Quest Developer for the Middle Earth Roleplaying Project for Skyrim
@specever: Dunno, but I wanted to at least take a shot at it at the time.
@ElfFriend: MERP can't work in the game industry, at least not in the way we were developing it. Its simply too big and we wanted to try a lot of things not seen in many games: large games for profit need a deadline (something we never wanted to set) and need to look profitable to publishers (aka "nothing risky or innovative" most of the time -_-). Also, MERP is a mod, not a game (an actual game requires A LOT more foundation work).
I can guarantee that WB will never back a project such as MERP. WB lifting the C&D and allowing the project to continue in some form is as good as it can get.
@Recoveryanonymous: What forums are these threads on? I'd probably prefer that it not be posted. I'm worried people will take this information as "fact." "Oh, if MERP gets out of the C&D, then this questline really will be THIS big!"
In all honesty, when MERP was in development, this questline was a LOW priority (compared to Rohan development). This questline would have probably been a post-v1.0 release (the completed Rohan release would have just been v0.1 to give you some perspective). I also imagine it would have been MAJORLY scaled back.
I really just wanted to comment on this because a lot of the comments here about this questline have a lot of information wrong about it.
I suppose the description for it on this ModDb page is quite vague, but I was at least hoping more people were envisioning this sort of questline in an open-world sort of way, and one with choices and consequences. Ah well, can't be too hard on you guys: I cannot tell you how many essay-length posts I had to make to the team for them to understand the concept behind this questline ;)
Basically we were hoping for the best of both worlds: the option to play a linear, heavily-scripted main questline (what occurred in the books) or the option to play a more open-world style of main questline, creating a unique journey to Mt Doom. The fact is, unless we put up invisible walls (where's the fun in that?) or require the player to go to Bree, then Rivendell, etc in order to complete the questline (which makes no sense to me as being a requirement), then we had to consider these things with an open-world Middle Earth, and a lot of ideas snowballed in my head over the years.
Even if MERP gets out of the C&D and goes back into production, would such a massive questline ever be truly finished? I highly doubt it (then again, I've always doubted MERP ever reaching a purely "v1.0", where a single regional release (out of 10) could be the size of an Elder Scrolls game). But it didn't mean I didn't want to try. Sadly, a lot of man hours went into that main questline script that may never see the light of day :(
And no, the player wouldn't be forced to play Frodo (this questline was planned to be more like a "seperate game mode" if you will). I don't remember if its said outright in the books, but its likely he killed some goblins in Moria. And for the "tenth Fellowship member" fans: that idea was debated against the "play as Frodo" idea (Frodo was a shy majority over the other). I was always against tenth Fellowship for several reasons:
1. The Fellowship was planned to be 9 as a counter-theme to the 9 Nazgul
2. It would be an over-glorified escort quest. There is little room for choices to be made.
3. Your character would only be, thematically, a shadow to the characters of the book.
4. You would miss out on the events before Rivendell.
I could go on, but only so many characters allowed in these comments.
So I've seen some people talking about the Fellowship questline. Since I was the head of Quest Writing, I might as well explain what it was going to be like:
For one thing, I don't think we ever talked about the timeline system planned. Basically the idea was that every day you play in-game is a day on the Middle Earth calendar. Certain events in the game, unlike in most RPGs, would be date-based, not always progress-based. The idea was that events would be happening all over Middle Earth, even if you're not there to witness them.
The Ringbearer questline was planned to be a timed questline where you'd have to have it destroyed before the date of the Battle at the Black Gate (or sooner, depending on certain events). It was also planned to be extremely open-ended: you could go about accomplishing this goal in what way you seem fit. You wouldn't HAVE to go to Bree, or Rivendell. If you wanted to, you could take the Gap of Rohan. What if you go to Rivendell without Sam, Merry and/or Pippin (Elrond did have his own suggestion for Fellowship members)? What if you didn't go to Rivendell at all? What if you choose to use the Ring for your own selfish desires (theft, murder, etc)? As you can see, we were playing around with a lot of "what-if" scenarios in our head for this questline, where every small choice would have a huge effect on Middle Earth (like entire battles could hinge on certain choices you'd make). Sure you could play Frodo from the books and his journey (and we wanted to make sure it would keep to the lore), but we also wanted to give the option for the player to create their own kind of Frodo (putting their own shoes into Frodo's feet if you will). Even background choices during character creation.
