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The Story Behind LMNO
We take an in-depth look at what happened with EA's ambitious canceled collaboration with Steven Spielberg.

By Matt Leone

At the 2004 Game Developers Conference, Electronic Arts' Neil Young (pictured, below) predicted that within five years, a video game would make players cry.

"I think we'll crack that problem in the next five years and it'll be a watershed event for our business," he said in a quote archived by website Idle Thumbs.

Puns aside, at the time, officially, he was speaking in general terms rather than about any specific game. But in 2005, when EA announced a deal with Steven Spielberg, Young found his poster child: a relationship-focused action title codenamed "LMNO." The idea was ballsy and complicated -- a mix of first-person parkour movement with adventure/RPG objectives and escape-focused gameplay, all based around the player's relationship with an alien-looking character named Eve.

"If you think about the question that EA was originally founded on," said Young in a 2005 interview with GameSpot, "which is, 'Can a computer game [sic] make you cry? Can it move you like a great piece of art, a great film?' We want to be able to, together with [Spielberg], start delivering some experiences that begin to get you there."

Then three weeks ago -- after years of saying very little about the game publicly -- EA issued a statement confirming it "has ceased development" on the project. The news spread quickly, and by the time that game of telephone ended, stories across the Internet featured the headline "EA Cancels LMNO."

What those stories left out was that the game was actually cancelled a year earlier -- and arguably twice, depending on how you define the word.

For the past few months, we've been looking into the story behind the game -- what the team was trying to create, what took so long, and why it died before making it to stores. And while many of the people involved declined to comment because of non-disclosure agreements with EA, thanks to a mix of those familiar with the project speaking anonymously, we've been able to put together a picture of one of the most ambitious games ever attempted.

The People in Charge

When EA signed its deal with Spielberg in 2005, some of the specifics were intentionally left unclear. The deal committed him to create three franchises for EA, but initially, LMNO was the only one locked in, and there was no team in place to make it. Project two, "PQRS," went on to become Boom Blox, while project three hasn't been mentioned publicly since the deal was announced.

EA's answer was to hire designer Doug Church (pictured with Spielberg, below) and build a small team around him in their Los Angeles studio. Through 2007, they put together a group of 25-30 people who worked under Young's EA Blueprint group -- a quiet experimental label designed to build new intellectual property while outsourcing much of its production (such as some of LMNO's level design that went to Arkane in France late in the project's life) -- to prototype ideas.

Church has been publicity-shy in recent years, but became known in the industry for past commentary on developer issues and his background working on hardcore PC titles. After attending MIT, he went to work at fan-favorite developer Looking Glass, contributing to Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Thief, and others, before moving over to Eidos and working on games like Tomb Raider. People who know him describe him as someone who takes "an academic approach" and someone who "thinks big, who shoots for the stars," while designers such as Irrational's Ken Levine and Junction Point's Warren Spector credit him with many of the philosophies they use in making their games. In short: he's not the guy you hire if you're trying to make a by-the-numbers game.

Church reported to Young, and though most people we talked to said Church was the one making the final calls on the game's design, there was some give and take between the two. "Neil was one of the few executives that Doug really respected, and that's part because Neil's a really sharp guy on the executive level, but also on the game design level," says one former team member. "So if Neil was like, 'You know, we should really go in this direction,' Doug would be like, 'Yeah, alright.' With other executives, it was just like, 'Yeah, not really.'"

Spielberg's role was to sit down with Church and other team members to flesh out the game's concept -- sometimes frequently, sometimes sparsely, depending on his schedule -- and offer feedback. On occasion, EA would even film these meetings and show them to the rest of the team members.

"He'd be super good at picking out certain things," says that same team member. "If [a character] looked a little weird or uncanny or something like that, he'd be like, 'No, you've just got to move her smile in like two teeth and make her eyeballs do this.' And it was like, 'Wow, he's right -- f***. That's weird.' Stuff like that was really neat."

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Comments (80)

  • Barbarosevich
  • This is all fucked up...

    Posted: Dec 31, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Barbarosevich

    Why? First of all the suits... those executives... i work in advertising and the suits always kill great ideas 'cause they fear, they fear everything 'cause they want to sell and what better way to sell other than staying with the formula that works, until some strange suit comes and approves that weird idea and we have what is called evolution in industry.

    Second:EA. Come on they're like the Goldman & Sachs of the videogame industry. They control the world and we don't care 'cause it just seems to work like that. But at the end they just want money and they have the power and we have to play nice games but close our expectations.

    i'm sad that this game got cancelled, maybe it was going to be a crappy game who knows or maybe a great new way of playing games.

    Thanks to the suits for nothing like always.

  • beatdown
  • awesome news!

    Posted: Dec 31, 2010 12:00AM PST by  beatdown

    This is awesome news!

