LMNO (also known as The Escape Artist) is a cancelled action adventure that was in development for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 from 2005 to 2010 by Electronic Arts Los Angeles, with the help of Steven Spielberg. As we can read in Wikipedia, the partnership with Spielberg, first announced in 2005, was to produce an action game with an aim to evoke emotion, described as “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”.
The team never released many information about the game, but after it was officially cancelled in october 2010, 1UP wrote an interesting article about LMNO, in which we can read some previously unknown facts on the project and see a target-render video:
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 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. [...]
On the surface, it was a first-person action/adventure PS3/360/PC game set in modern times. Players would split their time between light role-playing objectives like talking to characters to uncover information, and action sequences featuring a lot of what the team referred to as “escape gameplay” where the player would run from approaching helicopters and FBI-style agents too overwhelming to fight face-to-face. [...]
The developers did a lot of prototyping with Eve to make for a strong connection between her and Lincoln. Part of that came visually — Eve’s design was deliberately exaggerated, with large eyes and lanky fingers, to help the animators express her emotions, and she was designed to be sympathetic and sensitive rather than a sex symbol. Part of that came with her abilities — she could team up with Lincoln for cooperative attacks, or project things into his vision because she had the power to tap into his mind, so things like storm clouds would appear when she was in trouble. [...]
In 2008 EA laid off most of the LMNO team, and the project evolved from a characters-driven adventure into a more traditional action game (now called The Escape Artist), somewhat similar to Uncharted. It seems that the original LMNO concept was too abitous and even after the change in its design, EA decided that it was not worth the risk to continue with the development, after so many years of work and money already spent on it. Instead “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“.
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