit too heavily from other games out there. Is that a fair assessment?
CS: There are touches of all your favorite RPGs in there, but we actually put whole, full-fledged effort into fleshing those things out. Look at our combat system; yeah it's a little bit like "God of War", sure, but once you realize the depth of the combat system, which takes time, you realize that there's a lot of passion and love in there.
JR: Now that the job of creating "Reckoning" is complete, what part of the process are you most proud of?
CS: The cohesion of the team. The Baltimore team ... this game has been in the works for almost seven years. That studio went through immense amounts of adversity from a lot of different things. There were days where I'm sure it looked dire down there, but through all of it they stuck together, the true loyal people down there stuck together and the game is a testament to that. That makes me proud beyond words that they did that. And this is the end result.
Luckily they looked at none of my feature requests. I think initially I had some commentary on it and I sent some quote-unquote recomendations down there, but I got rebuttals and replies that made far more sense then my feature requests. This game, when we came in we added the lore to it and the story and some of the gameplay, but this was the Baltimore studios baby.
JR: You've mentioned your love of MMO's like "EverQuest." Is that an arena you could see 38 Studios entering in the future?
CS: The Providence studio, we've been working on an MMO in the Amalur universe for over five years now. That was the original product this company was going to launch with. Yes, there's an MMO due out after Reckoning at some point based on the same Amalur universe and there will be ties between the products.
JR: What about projects outside the Amalur universe? Have you begun to think about what the next big project might be for 38 Studios?
CS: We're a company of almost 400 people, so if I want to keep all of these pepole employed, and because that's the intent -- I didn't hire two studios full of people to kick them out the door and move on -- you can imagine to keep paying people we're going to have to be doing multiple things. We're focused on Reckoning and Amalur right now, which is where we have to be, but we've always been looking outside that IP and what we can do.
JR: Any chance we see 38 Studios tackle a baseball game?
CS: I would say the chances are probably slim to none. I tell everybody I played the game for a living, so there's a lot less interest on my part. Plus it's one of the sports that you could never make the game as hard as the real life thing. So no, not really.
JR: And one last baseball question. You become eligible for the baseball Hall of Fame next year. Have you thought about what that honor might mean to you?
CS: Honestly, I talked to Tom Verducci at SI [Sports Illustrated] yesterday and told him the same thing. Until people ask me about it, I don't give it one thought. I'm proud of the career I was privildged to be a part of, I'm proud of what I did on the field. And if that gets me elected to the Hall of Fame, that would be fantastic. If it doesn't, my life is absolutely consumed with my wife and my four kids and my company and my faith. So if it happens, awesome, but it's not something I thing a minute thinking about elsewise.