@Guest: I wouldn't say ALL werewolves are "permanent wolves", since I could believe it was simply a choice by some evil Maiar to take on this form (and if they wanted to, they could've taken on different forms).
I came up with two quest ideas related to werewolves. Its a shame we're under C&D and they won't see the light of day though :( (unless the C&D is lifted)
@Guest: Porting all of our work to a new engine is not a simple solution:
1. Learning a new engine will take a long time.
2. We'd have to find a suitable engine that can support the single Middle Earth heightmap we've created (not many engines looking to support large open-world RPGs). And if we do use copyright names and hope we're not found again ... well, there's no guarantee they wouldn't find us again (and we'd be in bigger trouble for sure).
And many of us on the team don't want to have to work on a Middle Earth mod without the names and languages Tolkien has created. Also, WB probably doesn't look at LOTR RTS mods as a threat since 1. The ones already made are already released, 2. I don't think they want to make LOTR RTSs (RPGs on the other hand ...).
@Mackey18: What everyone needs to understand is that its not this simple. The C&D that was sent is ceasing ALL development (as well as whats already been developed). We would have to have their permission to continue in anyway with the current resources (years in the making). We are currently talking about our next move (negotiations haven't gone well). Trust me, we've been discussing every option; you will probably hear more from the team soon.
@STELIOS155: Its never been an issue of visuals, but of the use of copyright words (Frodo, Middle Earth, etc). At least not that we're aware of.
@Mmarksp: Actually I believe "gnome" was what Tolkien called High (Noldor) Elves in early drafts of his mythology. I could be wrong about that however.
@gjohnson540: Actually, I would argue my computer can run Skyrim better then it can Oblivion (Oblivion never had a great reputation for running well). Also MERP for Skyrim has A LOT more potential then it ever had with Oblivion. Believe me, we discussed it in length long ago before we made the move.
Doesn't matter right now of course, since the C&D letter applies to us whichever game we'd move the mod to.
@plyuto518: That indeed was the reason why at the time (doesn't really matter now though, what with the C&D).
Hate to be a downer, but ...
"To receive a response a petition must reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days."
That petition did not receive 25,000 votes in just 30 days, more like almost half a year.
@Arzka7: That would be breaking the C&D, so no. We are plenty aware the development time being lost, but its kind of useless to think about if the C&D isn't lifted.
@OpC.Davis: I couldn't see them going after the whole team either, no, but some of the MERP team members do live in the U.S. I imagine WB would go after them if they wanted to sue the team. Also that petition is nowhere near 1 million (its only over 20,000); I've probably stated this but I doubt WB will change their mind based off 20,000 online signatures (especially with how aggressive the petition is worded).
I admit I haven't been following the dispute between WB and Tolkien Estate. Please fans, if you learn anything new about the case, do not be afraid to post it.
@deathteam15: Any of our work for MERP that breaks copyright would be breaking the C&D. Sorry but we can't release weapons and armors from MERP.
@Isnbold: From what I understand, they don't own any of our work, all they did was ask us to cease development. And no, we can't release anything, that would be breaking the C&D (or even if it doesn't, I don't think anything good would come of it).
@The_Great_Mungulor: Or that he simply won't. He might not really care, or simply wants to be able to stay on WB's good side (he does work under them). He could just simply agree with WB, or perhaps he never even read the letter, we really don't know.
