What was the character selection process like for you? What made certain minor characters stand out more than others?
Compton: Yeah, I mean, from the design angle, since obviously I'm really internal with all the design and the design call-outs, we looked initially at what kits we wanted to create for balance across all the classes. But then we also looked at—and knowing just our familiarity with the particular characters—we just, it was so natural to say "Oh my gosh, Ugluk would fit this role perfectly with a particular kind of kit we wanted to design with that particular—knowing, like, we wanted to have this guy fulfill a role. What guy would fulfill it? And then, you know, five or six different characters from the lore pop into your mind and you go okay, of these five let's narrow it down to like maybe be one or two, and then that guy just fit that particular design. So from the design angle we already knew up front that we wanted to fulfill certain roles that players could take on, but with the vast amount of Middle-earth lore that exists we could just pull from across the board.
Tomandl: Yeah, a lot of the team was looking at a particular character from the lore and thinking, you know, thinking "Is it really relevant to what people want? Oh yeah, that guy would totally play that way." Like, Legolas is a great example of you know, everyone knows exactly how Legolas would play in the game, and once you tell them, you know, he's a ranged striker, and he's very much about, like, single target, high damage, and it really makes sense to people intuitively. There were a couple characters from the lore that really didn't jump out that way, and it wasn't sort of as obvious to us what class they had, and we kind of just stayed away from characters that didn't really, you know, kind of speak to the game as well. We tried to just collect characters that really do sort of fit an obvious role in the game that people are going to really recognize.
How much did you delve into Lord of the Rings mythology for aspects like characters' abilities and other details? For example, Gollum has an ability called "my precious."
Tomandl: We definitely tried, like, anywhere that we could evoke kind of the personality of the character in either the name of the ability, or what it looks like, or what it does, we definitely went that route. So yeah, for Gollum's abilities, we tried to sort of name them all after things that happened to him in the books or things that he said. For pretty much all the characters we tried to do that, just because, you know, we think it's fun, and we, you know, we're big fans ourselves. And also it just really kind of ties it back, and again it really kind of reminds the player of how they should think of the character.
So for example with Galadriel, you know, her ring is named Nenya. And so she has an ability called Waters of Nenya…and we wanted to kind of bring it all back together to like, what is it about Galadriel that makes her interesting to play? What is it about her character in the books that you know…people aren't super familiar with, but that will kind of, you know, augment how people already feel about her character. So we know that she's very strong, she's very powerful, she's more of a sort of support character in the books. She doesn't actively necessarily go out and you know, kill Orcs herself. But she, you know, helps other people through her advice and knowledge to be able to do it. So you know, she's much more of a support class in the game, but she's also very helpful, she's very difficult to, you know, to get down, and again, like, all the names of her abilities we tried to really tie them back into kind of her history and what happened to her.