Since its past few games the Elder Scrolls series has become directly associated with mods, with fans diligently enhancing and altering the environment to tell stories and make improvements. Since Skyrim's release we've seen everything from mods to let you play as space marines to texture enhancements, but this is definitely the most ambitious out of any we've seen.
Having been in development since 2008, originally for Oblivion, the Middle-Earth Roleplaying Project is one titanic effort to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's universe to life and adapt it into a video game. We've had plenty of Lord of the Rings games over the past few years, but none have ever been to a scale such as this with the end result of this project being a complete accessible map of Middle-Earth.
Go to your PC, PS3, 360 or whatever you have it for and bring up the world map for Skyrim. Focus upon each location listed and think for a minute about how vast the environment was, how far you could go into the wilderness and explore areas otherwise ignored by civlisation. Think about how great it is each time you stumbled upon a quest rather than hunted it out like finding the ghostblade for the first time, a lighthouse overrun by falmer or even unwittingly activating the Thieves' Guild questline.
Now imagine if that world were bigger with more of those opportunities to truly adventure. Not just simply bigger, but a total of nine times Skyrim's size covering a much greater variety of environments than seen in an Elder Scrolls game. That's what the end result of the Middle-Earth Roleplaying Project will be if they are given a chance to complete their work. The mod openly advertises the fact that it will cover everywhere from "
Were this not enough, you play the role of the ringbearer in this game and are given the choice to cast Sauron's greatest weapon into the fires of Mt. Doom or turn to your own selfish desires. Multiple battles from the films are planned to be included within this questline and there's even hints at greater opportunities such as joining the White Council.
Oh, and you can fight the balrog.
Now all of this sounds fantastic doesn't it? Like something too good to be true or will be a letdown once its released. Well, at the rate things are going we'll likely never know how well it would deliver upon its promises. The IP holders of Lord of the Rings in Warner Bros. have issued a cease-and-desist order preventing this mod's release or even further attempts to expand upon what has been done.
Repeated negotiations have been made to try and preserve what has been made thus far, even going so far as to remove quests and aspects to help solve the conflict, but their efforts were ignored at every turn. As such the mod's creators have turned to the only remaining solution: a petition.
While chances of success are slim and it will require a vast amount of support in the face of future films like the Hobbit, a petition has been raised to help protect the game and allow further work upon it. The list of names currently stands at just over seven-thousand-two-hundred, but a great deal more are needed to have any actual impact.
With entire villages, cities and Helm's Deep showing near completion it would be a hideous loss for it to end now, especially after four years of development. If any of this has interested you in the slightest, visit the mod currently under construction here on moddb.com and see what has been made thus far. If you think the herculean amount of time and effort put into it is worth saving, then the petition can be found here.