The community ambassadors conduct their first interview with the Dev members Karl Stewart and Brian Horton. In this discussion, they announce that there will be an official soundtrack available with the release of the game as well as the possibility of an art book. Each of the ambassadors had an exclusive interview also and will have their own updates when they return from E3, and I will post them here. Right now they are way too busy with the Crystal Dynamics team having dinner in Hollywood and such...so jealous...
Community Ambassador Group Interview
Karl Stewart, and Brian Horton (who joined about halfway through)
Q: What makes this
Tomb Raider better than the other ones you've released?
Stewart: I think one of the things that we want to make sure we preface
with...The last 15 years, we've seen some phenomenal Tomb Raiders. I don't
think it's a case of saying that this one is better than any of the other ones.
I just think our goal is to create something that is very unique and very new.
We have an opportunity to take a beloved franchise like Tomb Raider and bring
it back to an origin story where we almost sort of bring it to... Not just a
broader audience, but we allow people to feel like they now know who she is.
Give her a very unique personality. And make her, as most of you have read,
sort of culturally relevant for today. Because Lara, as you know, the years...
She kind of became a caricature. You knew she had her guns, you knew she had
the outfit and the personality that she had, but you never knew very much about
where she came from.
us, we set the goal of saying, let's take the opportunity to go back to the
very beginning, and when you do that, go back to the very beginning, you then
have to look at who the character is today. We've looked at a lot of
franchises, I know you've read that I talk a lot about the Batman analogy. It's
the easiest way to sort of explain what our challenges are and move forward
with it. We looked at Batman, and it falls into sort of three different
categories. The first one is, you have that original Batman, the Adam West,
right? We all know what Adam West looked like back in the day, real kitsch,
kinda cool-looking product of its generation. And then you move into the George
Clooney, Val Kilmer idea of what Batman was for the '90s. And then you move
into the Christian Bale, you move into that era where Batman is re-imagined and
re-invented for today's audience.
look at Tomb Raider and think, the first Tomb Raider right through to Angel of
Darkness, you look at that and think, it's a product of its time. I'm not
saying it's an Adam West Batman, but it was a product of its time and it did
very well, people loved it. Then you moved into the Legend, Anniversary, and
Underworld, and again, it was a product of its time, very successful. But we've
moved to a space where we believe that the audience, and I include yourselves
there, you want to know where she came from. You want to feel a connection to
our character that you've never really felt before. We're not trying to say
this one's the best ever, this is going to be the best of all of them. What
we're trying to do is create a very unique experience for this audience, and
for you, for today. Make you feel like you're now connected to a character that
you love in a very unique and different way. And most Batman fans look at
Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan's Batman... They still look at Adam
West... I'm a big Batman fan, right? I still love all the Batmans. There's
still something cool about George Clooney being Batman. Kind of bizarre, but
there's something cool about it. So it's not like we're trying to re-invent the
wheel too much. It's more about, we just think this is an opportunity to do
something very unique and new.
Q: They have been
re-imagined, but the scenario that's surrounding the character remains very
important in the Batman and James Bond storylines...Did you do that for Tomb
Stewart: I think the James Bond analogy... James Bond had certain traits that,
again, were relevant to his time. A lot of the study that I did with that
character was looking at, when James Bond came out, a license to kill,
traveling around to these exotic locations, and getting the girl at the end of
the movie, that was again a product of its time. It was something about what he
did. He drove a particular car, you knew a little bit about his background, he
drank his martini shaken but not stirred. All these little things that make him
iconic and that you remembered. But for this James Bond, they kept some of
those traits, but they also looked at traits that they didn't need to have. He
didn't need to get the girl all the time. Instead of getting the girl, they
showed that all of a sudden he could fall in love. All of a sudden emotions
came up that he never had before. Which made him sort of multi-dimensional as a
character, where before he was one-dimensional. He was like, "James Bond,
license to kill, I can do whatever I want." Those days are gone for them.
