Tomb Raider (series history)

Do you know the game BC Racers and whose handiwork it is? Does the name Toby Gard mean anything to you? Then make yourself comfortable. Our story begins with the fact that one day a young designer decided to leave the history of the aforementioned primitive races, and fired up the idea of creating a game that would have no analogues on the market, but would become truly cult. Of course, this is Tomb Raider - a three-dimensional action-adventure with a female protagonist.

video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Early concepts for Lara by Toby Gard and Phil Campbell, source: core-design.com

Initially, the main character was supposed to be the Latin American adventurer Laura Cruz, who eventually became the British aristocrat Lara Croft. Due to her penchant for finding ancient artifacts, she has become an independent adventurer to her heel. Plus, he's in great shape. Lara is far from the first female protagonist in games, but only a few projects at that time could, in principle, boast of really bright female characters. In general, it was pretty dashing to release a three-dimensional adventure game in the mid-90s. Not only was the project different from everything that was available at that time, but also the priority platform for the release of the game was to become the Sega Saturn - a console that would become famous for its clumsy and non-standard processing of 3D visuals. The Core Design team was not sure if

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

The team that stood at the origins of TR. Left to right: Gavin Rummery, Jason Gosling, Toby Guard, Heather Gibson, Neil Boyd, Paul Douglas

Heather Stevens (Gibson), Artist and Level Designer for TRI-TRII: “We never focused on references because we didn't try to replicate what had been done before.”

Gavin Rummeri, TR-TRII programmer recalls that the biggest challenge was creating the environment and getting Lara to interact with it. Heather tried to build it in 3DS, but in this editor it was possible to edit only in wireframe mode. Neither Gavin nor his partner Paul Douglas knew how to make the character interact with the free-form environment, given the processing constraints. The solution was to build everything on a grid. This was the key moment when the implementation of the idea became possible and everything fell into place. Toby could calculate Lara's movements, Paul was in charge of the controls, and Gavin created a level editor that Neil Boyd (the artist who went into a better world this year) and Heather used to create locations and tests. The process went much faster than in 3D Studio.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Level editor. Source: core-design.com

For such a game, it was important to choose the right musical accompaniment. Nathan McCree was responsible for this. All this was in a terrible rush. According to Nathan, he had only 3 weeks to create music, so it was first composed, and already along the way they figured out where to integrate it. Then it turned out that melodies worked best when they illustrated a point in the game, setting the mood. Later, the team faced tough deadlines and eventually the small team had to hire additional staff.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Stuart Atkinson, artist of the first parts of Tomb Raider: “I was friends with Toby Gard for a long time, and one day he asked me if I could help finish the enemy characters, since there were only four months left to finish the project, and they did not have time ... I decided to take the opportunity and started doing animation and modeling in the game. ”

Tomb Raider was released in October 1996 for the Sega Saturn, followed by a port for the PlayStation and PC in November. The ratings skyrocketed and commercial success was not long in coming. At first, it seemed to the team that the game was simply warmly received. It was only when they saw the actual sales figures that they realized how great the success was. The publisher Eidos was very careful with the predictions: according to their calculations, they should have sold only 100,000 copies of the game, but in the end they sold 7,000,000 ... What is the secret of such popularity? It is clear that Tomb Raider is the result of the well-coordinated work of several people, however, many still believe that it was Toby Gard's view of how a strong and flamboyant female character should look in a computer game that led Tomb Raider to success. Lara Croft won the hearts of gamers among both men and women, and made the product popular and competitive. The designer, in turn, did everything to convey his vision to the team. He was also lucky with the team: Core Design employees were not only talented. They trusted and believed in Toby. Unfortunately, this was his first and last triumph in the studio. He left Core Design after disputes with his superiors about the future of the project, as well as because of the exploitation of the image of Lara. Despite being offered huge royalties to work on the sequel, he never returned to the studio. Most of the team stayed behind and started working on the sequel, which was less than a year away from release. They trusted and believed in Toby. Unfortunately, this was his first and last triumph in the studio. He left Core Design after disputes with his superiors about the future of the project, as well as because of the exploitation of the image of Lara. Despite being offered huge royalties to work on the sequel, he never returned to the studio. Most of the team stayed behind and started working on the sequel, which was less than a year away from release. They trusted and believed in Toby. Unfortunately, this was his first and last triumph in the studio. He left Core Design after disputes with his superiors about the future of the project, as well as because of the exploitation of the image of Lara. Despite being offered huge royalties to work on the sequel, he never returned to the studio. Most of the team stayed behind and started working on the sequel, which was less than a year away from release.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

