Considering how popular the Middle Earth IP is, it is no surprise that there have been multiple stabs at creating a Lord of the Rings MMO over the years — including PLATO’s Moria, the aborted Middle-Earth Online, our beloved LOTRO, and Amazon’s upcoming Second Age title. But what you might not have known is that EA had another such MMORPG in the works in the mid-2000s, one that was sadly denied to us.The Lord of the Rings: The White Council. TheGamer posted an interview with White Council Executive Producer Steve Gray, who claims that this was poised to be the best Lord of the Rings game ever, thanks to the help of Christopher Tolkien and the use of The Silmarillion as source text. It even reportedly used The Sims games to help create the demo!
Unfortunately, EA purportedly decided to shut down the project in 2006 after spending gobs of money on creating The Godfather, and Warner Brothers picked up the license soon thereafter.
“The White Council was a really ambitious open-world Lord of the Rings MMORPG,” Gray maintains. “It was really about exploring the world of Middle Earth around the time of the movies – though we had also considered having servers that were set back in earlier times, drawing on the mythology in The Silmarillion. It was crazy big and complicated.”
Creative Director Chris Tremmel says that The White Council was in development for two years and had a couple of demos that modeled a full ecosystem. “We were developing a hero-crafting system that allowed you to craft a hero with a customized background in Middle-earth, which would affect the way the world reacted to your character. We had weapon crafting, spell crafting, even quest crafting,” he said.
Tremmel hopes that developers won’t stop trying to make ambitious games set in this universe: “Personally, I loved Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online. It was one of the first games in a long time that dealt solely with the book license that I truly enjoyed. That being said, I do believe that the definitive Lord of the Rings game has still yet to be made.”