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EA Locks Up Lord of the Rings IP

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the frodo-you-go-nowhere dept.

Lord of the Rings 51

Gamasutra has the word that EA has the Lord of the Rings IP locked up through the end of next year. With the additional license for the books under their wing and no competition from Vivendi, they have big plans set for their next game inside the franchise world. "The announcement follows EA's previously announced The Lord of the Rings: The White Council, an open world RPG for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. However, with EA making plans for a new The Lord Of The Rings title, the fate of this project, once referred to as the cryptic Project Gray Company, remains uncertain. EA confirmed in early February that the game, while not canceled, had been put on hold." Relatedly, Game|Life notes that one million players will soon be traveling through Middle Earth as the open beta for Lord of the Rings Online gets underway. If you signed up to get in, you probably will. Update: 03/30 04:00 GMT by Z : The text referring to the White Council game was edited on the Gamasutra story, and here as well to reflect that.

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51 comments

Isn't this news like 5 years old? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 7 years ago | (#18530969)

When did the first of the trilogy movies come out? EA has been pushing out the video game tie-ins since then.

Re:Isn't this news like 5 years old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18531255)

The fellowship of the ring came out in 2001.

Re:Isn't this news like 5 years old? (2, Informative)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 7 years ago | (#18531947)

The news is EA securing the exclusive rights to the films and books through 2008. Before, EA had the exclusive rights to the films, but couldn't use things from the books that were not in the films. Sierra was able to grab game rights to the books, without being allowed to use the material from the films, but still able to cash in on the renewed interest in all things LOTR.

Nooz?..da game duz'nt work n never did JUNK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18542745)

This franchise is JUNK. I really mean junk boys and girls. My grandson spent fifty bucks of his hard earned money on LOTR-Battle for Middle Earth. The game said on the box that it would work on Win2K. It did not. Talkin to EA was an extreme excercize in futility. EA had oursourced all its tech support to countries that spoke English with a middle east accent. These people were more interested in getting the telephone numbers and names of the kids than in ever helping them. They not only had no information to give, but could barely be understood with difficulty. Have no idea why all those middle easterners wanted names and addresses and phone numbers of American children. They did not get any info from my grandson, but probably got it anyway from their caller IDs and graphical loacator systems that they probably bought and installed and got from US states selling their 911 data to get money for their 'unbalanced budgets'. EA also gave the impression that it was more interested in its 'IP' than any customer satisfaction with its products. They wanted extra downloads of questionable DRM ware that was not mooted on the box tha game came in as necessary to play the game. Actually DID go through the hoops with a DMZ machine just to see what would happen inasmuch as I could later wipe the drive and trash raped PROMs on video cards and BIOSes. Tha game STILL would not work. Make it short. U buy EA and U will be screwed!

What age? (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 7 years ago | (#18530975)

This sounds awesome, I wonder if it will be set before or after the rings destruction. If it is before will destroying the ring be the ultimate quest?

Hobbit Crossing? (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 7 years ago | (#18531033)

If it is before will destroying the ring be the ultimate quest?
The game is based on the AI engine of The Sims 2. What we could be getting is the equivalent of a Sims expansion with hobbits.

Re:Hobbit Crossing? (3, Funny)

EchoD (1031614) | about 7 years ago | (#18531125)

Using the Sims 2 AI, I'm wondering how they're going to make a game out of a bunch of Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits who piss on your floor because you decided to remove the bathroom door. Will they become retarded when they hear a smoke alarm-like noise? Awe, crap. Frodo starved to death because I forgot to tell him he should eat when he gets hungry.

Re:Hobbit Crossing? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18532475)

Oh hell yes! I'd set right out to get Sam to build a fence around the pool, drowning that lame-ass Boromir from the start. Frodo and Gollum get it on upstairs (after constant prodding) and Gimli can do the house work. I'll let Legolas have his own room but the Hobbits have to share. This is going to be loads of fun!

...and (4, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | about 7 years ago | (#18531059)

In a related story, the use of 'relatedly' in the summary caused English teachers worldwide to bleed from the eyes and randomly kill kittens.