TRII concepts, source: core-design.com

Heather Stevens: "It was quite logical to start working on the sequel. So much effort, time and creativity was put into Tomb Raider that it was just unthinkable to drop everything and leave. The busy days came, and we again plunged headlong into work ..."

Meanwhile, Lara Croft began her stellar career and became a media person, even getting into the music industry. This is due to the fact that model Rona Mitra became the embodiment of Lara in reality and even collaborated with Dave Stewart from Eurythmics on the album.

The hype around the adventurer could no longer be stopped. Already, Sony could not resist its charms and signed an exclusivity agreement with the publisher Eidos. Since such a booze went, the sequel had to be visually improved to the smallest detail. Now Lara has got a scythe in the game. In the first part, it was not there, as it did not work properly with the animation of the character.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Gavin Rummery: “When Lara performed acrobatic techniques, it felt like an electric eel was hanging on her head, which lived its own life ... But in TRII there was a solution to how to fix it and I was glad that by those standards her braid moved naturally ... Of course, physics was primitive and unrealistic, but it coped with its task. "

In addition to small things, there were also global improvements. The modified version of the engine made it possible to build more open levels, which was virtually impossible in the first part, and now Lara could move not only on foot. The artist Stewart, the one who was invited to Core Design by Toby Gard, came up with a transport for the heroine, which she is still proud of.

Stuart Atkinson: "I prototyped Lara while riding the ATV using only the animation editor. I just replaced her running animation and attached the ATV to the bottom of the model. The result worked very well in the game."

As for the music, Nathan, for his part, also contributed, since now he had a little more time for creativity (2 months).

Nathan McCree: “This time I wrote 2 times as many tunes and I had a plan to put them together. I created new tunes, but basically they all revolved around the main theme that played in the first part. The implementation of situational compositions has improved as I personally tracked when each melody would play. ”

The game was supposed to end after the battle with the dragon, but that would be too commonplace, so we decided to add an epilogue. There was not enough time, so the developers opted for the scene at the Croft estate.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Thus was born one of the brightest moments when Lara shoots a player after taking a shower. Don't you think you've seen enough? This phrase at the end is a resourceful answer to those who started the legend of Nude-cheats. The second part of Tomb Raider has become even more successful (8 million copies) than the original. Of course, a sequel was announced. The studio at that time was simply exhausted. Part of the original team put forward a condition that they were given 2 years to develop the third part. They were turned down because the publisher, who sensed a gold mine, wanted more money, as soon as possible. The studios were given a year. Many quit, so the team expanded, and the "fresh blood" came in handy.

video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history)

TR3

Andy Sandham, TR3 level designer: “I was finishing work on multiplayer maps for Fighting Force, and I was already dreaming about them ... And suddenly I heard that Core Design needed help creating Full Motion Video in Tomb Raider II. Of course, I immediately He proposed his candidacy. As I remember, I was making a video with the explosion of the Great Wall of China. That is how I got acquainted with the time-tested tradition of "Tomb Raider" - willy-nilly to destroy historical sites and endangered species. "