  • Unkn0wn3ntity
  • Interesting Read

    Posted: Dec 23, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Unkn0wn3ntity

    Although I have a some issues with how this game was supposed to be made. First of all I really disagree with the whole "2-3 hour game versus traditional 8-12." The argument was made that why should developers "artificially lengthen" a 2-3 hour concept out to 8-12. The same argument can be made with condensing those 8-12 hours down to 2-3 because instead of lengthening the game you're simply incorporating all the elements from a longer game into a shorter game that you can play over and over again. So while it is true the game only lasts 2-3 hours but how many times are you going to replay those 2-3 hours? Leaving me to ask what's the difference? If it takes you a shorter amount of time to beat the entire game yet there are multiple replayable scenarios contained within those 2-3 hours, how much are you going to end up playing the game again? It's the same difference and I'm not really understanding the point of that.

    Secondly, if games did go that route then the price should reflect the change accordingly. EA is right: Nobody is going to pay $60+ for a 2-3 hour game no matter how many times you can replay it because you've essentially stripped way the customer's perception of value (more game play hours = more value).

    Third, from reading this article this game just sounds way too ambitious for its own good which is why I believe it was cancelled. As you can see during "phase 2" of its development the new team started making a more linear game ultimately negating the unique premise envisioned by the original dev team. I just don't think the technology is quite there yet, neither do I think that gamers are ready for such a departure from what they are used to. For the most part changes in this industry have come slow and steadily; and anything that was too "traumatic" (for lack of a better word) to the industry has failed despite possibly being great concepts on their own.

    Also, interestingly if you rearrange the letters from the second project they were working on from PQRS to SPQR you get the Latin phrase meaning Senatus Populusque Romanus which means “The Senate and People of Rome.” Perhaps a clue as to what that mysterious game may be about…? I couldn’t find anything relevant for LMNO in Latin so I don’t know what to make of that, but the second codename has some undertones to it possibly.

  • Dave_the_Hamster
  • This looked so good!

    Posted: Dec 07, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Dave_the_Hamster

    Wow, it's too bad that this didn't take off. The game looks really cool!

  • Ashcrexl
  • spielberg

    Posted: Dec 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Ashcrexl

    what an amazingly talented man spielberg is! producer, director, game developer. it seems like this is something to watch out for in case it ever comes back. 

  • EnderOne
  • Heavy Rain...

    Posted: Nov 28, 2010 12:00AM PST by  EnderOne

    ....made me feel all kinds of emotion; sorrow, joy, anger.  The beginning of that game made me think about my father! Sure it had a few flaws but, it is a really great, unique, and refreshing game. 

    The more emotional interaction a game can provide, the greater quality gaming experience the user will enjoy.  How many characters from any form of entertainment have you loved/hated?

  • Curufinwe
  • Randy Smith has terrible ideas about game length

    Posted: Nov 15, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Curufinwe

    And the attention span of a 5 year old.

  • darthvigoda
  • Ya know...

    Posted: Nov 14, 2010 12:00AM PST by  darthvigoda


    This got me thinking...maybe Spielberg got the idea for LMNO while doing Minority Report. There is a section of the movie where Tom Cruise and a weird bald chick with psychic powers are on the run from the police, and the girl uses her powers to help in several video-game-ish ways, like when she tells Tom to drop change in front of a bum so the bum will lean forward and trip up the police when they follow. The LMNO girl would also have been bald and had powers, and throughout the game you would have been trying to escape from the police with her. Coincidence?

  • SunOvSpazz
  • Too bad it was cancelled...

    Posted: Nov 13, 2010 12:00AM PST by  SunOvSpazz

    I would have loved to had played this game.  The concepts were ground breaking.  The only problem is, we, the consumers, have created this sort of grand expectation of our games like this article states in the beginning.  We expect the big expolsions, the over the top violence, the 12 hour campaign instead of something thought provoking or better yet, just a better immersive experience.  FPS and button mashers rule our industry with an iron fist.  (simply because the youthful gamer expect the simplistic "just kill em all" game) Titles like Halo Reach, COD, MOH are expected to be on the shelves.  These are good games but games like Hard Rain and others, which break the common mold, doesn't get the attention it deserves because of what we deem fit (or at least what the sales says) as a good game.  Hopefully something groundbreaking will still come from the EA/Spielberg partnership without the common saturation.

  • King_Edward
  • Man Tears

    Posted: Nov 12, 2010 12:00AM PST by  King_Edward

    MGS2 made me misty. MGS3 and 4 turned on the water works. And the end of Terminator 2. And Predator. That's the only time I cried in my 30 years of life. Oh, and when the Xfiles ended. And when I first played Demon's Souls. And that's it.

  • cermerie
  • Such a great idea! Why cancel it?

    Posted: Nov 12, 2010 12:00AM PST by  cermerie

    The whole idea for the concept is amazing! It's new and fresh, and we need more games that don't really follow the traditional concepts. It;s just a waste for the developers. This could have been a title that changed gaming forever.

  • Batavier
  • Thanks for the article

    Posted: Nov 10, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Batavier

    Nice research and write up! We need more articles like this!

