Abraxas is a cancelled Massive Multiplayer RPG that was in early planning stage at Eidos. The project was originally based on the Fabled Lands series of fantasy gamebooks written by Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson, published by Pan Books in the mid 90s. Originally planned as a twelve-book series, only six books were released between 1995 and 1996 before the series was cancelled.
In 1996, the authors decided to use their experience with gamebooks to enter the computer games industry – taking the Fabled Lands series with them.
They started work at Eidos Interactive on an MMO. Eidos was skeptical as to whether an MMO would be financially successful, but was interested enough to set the authors up with a team to research the relevant technology. [Info from Wikipedia]
At Bit Tech we can read in a long article about the project:
When it came to developing the fiction and the overall settings of the MMO though, it was an entirely different story and the groundwork was quickly laid down for adapting Fabled Lands to a new medium – until legal problems reared their heads anyway. Soon, Dave and Jamie were forced to drop the Fabled Lands setting and look at new setting.
“Our publishers told us that our book contract entitled them to 50 percent of our revenue from the game,” says Dave. “They meant our salaries, as Eidos wasn’t going to pay anything to licence a fantasy world when they could just as easily pay us to create one from scratch. Then the publishers said, ‘Okay, not 50 percent, but you have to give us 2% of what you get.’ That was just going to be an irritation, but we decided we’d just come up with a new setting.”
Needing to distance their burgeoning MMO from the Fabled Lands books, Jamie and Dave set about creating a number of new world, one of which became known as Abraxas and Dave describes as being very different from most other fantasy settings […]
The team’s plans for the game were extremely ambitious for the late 90s, as the Abraxas MMO was supposed to include advanced AI that acted as a digital gamesmaster, tailoring the experience for each player.
In the end the game was never released; according to Morris and Thomson, this was because of their own, over-ambitious designs, colleagues who didn’t understand their ideas and the general poor management of game design and development at the time.
“Well, it was all pretty convoluted,” Dave says, a little sadly. “To start with, we had a project manager we’d hired who led a sort of coup! We turned up one day and he told us, ‘The team has decided not to do a fantasy role-playing game. It’s going to be about giant battling robots now.’”
The Abraxas setting is still being developed by the two authors, and may become an interactive e-book for the iPhone and iPad in the future. You can find more info about Fabled Lands and the Abraxas MMORPG at the official Fabled Lands Blog!
Thanks to Robert Seddon for the contribution! Thanks to Jason for the english corrections!