Another newcomer to the Tomb Raider III team was Peter Connelly, who will remain working on the series until the end of the Core Design era. Like many of the newbies, he was delighted to be involved in the development. “My acquaintance with the series began with Tomb Raider II,” the musician recalls. “I bought a CD for a friend for Christmas and we played TRII the whole holiday. The most vivid memory of that day I have associated with an irresistible desire to take part in the development of such a game. And now, 9 months later, I was already working at Core Design. " His contribution to the third movement was small, Peter will become the main musician of the series in the future. Tomb Raider III was vast not only in terms of geography of locations, but also in gameplay: it became more action-oriented. The sprint button helped not only to run away from boulders, but also to overtake enemies, and thanks to the updated AI, the bad guys called for reinforcements and closed the rooms, which required Lara to be more careful. The environment has also evolved and in some places has become dangerous: just remember the quicksand and the fast current. A drop of nonlinearity was added to the plot: although the game began in India and ended in Antarctica, the rest of the locations (London, Nevada, South Pacific) could start in any order. Tomb Raider III was released in 1998. Unlike the previous parts, it was not possible to achieve the previous furor. But at the same time, the game still sold well (over 6 million copies), which means that the sequel is to be. A drop of nonlinearity was added to the plot: although the game began in India and ended in Antarctica, the rest of the locations (London, Nevada, South Pacific) could start in any order. Tomb Raider III was released in 1998. Unlike the previous parts, it was not possible to achieve the previous furor. But at the same time, the game still sold well (over 6 million copies), which means that the sequel is to be. A drop of nonlinearity was added to the plot: although the game began in India and ended in Antarctica, the rest of the locations (London, Nevada, South Pacific) could start in any order. Tomb Raider III was released in 1998. Unlike the previous parts, it was not possible to achieve the previous furor. But at the same time, the game still sold well (over 6 million copies), which means that the sequel is to be.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

TR: The Last Revelation

Andy Sandham: “When Vicky Arnold (writer of the first three parts) left the band, I had to fill the gap and start writing the cinematic script for the game. To begin with, however, as before, our team bought books on ancient civilizations. We then mapped out the phases of the plot to solidify the ideas that I connected and turned into a pretty brutal story. And after the script was written, the entire team, with history books in hand, lined up to the office scanner to get digitized future textures for the levels. "

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation shed light on Lara Croft's past, showing a level when she was still a teenager and traveling with her mentor, Werner von Croy, who would become her later rival. The game received more positive reviews from critics than the third part. However, it was from this series that it became noticeable that interest in the franchise diminished. The Last Revelation had the lowest sales rate despite adding a port to the Dreamcast. However, the management was not at all tense because of the money. The studio has released its fourth (!) Release in four years. It is logical that during The Last Revelation the creators were struck by creative impotence. But what she expressed herself shocked all the players in the world. Even yours truly :(

video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history)

The game ends with Lara actually being buried under the collapsed entrance of the Great Pyramid. A sad and even somewhat poetic ending for a true adventurer. But Lara Croft can't just be buried. Especially if for the company she is the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Andy Sandham: “We all wanted to kill Lara. It was simply unbearable to watch her model every day. Within two weeks, we developed a plan to kill the main character, and carried it out to the end. By "accomplishment" I mean that we did it in secret. When the CEO (Jeremy Heath-Smith) found out about this and then realized that it was too late to change something, he called our team onto the carpet in his office and yelled at us. We confessed everything. To make amends, we had to make another game out of the pieces we had cut from previous games and called it Tomb Raider Chronicles. ”

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

TR Chronicles FMV stage concept

So that these cut-out moments somehow logically fit into the plot structure, the game was dedicated to Lara Croft's funeral, where grieving friends talked about her adventures. The gameplay was supplemented with a grappling hook, rope walking and swinging on horizontal bars. Nevertheless, the engine was terribly outdated: the tight release schedule did not allow for further development. Even worse, the team that killed their brainchild didn't give a damn about it. The only person on the team who was in high spirits was animator Phil Chapman, and that's because for days he created animations of Lara's death from new traps and enemy attacks. The 2000 release of Tomb Raider Chronicles was smashed to smithereens and sold just 1.5 million copies. The team played 5 games in 5 years and completely burned out. It seemed that Lara's story was really exhausted. But, perspectives loomed on the horizon. The film "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" starring Angelina Jolie was released, and the Sony PlayStation 2 with new technology appeared on the market. It's time to notify the world about Lara's return, isn't it? And that was done. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness announced. Thanks to the PS2's capabilities, the team has a chance to update the gameplay in the series. Added stealth and hand-to-hand combat, as well as a new partner - Curtis Trent. Along with the new engine, the studio was replenished with new employees who were eager to get started soon. The Angel of Darkness. Thanks to the PS2's capabilities, the team has a chance to update the gameplay in the series. Added stealth and hand-to-hand combat, as well as a new partner - Curtis Trent. Along with the new engine, the studio was replenished with new employees who were eager to get started soon. The Angel of Darkness. Thanks to the PS2's capabilities, the team has a chance to update the gameplay in the series. Added stealth and hand-to-hand combat, as well as a new partner - Curtis Trent. Along with the new engine, the studio was replenished with new employees who were eager to get started soon.

