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STB | - Interview with Sam Roads about The One Ring Facebook Game

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Domingo, 08 Janeiro 2012 20:00

Interview with Sam Roads about The One Ring Facebook Game

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While I normally don't talk about games or online Lord of the Rings slot games at this website, I decided to make an exception. For some time now I see many people on Facebook play the game called The One Ring™, which is clearly made by Tolkien fans. So I decided to write to the makers and did an interview with Sam Roads, the creative director at MGames.

The One Ring™ is an open-ended game of combat and exploration on Facebook, based on The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien, created under license from Middle-earth Enterprises.

MGames have recreated the fantasy and the world of J.R.R. Tolkien for the internet generation, with elegant visuals framing a compelling narrative. Players complete Quests, explore the world of Middle-earth, choose from hundreds of Items and Holdings to buy, and partake in epic battles against other players.

Hope the following interview gives some extra info about this Facebook game for Tolkien fans. Hope to see you there! Make sure to become my friend on facebook and maybe one day we can join forces and fight the army of Isengard together!

Interview with Same Roads about The One Ring

TL. For some time now I see people play The One Ring on Facebook. But is around for some time now. Can you tell us in a few words what this game is all about?SR. It's a game of exploration and mythic combat. You become a character within the story of Lord of the Rings, adventuring with Frodo, Aragorn and Gandalf, pursuing the story of the books. You join in the fights against the Ring-wraiths, share the burden of The One Ring and explore the rich world of Middle-earth. You also get to hang out with other players, either testing yourself in sparring matches, or teaming up to take on one of the big 'bosses' from the story, like the Watcher in the Water, or the Balrog of Moria.

TL. Can you tell some more about yourself? 

SR. I'm trained as a composer of classical music, but I've been a game developer for twenty years. In that time I've set up four businesses and won the Game Manufacturers Association "Origins" Award twice (which is the closest thing in non-electronic gaming to the Oscars).

I've done all this with Clint Oldridge, who is Chairman of Microcosm Games, and we're also joined by Mark Jeffries as Technical Director. All three of us met at University back in the early nineties! TL. If I'm correct you are also behind a mail based Lord of the Rings game? What is this all about?

SR. Ooh. That's for hardcore gamers! Games take months and each turn requires hours of planning. We love it to bits and it's how we first developed a relationship with the Tolkien license. You do your turns offline and send them to a server by email, so the turns are much much slower than they are in The One Ring - but that's the advantage of Facebook!

TL. You hold a licence by Tolkien Enterprises, which is rather good news for Tolkien fans. But what does that really mean?

SR. It means that we're allowed to use the world of Middle-earth and tell the story of the books. The lovely folks from TE vet everything we do, and occasionally tell us to capitalise a word here, or change a name there. I think we've got a brilliant relationship with them and they really seem keen to make sure that Tolkien fans get what they want from games. TL. Since you build the The One Ring game, can we conclude you are a Tolkien fan?

SR. My Dad read me The Hobbit instead of Enid Blyton books when I was tiny. I had a map of Middle-earth on my bedroom wall. So the answer is a definite yes!

TL. How many players are inside the game and do you have some of your fabulous stats to share?

SR. We have 20,000 players and the number is growing as we market to Tolkien fans on Facebook. Sunday is the most popular day for playing the game, which is good, as we don't want to distract you all from work during the week!

TL. Once in a while you release an update and add extra's to the game. It seems to me a lot of time is spend to create these updates. Also the quests do follow the books, sometimes even passages from appendices or later works... can you tell a little about how much research you are doing?SR. Our Lead Writer is John Davis, who is a complete authority on Tolkien's works. He researches everything. And I mean everything! There are notes, calendars, lists, post-it notes, spreadsheets and all manner of details that he works from. We almost never quote anything from Tolkien, but his writing is so amazing that you feel as if you are reading Tolkien. Best of all, he's very humble about his skills and gives all the credit to Tolkien himself!

TL. In general it seems to me you are using the books as a resource, what about the movies?

SR. Our license is for the books, not the movies. And that's fine with us - we don't think Glorfindel deserved to get turned into Arwen, and we never toss Dwarves.

TL. One of the nice things in the game is the designs and art that are being used. Who is the artist?

SR. There are about ten, and my hard-worked Lead Multimedia Dev Ryan Davies makes composites from the source materials. 

TL. What are your future plans for the game? 

SR. We're expecting to get the go-ahead from the Tolkien people today about our amazing new development. I can't tell you about it until that gets green-lit, but it will appeal to those LOTR fans who like things a bit darker. 

But I can tell you all about Crafting! We introduced the first recipe over the New Year, and the next expansion is going to be chock-full of new stuff to make. We're very excited.

TL. The tale now starts in the Shire... I guess the ultimate goal is to destroy the ring. Until what episode can you currently play? When will the first players reach Mount Doom?

SR. Currently you can break the siege of Minas Tirith and then get into the Untold War of the Ring, where we explore some of the events that Tolkien details happening in Mirkwood at the same time as the more famous events in LOTR.

I'd guess the first player will reach Mount Doom in late Spring. 

TL. Will you proceed and bring the game to other platforms, for example will be soon be able to download it as an app in the apple store so people can play the game on their iPad?

SR. No sir. We have no plans to do that. Facebook is an excellent platform and we're an agile development studio, suited to the constant change which is Facebook. 

TL. One final question, what do you think about the upcoming The Hobbit movies?

Jaw-dropping. And how nice that Ian Holm is in it. As I grew up on the BBC Radio adaptation, he will always be the voice of Frodo Baggins! :)

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