Middle Earth Online Partnership Announced

Revealed in late 2002 by Vivendi Universal, and then submerged till only this March due to corporate restructuring and problems with the game's design, many had thought Middle Earth Online to be a dead or dying project. However, Vivendi and Turbine Entertainment have dispelled this notion today by announcing that they have entered into a joint agreement to develop Middle Earth Online as part of Vivendi Universal's long-term development agreement with Tolkien Enterprises.

Turbine Entertainment is best known for its work on the Asheron's Call series, which ran on engines developed by Turbine. For Middle Earth Online, a next generation version of this engine is planned that will make use of some of the most recent developments in MMORPG design, including all of the standard increases in frame rate and lag reduction. The planned development process for this title will be to roll out successive expansions for the game, which will basically mirror the path of the Fellowship from the Shire to Mordor. In addition, the lands of Lonely Mountain and Mirkwood will also be covered in an aside package for the Hobbit.

For those who have further interest, an official webpage for the game has been put online, which includes: a summary of the backstory for the game; the list of features which will be supported, including playable races; and a number of preliminary screens. Middle Earth Online is currently planned for a 2004 release in North America.

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by Gabriel Putnam    

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