Mertie Schofield, Core Design Affiliate Writer from Psygnosis: “I was thrilled, dazed, aroused, delighted, hyperactive, and intoxicated. I made it my goal to put everything I could into this project. This is a writer's dream. El Dorado. Philosopher's Stone. Grail. Ketchup on the bun of Life, after all ... Now you understand how much determination I had !? ”

video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Early concepts for The Angel of Darkness

James Kenny, Concept Artist: “I had no prior experience in the TV / Film / Game Industry and came to Core Design right after studying animation at Ballyfermouth Senior College in Dublin. My first assignment for Tomb Raider was to sit with pencil and paper and draw any Lara Croft-related ideas that came to my mind. ”

Everything went well at first. But The Angel Of Darkness was not a pipeline game, like the previous parts, so during the development there were constantly problems and many things were delayed. A large studio staff, coupled with overly ambitious ideas, as well as a poor management structure, quickly brought the project to a standstill. Nobody at Core Design had any idea how to make PS2 games or how difficult it was. They wanted to change the game in terms of narrative and gameplay. Meanwhile, competing franchises were developing successfully, and all this put pressure on the project.

Murty Schofield: “There were too many problems to be solved, but nobody did anything. So things didn't go according to plan. It's not even just industry pressure. It feels like the ship is flying into a whirlpool and no one knows what to do. We knew we were in complete ass. The game was frankly bad. We were constantly postponed, but still we could not fix anything. ”

video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history) video game Tomb Raider (series history)

After many delays, Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness finally came out in 2003. Most of the game design ideas were "cut", and, as they say, what was released, then released. The game has sold 2.5 million copies and received a wave of outrage from critics and fans of the series. It seemed that there was a knock from the bottom. After hearing complaints from fans and shareholders alike, the publisher could no longer tolerate it and removed the team from the Tomb Raider franchise. The decision was not easy for the board of directors: after all, Core Design did an incredible job from 1996 to 2000. But they could not cope with new technologies. Crystal Dynamics took over the development of new games for the franchise. From the outside, it may seem that this is a rather harsh decision, since Core Design has released more good games than bad ones. In fact, no one thought to belittle the contribution, which Core Design contributed to the creation of Tomb Raider. It was just that the backbone of the studio had completely burned out by that time and wanted to work on something new.

Crystal Dynamics at that time were known for creating the popular Legacy Of Kain games at that time. The offer to work on Tomb Raider came as a big shock to the team.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Noah Hughes, Creative Director: Eidos contacted us with a question. Something like, "Hey guys, are you interested in working with this character?" When I found out about this, I could not say anything except: "My God!" Tomb Raider is a powerful franchise with a huge fanbase. When working on a project like this, the stakes are too high and you need to get it right. On the other hand, it's really cool, since we specialized in exactly this kind of experience: environmental exploration, action and puzzle solving. "

When developing Tomb Raider: Legend, it was important to decide which aspects of the existing Crystal Dynamics games would like to keep. As a result, there were solutions of puzzles, exploration of locations and Lara's pistols as part of her image. They also left a handstand: as before, it did not affect the gameplay, it is just an element of self-expression for the player. By the way, the animation of acrobatic elements at that time was amazingly smooth, even without the mockup. To make sure the team is heading in the right direction, Toby Gard was hired as a consultant on the project.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

