Lord of the Rings: Rise to War

Join the iconic characters of Middle-earth into their epic battles

My second project came to be another IP related game, this time was the Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings: Rise to War is a mobile strategy game developed by NetEase Games in partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game is set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic Middle-earth and allows players to command armies, build kingdoms, and engage in epic battles against the forces of darkness.

Players can choose to ally with one of four factions from Middle-earth, including the forces of Men, Elves, Dwarves, or Orcs. Each faction has its unique strengths, weaknesses, and units, and players must strategically deploy their forces to overcome enemy armies and capture territory.

This time part of my job was to collaborate directly with UI artists, due the level of details and overpaint that the interface needed. The full UX was going to be discussed between me and the game designers, and after the approval I would have worked directly together with the artists to provide different aesthetic variations of the proposals. The amount of iterations was really high due the involvement of the IP owners on providing the feedbacks to be sure that we were following the right copyrights.

Ensuring Consistency with the Franchise: Rise to War had to remain consistent with the Lord of the Rings franchise in terms of both visual design and narrative. This meant that the game needed to be faithful to Tolkien’s world while still offering a unique and engaging experience.

One interesting element was the strategic management of the landscape, which I took inspiration from a mixture of city builder games.

Playing with the camera ensured the player to have a dynamic sense of how the game was going to scale the more you expanded your territory, trying to avoid that sense of emptiness at the beginning.

The Lord of the Rings first trilogy is a masterpiece of film-making. Its enduring legacy continues to inspire new generations of storytellers and creatives across all mediums, including the world of gaming.

Working for such a strong IP was not easy, there were a set of rules that were meant to be followed, and in our case we were following the first trilogy of movies.

I personally remember the moment where I was rewatching the movies on a daily basis, browsing the forums in search for visual elements lore related that I could use for the game.

Working with established IPs requires striking a balance between honoring the original source material while also bringing something new and fresh to the table.

Big part of my work was experimenting on how to bring immersion inside the features, for example here you can see how I was experimenting summoning using the Flame of Andor, or how I was building a skill tree around the ideas of the Moria’s gate or Bilbo’s calligraphy.

Waiting years for a game to be released can be a frustrating experience, but it also speaks to the level of anticipation and excitement that fans have for the project.

In the end, the game took its time to be released. Most of the features that I worked on remained the same, which is a thing that I take my pride on, while other visual elements got reiterated because of the changes of features.