Earlier this week, it was discovered that Microsoft had filed a trademark for "Eden Falls" in the US, with reference to "entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line computer game".
Reporters quickly linked the trademark to a mobile game in development at Brimstone Interactive, cue mass disappointment on the part of Xbox One enthusiasts. Here's something slightly more exciting to consider: "Eden Falls" is also the name of a supposedly cancelled project at Lionhead, as discussed by former game designer Ollie Purkiss on his LinkedIn page. Yes, the same Lionhead that's now working on an Xbox One game that isn't Fable-related.
Eden Falls began life as "Dimitri", a project that went through several iterations over several years before finally giving up the ghost in 2006, shortly after Microsoft's acquisition of the studio. According to a fascinating Polygon report, it was to be an interactive drama comparable to classic adventure games, originally set in 1950s America, but later moved to the 1980s. Eden Falls would have cast the player as a high school student, and featured such choices as whether to take revenge on a bully by spiking his breakfast.
As in other projects proposed by then-studio head Peter Molyneux, engaging the player's emotions was a key objective. Beyond that, there appears to have been little certainty about the game's identity - Lionhead later experimented with time travel and a post-apocalyptic scenario, among other things. "Dimitri was this ongoing thing that no one knew what the hell it was supposed to be," according to artist Mark Healey. "So we were always trying to come up with various ideas to try and convince the rest of the team to focus on something."
Lionhead's former head of art Paul McLaughlin wrote a blog about Survivors, the game Eden Falls/Dimitri eventually became, back in 2007 - it includes three internal presentation slides, which I've attached above and below. "Survivors really feels like 'the one that got away' to me," McLaughlin wrote." I think this could have been an awesomely entertaining title, and a great gamer's game. I think it could have been Lionhead's Syndicate.
"The high concept: The Apocalypse has kicked off and you have to save yourself and your family as you travel across the US. It was a theme common to many disaster movies but most closely realised in the remake of 'The War Of The Worlds. The strap-line was going to be 'What would You Do' and that sums up the thinking."
"With FPS and action adventure elements combined with Lionhead's skill at building simulated this would have been a classic. However M'Soft had some exciting new hardware (Project Natal) on the horizon and we seemed to be a good bet to take it on. Sorry to see this one go but exciting times ahead..."
So, what of Brimstone's game? According to a FAQ - pulled from circulation, but preserved via Google Cache - it's an episodic "science fiction themed role-playing game, featuring deeply tactical turn-based combat and an exciting story of epic proportions". The doc adds that "our team currently consists of 5 awesome people with experience from companies such as Supercell, RedLynx, Mountain Sheep and Recoil Games."
Lots to ponder here. Which game would you rather play?