Have all of you signed the petition?
Fresh interview of 2 Merp devs:
They reference this one which I found to be more impartial and interesting, albeit just one commentator's viewpoint. It is Question 3 (there's a link below the movie).
WB don't get it, for example Gamesworkshop about modding:"We want people to express their enjoyment of our games with as little interference from us as possible, as long as they behave reasonably with our IP and follow any reasonable requests that we may make. We are not inherently opposed to hobbyists creating games or mods using our IP, in fact we are flattered that people want to spend so much time creating games and mods in the GW universes.". That's how you should treat your IP, and there is no way WB could police LOTR universe, seriously...
Because lets face it, a lot of stuff that bears the LotR IP are quite mediocre when you take away the LotR stuff, and if we were a bit more uncharitable, I would say that almost all the commercial LotR games are quite bad already, and would be markedly worse without that official LotR content.
Because they never bothered to ask, I assign 100% of the blame to the dev team. I don't call it naive, I call it stupid.
Why would you start if you didn't even consider if you could legally finish? It's a great idea felled by a technically wonderful, but logically incompetent team.
If they hadn't ported it for Skyrim this never would have happened. Oblivion you can get for 5 euros, not like Skyrim which costs 50. It's the same reason TATW won't have any legal problems, the game it's for is too old for WB to care
edit: I signed with my name and WB can wipe their asses with it.
This is a problem the mod team has faced ever since they decided, in their mission statement, to model all of their work off the New Line Cinema movies. The battlement walls of Minas Tirith are actually black, made of the same stonework as Orthanc, but one of the famous Tolkien illustrators (don't know which--probably both) decided to draw the entire city as white stonework. This was then translated in the movies. And it was then fully realized in this mod. Cripes, they even added catapults on the towers, even though there is never mention of Gondor having catapults on the towers in the books.
Simply put--it was a movie mod, not a lore mod. What more proof did you need when they changed the aspect of creating Middle-earth to "you will play as the Ring-bearer"? On top of all of that they then decided to port the mod over to the currently super-popular Skyrim. TATW skates on thin ice but at least they're not waving their hands like a bunch of idiots and blowing raspberries to WB saying, "Neener neener neener, look at what we're getting away with!".
I signed the petition because I like the work and hope that it continues, but let's get real here. The only way it will continue is if that team decided to wholly compromise their "we are creating movie games" angle. They would certainly have far more respect and supporters if the mod drew its inspiration directly from the books and wasn't trying to recreate the storyline of the book by making you play as one of the main characters.
I would very much prefer MERP if it completely ignored the movies but that would not be enough to satisfy WB because it would still be full of LOTR content which is what they paid for.
As I see it the only reason that they have shut down MERP is because it is in direct competition with another game that will be making WB money. If they had made - or had plans to make - an RTS LOTR game then TATW would be getting the same treatment as MERP, regardless of how old the M2TW engine is. If people are playing TATW instead of buying the WB 'equivalent' then TATW has to go.
TATW's saving grace is that WB probably wouldn't bother making such a game because they know that TATW is already 'owned' by too many people (players) who would not bother buying an inferior (WB) product. Knock on wood. And TATW is already out there for all the world to see how good a LOTR RTS game can be when enough people spend enough time on it; not just those who have directly contributed to the core game or submods but also all of the many, many man-hours spent over the years investigating, experimenting and sharing new things on which the 'final product' is built upon. I wonder how many people like WB executives truly cannot understand why people would do this for free. It goes against all logic, if making money is your goal in life.
There's not much point blaming the developers. If they had looked into the legal side of it and then decided against starting any work on it then we would all be none the wiser: none of this would have happened. It's basically blaming the developers purely for wasting their own time. I'm sure that they're crushed enough by this without receiving negative vibes from people who are only aware of MERP because of the time the devs have put into it so far.
For me the blame lies with whoever decided to award exclusive rights to a company, WB in this case but it could have been any other money-making enterprise who would be behaving in exactly the same way. Until WB sees that they would make more money in the long run by letting MERP go ahead they will not budge. (I'm not suggesting that they would make more money this way.) They're a corporation: whichever makes them the most money is all that matters. In an ideal world this "guardianship of the LOTR content" would include the mindset and duty of doing what is best for LOTR; in this case letting the superior work continue.