Re:...and (2, Funny)

Friedrich Psitalon (777927) | about 7 years ago | (#18531127)

In point of fact, as an English teacher who owns two cats, I may have to purchase a machete on the way home this evening. /me wanders off muttering about "relatedly."

Re:...and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18532073)

Glad to see I'm not the only one of us not doing any work today.

Re:...and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18531499)

In a related story, American Heritage Dictionary says relatedly [bartleby.com] is a word.

Re:...and (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | about 7 years ago | (#18532559)

In a related story, American Heritage Dictionary says relatedly is a word.

Well the parent was complaining about the USE of 'relatedly' in the summary. Checking your own link you will see that relatedly is an ADVERB, pray tell then, what verb is it modifying in the summary? While it is a valid word, it's usage is incorrect here.

Re:...and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18532725)

It modifies 'notes'. They were getting tricky by not putting it up against the verb.

Re:...and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18532757)

It modifies 'notes' and I would argue it could remain proper as an introductory adverbial phrase. How is it any different then starting a sentence with 'quickly'. (Quickly, [you] run this letter to the mail box.) The sentences contain the same basic structure, except typically you will leave out the 'you' in the sentence. Ahh, the English language.

Re:...and (1)

neminem (561346) | about 7 years ago | (#18539477)

Relatedly, sentence adverbs (also known as "disjuncts", I just found out from wikipedia) exist, and are both useful and quite commonly used.

On the other hand, I'd argue that the sentence used above as an example isn't actually a good one: words are frequently allowed to move around in English sentence by particular rules. Thus, "Quickly, run this letter to the mailbox" is equivalent to "Run this lettere to the mailbox quickly" - in both cases, "quickly" modifies the verb phrase "run this letter to the mailbox". Better examples would use adverbs such as "honestly", "seriously", "sadly", or other, similar words.

Can you tell I'm interested in linguistics?

Re:...and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18531615)

Erm, is this the internet-meme sort of kittencide, or something less innocuous?

Re:...and (1)

Casualposter (572489) | about 7 years ago | (#18542627)

Ah, yes, but despite the efforts of English professors and teachers, the language loosely known as English has a fine tradition of "going with what ever works," from the old Shakespeare's "But me no buts," to this quite clear use of the adverbial "relatedly" to mean: "Hey! This story is related to the one that we just told you about."

Sorry, folks, but the purpose of language is to express meaning in a clear fashion, not follow arbitrary rules. In this case, "relatedly" works quite well as is.

Re:...and (1)

Stanistani (808333) | about 7 years ago | (#18544675)

Indeedy.

Allow me to translate, then.

>Sorry, folks, but the purpose of language is to express meaning in a clear fashion, not follow arbitrary rules. In this case, "relatedly" works quite well as is.

Sucks, dudes, speakin' be what it is.

But did EA get dibs on (1)

Recovering Hater (833107) | about 7 years ago | (#18531103)

The Silmarillion? I can't wait for that game to come out! WOOO! Hehehe.

Re:But did EA get dibs on (2, Insightful)

the dark hero (971268) | about 7 years ago | (#18531493)

That would be one loooooooooooooooooong game. Its funny how the movies and the games never really give you a good sense on how long LotR actually is. They make it look like a walk in the park, but those hobbits went faaar from home.

Re:But did EA get dibs on (3, Informative)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 7 years ago | (#18531997)

Bilbo's Birthday Party to the start of the Quest was 17 years and it took the Hobbits about a year and a half to travelto mordor and back. (April 3018, when Gandalf arrived at Hobbiton until November 3rd, 3019, the Battle of Bywater).

Silmarilion takes place over about 5500 years. The first 4500 were before the awakening of the elves, 500 or so before the sundering of the Noldor, and then another 500 between days after the creation of the Sun and the Moon until Melkor was cast down.

Long time, so sayeth wikipedia.

That's one million *invited*... (2, Insightful)

SkeptAck (558548) | about 7 years ago | (#18531135)

Strictly speaking, "open beta" usually means all 6+ billion of us are "invited".

'Course, it is LotR, so that expectation might not be out of line.

I liked this, too: "the most complete and authentic massively multiplayer online (MMO) world based upon the famous Books of J.R.R. Tolkien."