  • Shonuff27
  • Options in videogames is like playing Outrun

    Posted: Nov 09, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Shonuff27

    Decision making and choices have always been a focus in most RPG like games, the problem is no matter how many choices you have, no matter how many characters you effect you usually will only have two or three different endings. Mass Effect 1 and 2 is a prime example. No matter how good or bad you are, no matter who you kill or leave alive the ending is ultimatly the same, when you play mass effect 2, you start off the exact same way as everyone else who plays the game and again the options become great, however in the end, your still left with about 2 or 3 different endings with slight adjustments such as who lives and dies (Once again). Mass Effect 3 will be no different.

    Speaking of mass effect 2, this is probably why ME2 was less RPG'ish then ME1 due to what EA wanted fo foucs on. I guess EA is still that monster everyone hates after all, but how can any developer make such an ambitious game if you don't have publishers with deep pockets to back you? I guess we are just gonna have to be stuck with 10 to 20 hour liner crap and regurgitated sequals every year. This year kind of sucked for games, very few original ideas came out, I think indie games are more entertaining these days.


  • Sandman81
  • Loved the Article

    Posted: Nov 08, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Sandman81

    just wanted to add my support for great stories like this :)

  • Shockta
  • too bad but hype?

    Posted: Nov 08, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Shockta

    Sounded great i just wonder if it would be as great as it's potetial or if it would be hyped beyond reason ,and then turn out to be just another mediocre EA game

  • Hummy
  • ^_^

    Posted: Nov 07, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Hummy

    Thanks for uncovering the story, I've always been curious about this title!

  • mister_cheif_117
  • Cool article!

    Posted: Nov 06, 2010 12:00AM PST by  mister_cheif_117

    I would have loved to see this release. Its sad to see intersting concepts sink into the sea of poor efficiancy.

  • Gammit10
  • Bummer

    Posted: Nov 06, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Gammit10

    This game sounded like it could've been really fun.  Too bad they weren't more efficient in creating it, thus getting cancelled.

  • Epidilius
  • Play The Witcher!

    Posted: Nov 05, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Epidilius


    Dajmin, I am going to assume you have not played the Witcher. My first time playing it, I came across one scenario where I founnd a band of rebel (rebel because humans hate them) elves and dwarves stealing weapons. I chose to help them, and two hours of playing later, they killed the man who I was looking for, I had to kill my best friend, and later fight his ghost, AND they helped me kill a beast later on.

    In another scenario, I had a knight offer his assistance to me to kill a beast. I said no, and while I killed it fine, I had to spend an extra hour doing stuff for a dwarf, because the only other person who could help me did not like me (because I refused his help).

    Play it. Go to Walmart and buy the extended edition, or the regular one (if they still carry it) and just go to the official site and get the extended stuff for free.


  • Dajmin
  • Wasted Potential

    Posted: Nov 05, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Dajmin

    It sounds good, but I don't think that much of that would have made it into the final game anyway.  And people wouldn't be happy being full price for a 3-hour game, even if it did have plenty of replay value - at some point you run out of options.

    The idea of decisions that really matter keeps being cited in games but I have yet to see it actually have that much of an effect on a game world.  Sure, you might end up kill-on-sight to one faction rather than another, but the story continues either way.  Maybe one person dies instead of another, but the story ends the same way.  Even choices between good and evil only tend to affect the end sequences rather than the world itself.

    I'd much rather have proper moral options placed in front of me that would totally change how the game world opened up.  Accidentally kill someone early on, maybe you find out later that he was trying to help you and now you can't access a part of the game you needed to progress the story.  Choose to go one way through an area rather than another and you miss an important object but there's no way back and the way you have to progress totally changes.

    That's the only way I can see of making players think and care about the decisions they make.

  • sewageking
  • Very interesting

    Posted: Nov 04, 2010 12:00AM PST by  sewageking

    I like that people are willing to take such a bold direction with a video game.  However, I don't know that this game would have been as ground-breaking as it sounds.  This idea that the player's choice really matters has become the cornerstone that many modern RPG's and adventure games are built on.

    I also don't like that you play as a faceless, voiceless character.  I would expect that Spielberg, as such an accomplished filmmaker, would know the importance of having a strong leading character.  I don't buy the idea that this puts the player into the protagonist's shoes; it looks much better on paper than in practice.  I've never fully experienced this, even in games as good as Half-Life and Bioshock, I never really felt like I was totally in the game.  I'm not opposed to giving the player choices as far as gameplay goes, but I think that giving the player a good character to identify with (or sympathize with) is incredibly important.

    Metal Gear Solid is a great example of this.  There is a tight, scripted story.  The course of the story does not change as a result of the player's actions.  Likewise, the characters are well-developed, and their personalities are not dictated by the player's choices.  But when controlling Snake in gameplay, the player is presented with a wide array of choices.  There are several ways to sneak past guards in any given situation.  Or, maybe you can avoid said situation all together and find an alternate route.  Or you could kill the guards, which would yield more options.  More waves of guards will come, and you can fight your way through them or run away and hide.

