Lawsuit Reveals Sierra Plan for Long-Rumored Tolkien Role-Playing Game - Inside

As New Line's cinematic Ring saga nears, the game maker moves on its Middle Earth online gaming scheme. But a dispute with developer lifts the shroud of secrecy. Despite suit, MM3D still wants the job," writes Michael Cieply and Denise Levin for

Here is an excerpt.

A lawsuit filed late Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court confirmed what the gaming community and fans of J. R. R. Tolkien have long suspected: Sierra On-Line, the Washington-based game-maker, has been quietly proceeding with plans for a massive online role-playing game based on the Middle Earth characters -- but only if the price is right, apparently.

Los Angeles game developer MM3D filed suit against Sierra, claiming the company earlier this month breached MM3D's contract to create what it called the "Tolkien Online RPG" by trying to force the developer to accept diminished terms and a 50 percent cut in revenue from the project.

MM3D demanded damages of at least $10 million -- pointing to the presumably enormous scale of the anticipated game. Typical video games cost less than half that amount to develop. But so-called role-playing games like Sony's EverQuest can have development costs as high as $12 million, and may draw 80,000 or more players at one time by way of the Internet.

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