Uhm... ok!

Re:That's one million *invited*... (1)

Gertlex (722812) | about 7 years ago | (#18531919)

Strictly speaking, "open beta" usually means all 6+ billion of us are "invited".

Well... 1 million young-moms-who-play-The-Sims that have subscribed to EA and got a direct email invitation to said beta.

Re:That's one million *invited*... (1)

SkeptAck (558548) | about 7 years ago | (#18532663)

You think EA inviting their customers to play a Turbine game published by Midway? I disbelieve... ...Natural 20!

hm... (2, Insightful)

cosmocain (1060326) | about 7 years ago | (#18531265)

...i liked the LOTR books much, because it was just fantastic to see the world evolve just in my head, with all that incredible creatures, races and so on. to me, tho whole spirit of LOTR is based upon "living it" inside my mind. so - the movies came out and i wasn't all too overhappy, even though they were indeed watchable - without killing the fantasies, that i made up when i first read the book.

but now, with all these games, merchandise, etc: i truly believe that this is not doing any good to the spirit of the whole story, even more to the books. it totally changes the reception of the book if you were to play with a little gimli or another comrade as a child. all this process of making up the characters, their looks is totally gone.

now reading something like "Sims 2" (even if it's only the engine) in an article to a LOTR game sends chills down my spine.

okay, not a very geeky opinion, you're allowed to mod me down ;)

Clarification (4, Informative)

SkeptAck (558548) | about 7 years ago | (#18531367)

Gamasutra has the word that EA has the Lord of the Rings IP locked up through the end of next year.

That is, of course, with the exception of the LotR MMORPG mentioned in the article, which is being developed by Turbine, published in the US by Midway, and published in the UK by Codemasters.

Re:Clarification (1)

SkeptAck (558548) | about 7 years ago | (#18535713)

And correction: Midway Home Entertainment Inc. (a subsidiary of Midway Games Inc.) is co-publishing (with Turbine) and distributing in North America. The LotR MMO formerly known as Middle Earth Online, that is.

I wish they'd lock up Star Trek and Harry Potter (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | about 7 years ago | (#18531405)

I'm sick of hearing hom0s talk about their magical fairy wands and phaser devices and nanoo nanoos.

EA owns you next... (1)

donut1005 (982510) | about 7 years ago | (#18531433)

What doesn't EA have the rights to? They should do something really absurd with this power, like create a LOTR/NFL style Sims game. There, that about covers every demographic!

Madden LOTR 2008 (3, Funny)

faloi (738831) | about 7 years ago | (#18531593)

Now with swing by swing teleprompter markup!

Re:Madden LOTR 2008 (2, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | about 7 years ago | (#18537789)

Eh, eh, eh, what you got to do is, you got to climb Mt. Doom and BOOM! you get the Sammath Naur! Now, if Frodo were Brett Favre, he would know you got to throw the One Ring into the Fire, cause that's how you melt it down!

MIddle Earth Online (1)

lief79 (880936) | about 7 years ago | (#18531799)

What about Turbine's Middle Earth Online?

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/middleearthonline/p review_6028194.html [gamespot.com]

Re:MIddle Earth Online (1)

Chacham (981) | about 7 years ago | (#18532209)

What about Turbine's Middle Earth Online?

Takes places during the trilogy.

Game play is ok, but nothing really catches interest. The graphics are interesting, but the interface is confusing. Not being able to open the post office door until accepting a quest is quite odd. Travel takes forever. Major events that the player can do nothing about run the game.

I'm wondering how it'll sell after the beta ends.

Re:MIddle Earth Online (1)

shoptroll (544006) | about 7 years ago | (#18532671)

After Asheron's Call 2 dive bombed they were working on this and D&D Online. I wasn't impressed by Asheron's Call 2, especially when they put out an expansion to inject some new life into the game and then announced they were shutting it down about 2-3 months after the EPs release. But hey, if they couldn't get people to play after an EP I guess they had good reason to cut bait and run.

I've heard mixed stuff about D&D Online as well. Not sure how well that's doing. Personally, I think they're trying desperately to recreate the success they had with the original Asheron's Call. Trying everything but making an updated clone of it that is.

