The Lord Of The Rings Gollum | Former devs describe its troubled making


Former developers at the now-closed Daedalic reveal the chaotic making of The Lord Of The Rings Gollum – including allegations that its apology was written using ChatGPT.

One of 2023’s most critically-panned games, The Lord Of The Rings Gollum is likely to be prodded at and dissected for years to come. An action adventure based on a huge fantasy licence, and made by one of Germany’s best-known studios, Daedalic Entertainment. How on earth did it go so badly wrong?

Months after the game’s release – and the closure of Daedalic’s development studio in the wake of its dismal reviews – Germany’s GamingTwo has investigated its making in some detail, and the results can now be seen in an excellent YouTube documentary (thanks, VGC).

With many former staff speaking anonymously, the documentary paints a picture of a distinctly unpleasant working environment, with long hours and some at-times aggressive behaviour from management. The video also alleges that Gollum’s budget was 15 million euros – a lot money in everyday terms, but given Daedalic was attempting to make a game with triple-A production values, it’s a drop in the ocean when compared to the budgets studios like Naughty Dog or Bethesda have to work with.

One of the more eye-catching allegations to emerge from the documentary, though, is that Daedalic’s apology, published in May, wasn’t actually written by the Daedalic team at all – or even by a human being. Instead, two sources allege, the apology – which you can see in the tweet below – was produced by publisher Naicon, was written using ChatGPT, and was never shown to Daedalic before it was published.

It’s a strange state of affairs, and speaks to the chaotic-sounding environment in which the game was produced. GameTwo’s documentary is well worth watching in full, both as a history of Daedalic as a company, and also an autopsy of how a project which started out with the best intentions can go so damagingly awry.

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