8 June 2012

Q: With the movies, sometimes they'll put in the trailer one single scene right at the end, that's more important than it is in the movie...

Karl Stewart: Sometimes it's very hard to compare directly to movies, because... Knowing and working with a lot of movie people, I tend to find that their trailers are created in one of two ways. One is, if they know they have a really good movie, they try and hold back. They tease you just enough and they hold back. And you can generally tell that, they'll be up there getting their audience share points when they go and show it to audiences around the country, and they make a decision on how far they're going to push.

And in the same sense, if a movie's not trending too well, and they need to spend some more money, then they pick all the best parts of the movie for the trailer. You watch and think, oh, it's really good, and all of a sudden you watch it and...Wow. All the best parts were in the trailer.

For us, we brought in the best in the industry to work with us, we spent a lot of time trying to make sure we carried that story to the very end. You do have to be careful, we don't want to spoil anything. It kills me to think that I've sat and I've played the game maybe 25-plus times from start to finish, and after a while you just become desensitized. I hate that, the fact that I've played it so many times, I don't... I still appreciate that the audience hasn't had the chance to experience it. There's a very different way in which you experience watching a movie, versus when you play a game. When you play a game, you're in control. So I'm trying to make sure I don't spoil anything for you. Keep it so you pick it up and play it for the first time and the hair stands up on your neck... We tease a little bit, but I don't want to spoil anything.

 Q: I was curious, did you use an actress as a model for the face? How did you go about choosing what she looked like? I see a strong resemblance to a British actress, Rosamund Pike, from Die Another Day...

Karl Stewart: So the process we went through, and Brian was obviously talking in some depth about it... Brian and I started both around the same time, I kind of watched his process a lot. He went through iteration after iteration of what he liked in a character, and what he was able to bring across...To feature what we liked in the Lara Croft of yesteryear, and yet it felt fresh and relevant.

I think at one point he had lists and lists of girls and faces. It almost got to the point where he was like, I like her eyebrows, but I don't like her nose, I like that chin, I like that face... Brian actually went to work on bringing all of that together. If you watch the making-of, we did a making-of trailer for Game Informer, he literally started from scratch in that respect. It's the same process that Brian went through to create Lara in the first place. Brian is art director, we'll talk together, but there were some key people involved, myself included, who just every now and then locked ourselves in a room, brought it up on the screen and looked at all the different comparisons, and really went into the details of some of the smaller things. Like the M in her lips. One of the things that, over time, could become iconic, but still make it feel like Lara.

So it started from a blank canvas of, we like the eyes here, nose there, mouth there, put it all together. We will probably print an artbook for the launch, so in the artbook we're going to make sure that we show an evolution of where it started. Because there's still some concept art up on the walls of the studio, and it's pretty awesome to see how far we've come with a character that started as the Lara Croft of Underworld, and then taking the radical steps to a place where... You look at it and you say, really, we're trying to be something that we're not. And then you start dialing it back in, and bringing it into line, and then you get what we see today. It's not literally just, there's one girl, we like her face. It's an amalgamation of many different attributes. The funny thing is, it's not as easy as you think to take a pair of eyes, a nose, and then ears from different people and put them all together, because you get such strange-looking faces... You have to be able to blend them in order to get a new look.

Q: Every one could feel different, this one has bigger eyes, this one has a smaller nose, then they all have to come into agreement.

Karl Stewart: That's a good point as far as how far you can push the character. When designing Lara, it was very important that it's not just creating a character where you look at her and you say, she's beautiful. You have to be very careful that... We're putting this survival filter over everything, bringing the player to situations that you've never seen Lara in before. There's the great example of that first kill, we want you to feel like it's real. We want you to feel like it's going to actually happen. It feels like it's happening to a real person. Therefore we have to make sure that the character, you have a connection with that character, you feel like she's somebody who you could possibly meet. Because it heightens the sort of tension, heightens the personality, the closeness to the emotion of what's happening.

