Eidos' Fabled Lands MMO exposed

Canned but not forgotten.

Fabled Lands game-book creators Dave Morris and Jamie Thompson have explained why their MMO adaptation never got off the ground at Eidos during the early 2000s.

The pair were hired to research making an MMO at the turn of the millennium. Back then Eidos was riding a Tomb Raider tsunami, and the only competition was Ultima Online, EverQuest and Asheron's Call. Morris' and Thompson's idea got the green light and they began work, eventually ditching the Fabled Lands IP to avoid sticky legal matters. Abraxas MMO was conceived, but sadly never birthed.

"[The development process was] utterly broken," recalled Morris to bit-tech. "Many games in the late '90s were being developed without a design.

"There was no real software process, and rarely much of a plan beyond: 'The game will be ready when it's ready.' It wasn't solely the team's fault; the milestones they were being given were often dictated by people who wanted to see eye-candy rather than real, under-the-hood progress."

Morris said the pair arrived at work one morning to find the project manager leading a coup to turn the game away from fantasy and towards "giant battling robots".

Ultimately Eidos' diminishing success meant support was pulled. "Eidos just ran out of money and their internal development model wasn't working," said Thompson, who added that he's owed "a lot of gold coins" still.

The pair haven't given up, and are working on an iPhone port of the Fabled Lands books for release this summer. They've got ambitious plans for iPad, too.

"We'll be reviving Fabled Lands and Abraxas, hopefully," said Thompson. "We've just raised a six-figure sum and we're actively looking for the right partner. Frankly, most publishers have been slow to recognize the potential of e-books; that they can be much more than an old-fashioned book on a glowing screen. We understand both."

With remorse, he added: "I wish we'd got into computer games a lot earlier and that we'd done the Fabled Lands books at the apogee of the gamebook craze. We'd be some kind of Final Fantasy franchise by now if we had."

Head over to bit-tech for pictures and an in-depth account of the Abraxas MMO, including how World of Warcraft may have pinched its cartoony style.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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