    The great part is that none of this ever impacts the story in any meaningful way.  Some characters will treat you differently depending on how you act, but not much beyond that.  Snake is Snake; no matter what you do, everyone who plays Metal Gear Solid will always meet the same Snake.  In Half-Life 2, I find it to be a little awkward when a character talks to Gordon Freeman.  The natural thing would be to reply, but Gordon is a silent protagonist.  This is why I think that for a player to be truly emotionally involved in a game, the game must have defined characters.  Otherwise, it just comes off as hammy.

  • Taran
  • "Would make players cry"

    Posted: Nov 04, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Taran

    "Electronic Arts' Neil Young (pictured, below) predicted that within five years, a video game would make players cry."

    This had happened already multiple times many years prior to this event. It disgusts me that this man is so ignorant of his own media.

    • theturk
    • What Taran said

      Posted: Nov 09, 2010 12:00AM PST by  theturk

      What Taran said.


  • roddy72
  • Wonderful read!

    Posted: Nov 04, 2010 12:00AM PST by  roddy72

    I certainly hope at least some of the innovations presented carry on, as the potential seemed awesome. Release a game like that today, and I'm sure it will turn heads. I mean , Heavy Rain sold really well and that was a PS3 exclusive. But an excellent article for sure. Great work Matty, there should totally be more of these types of articles on more sites. 

  • SpinoPrime
  • Excellent Article

    Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  SpinoPrime

    This article was really great.  It was informative, interesting, and no other website had picked up on it.  I also liked how in depth you got in explaining what happened to the game and it's development process.  Great work guys.  I want to see more articles like this in the future.

    Also the game sounded rather interesting, right up until the point where they decided to reboot it into being an Uncharted rip off.  Nice one EA.

  • Courage_Vs_Power
  • Creepy.

    Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Courage_Vs_Power

    I'd rather not see Spielberg associate with the industry. The last thing videogames need right now are closer ties to Hollywood.

    Besides, the guy is a total pedo.

  • Kazoku_
  • Wow...

    Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Kazoku_

    Great article.  I really want to play this game now.

  • BardoBill
  • Speaking of Spielberg-related A.I. games that died on the vine

    Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  BardoBill

    ...what do you know out about the games that were never completed, that were tie-ins to the world of Spielberg's movie, "A.I"? The Wikipedia entry says they were "undeveloped," but I'd heard elsewhere that at least one was supposed to be ready for the original XBOX 360 launch date.

  • Seneca
  • Hmm....

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Seneca

        I almost didn't read this out of a pathological fear of spoilers; "maybe one day it might get funding and i would have ruined it by reading an expose". I'm glad i did though. It's always good to have a peek behind the curtain of game development. :D  

        I was a little bummed out by the idea to make the game "short". When I buy a game, I usually buy for the compelling story supporting interesting and exciting game-play, so i might be the exception. However, isn't it safe to say that the longer a game can be, the more time it can spend developing it's plot and progression to the player, even if it writes it'self as you go along? It's just and opinion though, and i'm sure there are a lot of people today who'd like getting into that style of play, and i'm still going to miss what would have been an exceptional production. 

    • scottabc
    • I had the same reaction at first

      Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  scottabc

      regarding the idea of 'short games'.  Though after rereading Randy Smiths comments I am rethinking it.  Lots of even great games do get bogged down for me with repetitiveness and ramped up difficulty (I dont have as much time for games like lots of other 'older' people) so maybe this shorter games is worth considering.  I think it could work if the actual gameplay could be noticeably different the second, third, whatever time through and changeable based on changes in the story branches.

  • A nice article

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  PLERGOTH

    A lot of information is in there, obviously but the part I´m interested is the insight it provides into the crafting of a totaly new experience breaking schemes in every front. I myself was thinking a lot for about 10 years, about a game that force emotional connections into players feelings. Then EA talked about the collaborations with Spilberg. EA just missed the point, games are very distinc from movies as it is interactive, movies are an experience of ¨sit there look at the TV and wait for the credits¨.

    EA should have looked for the assist of some psycologists to craft a mechanic that creates that kind of connections, even stronger connections than those in Ico or whatever game you can cite...

    • Lost_leg
    • psych

      Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Lost_leg

      the idea about psychologists is cool

      I wouldn't be surprised if certain developers have already looked into it

      I noted that the choice of creating a "partner" character that you closely interact with is distinctly similar to Ico, and the new game that studio is making, I forget what it's called. Even in Shadow of the Colossus, the Colossi (?) were like one character in a sense

      It could be coincidence, but still it could be that when trying to make a game that is moving emotionally, it's good to have a secondary character/characters that feature strongly in the story and gameplay. 

      A video game that can make you cry... that's a pretty tall order I think.

    • Aha,

      Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  PLERGOTH

      I may have some trouble expressing what I wanted to say since english isn't my langage.But I get your point, I own wanda & the Colosus and Ico, even I can't remember them now, I've played some other games that offer some emotional attachment to the characters.

      I think the way to go is, sit and think about the reasons that create empathy between people, then create situations that trigger it, and lastly craft a good engaging story that provides space for those situation. It's not that hard...

