It has become clear that The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was developed with an engine from a completely different game: an untitled Tiger Woods title.
This is thanks to Wired and Glen Schofield, who participated in a recent interview where the CEO of Striking Distance Studios answered questions from Twitter. In response to the question “why don’t startup studios just make their own game engine?”, Schofield states that his teams have made engines before, but it’s a lot of hard work.
“They take years and years, especially today,” prompts Schofield to talk about his time with EA. “When I came to EA, they had a lot of different engines. We started building one for Lord of the Rings.”
Two years away from launch, Schofield says the team “looked around” and “got creative”. He explains: “The Lord of the Rings is about large areas, and then a castle or fortress at the end. What is that? Tiger forest.”
“Long stretches, and at the end it’s where you go and get food, and you’re done,” Schofield explains. And that’s how two starkly contrasting games that most of us would probably never connect ended up being built from the same engine.
This is true, and then that code circled back to Tiger Woods. I remember the code for the VFX in Tiger Woods PSP was from LOTR (had references to Gandalf etc). All this for little bits of smoke when you hit a golf ball! 🙂 https://t.co/odmTylBVUC
— Nick F ☁️🎮 @email@example.com (@ForensicGunk) 5 December 2022
After the information made the rounds on Twitter, co-developer Nick Ferguson followed up on the information with more details. It turns out that the Lord of the Rings code has also circled back to Tiger Woods. “I remember the code for the VFX in Tiger Woods PSP was from LOTR. All this for little puffs of smoke when you hit a golf ball!” And it turns out that the Tiger Woods code, of course, resulted in being overrun with LOTR references.
These are pretty obscure, if neat, crossovers in development. The Callisto Protocol may have launched to some pretty unsavory reviews, but it’s nice to hear the game developers talk in depth about their work and how it all fits together. I highly recommend the entire Wired video if that’s interesting to you too!