8 June 2012

Q: It's a tall order...

KS: It is a very tall order. And I think, you know, again, getting back to...Looking at, for instance, the music of Batman, I listen to the music scores constantly, listen to film scores constantly. And I look at the Batman score, it's probably one of my favorites, because they made it iconic, they've made it their own, and some of the music that was in that has crossed over into many other movies and many other scores. Because it became so powerful, had such an identity for that movie, that people now look at that and go, that's Batman.

When you hear the trombones going BRRRM, BRRRM, you think, I've heard that before. Of course it gets overused in some cases. But for us we want to make sure that it's familiar, yet different. You'll still listen to it and say, I know certain things... And that isn't in a literal sense, where you'll here the chime when she picks something up or when she puts it in her backpack, those are all the small little things that you have to push aside and look at what becomes iconic.

Q: Do you go through puzzles, like in the past episodes? Or are you not making puzzles?

Karl Stewart: We've placed Lara in a world that has existed before her. In the sense that we have these scavengers, and we have the mystery around the island. They've created these contraptions...And Lara's been put in a situation where, unlike before, where she would go in and have to pull levers and move rocks and align stuff, this is very different. This is more about, you know, making it feel as real as possible and not as forced. So again, I have to be careful about saying too much about the puzzles, I don't want to spoil all the adventure of finding these things for the first time, but we've given some examples of our vision for puzzles, in that it becomes more about the physics-based. We're calling it smart, resourceful Lara, because really we want the player to feel smart. The players come in and look at this space and go, I can solve this, because you've taught me the building blocks and the elements of what it means to solve this puzzle.

Puzzles will come in a couple of different shapes and sizes. It's so hard to talk about without giving stuff away, I don't want to do that, but... What you've seen so far is really our goal in terms of, we want Lara to come in and have to solve it for herself, and sometimes it gets very complicated. I will say, though, that we're not moving back into the traditional Lara Croft, move the rock over, align the sundial, pull the levers and all the rest of this. It's more about the space that she's in, it a living, breathing space, and she has to figure it out for herself as she overcomes the challenges that she's in. There will be a couple of semi-traditional... But it's more about the environment and the world that she's in.

Q: I have a similar question, can we expect to see boss battles again, or is that going to be...?

Karl Stewart: Well, it wouldn't be a game without... Batman has to fight the Joker. You have to have that big climax, there's got to be something. That's not a spoiler, that's just reality... [laughs]

Q: But in Underworld, it kind of moved away from traditional bosses and into more puzzle-oriented, is it going to be kind of like that?

Karl Stewart: No, well... Treading lightly. You will still have to overcome different sorts of scaling and different impasses from the game. Yes, there will be a boss fight, or boss fights.

Q: You said that you wanted the game, I think, in general, rather than just specifically the music, to be familiar, yet different. Would you say that's been one of the hardest elements in re-creating the franchise?

Karl Stewart: Yes, very much so. As I said, with that vague analogy... When we went through a process, when we began looking at the re-imagining, the process first and foremost was, let's put Tomb Raider aside and let's look at the competitive landscape. The competitive landscape... Mainly to understand who we're up against, what's out there. We started to look at, of course, a whole host of games, from Assassin's Creed to Gears to Call of Duty, what made it so big... And we started to look at bringing all of those pieces together. Building this kind of concept, let's see what everyone is doing, let's take what's good there, what's good over there, let's bring it all together.

And all of a sudden you have this strange beast, this amalgamation that you try to... We kind of felt like, this is not Tomb Raider, this is not who we are. We have a formula and we have something which has been very unique for Tomb Raider for so long, let's push that aside for a second and look at that core pillars of what make Tomb Raider Tomb Raider. It starts with the puzzle-solving, the combat, and the exploration. In previous Tomb Raider games, obviously they were weighted very differently. 70-20-10 in some cases, with puzzles being some of the bigger picture and combat not really playing a part. We realized we needed to address that, we needed to rebalance it.

