Monolith on Shelob: "We don’t propose things that are insane and unjustified"

Feb 4, 2013
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#1
We also got a chance to talk to design director Bob Roberts about why the giant spider Shelob is now an attractive femme fatale, and why nobody has created a Shadow Of Mordor clone yet...
GC: All of that sounds good, but of course not all your new ideas have gone down that well. Shelob, for example. I mean, I'm glad she's not a spider because I hate ‘em...

BR: [laughs]

GC: I think it's fair to say that Tolkien would not like this game.

BR: [laughs]

GC: But then I suspect he'd hate all video games. I bet Christopher Tolkien does too.

BR: Probably, but we run everything through Middle-earth Enterprises. They vet all of our ideas and we get feedback from them on specific details. Like, for example, if there's an enemy who's evil his blood must be black. So all of these things have to be consistent and we are huge fans, so we don't propose things that are insane and unjustified.

GC: I understood from the books that Shelob wasn't literally a giant spider. She was a kind of demon and she'd just taken that form.

BR: Yeah, she's sort of demigod. And we give our justifications when we pass this stuff along for approvals, to say, ‘This is where we pulled the rationale for doing this thing that wasn't in the books but we think makes sense in this context'.

GC: How do you feel when fans complain? Because you're fans yourself and you need to find ways to do things differently, given the finite source material.

BR: Obviously, in an ideal world, we want everybody to be happy and to like it and to not be upset by your choices. But we have to do what we think makes for the best game, the best story, and telling some new stories and not just rehashing the only existing things that have been written. So, we do enjoy bringing something new to the table, and we do feel that's worth a little bit of trouble. But, obviously, it's a huge world with a massive fanbase and they don't always agree with each other either.
http://metro.co.uk/2017/08/29/middl...everybody-to-be-happy-and-to-like-it-6888020/
 

Moose Biscuits

It would be extreamly painful...
Oct 21, 2016
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#3
I said it before and I'll say it again: the developers of Shadow of War making Shelob into a sexy lady, instead of a spider as she is traditionally depicted, shows their lack of confidence: a confident and knowledgeable studio would be aware that it's perfectly possible to make a fuckable spider.
 
Oct 21, 2014
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#4
GC: I understood from the books that Shelob wasn’t literally a giant spider. She was a kind of demon and she’d just taken that form.
What?

The Ungoliant wasn't necessarily a spider.

Shelob was a spider. IIRC the book never suggested otherwise and neither did the Silmarillion.
 
Oct 5, 2010
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#7
I said it before and I'll say it again: the developers of Shadow of War making Shelob into a sexy lady, instead of a spider as she is traditionally depicted, shows their lack of confidence: a confident and knowledgeable studio would be aware that it's perfectly possible to make a fuckable spider.
Tumblr and Twitter continues to scare me.
 

DxD

Banned
Dec 13, 2016
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#9
I said it before and I'll say it again: the developers of Shadow of War making Shelob into a sexy lady, instead of a spider as she is traditionally depicted, shows their lack of confidence: a confident and knowledgeable studio would be aware that it's perfectly possible to make a fuckable spider.
I know.
Look at DS.
They were ahead of their time in fuckable spider niche.

 
Oct 21, 2010
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#12
Monolith/WB know that about 95% of their audience will not even know who Shelob is supposed to be from the books. So for those people, it's just a hot woman used in trailers to entice them to buy the game. They can't outright tell the other 5% to fuck off so they come up with these insane statements trying to justify it.
 
Feb 16, 2014
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#14
It makes sense in the game I would imagine? Didn't and still don't understand the outrage it has caused though.
Well for one, last time we heard about the Shelob stuff the devs also brought up information about her new role and she comes off like a woman scorned, who was in a really bad break up with Sauron so that's why she's helping you.

It's really terrible all over. Lots of overplayed tropes and sounds lazily written by things they have said.
 