  • BryanS7
  • Incredible article.

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  BryanS7

    It's well-written, informative articles like this that make me a fan of 1up over a lot of other sensationalist sites and magazines. Thank you.

  • Venificus
  • The game sounded amazing.

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Venificus

    It's a shame it never quite took off. :/

  • darkpen
  • A great read!

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  darkpen

    I've been wondering about this game for a while now, but its wonderful to know that at least one gaming publication has been trying to find out about what happened to LMNO. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of this month's cover story.

  • arctic-muffin
  • First off great article Matt

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  arctic-muffin

    Hearing that new ideas that try and change how games are played, are only tolerated by big-wigs if a well known name is thrown around, makes me so...angry. Reading what the original concept was seems so cool now, and then what they wanted to turn it into just seems sick.

    I wonder what would have happened if the studio-heads decided to be more open about what was being done; would there have been enough buzz to make this actually happen? Reading the comments it seems that everyone enjoyed what was talked about (barring the whole 3 hrs X10 ways to play vs 30 hr games).

  • an_unnamed_mob
  • Great Article!

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  an_unnamed_mob

    To me a lot of the problem is how we're conditioned to pay for these games.

    It's like film. No matter how much you love a movie, or how much it cost to make, it's 10 bucks. So from a business perspective it's not about making your 1 million superfans love you, it's about getting those other 100 million people to care just enough to spend 10 bucks on a ticket.

    Same with games. There's a finite market for innvoative titles. Take Heavy Rain for example: that's one of the most successful "innovative" games in a very long time. It's currently ranked 25th for the year in sales, and that's before Christmas buries even further down the list. So it's profitable, but likely not by much... and that's a best case scenario in today's market.

    Meanwhile, anything with Miis or Mario on it are dominating the charts, and I bet most of those games got played once or twice by people who cared just barely enough to pick it up in the first place.

    • SubconsciousMasochist
    • indeed

      Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  SubconsciousMasochist

      Not only that, instead of an innovative title like LMNO getting the green light after 2 years of concept i think the article said, EA decides to go for games like MOH (like we really need another COD clone.)  

  • jesterspawn
  • Terrific Article

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  jesterspawn

    As many have already said, this article was great. It's rare in this day and age that "game journalism" lives up to its name as actual journalism rather than mere blog posts, opinion pieces or thinly-veiled shills. Keep up this sort of thing and I'll keep coming back.

    I'm in full agreement with Randy Smith's thoughts on the length of the typical game experience. We need to start trimming the fat and delivering high-quality experiences that are closer in length to that of a movie. Players demand long games right now mostly because they've been told to, but how many of them really play those games to completion?

    Take Portal, for example. Not only did it have a tremendous amount of buzz as a "must-play" game, but it is also quite short. (1 hour 43 minutes on my first playthrough.) And yet, despite both of those factors, Steam's global achievement stats for Portal tell me that only 46.9% of players actually finished the game!

    • Lost_leg
    • good point...

      Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Lost_leg

      ...about Portal. I'm playing Earthbound right now on emulator, and I notice that despite taking way over 3 hours to finish the whole game, it naturally arranges itself in increments closer to an hour each. 

      And although most video games have long playtimes that don't really compare at all to how long movies are, they do compare closely to the length of most sci-fi or fantasy novels, or to one season of a TV show. It shows that the more long form storytelling is definitely viable

      But I think Speilberg is on to something about a part of the market that wants a complete story arc in a short amount of time- people are used to that sort of thing with films. 

    • SpinoPrime
    • I disagreed with the game length until...

      Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  SpinoPrime

      You mentioned Portal.  Fine example of how a game with a short length can be just as fun and memorable as one with a much longer one.  It is quite surprising that more people didn't finish that game.  Once I started I really got sucked in and finished the game as soon as I could.

  • Luminari
  • Nice Article

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Luminari

    ...a lot of which comes from the interesting source material/story.  But well, put together, without silly hyperbole and sarcasm, et.al.

    I am lamenting the loss of a real attempt to push the medium in another new fascinating direction (one that would clearly have been copied and reproduced after it's (I feel) inevitable success (pending the original ideas reached fruition).

    I think "critically" the interest for this type of game have been shown...and frankly I'm bored waiting for it.  I don't know how the story panned out, but the notion of jumping into the action and discovering the mystery along the way is great for a videogame.  Is your relationship with this Eve real?  Is it psionically induced, are you being used and manipulated, or are your feelings sincere.  Combined with a sophisticated AI it just sounds like an intimate mash-up of the best of KOTOR and Heavy Rain and a few others.  I hope this kind of project exists someday in the future...just to keep pushing the envelope.  It sounds to me as it had all the makings of a real interactive, emotional "game."

  • learningKnight
  • A Great Example of How Good Ideas Die

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  learningKnight

    So you can basically sum up the whole thing thusly:

    1. Under the tutelage of Spielberg, team begins creating fresh, exciting, highly innovative game.

    2. EA gets scared by all this unbridled creativity... they are sinking a ton of money into a game that is a soup of unproven ideas.  They don't understand how a 2-minute demo can fail to properly demonstrate a game.

