As the final installment of the Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, is set to hit theatres, it seems like a good time to reflect on the vast, vibrant and violent world that J.R.R Tolkien and Peter Jackson have built. Over the course of six movies, countless lands have been explored, many epic journeys have been undertaken and bloody battles have been fought–and won. Now, the entire scope of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit worlds are brought to life in one interactive experience.
A Journey Through Middle-Earth is a rich animated digital landscape where viewers can explore how the entire saga’s key locations are interconnected, follow the journeys of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Aragorn, and other favorite heroes, or engage in an epic battle of their own.
Created by North Kingdom, user experience director Alfredo Aponte says the company was approached by Google and Warner Brothers to collaborate on an idea that would showcase the incredible world and characters from The Hobbit using some of the latest mobile web technologies while creating excitement among moviegoers.
“Before we began, we questioned its value and intentions because we wanted to ensure that our experience would honor the film’s storyline and capture the imagination of the fans that would transport them to the vibrant world of Middle-Earth, in a mobile first web experience,” says Aponte. “This is the first project to bring all six movies together in an interactive experience online.”
Created as a Chrome experiment the site was built with WebGL and WebRTC and is notable for just how much is packed into it. The map of Middle-Earth includes 21 locations as well as a social battle game created with WebRTC that coincides with one of the major themes from The Battle of the Five Armies.
“We liked the idea of playing with WebRTC because it’s still a fairly novel idea that enables web browsers to have real-time communication,” says Aponte. That technology was key to the experience’s social battle game mechanics and peer-to-peer battles as it connects people around the world openly in your browser.
“It is unique for a browser-based experience to pack so much into what has conventionally only been possible in something like an app, which Chrome makes possible” says Aponte. “This project showcases how a holistic approach with attention to user behavior, creative ambition, and technological advancement can create new value and audience relationship for entertainment and technology while pushing the mobile web forward.”