Making video games is very difficult. It can take years of work to ship even a small game. One aspect that can take a lot of time and resources is building a custom engine. Therefore, many developers use Unreal, Unity or another pre-existing engine to speed up development. That’s quite common, but recently a very wild example from the PlayStation 2 days came to light in an interview with Glen Schofield, director of the new The Callisto Protocol.
Recently the Callisto protocol was released to mixed reviews, shall we say (our own Ashley Bardhan liked how ambitious it was, despite some irritating difficulty spikes). Anyway, to get publicity for the new horror game, director Glen Schofield went around doing interviews and stuff. And two weeks ago he did a video with Wired in which he answered random tweets about game development. There he revealed a fun bit of trivia about a popular one Lord of the Rings game he worked on at EA.
In the Wired videoSchofield (who previously worked on Empty space and Duty) answers a question why developers stop making their own engines and instead use pre-existing technology. The director explains that it’s just too damn expensive and time consuming to do this today, and that it’s almost always better to take an old engine and repurpose it, like he did at EA.
You see, when he was a producer in 2003, he licensed beat ’em up The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, his team spent a year working on a new engine for the game. But things were slow and the game had a tough deadline to meet. So he looked around at the various other engines EA was using for its games at the time to find technology they could reuse. And oddly enough, he came to the conclusion that the latter Tiger Woods golf game had the perfect engine.
“Lord of the Rings is about big areas and then kind of a castle at the end or something like that, a fortress. What is such a thing? Tiger Woods!” explained Schofield: “Long areas, and at the end is where you go to get food, where you finish. And so we took the Tiger Woods engine and turned that into a Lord of the Rings engine.”
This is funny and interesting enough in itself. But a final part came to light on Twitter earlier today. It turns out, according to a former EA developerthat some changed Lord of the Rings visual effects code was later reused on a PSP Tiger Woods game to create clouds of smoke while hitting the ball.
Apparently the code of the PSP Tiger Woods game also contains references to Gandalf and others LotR characters too. As always, game development is messy and endlessly fascinating.