You still have to make sure that you can achieve that, have a character that allows you to achieve that. To have a caricature, somebody who... Let's say you put in Lara from Legend. We don't believe you'd be able to get the same emotion from that character, because she wouldn't feel as real. You'd feel like it was still the Lara that we knew. And she's still... She's beautiful, but... We know that she has very long legs, she's very slim, great posture, but it's trying to make you feel that connection... Therefore, there's a balance. You want to make sure the character feels almost like someone you could meet.

Q: Tomb Raider has always had great music that was really immersive. Can you tell us who the composer is?

Karl Stewart: You're right, Tomb Raider has always had awesome soundtracks. We've been very keen to make sure that for this game we have an awesome soundtrack, and we are creating a soundtrack right now that will be released at launch. You've seen most of my tweets, I love soundtracks. I listen to soundtracks 99.9 percent of the day, I don't listen to words in songs, and I've got every movie that I can think of that I love... So we're very passionate about soundtracks. With that, we made sure we've chosen the right team of people, including a composer, to be able to bring together this soundtrack. Again, we are getting very close to announcing this person...

What I'm trying to do, so you're aware for all your sites... As you know, most campaigns, all of a sudden out of nowhere you hear, oh, this person's the voice, or this person's making the music, this person's written the script, and there's no real...understanding of how the process happened or why it happened or how we chose that person. So what we're doing over the course of the campaign, starting in about, let's see... I don't want to put an exact date on it because it may change, but let's just say in the next month, we're going to announce who the voice of Lara is. And then from that, every eight weeks we're going to announce a major part of the game. So for instance we're going to announce who the script writer is, we're going to announce who the composer is, we're going to do that all the way through the campaign, so that we make a big deal about these pieces of information. We give it the prestige that it deserves. It's a very big franchise, and if you were to watch the making of a movie, you know that when a director comes on board or an actor comes on board, it's a big deal.

It's not about just the fact that we make the game and the studio, once again there's some phenomenal talent... What we're trying to do is present that in a way that allows us to show that it's not just that person or that talent, it's about a process that they've gone through to get to where we are today, and it's about bringing that to life in a very definable approach that you feel like... It allows you to see a part of the game and a part of development that you never imagined happened.

What we're doing with Tomb Raider, we're doing some very exciting, very unique and different things that we've never done at Crystal, let alone on a Tomb Raider game. We want to make sure that when we announce these types of things, whether it be the composer or the script writer, we do it in a way where... When you watch this or you read this you'll feel like that is something special, very special. We have some things that we've proposed that are very exciting. It's not just about, hey, here's the person. The composer has gone through extraordinary lengths to get the types of noises that you hear in the game, and then made music from them. I'm looking forward to watching them bring that to life. Expect it...We're going to do this probably over five different episodes, we're going to make the announcement on what that all means and how it's going to come to life in a few weeks. But in the next month, I'm very excited to be able to get our girl and bring her out there and show her off to the world, do some interviews with you all and chat about it. It's very exciting.

Q: Building on the question about the composer, and the influences for this game, was there any inspiration from previous Tomb Raider titles?

Karl Stewart: With a re-imagining, we always say the same thing, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. And I've used that many times, actually I get people saying, explain that! [laughter] It sounds very extreme. But one of the key things with every aspect of Tomb Raider is we can't forget who we are. In making all these changes, we don't want to forget that we have an identity, we have a formula. Something that's unique. And in everything that we do, whether it be casting for a new Lara, getting the voice right, down to composing and trying to find the right music, we still looked back at what made Tomb Raider Tomb Raider. There were certain things that will become iconic in this and you'll remember... We'll have sort of throwbacks or an element where you'll think, I remember that, even small snippets. But what I will say is that this one is very fresh and very new. And it's more about the game that you're playing, about the world that we're building. And also about setting a foundation for the future of the franchise. We want something to become iconic that belongs to this game. We also want it to be familiar, yet different.

Read Part 3 of the Interview - CLICK HERE


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