The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II Q&A - Enter Tom Bombadil
EA's Mical Pedriana tells us about Tom Bombadil, one of the most popular characters that wasn't in Peter Jackson's movies, but who will be in the real-time strategy sequel.
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After successfully translating Peter Jackson's phenomenally successful Lord of the Rings movies into a real-time strategy game last year with The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth, EA is now working on a sequel that will feature material from both the movies and the rest of J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional works. The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II will introduce many characters and locations that we didn't see in the movie--but that fans of the books want to see. For example, the elves and dwarves will appear in force in this game, as well as popular characters. EA just let the cat out of the bag on one of the biggest of the new characters: Tom Bombadil. To learn more, we caught up with EA's Mical Pedriana, who is responsible for the story and fictional aspects in The Battle for Middle-earth II.
GameSpot: Could you give us a brief description of Tom Bombadil, for those readers who are fans of The Lord of the Rings movies but who have never read the books? After all, he was one of the notable characters that director Peter Jackson ended up not using, much to the fan community's regret.
Mical Pedriana: Tom Bombadil is one of the most mysterious characters in the Tolkien universe. In fact, it's not at all clear what sort of being he is--not a man, dwarf, or a hobbit. It seems that this mystery was deliberately created, as Tolkien himself said, "And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)."
He stands out, because on the surface he appears to be a simple, jolly fellow who sings all day in his cottage in the forest. But in reality, he's an extremely powerful and ancient entity who does not fear anything. When he rescued the hobbits from the barrow wight, he simply sang a song to banish it. Even the One Ring appeared to have little or no effect on him.
Whatever his origin, Tolkien's work paints Tom as an ancient, mysterious, and incredibly powerful yet whimsical character living in the valley of the Withywindle, east of the Shire, with his wife Goldberry, the "river daughter."
GS: We understand that Tom is some kind of superunit that the good factions can summon. If you know Tom as just the character who sings a lot of songs, what can he do for you in the game?
MP: Tom's role in the books is the hero who shows up when the hobbits are in trouble and casts out whatever danger they are in, all the while singing and being merry. He plays the same role in our game. Once you summon him, he can pretty much destroy everything in his path, and he sings and dances along the way.
GS: Can we expect to see any other notable characters that weren't seen in the movies or in the original Battle for Middle-earth?
MP: Some other characters that we are using that are from the books include Glorfindel, Gloin, King Dain, King Thranduil, the Dunedain rangers, and barrow wights.
GS: What about exotic new locales? After all, the first game had scenery reminiscent of that of the movies, but do you have entirely new locales for the sequel that you can talk about?
MP: Some locations that are exclusively specific to the books are Dol Guldur, Mount Erebor, Dale, Withered Heath, Ettenmoors, and Mirkwood.
GS: We understand that Battle for Middle-earth II focuses more on bigger battles, particularly those featuring the elves and dwarves. What's the reasoning for this for fans who haven't read the books?
MP: The elves and dwarves seemed to be the obvious choices for us, since, fictionally speaking, they have long historical significance in Middle-earth. Their genealogies, languages, and geography are thoroughly documented in Tolkien's writings. The fact that they inherently have a certain lack of trust for each other makes them even more interesting.
GS: Battle for Middle-earth II will combine the movie license with the book license, letting you show us parts of Middle-earth that never made it to the movie screen. So was Tom Bombadil a given for the new game once you got the book license?
MP: Fortunately for us, Tom is described in fairly exacting detail by Tolkien. The character says of himself, "Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow. Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow."
The fiction also notes that he is an old man with bright blue eyes and a brown beard, taller than a hobbit but shorter than a man. Beyond his blue jacket and yellow boots, he wears a weather-beaten old hat topped with a feather.
Our interpretation of Tom in Battle for Middle-earth II is intentionally very faithful to this description.
GS: Since we never saw him onscreen, how do you go about creating what he'll look and sound like in the game? Does Tolkien Enterprises, the holder of the Tolkien license, or anyone else have to sign off on his appearance?
MP: We worked directly from Tolkien's fiction to develop the look of our game's version of Tom Bombadil. As with all of Battle for Middle-earth's creative direction, we work with both Tolkien Enterprises and New Line Cinema to be true to the spirit of that fiction.
GS: Thank you, Mical.
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