1. I think Blood in the West mod was released before WB got LOTR/Hobbit game rights, but I could be wrong
2. It seems like major developers generally overlook the Total War and Mount&Blade games. I'm gonna guess they don't see them as a threat because these games are not selling as well as juggernauts like Skyrim (although I think they fail to realize that the modding culture keeps many of these games, like M2TW and the Mount&Blade, alive).
3. I'm pretty sure MERP is far more well known then Blood in the West is (for all we know WB may not have learned of them yet).
4. They probably think that MERP is a threat to them. My guess is not only because Skyrim is a popular game, and because MERP is high-quality, but they might want to get in the RPG market again with LOTR (War in the North is proof enough in my mind). I'm going to guess they aren't as interested in the RTS genre (a genre that only major developers like Blizzard are able to make A LOT of money off).
tl;dr MERP could lose WB money while Blood in the West wouldn't
@DracoDestroy: I think most of the LOTR fanfilms and mods were all created and released BEFORE WB bought the rights to LOTR/The Hobbit movie rights from New Line (or did they buy up New Line?) and game rigts from EA. It seems to me that WB is simply FAR stricter about copyright then New Line/EA ever was. They've sued a pub called"The Hobbit" and they've even sued a guy with a Superman tatoo (they own DC Comics)!
I strongly believe MERP would still be going strong if WB didn't buy the rights to LOTR/The Hobbit films/games. Tolkien fans are simply going to have to be A LOT more careful when creating LOTR and Hobbit fanworks then in the past :(
@Lithuania: I figured they brought them in case of a cavalry charge (we are talking about Rohan here).
Beorning at least had a son called Grimbeorn the Old by the time of the War of the Ring. I suspect that there must have been other Beornings ;)
@Lithuania: Yeah, skin-changing into a bear will most likely be a Beornings racial spell. Partly why I pushed for Beornings to be playable :D
The planned playable races are: Beorning, Dunadan, Dwarf, Gondorian, Hobbit, Man of Eriador, Northman, Rohirrim, Sindarin, and Sylvan
@Lithuania: One thing to note: Unlike TLD, there probably won't be many orcs riding Wargs. In the books, Tolkien mentions "orc wolf-riders", so we'll probably have orcs riding large wolves (and probably only a couple strong orcs riding Wargs). And yes, Uruks should be tough.
Hopefully in MERP, as the timeline moves forward and the War of the Ring progresses, orcs will become more plentiful and stronger.
@TheLastSilmaril: Yes, Beornings are 1 of the 10 planned playable races. Mind you, MERP v0.1 is focused on Rohan, so probably only Rohirrim will be playable in this early release.
@Lithuania: Nope, orcs still have no free will. It still feels silly allowing an Orc player to do as he please (picking daffodils and frolicking in the woods). And btw, the Free Peoples races as playable will be enough work as it is, believe me.
@Miste3aAmbidextrous: Optional download is the plan (but who knows, it when't been developed yet).
@Lithuania: Right now, I think its planned to be an option (but much more limited, where you can only fast travel to places nearby to you). There is planned to be a "Realism submod" which will add hunger/thirst/sleep, no gps map, as well as probably no fast travel at all (but its planned to be be an entirely optional submod for now)
@neronix17: I imagine an interior, but then we need to implement the ability to ride a horse into certain interiors (not something you can do in Skyrim right now).
@MarySvIlle: No, that would be plagiarizing. We mean the general gist of the plot and events from the books (well, at least the War of the Ring period), along with all the known people, places, races, etc. Mind you, that's what we're striving for, we may end up missing an event or two (due to unconsciously not knowing about it as opposed to consciously leaving it out). Hopefully you, our fans, will let us know where we got something wrong/missed something ;)
Whoever said Sam was gonna be homosexual in MERP? He married Rosey Cotton, and Tolkien was trying to represent the friendship between a soldier and his servant as Tolkien experienced when fighting in WWI. Also, considering that Tolkien was a devout Catholic, I don't think it'd be appropriate including homosexual relationships in MERP.