Oct 21, 2014
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#17
Monolith/WB know that about 95% of their audience will not even know who Shelob is supposed to be from the books. So for those people, it's just a hot woman used in trailers to entice them to buy the game. They can't outright tell the other 5% to fuck off so they come up with these insane statements trying to justify it.
It is weird how they decided to shoehorn it in, instead of making a brand new character for the game. The MC is their invention, why can't they do it for others?
 
May 24, 2014
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#19
GC: I understood from the books that Shelob wasn’t literally a giant spider. She was a kind of demon and she’d just taken that form.

BR: Yeah, she’s sort of demigod. And we give our justifications when we pass this stuff along for approvals, to say, ‘This is where we pulled the rationale for doing this thing that wasn’t in the books but we think makes sense in this context’.
Incorrect. Shelob is indeed literally a giant spider, and I've never heard of any argument saying she isn't until now. She isn't a Maia like a Balrog is, which is the closest Tolkien gets to the concept of a "demon." She was born from a giant spider and gives birth to other giant spiders. She's literally a giant spider.

It's possible that the original Ungoliant is the manifestation of something like the concept of Night or Darkness (I indeed subscribe to this theory, mainly because there's a lot of characters that can be explained in this way that otherwise seem random, like the stone giants). And maybe you could say the same of her descendants. Either way they would still be literally giant spiders. But the idea that she's a demigod (which doesn't even make any fucking sense in the Tolkien universe, since she'd have to be a Maia to qualify for a title like that, and she is certainly not) or took that form like she originally was something else is pure fanfiction supported by absolutely nothing.
 
Apr 17, 2015
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#20
I would have more respect for them if they just owned the fact they've taken massive liberties with the world instead of pretending there's actual justification for their dumb shit anywhere in the original texts.
 
Apr 13, 2016
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#21
Monolith/WB know that about 95% of their audience will not even know who Shelob is supposed to be from the books. So for those people, it's just a hot woman used in trailers to entice them to buy the game. They can't outright tell the other 5% to fuck off so they come up with these insane statements trying to justify it.
Seen the movies many times. But did they ever even call her by name? And if they did, was it just like one time?

I remember after the second movie came out, and Smeagol says he's going to take them to her.
And friends told me it was going to be a witch or demon or something.

I had no idea the spider was called Shelob until this thread. lol
 
Oct 2, 2013
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#23
Monolith/WB know that about 95% of their audience will not even know who Shelob is supposed to be from the books. So for those people, it's just a hot woman used in trailers to entice them to buy the game. They can't outright tell the other 5% to fuck off so they come up with these insane statements trying to justify it.
This is pretty much true.
 
Oct 3, 2012
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#24
GC: I understood from the books that Shelob wasn’t literally a giant spider. She was a kind of demon and she’d just taken that form.

BR: Yeah, she’s sort of demigod.
And we give our justifications when we pass this stuff along for approvals, to say, ‘This is where we pulled the rationale for doing this thing that wasn’t in the books but we think makes sense in this context’.
'no'
 
Aug 15, 2007
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#26
I would have more respect for them if they just owned the fact they've taken massive liberties with the world instead of pretending there's actual justification for their dumb shit anywhere in the original texts.
Yeah, the more they try to justify this stuff the more it just reminds me of this



They'd be much better off either A) Not saying anything at all or B) saying "This is our personal spin on Tolkien's lore."
 
Aug 22, 2010
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#30
Nerds hate when things they cherish are changed in any way. It applies to most areas of pop culture.
Well, there's also the fact that it's another incredible example of using a sexed up woman for no good reason other than to titillate the assumed male fan base. Only this time, they did it to a spider.

Women can't even be giant monsters. Jim Sterling did a whole thing about it, it's fucking stupid WB did this.
 
Apr 30, 2017
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#32
I'm a big LotR fan and to be honest this doesn't bother me at all. Every time I try to get angry about it I just end up laughing out loud at how absurd it is.

