Mae govannen, worthy readers!
This is the first instalment of TLA's forthcoming Developer Diaries - where members of our team will have the opportunity to talk about their work within the project. These diaries are aimed at those within the WFG's community wanting to have a peek at TLA's ongoing production cycle. The honour of writing this first Developer Diary is now mine - in my role as Project Co-Leader and Head of the Game Design Department.
It has been some time since our initial announcement of 'Nern Ennorath' (Tales of Middle-earth) and I believe there are still many misconceptions of what this is all about.
One of the first Story Campaigns we are currently working on is called 'The Return of the Noldor' (production title). This campaign is focused on the events taking place during the very first days of the First Age of the Sun, as the hosts of the Noldor set foot again on Middle-earth in pursuit of Morgoth Bauglir, in their attempt to retrieve the stolen Silmarils.
We will portray this and other parts of Tolkien's myth as a series of animated cut-scenes, using the game's engine, and individual missions. Also, according to the devised game's internal structure, the outcome of previous missions will influence future ones - be it the amount of surviving units, accomplished goals or other game play-relevant objectives.
I will now go into details about 'The Return of the Noldor'. The instalment opens with an in-game cinematics where we witness the landing of the Noldor at the Firth of Drengist, followed by the Burning of Ships at Losgar and the demise of Ambarto (aka Amrod), FŽanor's son.
The first mission will then pick up the story right after the Hosts of FŽanor begin their inland march towards Hithlum. The noise from the landing and the flames' blaze has attracted the attention of Morgoth's scouts - and so you, the player, will have to march your columns further inland and evade, or quietly dispatch, any opposition.
In your second mission, you will reach the shores of Lake Mithrim and have to make camp at a secure location, while still evading or destroying any roving forces of Morgoth before they can raise the alarm.
The second cinematics now shows Orc armies crossing the passes of Ered Wethrin and marching towards the not yet fully made camp of the Noldor by the northern bank of Lake Mithrim.
Mission #3 will then feature the first part of the Dagor-nuin-Giliath (The Battle under the Stars - this being the second Battle of Beleriand). Here, your mission will be to defend the camp, fighting back the Orcs within a set time-limit, and pursuing the fleeing attackers.
Your fourth mission will feature the ambush set by Celegorm for the southern Orc forces at Eithel Sirion. The Orcs return from their successful siege to the Falathrim havens of Eglarest and Brithombar. You will take command of Celegorm and his troops as you set the ambush.
The fifth, and final mission, will feature FŽanor's ill-fated pursuit of the remnants of the Orc armies - as they flee across Ard-galen towards Angband itself - when he suddenly finds himself surrounded by fresh forces pouring off Angband and led by Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs.
The final cinematics will portray Gothmog striking down FŽanor and his last-minute rescue by his sons. As they carry their mortally wounded father on a litter back to their camp, FŽanor beckons them to stop at the pass of Ered Withrin and there, looking back upon Angband and Thangorodrim, he lays the burden of reclaiming the Silmaril on his sons and dies. His body is consumed with flames, turns to ashes and vanishes.
This is a rough overview on how we are going to depict Tolkien's tales and translate them into the electronic media. We will provide players with certain liberties, but in the end, the outcome will be the same as in the books.
Some key features that are currently planned:
- Units will carry over their accumulated experience into their following missions, meaning if a unit falls, it will not be available in future ones. This also holds true for hero-characters e.g. the Sons of FŽanor.
- Pre-deployed units - this means players need not (or cannot) build up their forces; they will be able to send their units into action straight away. This also increases the immersion of players in the Story Campaign, since an early failure may cost them dearly in a later mission.
- Scripted events will drive the plot forwards. Short in-game cinematics will portray important developments as being told in Professor Tolkien's works.
- Dynamic mission objectives will pop up from time to time, giving players an additional motivation boost or turning their original objectives upside down. Fulfilling bonus objectives will earn them prestige points that will unlock additional features.
Edited by Enarwaen, 03 March 2006 - 08:30 AM.