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The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was developed using Tiger Woods engine

Tiger Woods engine later had Gandalf references in the code.

It’s become apparent that The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was developed using an engine from a starkly different game: an unnamed Tiger Woods title.

Watch on YouTube
Catch the video for yourself here, and skip to 30s for the LOTR meets Tiger Woods discussion.

This is with thanks to Wired and Glen Schofield, who took part in a recent interview where the Striking Distance Studios’ CEO responded to questions from Twitter. In response to the question, “why don’t startup studios just make their own game engine?”, Schofield states that his teams have made engines before, but it’s a lot of hard work.

“They take years and years, especially nowadays,” which prompts Schofield to talk about his time with EA. “When I got to EA, they had a lot of different engines. We were starting to build one for Lord of the Rings.”

Two years away from launch, Schofield says that the team “looked around” and “got creative”. He explains, “Lord of the Rings is about large areas, and then a castle or fortress at the end. What’s like that? Tiger Woods.”

“Long areas, and at the end is where you go get food, and you’re done,” Schofield explains. And that’s how two plainly contrasting games that most of us would likely never pair together ended up being built from the same engine.

After the slither of information did the rounds on Twitter, fellow developer Nick Ferguson followed up on the information with more detail. It turns out that the code for Lord of the Rings has also circled back into Tiger Woods. “I remember the code for VFX in Tiger Woods PSP was from LOTR. All that for little wisps of smoke when hitting a golf ball!” And it just so turns out that, of course, Tiger Woods code then resulted in being littered with LOTR references.

This is quite the obscure, albeit neat, crossover in development. The Callisto Protocol might’ve launched to some rather unsavoury reviews, but it is pleasant to hear game developer’s talk in-depth about their work and how it comes together. I highly recommend the entirety of the Wired video if that’s interesting to you too!

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Kelsey Raynor avatar

Kelsey Raynor

Guides Writer

Kelsey's (she/they) passion for gaming began with Resident Evil, and it's been rather difficult to get them to shut up about horror games since. When they're not scoping out new scares or commiserating the cancellation of Silent Hills, they can often be found fawning over cute Pokémon and Kirby, or being very average at FPS games. They've been in games media for 3 years.