Something like George Lucas altering the Star Wars original trilogy is a travesty. But this? This doesn't change Tolkien's texts. It's not like they're going back and rewriting LotR. They're just throwing some fan wank into a AAA video game based on that universe, and the particular wank they've gone with is so over-the-top that personally I think it's more entertaining than offensive.
 

Windam

Scaley member
Dec 20, 2010
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#33
Incorrect. Shelob is indeed literally a giant spider, and I've never heard of any argument saying she isn't until now. She isn't a Maia like a Balrog is, which is the closest Tolkien gets to the concept of a "demon." She was born from a giant spider and gives birth to other giant spiders. She's literally a giant spider.

It's possible that the original Ungoliant is the manifestation of something like the concept of Night or Darkness (I indeed subscribe to this theory, mainly because there's a lot of characters that can be explained in this way that otherwise seem random, like the stone giants). And maybe you could say the same of her descendants. Either way they would still be literally giant spiders. But the idea that she's a demigod (which doesn't even make any fucking sense in the Tolkien universe, since she'd have to be a Maia to qualify for a title like that, and she is certainly not) or took that form like she originally was something else is pure fanfiction supported by absolutely nothing.
I agree. Now go fetch me my silmaril, boy.

Makes sense to me. If anyone wants to get mad at monolith they should be getting mad at the Tolkien estate first for approving it .
Middle-earth Enterprises is not the Tolkien Estate.
 

Moose Biscuits

It would be extreamly painful...
Oct 21, 2016
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#34
The loot crates are actually canon to the fiction, mind. There's a chapter in the Silmarillion where Bilbo or some fuck pays several gold coins for a box containing random stat bonuses. It wasn't really understood at the time, but I guess Tolkien could foresee some really specific trends.
 

Zoon

Member
Feb 8, 2013
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#36
Incorrect. Shelob is indeed literally a giant spider, and I've never heard of any argument saying she isn't until now. She isn't a Maia like a Balrog is, which is the closest Tolkien gets to the concept of a "demon." She was born from a giant spider and gives birth to other giant spiders. She's literally a giant spider.

It's possible that the original Ungoliant is the manifestation of something like the concept of Night or Darkness (I indeed subscribe to this theory, mainly because there's a lot of characters that can be explained in this way that otherwise seem random, like the stone giants). And maybe you could say the same of her descendants. Either way they would still be literally giant spiders. But the idea that she's a demigod (which doesn't even make any fucking sense in the Tolkien universe, since she'd have to be a Maia to qualify for a title like that, and she is certainly not) or took that form like she originally was something else is pure fanfiction supported by absolutely nothing.
I always thought of Ungoliant as powerful as the Valar, iirc even Melkor was afraid of her and without her help he wouldn't have destroyed the two trees. So, I don't find it weird that Shelob couldn't have been just a big spider (even if there's no evidence supporting that).
 
Mar 21, 2011
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#37
Nerds hate when things they cherish are changed in any way. It applies to most areas of pop culture.
I'm all for mucking about with artistic license, but there is a frustrating trend with pretty much all of the Lord of the Rings games - even the ones squarely based on the film universe, which took plenty of (imo good) liberties - that are fundamentally at odds with what defines the franchise. When basic tenets of a story are ignored, like LotR: Conquest having a "mage" class in a world where the entire basis for the story is "magic is fading and there are less than a dozen wizards total" it feels bad.

If someone made a Star Wars game and changed Chewbacca into a four-door sedan and behaved like not only is it entirely reasonable for Chewbacca to be a four-door sedan, but actually if you think about it he was always a four-door sedan and you're dumb for arguing about it, people would be rightfully miffed. It's the same deal here. Shelob is a spider.

They're not doing something different but artful, like the new Twin Peaks or whatever. They're making a fantasy game based on a license that they're willfully ignoring while still expecting the brand name to matter.
 
Feb 20, 2015
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#38
I don't understand why they didn't just create a new character. Making her Shelob does nothing for the story, and only acts as a way to piss off fans of the source material.
 