look at James Bond today, it feels like there's more of a connection. So what
we're trying to do with Tomb Raider is ensure that you still feel connected to
the character, you still feel like I know the iconic moments... Now, I have to
be careful not to spoil anything, because what we've shown so far and what
you've seen is really just a snippet. We've broken up this game into bits or
phases, where right now, it's about telling the journey of how she becomes
stronger. We didn't want to start the journey where she has pistols and a
shotgun... You're getting each of these elements along the way and you're
starting to understand her a little bit more. We've really just scratched the
surface of her even meeting people.
we'll start to show a side of her personality. It's very key to us that we keep
certain traits to make sure that it's the Lara Croft that we all love. We will
start to see that come through. I can't speak for you, but the hair stood up on
the back of my neck when, for us, the first time, playing this game, in the
alpha phase you can really play the game from start to finish, and you get an
hour or so in, and all of a sudden she jumps off a ledge into her first tomb.
You stand there going, oh my God, she's discovered it for the first time, and
she's a little bit in awe herself, because this is what she wants to do.
are the moments that we want people to go, “I remember the first time she ever
came across a tomb.” So we want to make sure we still have those iconic
moments, and I don't want to spoil too much, because that really is the joy of
playing it for the first time, experiencing those things, and making the hair
stand up on the back of your neck when you say, I will remember that. Much like
the demo yesterday, when she had to kill that guy for the first time. That's a young
girl... She just wants to go on an adventure. She didn't think that in a couple
of days after setting sail on the ship, she's going to have a guy on top of her
and she's going to have to shoot him. Our goal is to make sure you still have a
relationship and a connection with the character, she will have traits that
you'll look at and say, I see Lara Croft start to shine through.
Q: When you decided
to start over with Tomb Raider, was it clear from the beginning that it would
still be Lara Croft as the hero of the game, or did you also think about
replacing the main character?
Stewart: No, it was always very clear. It was always going to be Lara Croft, it
was always going to be Tomb Raider. Nobody else would have come close. I don't
see the point in doing it if it wasn't Lara Croft.
Q: Do you have in
mind, when you show the trailers, how to avoid spoilers? For example, in the
trailer we can see the helicopter, you can see that approach... How do you deal
Stewart: So what we try to do with spoilers is not very literal. In a sense
that, I don't want to tell you the first time she does this, the first time she
does that. Because that really spoils... But when putting together a trailer in
particular... You watch movie trailers all the time. A great example is, you
watch a Batman trailer or you watch a James Bond trailer, you get a full
snippet of the movie. Prometheus is a great example. We watched the Prometheus
trailer, and I'm going to a midnight showing tonight because I'm such a big fan
of Aliens, but you watch that trailer and you go, I want to get that arc, I
want to understand, I want to see all these different beats that make me feel
like I'm going to put my money down and buy that.
we were to only make trailers based on the concept of what we're showing right
now, you'd only see one dimension. You'd only see that one thing, and that
doesn't inspire you to want to know more. So we do put in snippets inside our
trailers to show where we're going with it, so the audience overall can feel
like, okay, I know that it's not just about a journey, I know she's going to
get stronger, I know she's going to have a gun, I know she's going to fight.
You see that helicopter, that just brings up questions. I'm not going to tell
you what happens with the helicopter.
together a trailer really is an art form, we spend a lot of time trying to
manage...We brought on Ignition, Ignition Creative, based in LA, who I've
worked with quite a lot in the last few years. They were the guys behind all
the Batman trailers, the Prometheus trailers, they're not cheap, but when you
sit down with them, and they put together a video game trailer on the same
principles and strategies as a movie trailer, they bring to light things that
we simply didn't think about. We had a large array of snippets from the game,
they played the game from start to finish, they came back and said, you have
your vision and here's how we can add to that. Here are the things we think you
can tease from this and here's the story you can tell. Between us, we created
that trailer. We believe you need to see some of that. You have no idea at what
point it happens. We don't put it in chronological order, so halfway through
the trailer means halfway through the game. It's more of a tease.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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...?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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...
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
Q: So, why is Lara
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.
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,
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...
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
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.
Thanks to Meagan Marie for the transcript.