    3. The team attempts to rework the game into a traditional, bland, generic, Uncharted rip-off to appease EA's timid execs. This is known as "Giving it the Michael Bay treatment" or "Rattnerization".

    4. An astute accountant at EA realizes they have spent bajillions of dollars and years of dev on a half-finished game that doesn't even run on Facebook, and cancels the project.

  • EXTomar
  • Excellent Stuff!

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  EXTomar

    Its stories like this I think more groups should get into.  These twists and turns happen more than fans know: A big name with a big vision proposes a game, a talented group tries to pull together the ideas into a functional design but the ideas keep coming faster than the design can solidify.  Years later the whole thing is scrapped where the guy(s) at the top, the guys who kept changing the game, washed their hands of the project long ago leaving people who passed on other opportunities to stick with the project now have little or nothing to show.


    This is why I'm never enthusiastic to hear when a movie personality wants to get into games.  They seem to have a poor understanding how "intensive" development can get where a movie directors that spend all of their time in crafting movies don't understand that what they consider trivial visual are really quite difficult to alter.  Adding another character to the game is as simple as putting more lines of code in right?

  • gbvstheworld
  • Heavy Rain made me cry

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  gbvstheworld

    I cried during and after playing Heavy Rain. I only shed a few tears, but if I couldn't save the son I would've balled my eyes out. I was so invested in the characters.

  • Shanef
  • Ico made me cry

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Shanef

    Honestly, I wept like a baby at the end of Ico, which may i point out came out in 2001, the whole idea of an emotionally engaging game had already happened...


    However, I do love the ideas that they tried to implement in this game, it was ballsy ambitious stuff that if they had've pulled off would have been fascinating to play, but could also have sucked harder than a thai prostitute down to her last 'dowah'.


    It would be nice if a courageous and brilliant studio took note of the basics behind the concept and adapted them for their own use, especially the design for Eve, who was looking like the kind of alien you could fall in love with as a character; ethemereal, yes expressive.


    Shame the game died a death due to dicking around, but like I've already said, emotional gaming had been around since before this concept without the overpriced help/hindrance of Spielberg.

  • Jizz_Straight_Into_Ur_Heart
  • The game sounds...

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Jizz_Straight_Into_Ur_Heart

    like AI....

    A formidable project...a great idea...lots of hype...alot of new stuff....

    and a mind-numbing, boring result...

  • ultimateshadowx
  • And now I'm sad

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  ultimateshadowx

    This game sounded fantastic. I got super excited reading about the concept, only to become sad when I remembered I was reading about a canceled game. This is a serious loss for the gaming world..

  • Ninjimbo
  • Fantastic article.

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Ninjimbo

    Loved it.

    Where the hell was Speilberg in all that chaos?

  • Dawnrazor
  • Thank God they cancelled it.

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Dawnrazor

    Sounds to me like the second phase of development was typical old school EA.  They tried to mimick anothet game " Uncharted" they tried to turn an awesome character into a sex symbol "Eve+Megan Fox = EA sucks dick"

    This just goes to show that despite many strides forward in gaming that EA has made in the past 5 years, they still no how to utterly fuck up in spectacular fashion.

    Spielberg would be much better off dealing with a smaller developer and ignoring publishers.  Then again, in 5 years EA will be a small publisher as small publishers end up controlling the market thanks to Facebook games and Iphone apps.  I'm looking at you Zynga =)

  • Kaniv
  • Disappointed

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Kaniv

    Wow. I would like to express my dissatisfaction to EA for canceling this project! It may not have met their "guidelines for a successful game," but it certainly peaked my interest. I would have spent $60 on the game, even if it's only 3 hours, or so, long.

    Speilberg, take this opportunity to show EA what they missed out on and either open your own studio or option it to some other company.

    Poor Decision EA. This game would have been a huge hit...

    • Zelk
    • Business is not art

      Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Zelk

      This is what happens when business takes over art.

    • Omega_X
    • Business is not art?

      Posted: Nov 05, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Omega_X

      Business in a way IS art because you have to be creative to stay ahead.

      In EA's case, its more of a print house than an actual artist looking to print.

  • sonikirby
  • Excellent Article

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  sonikirby

    We need more like this and less like "lol check out Sonic in this funny video lol"

  • steelerzfan101
  • Wow, I really liked this feature!

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  steelerzfan101

    It was really good!  Anyway, I really wish that they would come out with the game.  EA should have let them do what they want with the game, not make it have to follow a set guidlines in order to fufill  their wishes.  I would have really have like to see this game.  I think it would have been really great!

  • AngryGhandi
  • Oh, the wild and crazy ideas what might have been~

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  AngryGhandi

    You know, as sad as they may be, stories like this are always the most fascinating-- and inspiring, in a wierd way. But more than that, seeing that their story is being told probably serves as some small vindication for the people who worked so long and hard on something so interesting that otherwise would have never been seen. So kudos to you, Matt and 1up, for the great read.

