The Games that Weren’t: Project LMNO

March 28, 2012

Back in 2005, EA and Steven Spielberg announced a deal that would bring the two together to produce two major projects. The first of those projects was Boom Blox (which later spawned a sequel). The other game was an untitled action game that was known as Project LMNO. While not much was ever known about the game besides speculation and some very small details, people were excited to see what Spielberg and the teams at EA had in store for us.

What It Was: Project LMNO, A mysterious and ambitious game project under development by EA.

What Happened: The reasoning is unclear. Possibly due to the short game length, lack of multiplayer, or the project’s overly ambitious nature.

Why We Wanted It: It set out to do something that few games have successfully pulled off before and since.

It was later revealed that Project LMNO was meant to be a first person shooter/action game with light RPG elements and a heavy emphasis on “escape sequences” and parkour elements. Your lead character, Lincoln, develops a relationship with an alien girl named Eve after he breaks her out of a military facility. A key component of the game seemed to be this relationship, which led the developers to believe that this would not be a lengthy adventure, but a short and highly replayable one. She would fight alongside you in combat and help you solve the mystery of her past as well as your own involvement in what seemed to be a grand conspiracy.

Eve’s A.I. was the biggest draw, as it seemed a lot of the focus was made on her character evolving, comparing it to a character from The Sims. It seemed like as the game went on, how Eve’s character developed would vary from player to player depending entirely on their actions towards Eve. It would reflect in minor things, like how she reacted and helped you during combat. Eve would either become a burden on the player, a useful asset, or a real character you learn to trust and care for. Partnerships like that in games can be done well, but they are rare. This was the biggest draw of the project.

Most of the main team was then laid off 2008 and then the project was outright canceled in 2009 once a new team had formed and began re-working the original concept (although that cancellation was not made public until 2010). The second team was much smaller and didn’t have as much time to revive the lofty project before EA decided to shut it down once and for all. The game was apparently too ambitious or too costly for EA, despite how much they wanted to attempt to branch out with new IPs at the time (Like Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge). Some attribute the lack of multiplayer or the potentially short game length (it seemed poised to be a game with incentive to play through it multiple times) or just the fact that the team had next to nothing to show for their potentially great ideas outside of more concepts. The exact reasoning behind this cancellation remains to be seen.

A mix of Enslaved, Deus Ex and Mass Effect, Project LMNO seemed like a risky venture for EA, but it could have been a successful one. It could have been a disaster, either critically or commercially, but the information we do know about it leads me to believe it could have been something special. EA decided not to take the risk and because of that, we are now left wondering just what would have come of this project in the end. Would it have just been another action game or would those lofty goals been met if they had been given more time? It’s a shame we were never able to find out.