Gamers still holding out for a massive multiplayer version of The Lord of the Rings had fresh hope earlier this month as rumors swept the community that gaming nexus WON.net would take up the project once parent company Havas International merges that site with the just-purchased Prize Central Networks Inc. An earlier version of the eagerly anticipated game was put on indefinite hiatus after the orc-style massacre of the entire development staff by Sierra Online last September; Havas is Sierra's parent company. It is not believed that any of the Bellevue-based staff working on the ill-fated Middle Earth Online would be involved with the new version of the game.
The rumors, unconfirmed by WON.net at press time, come as anticipation of the LotR movie trilogy continues to build—though well in advance of the actual release of the movies, slated for December 2001, 2002, and 2003. New Line Cinema did its little part for Net overload last Friday, releasing a two-minute trailer with cast and crew interviews and footage from the movie, and revealing how some of the special effects (full-sized humans playing half-sized hobbits, for instance) will be accomplished. Nearly 1.7 million Ring mavens pulled down the QuickTime file in the first 24 hours of release, and it was analyzed with the approximate intensity of the Zapruder footage on such sites as TheOneRing.Net. Fans attempted to puzzle through the images of techies at work, hobbits at play, and CGI characters at war.