They are claiming 600K beta/open beta accounts (1)

Shivetya (243324) | about 7 years ago | (#18533321)

Whether this is from pre-sale keys remains to be seen. They will be pushing nearly 1 million MORE keys for open beta which starts Friday. The game releases at the end of April.

As you stated, nothing really catches the interest of most players. Summed up, its the setting without the story. Its got most of the areas expected, the features look right, but the story really isn't there. The NPCs look like zombies with no real animations to speak of. think Night of the Living dead with even less talking :) Combined with instancing needed to enter buidlings, going to some zones from others, and a trait system which is nothing more than a grind, it will probably only appeal in the short term relying on name alone.

It does have some of best landscapes seen in a MMORPG with full reflections and shadows. Character equipment is really amazing at the highest detail levels. The problem is character animations are barely better than the NPCs. AI seems dead even with the acqusition of a product that specifically targets that. Combat was boring, seemed very slow and not-connected. Last time I played they didn't even animate blocks, parries, and dodges, like many other games do.

Right now related forums are stocked full of fanbois as Turbine was quick to boot negative testers during beta. The fanboi brigade is already armed and ready with many posts already waiting the "unwashed masses".

Turbine has yet to prove themselves capable of running a good long term MMORPG outside of AC. AC was unique at its time with selectable skills (no classes), unique mobs, and incredible lore. The last two games since AC2 relied on other people's IP to sell the game. As seen with DDO their execution suffers. It will be interesting too see how tolerant the LOTR fans are of Turbines implementation. They have mages and mana but disquise them by changing the name of the mechanics involved. I believe they turned mana into "morale" or such nonsense. The Loremaster is a mage for all intents and purposes, the have a priest/cleric complete with "mana/morale" based healing in their bard class. There are some melee types to top it off but too much still comes across as "magic" ... So... how will the true LOTR fans react? Outside of awe at seeing some of their favorite areas rendered I doubt it will entirely be favorable.

Hey, try for yourself, its open beta and i am sure keys will be easy to come by

Radagast (3, Funny)

Speare (84249) | about 7 years ago | (#18531953)

I think it makes perfect sense for them to use the Sims AI for a Middle Earth environment, especially around the behaviors of the Istari (wizards). For example, Gandalf can change his raiment whenever he wants to, in remote wilderness and underground situations, without a closet or seamstress in sight. Saruman can gab on and on and on about the same megolomanic topic, blindly ignoring how his friends are all getting annoyed with little red -- signs over their heads. Also, it takes several months for Radagast to walk *anywhere*, even when there's significant time pressure to deliver important news.

Since people aren't going to RTFA... (4, Informative)

cspariah (958194) | about 7 years ago | (#18533023)

...it should probably be clarified here:

The license for the movies and the license for the books are two separate licenses.

In addition, the license for MMOs and the license for non-MMOs are two separate licenses.

So that's four licenses total. Vivendi had the licenses for the books, EA had the non-MMO license for the movies.

Additional detail, based on articles I've read on the topic:

EA has been churning out tons of games based on the movies since Fellowship hit theaters, and in 2005 they got the non-MMO license for the books as well. I'm not sure whether or not EA ever had the MMO license for the movies, but that license is not particularly valuable without the MMO license for the books as well. (You'd only be able to show things depicted in the films, NOTHING else.)

Turbine started developing the LOTRO MMO for Vivendi, this was when it was called Middle-Earth Online. Turbine eventually bought the license from Vivendi and re-branded the game as Lord of the Rings Online, they're self-publishing but Midway and Codemasters are handling distribution.

I imagine that Turbine must have investigated getting the MMO license for the movies as well, but I do not know if that ever happened. My understanding of these things is that if they went with that, they might have to rework all of their art assets to match the films, which would likely be a nightmarish PITA.

So now we've got EA with the non-MMO license for both the movies and the books. Turbine has the MMO license for the books. I have no clue who has the MMO license for the movies, not that it'd be valuable to anyone other than Turbine at this point.

Also please note that this is JUST the Lord of the Rings trilogy I'm talking about here. Silmarillion and The Hobbit are their own messy subjects.

