Last week EA, during a press event held in the US, announced new Lord of the Rings RPG The White Council. We were present at the jamboree and managed to pin down the game's exec producer Steve Gray and question him about the title. During a lengthy chat that found him spilling plenty of details, it emerged that - although EA's official announcement on the RPG stated that it's in development for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC - a PC version of The White Council remains in question. Still, it's looking likely with Gray noting that a PC version of The White Council is "something you would imagine we would do".
Read on to discover what else the exec producer had to say about the game he compares to the mighty Oblivion...
Interview conducted by Martin Korda.
What is The White Council?
Steve Gray: The White Council is a group of wizards and elves formed from Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, Círdan, Gandalf, Saruman and Radagast. They're the guiders of Middle-earth and are there to make sure that evil doesn't triumph.
What other RPGs would you compare the game to?
Steve Gray: If I had to compare it to something it'd be Oblivion. We have a combination of an open world where you can go off and explore anything and engage in a lot of activities, but we also have a very strong central story arc that has a series of quests associated with it, which you can choose to follow. We also have professions that have their own quests associated with them, which have their own quests that branch off the central story. We're really hoping that the world itself is so interesting that people will use the story as a springboard to go off and create their own adventures.
How much freedom have you been given with the game's plot?
Steve Gray: In terms of creating the actual story for the game, we've had a lot of freedom. We have the rights to create derivative fiction from both the books and the films and that's given us a lot of freedom to create new characters and stories. However, it always has to make sense within the confines of Tolkien's world. We're all huge Tolkien fans, so our danger meters go off very quickly if we think we've come up with something that doesn't make sense within Tolkien's fiction.
Can you give us any details about the plot?
Steve Gray: I'd rather not give away too much, but what I can tell you is that the basic idea is that you want to become a sufficiently powerful character to become an agent of the White Council. There's evil in the world that needs to be destroyed and they send you off to do it.
What races and professions will you be able to play as?
Steve Gray: The four good races, human, hobbit, elves and dwarves. Professions won't be race specific. However, each profession relative to each race will be different. There'll be a melee fighter profession, a wizard profession and a hunter profession. There are some archetypes within the RPG genre that you'd expect to see and we've added a whole lot more to the list, too.
There was a dragon in the trailer you showed us. Is this Smaug from The Hobbit?
Steve Gray: We're specifically not basing anything on The Hobbit. The dragon you saw wasn't Smaug. There were plenty of other dragons in Tolkien's fiction.
What will make this game stand out from other RPGs?
Steve Gray: I think The White Council will have a lot of things that will stand out from the crowd. One of them is that all of our NPCs are Sims. They're not just current-gen Sims that you've seen in the past Sims games, they're built from the technology of the next generation of Sims games. I don't think there's anyone out there that can compete with what Maxis has developed over many, many years.