Gamasutra has posted a postmortem for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning discussing the development process, what the game did right, and what it did wrong.
Over five years ago, Big Huge Games set out to completely change the type of games we make. We switched from making real-time strategy games to role-playing games, and we started making games for consoles in addition to PCs. We made these changes for several reasons, and although profit was one of those reasons, it wasn't the only one. We wanted to do something crazy. We wanted to make a big open-world RPG — pretty much the craziest project we could think of short of an MMO. But we're all big fans of the genre and thought we could find our niche in it, so we started our quest to convert the studio into an RPG ho use.
At first, our RPG project was named "Crucible" and was being published by THQ. We were making great progress on it, and THQ was happy enough with the progress that they purchased us outright; and we became an internal THQ studio. Around that time we switched some of the key features of the game and renamed the project "Ascendant." We were part of the THQ network of studios for a short period of time right up to the point that THQ started running out of money. Our big, juicy, unproven-in-the-genre studio was a prime target for them to try to sell.
With literally days left on the "close the doors" timer at the studio, THQ sold us to Curt Schilling's 38 Studios, which has R.A. Salvatore as "creator of worlds." It became clear pretty quickly that we would need to change the universe and some of the game features yet again to take advantage of Robert's genius. We changed the project name to "Mercury," which later was given the final shipping name of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
For those keeping track at home, in five years we were bought and sold twice and changed the name and core features of the project three times. Needless to say, it's been a long, strange trip. The rest of the postmortem will be restricted to the two and a half years we spent working on Reckoning rather than the two previous false starts.