SAN FRANCISCO — "Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor" is king of the Game Developers Choice Awards.
Monolith Productions' gritty action-adventure game set between J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" was honored as the game of the year at Wednesday's 15th annual ceremony, which is held during the Game Developers Conference.
"I want to thank everyone at Monolith Productions," said studio head Kevin Stephens as he was backed on stage by dozens of employees. "There are about 40 people up here. I holed them away for two years to make this game, and now I'm letting them loose on GDC."
The artsy mobile puzzler "Monument Valley" from ustwo captured the most trophies, picking up the best visual art, mobile and innovation awards.
"The last 12 months has been completely insane, and it's far bigger than we ever expected, said executive producer Daniel Gray. "We're genuinely humbled by the rest of the people in this room."
Bungie's shared-world sci-fi shooter "Destiny" was honored for best technology, while Creative Assembly's intergalactic horror "Alien: Isolation" was awarded for best audio.
"When I first started watching people play our game, it was a big shock to me how much the audio affected how people played and how long they would spend hiding inside lockers and listening to the sounds of the station," said studio director Tim Heaton. "If I'd realized how much effect it had, we probably could have made a shorter game."
Other winners included Cardboard Computer's adventure game "Kentucky Route Zero" for best narrative, Blizzard's trade-carding title "Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft" for best design and Stoic Studio's Viking-themed role-playing game "The Banner Saga" for best debut.
Frontier Developments' updated space-trading simulator "Elite: Dangerous" landed the audience award, which was selected by online votes.
David Braben, developer of the original "Elite" in the 1980s, received the Pioneer Award for his influential work, which featured revolutionary 3D graphics and moral quandaries for players.
Brenda Romero, a veteran game designer, was presented with the Ambassador Award, which recognizes individuals who have helped advance the gaming industry.
Hironobu Sakaguchi, the Japanese creator of the long-running "Final Fantasy" series, was honored with the show's Lifetime Achievement Award.
"I'm still chugging along," Sakaguchi said through a translator. "I have not retired. I will not retire in the near future. With everyone here, I think we should just continue to make great content and great games."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.