So for this new Tomb Raider, you still feel like the original pillars of Tomb Raider are there. We've still gone and taken things that we like, and also things that players have come to expect now from video games. I think you can't have a game without doing that, because when people play it, they play a lot more games than the one Tomb Raider, and they already have a sense of what's good and what's not. So we have to be careful of that, that we're familiar, yet different. That people who play Tomb Raider will say, this is a Tomb Raider game, I can see that, but it's different in the sense that it's fresh and it's for today. You can't end up with this strange beast that tries to fit a mold of, here's all the games that are great today brought into one. You still have to be very careful that Tomb Raider is Tomb Raider. It's very unique, it's got a formula, it's been around longer than most of the games we're competing against by far, and you have to be very honored to be able to take those attributes and bring it across into this kind of... Familiar yet different is one of the phrases that sum that up.

Q: Then another element of what makes it difficult would be being consciousness and the awareness of the legacy that you're handling, not wanting to take the wrong step...

Karl Stewart: Of course, because it's... Outside of having a great community like yourselves and a lot of fans, a lot of the journalists that Brian and I talk to, a lot of them over the last two days have gotten very passionate about what we're doing, and really gushed about the fact that they're so enamored with how we've gone back to tell the tale of a character which, in most cases, was the first game that they ever played. And when they start talking to us, they're saying, like, I remember the first day I played Tomb Raider. We have to be careful that we don't burst that bubble. There was a time when... Getting back to all those analogies about what Batman and James Bond were years ago, Tomb Raider was Tomb Raider. It was on a platform like the PlayStation or Sega Saturn. People remember getting those consoles and playing the game for the first time and getting emotionally involved, it was awesome. That was the one thing kinda changed their lives, and in some cases made them want to be into video games entirely. We can't forget that we delivered that at a time when other people weren't. And now, when making this, we want to make sure that we transcend that, and make sure that when they play this game, they feel like this is doing something... It's different for today, but they still get that hairs on the back of their neck, it's still the first time that they've played a Tomb Raider game feeling. It's still important to us that we don't forget who we are.

(Brian Enters)

Q: So, why is Lara only five-foot-three?

Brian Horton: She's not five-foot-three. So that's... She's about five-six. I had a conversation with Toby [Gard], and I asked, "How tall is Lara?" I really wanted to know. And he's like, "She's five-four." "Five-four. Really?" "Yeah, that's how tall she is." "I don't remember being that short." But what he did say is really important; he said that regardless of whatever height she is, you want Lara to be... Not necessarily the tallest woman in the room. She's supposed to have some underdog status. She's not supposed to be as tall as a man, but at the same time she's doing something a man could do. So in our version, she's about five-six. She's got a height that we feel is a good average height for a woman, but when she's next to a man, she is considerably shorter. We feel like that's an important attribute, that even though she is a stronger person, she isn't going into the battle with size and brawn. She does it with smarts, she does it with athleticism, she does it with her determination going forward. So five-six is what we're sticking with, that's where we're at right now, but the most important thing is that she feels as believable and real as we could possibly make her. Somebody could look at her and say, I know that girl. That's someone I know. But then she becomes someone amazing, someone that starts off ordinary becomes the hero that we all know and love.

Karl Stewart: Quote him. Five-six. That's it, forever.

Q: I have a question for Brian... What kind of reference and research has been done for this game, particularly...?

BH: We've done a lot of research. In fact, Karl and I went to Japan, to Visual Works, to work on the trailer, and that gave us a wonderful opportunity to take references... I went to Miko, this village, it's a forest village...

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Karl Stewart: Let me just say, going to Miko, when we told the Japanese team where he was going, they actually had to go and get maps and get translators and say, "Are you sure? Can we get you a car to bring you there?" "No, I'll just get a train, it's fine." That's like going hundreds of miles inland, off the beaten track

Brian Horton: It wasn't a short trip, but it was vital, because we needed to capture the authenticity of this place. So the island is fictional, it's not Japan, but I really wanted it to feel like it came from the DNA of Japan. The trees, the ground, you saw a little bit of footage where the shrines are on fire, those shrines were taken from Miko. As a source of inspiration. So we really wanted to make sure this was an authentic culture, something you could look at, and even though it's an amalgamation of myth and history, like a Tomb Raider game is, but it is grounded and it is believable. So we did a tremendous amount of traveling, and also extensive research on the web, making sure that anything we wanted to do was as believable and correct as possible. I think that's obviously super important, so does the whole team, and that goes all the way through the entire game.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for these transcripts, very interesting. Sounds like it will be a good starting off point for some lovely sequels if it all comes together!