Apr 3, 2011
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#39
Nerds hate when things they cherish are changed in any way. It applies to most areas of pop culture.
I mean, it's an unwinnable conversation for those who don't care, but turning Shelob into a sexy seductress just makes the industry look stupid.

When I compile a list of things that make me hate video games, this is one of those things.
 
Dec 24, 2014
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#40
I mean, it's an unwinnable conversation for those who don't care, but turning Shelob into a sexy seductress just makes the industry look stupid.

When I compile a list of things that make me hate video games, this is one of those things.
Yep, they are not even trying to hide that she is just something they made for horny nerds.
 

Moose Biscuits

It would be extreamly painful...
Oct 21, 2016
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#41
If someone made a Star Wars game and changed Chewbacca into a four-door sedan and behaved like not only is it entirely reasonable for Chewbacca to be a four-door sedan, but actually if you think about it he was always a four-door sedan and you're dumb for arguing about it, people would be rightfully miffed.
Is he, like, a fluffy sedan like the car from Dumb & Dumber because if so I could get behind that

does he get good mileage
 
Oct 9, 2014
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#42
Bringing up Middle Earth Enterprises after the interviewer mentioned Christopher Tolkien is misleading without context. Christopher Tolkien doesn't have anything to do with Middle Earth Enterprises beyond a recently settled lawsuit about, among other things, them licensing video games.
 

Windam

Scaley member
Dec 20, 2010
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#43
Bringing up Middle Earth Enterprises after the interviewer mentioned Christopher Tolkien is misleading without context. Christopher Tolkien doesn't have anything to do with Middle Earth Enterprises beyond a recently settled lawsuit about, among other things, them licensing video games.
Exactly. Christopher and everyone else at the Estate probably want to send Hobbit-sized assassins after these guys.
And I don't blame them.
 
May 24, 2014
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#44
I agree. Now go fetch me my silmaril, boy.
Even now a Silmaril is in my hand.

I always thought of Ungoliant as powerful as the Valar, iirc even Melkor was afraid of her and without her help he wouldn't have destroyed the two trees. So, I don't find it weird that Shelob couldn't have been just a big spider (even if there's no evidence supporting that).
Morgoth was afraid of most things, because someone who deals in fear has to know it too. He'd also bound himself to mortal flesh. These are traits he doesn't share with the other Valar. He's singular. And he can feel pain and can be permanently wounded (just ask Fingolfin) so a giant spider pumped up on Light from the Two Trees would be scary if you're alone in a tundra. The point is that Morgoth isn't all powerful or anything close to it (and he gave up a lot of his strength anyways), so him being afraid of a giant spider that spews blinding darkness isn't a statement about anything other than Morgoth fears many things.

Nothing on that earth is as powerful as the Valar. Even Morgoth didn't dare risk open warfare with them after his first go at them.
 
Mar 12, 2015
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#46
I don't understand why they didn't just create a new character. Making her Shelob does nothing for the story, and only acts as a way to piss off fans of the source material.
"Making her Shelob does nothing for the story"
How do you know that?

They aren't trying to appeal the fans of the source material, and they never have. The entire idea and premise of these games already disrespects Tolkien's work in massive ways. They're trying to just remix the lore and world to tell whatever crazy fantasy tale they want. Sexy spider lady should be the last thing that fans get pissed about.
 
Mar 21, 2011
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#47
Christopher Tolkien and co. are too busy pawing over crates of J.R.R's notes to cobble together into a quick buck to deal with licensing so really they're as bad as each other
 
Dec 5, 2008
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www.radiantcg.com
#49
I said it before and I'll say it again: the developers of Shadow of War making Shelob into a sexy lady, instead of a spider as she is traditionally depicted, shows their lack of confidence: a confident and knowledgeable studio would be aware that it's perfectly possible to make a fuckable spider.
E.g.


People are way too mad over this specific thing in a game series that takes incredible liberties with LOTR lore all over the place.