  • Mace_of_Spades
  • Maur!

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Mace_of_Spades

    Great Article. I'd really like to see more articles like this.

    Also, I think I would have enjoyed that game, had they made it.

    Ah well...

  • DLM
  • awesome

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  DLM

    love this type of stuff, thanks !

  • liabletobleed
  • Superb

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  liabletobleed

    I really enjoyed reading this article.

    Shame we won't be seeing this game. We need more ambitious and innovative titles like this.

  • beejoe
  • Great work!

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  beejoe

    This sort of feature is why 1up needs to exist. Excellent read!

  • Coluch
  • Great read, mixed feelings.

    Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Coluch

    I loved this article, but the more important issue is what it points to...

    When will people stop buying the same game over and over? When will studios invest in new ideas worth buying? I became bored with the FPS genre years ago, and in my opinion the industry has been stagnant for some time, with only baby-steps forward rather than big milestones.

    My personal feeling is that the inundation of the industry with FPS games is a big reason why many have trouble viewing the craft as an art form on-par with other major media. To the outsider, it's dominated by juvenile shoot-em-ups, and is driven by the inclusion of violence and explosions rather than character substance and creative storytelling, or better, story building. Can we not do better? Are devs really happy working within a defined box?

    I was really falling in love with the description of the first round of development on LMNO, and I can only wish that such a game will be made in my lifetime. It's a tragedy that they couldn't have made this game as a lower cost experiment (like Portal) and then built on it's success if and when it came. Disappointment with EA over this, to be sure. I understand the need to sell titles with escalating costs, but the trend is not encouraging for the near future of development.

    • cmd_tab
    • We need a like button for comments like this

      Posted: Nov 02, 2010 12:00AM PST by  cmd_tab

      And then spam that button. You read my thoughts, Coluch. And, I must add, this is one of the most insightful articles I've seen on 1Up.

  • sepewrath
  • Ambition

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  sepewrath

    This project sounds like it was definitely doomed to over ambition, from a business standpoin; unless your Duke Nukem or GT5(lol) no publisher is going to let you make a game for 10yrs because your ambitious. From a design standpoint, when you try to do too much with just about anything, very often it can lead to a weak foundation which brings the whole thing down. Its great to want to go beyond the status quo, but there has to be limitations; you cant change the whole world in a day.

    I would have to disagree about length as well, I am an advocate for games ending when they should and not stretching unnaturally to me some time quota. But cutting it down to 2-3hrs would force video game storytelling to be more in line with movies. Games have become more and more movie like as it is, telling stories like movies would only further dilute video games uniqueness as an entertainment medium. Also even if a game had 5 outcomes to a situation, its still just a series of scripted events, so high replayability doesn't last forever, in the end it would all even out. In a standard game you get 12hrs of unique content, in short game with multiple outcomes, you get the same. And both still have the challenge of keeping the gameplay fresh from hour 1 to hour 10.

  • lanmao
  • Excellent Article

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  lanmao

    This was a great read.  Thanks a bunch!

  • EKGTrooper
  • Great Read

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  EKGTrooper

    However, I completely disagree with Randy Smith. I do not want 2 to 3 hour full priced games. I understand his point. Do you want 3 hours of gameplay stretched out over 10 hours? Well, yes, I do. As soon as people like EA get it in their heads that they can sell 3 hour games full priced, we will be in for a world of hurt. They will try and tell us that "You can play missions different ways in this 3 hour game, so there is literally dozens of hours of gameplay!!!"

    Truth is, these promises NEVER amount to anything. Do you know how many times we were promised games that could be played multiple times because the decisions you make can completely change the game? About 6,000,839 times in the past month. "Well, if you replay this level you can take the door to the left instead of the door to the right. You will still end up in the same place though, so nothing has really changed." "In this level you can choose to save the hostage or kill them. If you save them, some random character far down the line will give you a cookie, but if you kill them, a door somewhere in another level won't unlock because he didn't give you the passcode before you killed him."

    Publishers and developers will use this new method as an excuse to cut costs, make smaller cheaper games, and still charge us full price. We will be promised all types of things, like being able to completely change the environment and have completely differrent experiences, but it will never be true, just like it is never true now. I would rather not give publishers an excuse to even try it. If I am enjoying a game, I don't get bored of it after 3 hours. I want all 10 to 12 hours of it. Heck, I am on hour 39 in Fallout New Vegas right now and I am not even close to being bored of it.


    • spaceworm
    • He Never

      Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  spaceworm

      He never said it would have to be a full priced game. He never even got to pricing.

