The saga of 38 Studios continues to be an eternally springing font of sad. A wrenching 379 layoffs are, of course, the centerpiece of this Shakespearean tragedy, but further fallout has revealed incredibly sketchy mortgage practices for relocated employees, and now, Joystiq's reporting that Reckoning 2 was in pre-production before Curt Schilling's money Titanic collided with an iceberg that was also the apocalypse. And, to make matters - in retrospect - worse, it sounded fairly promising.
Big Huge Games was, once again, assuming development duties while 38 proper continued to devote its full attention to the Amalur MMO, Copernicus. According to Joystiq's source, the focus this time around was one "higher graphics quality across the board, no loading screens between zones, expanded and improved combat animations, fewer branching quests, and greater effect on the world by players." So basically, it was a very conscious effort to address many criticisms 38's first (and very possibly last) open world opus received.
There is, however, an incredibly faint glimmer of hope for the project - or at least, an extremely similar project under a different name. Seeing as odds of securing the rights to the Amalur license (which may soon be owned by Rhode Island) are so slim that - if they turn sideways - they're actually invisible, any sort of reformed 38 Studios would have to refit any Reckoning 2 ideas into a new world.
However, that's pretty much exactly what it did with Reckoning and its previously in development "Ascendent" RPG in the first place, so that'd be a weird coming-full-circle type of poetic justice - and also probably the least messy thing about this entire situation. And while it'd clearly be a far, far larger project than, say, Double Fine Adventure or Wasteland, perhaps a Kickstarter could help set the wheels in motion?
Meanwhile, in the first Kingdom of Amalur's smoldering ruins, a previously planned patch has, for obvious reason, gone from sure-thing to going-going-gone longshot. Lead designer Ian Frazier explained in an incredibly sorrowful forum post:
"I wanted to apologize for the lack of a patch for Reckoning. It's something we very much wanted to do, but various issues outside our control (which unfortunately I'm not at liberty to disclose) prevented us from doing so for a long time. Finally we received clearance to do a PC-only patch, which wasn't ideal (we wanted to do a patch on all platforms) but it was better than nothing. So we commenced working on that - working on everything from miscellaneous bug fixes to Joe Q's addition of new camera features to Dakota's addition of two new difficulty modes. But before we finished, the company collapsed. Now, barring some sort of miracle, it is highly unlikely that any patch for Reckoning will ever see the light of day."
Which, of course, only heaps more cartoonishly oversized anvils atop this already crushing situation. In the cases of both Reckoning 2 and continued improvement of the original, Big Huge Games was obviously very dedicated. To see all that hard work go up in flames, down in smoke, and left-right-left-right-B-A-start in infinite uncontrollable circumstances is - without a doubt - an absolute worst-case scenario. We, of course, continue to wish everyone involved the best of luck. We're rooting for all of you - as is the rest of the industry. Stay strong.