A Game to End All Games
The Middle-Earth Platform Game of My Dreams and Why It Must Be Made
My idea for the new game stems from my previous article about the need for a massive open world Middle-Earth consul game. This article will express at length my vision for said game and what aspects from other similar successful games in this genre should be included in the build. If you haven't read my article that's fine. The general concept of the game would be open world combined with RTS.
You, as the player, would have a choice in starting point. You could choose from a handful of "Good Forces" and "Evil Forces." The starting points for each I will detail later in this article.
As far as the time period, I think that the game should be either based in the First Age or the late Second Age. The upside of the First Age would be the amount of possible factions and the ability to allow for user-defined/created factions since the world of the age isn't as defined as the Second or Third Ages.
Regardless of the time period, the game would have two potential starting points. For example's sake, let's go with the late Second Age scenario. If you chose the "Free People's" storyline, the game would start you off on one of the nine ships sailing away from the wreckage of the Númenor with the remnants of the Faithful. (I will get to the evil factions in a few paragraphs). You at this point select your character type. Either Man, Elf, or Dwarf (all races having a female option). The races not Númenorean would have storylines saying that you were ambassadors or traders who had lived on Númenor in order to explain you being on the ship. Once you chose your race, you would then be brought to a world map (similar in style to Fallout or Assassin's Creed) and be able to select one port city to sail to from a listing of eight options.
These would include Mithlond and Pelagir. The other cities could be based off of LotR Online locations or those found in the mod Third Age Total War (Divide and Conquer). You would land in the port of your choosing. In the case of a Númenorean character: a former Númenorean colony city. Within the city, you would find all the traditional aspects of a modern day open world game. But the difference would be the customization of your armour, clothes, and house. Each piece would be able to be designed based on preselected templates but once you choose one you could manipulate the shape, color, and size when at the armory. This is overly detailed, but would be a nice touch and something most console open world games don't offer.
After you landed in port, you could opt to explore or carry on with the storyline. The storyline going something along the lines of you rebuilding the city in case of an orchestra attack or going off to try and find iconic sites like Edoras, Rivendell, Moria, Can Dum or the Black Gates. These sites would be familiar to all the casual fans. From there on out the map could be added on to and updated with more sites and even new towns could be founded by players who meet online in areas that not near a major town or city. These locations would be limited locations on the map and dependant on your race. But frequent enough so they would add something to the world at large but not enough to take away from the traditional landscape.
Imagine it; you are walking through the wastes of the north or lost in the woods of the Vale of Anduin and you come across a perfect location to build a house along the banks of a little-known river or stream. You and your friends come back and set up a defensive wall and more structures within. And before you know it, your town is growing and players from all over are flooding in to join. You could create your own unique banners and armour.
But that's enough about the good guys. The forces of evil in lots games of this genre usually get brush-stroked and made to vanilla. The start of the game for forces of evil could take place similar to the good Númenorean's, with your ship sailing for Umbar or the lands to the South as a Black Númenorean character. For those wanting to be orcs, I think there should be individual orc factions. One template for the Orcs of the Misty Mountains, Orcs of Mordor, Isengard, and Gundabad. Each faction would have multiple skins or character layouts unique to their faction. As the player, you could also play as the Haradrim, Khand, and Rhunic people. Again you could select a city to start from within each of these individual factions. Imagine being an orc in the heart of Mordor watching the constant eruptions of Mount Doom. Or the mines of Moria exploring its depths with your orc brethren. Or on the open plains of the east, riding the Rhunic steppes, raiding towns with a group of other players. Which brings me to the fighting gameplay (battle size and scale).
The thing about a lot of open world games is that they lack large battles. Not this game. My game would have battles of 2,000 people in selected zones like the Dead Marsh area, Erebor, Angmar, Minas Tirith, Black Gate, and the Hornburg. Other sites like cities would have around 1000-2000, depending on the size of the location. Otherwise, if you were outside these zones battles would be more in line with skirmishes (under 500 in total size). To accomplish this, I would have servers specifically designed for battles which would act the same way Battlefront and Battlefield games operate. If you didn't wish to participate you could continue to walk through the area but your character could still be attacked. Or maybe you would be transported to a separate server.
The amount of servers for the game would be on a level never seen before in the gaming world. I'm thinking who buildings the size of 20 warehouses stacked on each other (these numbers would double after launch). But a world as big as Tolkien's demands something on this scale. Anything short of this would be an injustice. Again the idea in having an abundance of servers is to prevent lag for the massive world in which we all would be immersed in and also to accommodate the huge number of online players.
Lastly, in order to produce such a game, I would enlist the experience of gaming engineer giants from the most popular games and especially the modders from games like Fallout, Far Cry, Battlefront, Battlefield and of course, the Elder Scrolls franchises. These modders have been invaluable in furthering the dynamism of the games I mentioned and could be vital assets in the production of such an innovative project.
You might wonder why I would want to rely on modders instead of seasoned game designers. It's not that I wish to rely on one over the other but rather blend the two together. The game designers have the experience and polish I would need in order to make sure the game itself is functional and the ability to correct malfunctions quickly (at least that's the theory. I'm sure some modders might be able to) but what the modders would bring is that fanatical love for the universe and desire to perfect the environment of the game. I say that only because of how in depth some of the mods created have been in recent years. I think to not utilize the LotR community is dumb and moronic when making a game tailored to this community. Without them, titles like Star Wars Battlefront and Fallout would have faltered after the first game. The game is the backbone of a company's success. That's why if any developer reads this, listen to that and take it to heart. So here's to continuing to dream that this vision can one day become a reality. It may be a fool's chance, but at least it's still a chance. Hope you enjoyed my long-winded rant. And who knows maybe I'll see you soon on the battlefield that is Middle-Earth!