- [Happy New Year, all! Of course, I'm posting this about a day and half beforehand, but hope all you lovely folks are having an awesome New Year's Eve and are set up for a wonderful 2008. I thought we'd start the year off with a look at Surfer Girl's latest 'games you're not meant to know about' revelations.]

Sp, I was discussing this with my co-workers, and I suspect I may be one of the primary/initial hypers of 'insider' game dev blogger Surfer Girl's carefully anonymous talents. As discussed before, there are particular areas in which the Girl is good at compiling detailed, undisclosed info - and these are particularly tied to Ubisoft Montreal/the Montreal dev scene and Microsoft first-party development circa the first Xbox.

The latter of these is dealt with in this post about Freefall/Gemini, two cancelled internal Microsoft projects - let's extract some relevant parts: "It was 2002, Ironworks Studio's was in the midst of developing Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (which would be the only product to make to stores that the team developed), a concept for a game called Freefall came about. Freefall is aptly described as a "science fiction skydiving game," it takes place in the 22nd century on a twenty-or-so mile high tower (named "Freefall tower") supported by cables of a space elevator. The game started as you jumped off a building at the top in the tower (which was a sky-city named "Freefall City") and you spent the rest of the game on a journey free-falling to the ground in complex, varying environments (such as New Yosemite Park) while eluding obstacles (such as the police)."

Secondly: "Following this, Ironworks Studio began work on a similar title named Gemini. Instead of falling through a massive tower as one did in Freefall, Gemini was a "science fiction first person shooter" (although it was originally an FPS) detailing a climb up a tower 65,000 miles or so in length. Award-winning science fiction writer Greg Bear was brought as a story consultant and the co-op FPS in which you played as twin sisters combatting robots, evil corporations, and corrupt clergy turned into a FPS where the two protagonists were the same character (one from 2100 and the other from 2150 with a "major intrapersonal conflict.""

[Now, skeptics like me may Google carefully and find a v.obscure portfolio site for Gemini which basically contains all of the information in the second half of the article, verbatim, and a movie which the screenshot may (or may not) have been taken from. But then, the info in the first half - about Freefall - hasn't been available online before. So... careful research plus _some_ insider synthesis = Surfer Girl? That's my bet.]