RUMOR: Massive Hobbit Expansion Planned For LOTRO?

Is Turbine working on a Hobbit expansion for Lord of the Rings Online? That’s the gist of a rumor casually tweeted earlier today by prolific video gaming industry sleuth Supererogatory. And if true, we’re feverishly going there and back again in anticipation.

You might know Supererogatory from their Twitter feed Superannuation, a gold mine of information for people looking to the future of gaming. Supererogatory digs through resumes, CVs and other publicly posted collections of seemingly innocuous data for clues on upcoming games, and who is making them. (S/He used to run a tumblr, also called Superannuation, but eventually shut it down as the gaming industry became much, much better at keeping information they didn’t want public under wraps.) Their information has always been extremely accurate, which is why we take notice whenever they post something that has potentially earth shattering importance.

Today, that potential earth-shattering comes from some tweets about a rumored The Hobbit game. Supererogatory noted “Unsuccessfully tried to ascertain the developer of The Hobbit game yesterday. Although rumors point to either TT Games or WB Games Seattle.” Interesting, especially that the rumor appears to be for a ‘reverent, traditional’ Hobbit game. But then Supererogatory added “And a rumor of a Hobbit expansion/massive content update for Turbine’s LOTRO.” Whut?

Take this one with a giant grain of salt. Supererogatory provided no links or evidence to back this assertion up of any kind; for all we know, they’re just making it up, or have perhaps been fed misinformation. We contacted Turbine to see if they would clarify things, and they said that they “Can’t comment on rumors.” That’s not really surprising. However, if this is true, it’s huge news for LOTRO players and maybe reason enough for those of us not yet playing to hurry up and start. But what the hell could it be? Let’s speculate!

* This obviously means we’re possibly looking at two simultaneously existing Hobbit games from different studios. This isn’t an impossibility given how the rights to that franchise are licensed (both Turbine and Warner Bros. Interactive have extant LOTR games at the moment.)

* Let’s assume that the rumored “reverent, traditional” would be, as Supererogatory hints, from Warner. I’m willing to bet, particularly given Warner’s history, that it’s tied to Peter Jackson’s upcoming 2-part Hobbit film series. Expect the stars of the film, or at least voice actors who can pull off an uncanny approximation, to appear.

* So what about a Hobbit expansion to LOTRO? That MMO is set during the events of the novel, the current timeline being near the beginning of The Two Towers. Obviously an expansion based around the novel The Hobbit is out. But the main characters are two Hobbits, and the last section of Return of the King includes the most Hobbit-centric moments in the entire series. I’m referring to the Scouring of the Shire, in which a battle-hardened Frodo, Samwise, Pippen and Merry return to the Shire to find Saruman in charge and lording it over their countrymen. They lead a rebellion and restore things to some semblance of good.

Given when this takes place, I can’t imagine it being the basis for the expansion (at least until LOTRO’s timeline reaches that point). But the process by which Saruman takes over the Shire could theoretically be set at any time after he’s kicked out of the White Council. More importantly, Saruman doesn’t actually do the taking over, he merely takes command from his agents, a group of corrupted men and Hobbits who did the hard part for him at some unspecified time in the story. This could easily happen in the current timeline. Giving players the chance to experience the taking over of the shire, perhaps even take part in the attempt to repel Saruman’s agents, could prove a great way to tell an aspect of the series never shown in any adaptation.

So have at it GameFronters. What Hobbit-based goodness would you like to see in LOTRO?

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