Re:Since people aren't going to RTFA... (1)

SkeptAck (558548) | about 7 years ago | (#18533249)

I think Midway's in it as more than a distributor.

Yahoo Video Games [yahoo.com]

Today, though, the developer announced that it is no longer self-publishing Middle-earth Online, which has since been renamed The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. Instead, Turbine has joined forces with Midway Games, which will now copublish and distribute the fantasy PC title, set for release later this year.
Game Invasion [lockergnome.com]

Turbine, Inc. announced today that Midway Home Entertainment Inc. (a subsidiary of Midway Games Inc. NYSE: MWY) will co-publish (along with Turbine) and distribute The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar in North America.
etc. Either way, your post was very informative. Five thumbs up!

Re:Since people aren't going to RTFA... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18534063)

Turbine also holds the MMO rights for The Hobbit, but not The Silmarillion. They are attempting to build LOTR-Online in a way that doesn't contradict the Silmarillion, but they are not permitted to draw source material from it.

submission quote is incorrect (2, Informative)

Edgewize (262271) | about 7 years ago | (#18536685)

This submission is omitting the fact that The White Council is no longer in production. I'm also not sure where it takes the Sims 2 AI line from, because that is not mentioned in the article at all.

The announcement follows EA's previously announced The Lord of the Rings: The White Council, an open world RPG for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. However, with EA making plans for a new The Lord Of The Rings title, the fate of this project, once referred to as the cryptic Project Gray Company, remains uncertain. EA confirmed in early February that the game, while not canceled, had been put on hold.

If It Follows the Usual EA Trend (1)

Benedick (737361) | about 7 years ago | (#18536881)

I can just see it now: Frodo Street 2008. Improved by modeling each individual toe hair.

LOTR Online is flawed (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 7 years ago | (#18537045)

I had a two-day look at the beta, and it has numerous problems. One is bad aestetics. Too detailed graphics, that fracture and look unreal. With a game trying realistic graphics, that is a major problem. The animations are bad. They break of movement, and generally look like a series of vieo-snippeds played after each other. Very bad. The water is just awful and the waterfalls anbd rapids are a bad joke. MOBs are standing around lifelessly. The whole worls feels kind of empty. All in all the graphics and animations constantly breaks the mood.

The quests system is repetitive, with only occasionally something more interesting. They make the same mistake that WoW initially did, namely letting people travel long ways for some quests, without any real benefit. Many quests are of the grinding type. The questlog is confusing. The scripted sequences in some quast, while a good idea, are too repetitive to work. Instead they end up breaking the mood.

Crafting seems to be badly broken. The system is interesting, but there are far too many ingredients. I don't want to browse through 40 different ingredients to find the 5 I need for a specific reciepe.

All in all a disappointment. Give it another two years and it might be on par with WoW, with regard to immersion and usability. But that is of course not enough. It would need to be better than WoW, and I see no place were it is.

I got the beta for LOTORO (1)

Satanboy (253169) | about 7 years ago | (#18537151)

I'm hoping its better than the horrible fiasco turbine made with D&D online.

if not, I'm gonna have to go back to COH, WOW or EQ2 again. . . :-(

unnecessary (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | about 7 years ago | (#18537745)

I don't know that this is actually a good idea any more

Ok, I understand wanting to make the best out of a license, the lord of the rings has been a very lucrative IP for electronic arts in the past, The Lord of the Rings: The White Council has been in development for quite some time now so they want to get that out the door, and the generally comfort of using proven IP, but really I hope this brings an end to this IP. This is quite literally the 10th(27th if you consider each sku separately) lord of the rings title that EA has put out. I even enjoyed a few of them (bfme was actually pretty good) but at this point they must be reaching the point where the market saturation has exceeded the consumers demands and the law of diminishing returns must be wreaking havoc by now.

Not only that but the hype generated for lord of the rings content spawned by the movies has died out. The people who are gona end up buying these games are the same people who would have bought'n them without the movies, with a slight increase from the people who have become general lord of the rings fans dues to the movies introducing them to a new generation.

It just seems like an unnecessary move now.
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