Developers for Lord of the Rings Gollum Comment on Its Failed Release as Rumors about an AI-Generated Apology Surface

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Image: Daedalic Entertainment

Several developers for Lord of the Rings Gollum have spoken out regarding the disastrous state the game was released in during a new interview. The ex-employees from Daedalic Entertainment were interviewed on the German videogame review and gaming industry news channel Game Two where they revealed the many challenges in getting the troubled project to release and the content that ended up being abandoned for it. Coincidentally, it has now been said that the apology that appeared after the game received so many bad reviews was AI-generated, and posted online by the publisher without the knowledge of the developers. The fallout from the failed launch also led to Daedalic Entertainment closing its development department.

While 2023 has seen many successful videogame releases Lord of the Rings Gollum has managed to be the lowest-rated game of the year across multiple platforms. One of the missing crucial necessities for the game’s development has been said to be a lack of funds. The budget is said to have been $15M Euros (~$15.8M USD) which is surprisingly low for a AAA project, especially one taking on an IP such as LOTR. The developers for Lord of the Rings Gollum have gone on to say that a lack of funds, along with release schedule changes, led to an experienced team being unable to meet the needs for a quality release.

Per Game Two (via VGC):

“There were people working on the game that have been developers for 10,15,20 years, and they’re good, but they can’t do magic because they weren’t given the funds,”

Paul Schulze (Former Daedalic senior developer and technical director)

Content said to have been abandoned included cutscenes that expanded on Gollum’s dilemmas as the character dealt with his ongoing transformation brought on by the one ring. An argument mechanic was left out in which players would’ve had to make a choice, replicating a well-known scene in the films to be good or evil, or more accurately Smeagol or Gollum. The developer said the mechanic was shown in a preview version of the game but then left out leaving a static image of Gollum with some audio dialog and basic text choices for players to pick from. Similarly, the developer stated there had been a cutscene in the works with Gollum eavesdropping on “two major characters” where audio had been recorded but it had never been finished. The changing schedule led to the team just using the audio during a moment of Gollum looking out a window.

“You can’t just throw more money at something like that, hang on for another year and then everything will be fine. That’s unrealistic because the game underneath it doesn’t support it,”

Paul Schulze (Former Daedalic senior developer and technical director)

Other details mentioned in the interview by the team, at 28:08 titled “A False Vision”, is that ideas for what to do soon overcame what could be done with the resources at hand. From learning the difficulties of animating a quadruped vs biped, who happens to be the main character and will need to traverse many different environments, to the risks of adding minigames that diverted focus from the core game, grandiose dreams, and concepts overtook the team. There were many ideas in the game which were never fully realized or simply dropped.

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Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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