    • Sandman81
    • LAWLLL

      Posted: Nov 08, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Sandman81

      some random characer will give you a cookie. i love it. best comment. i also freaked out at the comment about having 2 to 3 hour games as the industry standard -- let's be honest, they're not all going to be Portal

  • smile_kill
  • now how

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  smile_kill

    could u go wrong wit steven he prints money lol but i would have really like to have seen that

  • chocolootz
  • The true innovations will come from small developers

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  chocolootz

    Big developers are becoming super-sensitive to taking "risky" ventures. And with good cause. They are making games with ever-increasing budgets and the stakes are rising accordingly. So that leaves only the indie community to develop truly innovative game play. We'll only be seeing refinements to proven formulas from developers such as EA and Activision. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The industry will still have innovations, just from lesser known sources. Let EA and Activision make their millions from Guitar Band 8 and We're @ War 6. Meanwhile, I have a date with PopCap and PixelJunk.

    • jesterspawn
    • Yes

      Posted: Nov 03, 2010 12:00AM PST by  jesterspawn

      I agree that smaller developers are going to drive the industry over the next few years. The kinds of innovation that really strikes a chord with players will come from the kinds of games that would have never passed the pitch at a big studio. I predict a lot of "shuffling the deck" going on as the brightest minds continue to give up their paychecks at the big companies in order to form new, small, agile teams with the ambition to take risks on smaller-scale games. Hand-in-hand with this movement, I see gaming on the PC making a strong comeback due to the lack of licensing fees, which is appealing for these more modest mercenary developers.

      Of course, this doesn't mean every small developer is going to be a raging success. Some will become overnight sensations (such as Minecraft, which has so far netted its creator just shy of $7 million USD,) some will simply live a healthy life supported by the long tail, while others will flicker out and their team members will crop up in other teams.

  • tv_ugly
  • This is a good article

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  tv_ugly

    Thumbs up instead of down.

  • joe29671
  • Great Article.

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  joe29671

    Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this article. You dont get to see this type of quality wriiten pices of journalism too often online. I for one would like to see more of this kind of jouralism in the game industry.

  • Sablicious
  • Fail Person's Shovelware

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Sablicious

    It was an FPS - no real loss.


    The only 'crying' I'd be doing to an FPS turd would be as to how the hell the shovelware ended up in my console!

    • Odin(Reborn)
    • Hmm...

      Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  Odin(Reborn)

      Yeah, you're pretty bad at this whole "trolling" thing. Don't quit your day job.

  • madad123
  • Too bad...

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  madad123

    ...that this got cancelled, but really how could it not eventually get cancelled when you take into account the ambition involved? The fact is no company is going to want to spend money on a game that could easily be a huge flop, especially with the big money being in multiplayer shooter games at the moment. And when you think about the whole 2-3 hour length thing, they would have to be the best 2-3 hours of gaming in my life for it to be worth £45. I know you shouldn't really equate the length of the game to its monetary value, but it really is hard not to, and to be honest I wouldnt want to pay £45 for many 2-3 hour experiences Wink

  • great_cake_bat8
  • Fascinating

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  great_cake_bat8

    I really think a two-hour game with lots of replayabilty and adaptive AI would have made me keep it. 

    This was a fantastic article, sometimes I just get so annoyed with how secretive the game industry is at times. I remember A Life Well Wasted mentioned that Jason Rohrer (The guy that made passage) worked as a consultant for this game, He really meant it when he thought the game was ambitious.

    "in November 2009 EA acquired popular social game developer Playfish, and on the same day laid off approximately 1,500 employees in other EA studios." I just..ugh thanks Farmville. I wish there where a market for 40$ experimental games on consoles so publishers wouldn't have to put so much money into it and take risks, probably won't happen/doesn't work that way but I can still dream.

  • AlphaNerd
  • Excellent article.

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  AlphaNerd

    These are the type of articles I love to read.  I prefer longer articles in magazine form usually, but this was well written and researched.  Hearing about game ideas that never come to fruition is something I'm always interested in.  I've been trying to get an entire run of EGM and it has been interesting going through and reading about games that never came out.

    In regards to LMNO, I've always loved the idea of a male/female relationship that grows throughout an adventure.  I felt that the 2008 Prince of Persia did it well, and I had been really looking forward to the "romantic" game Faith and a .45.  However, the article shows just how resistant the larger companies are to new concepts like this.  The fact that the second team decided to play up Eve's sexuality is telling.  I had always said that, had Faith and a .45 come out, it would not have been an action-packed romance set in the Great Depression with a plucky, down to earth female character.  Instead, it would have ended up turning into a futuristic third person cover based shooter with a big breasted android that shoots laser beams from her nipples.

    Well done, Matt Leone!

    • ChaironDeCeleste
    • Female Androids

      Posted: Sep 06, 2011 12:00AM PST by  ChaironDeCeleste

      Well you could try to create a game franchise out of Gillon and Forest's comic book episode 'Lost In Time: Labyrinths' - exactly the android you've mentioned appears there ;)

  • sakinnuso
  • Great Article!

    Posted: Nov 01, 2010 12:00AM PST by  sakinnuso

    This is the kind of journalism that I'd always hoped for from the gaming industry. If this is the new direction for 1up, ie, a shift away from the instant gratification of blog-journalism, then I'm excited! The spirit of Next Generation magazine still lives...

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