One of Toby's concepts for Legend

Noah Hughes: “Toby's presence gave us the opportunity to be a little bolder in our decisions, but at the same time, we could understand when we cross the line and go to the wrong steppe. In terms of character design and plot, he helped us a lot. I'm not sure if he writes the scripts, but I know that he worked closely with our screenwriter Eric Lindström. In rebooting the series, we tried to combine two canons: the Core Design series and the game films that were popular. This is another moment when it was important to understand what Toby likes and what not. Even to this day, I am grateful that our vision coincided with him. This gave us the understanding and confidence to make our product unique and avoid copying. ”

The critical reception and sales of Tomb Raider: Legend have improved markedly over the last couple of games, with 4.5 million copies sold. This guaranteed a continuation of the franchise and Crystal Dynamics began to focus on the past, present and future of Tomb Raider. After the release of Legend, the team split into two parts: some worked on Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and others took into circulation Tomb Raider: Underworld. But there were two other people who were considering plans for the further development of the series - Jason Botta and Tim Longo. They understood that when the last part of the trilogy - Underworld - came out, their plans would come. After a while, they realized that going back to basics is much more logical: if players are given the opportunity to see Lara before the events of the series, it will generate interest. Of course, this was not going to happen soon. In the meantime, the games of the new trilogy continued to enter the market. An interesting situation happened with Tomb Raider: Anniversary. While Crystal Dynamics was working on the remake of the first part, Core Design tried to scramble from the bottom one last time and made a similar game. It's funny, but neither team knew about the plans of the other. While Core Design focused on the PSP, Crystal Dynamics was preparing a multi-platform remake, which eventually received the approval of the publisher. While Tomb Raider: Anniversary turned out great, good reviews didn't translate into good sales. 1.3 million copies - even worse than The Chronicle (1.5 million). Sad but true.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Tomb Raider: Anniversary

Meanwhile, part of the team that worked on Tomb Raider: Underworld got Lara Croft to step into the next generation of consoles (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3). Technology has improved at Underworld. A full-fledged mockup with live actors was added, and not just animation, as before. But the gameplay itself has not advanced very far. Tomb Raider: Underworld did better after its release in 2008, unlike its predecessor Anniversary, but in terms of critics, it fell short of Legend. But thanks to those same two people mentioned earlier, a new plan for another reboot was ready. For the first time, gamers saw Lara Croft not as a wealthy adventurer, but as a newcomer to research that would test her will to survive.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Tomb Raider: Underworld

Noah Hughes: “We got feedback that people are tired of Lara as a character. In part, she looked incredible by modern standards, because she was rich, knew absolutely everything, and in the end she always won. We felt that we had to put her in a situation in which victory had to be earned. In addition, relieve her of support so that the player believes that she can lose. ”

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

This decision led to the introduction of survival elements and an experience system for character development. The next reboot was simply called Tomb Raider. It captured references from popular adventure games like Uncharted while retaining Lara Croft's personality. This approach worked great: the game received a fantastic welcome and became the best-selling game in the series with over 8.5 million copies.

Noah Hughes: “Such success is always scary. We wanted to make sure that this was not an accident. It was a challenge for us to test a successful formula and think about how we could improve it. ”

If Tomb Raider traces the evolution of Lara from a curious explorer to a desperate person who is forced to survive, then in Rise of The Tomb Raider this process continues. She again decides to go on an adventure and her character continues to develop. More tombs were added to the game for research, but these were no longer such ancient places with secrets, but with a more modern setting. Rise Of The Tomb Raider was released on all platforms in 2015, and received a lot of positive reviews, and the game itself has sold over 7 million copies.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider came out 2 years ago and as we know, the franchise's success has started to decline again. But this is already the case of our days, which means that it is a completely different story.

video game Tomb Raider (series history)

The episode is now 24 years old. And sometimes it does not even fit in my head how many times the product had to adapt to the tastes of the players and the trends dictated by the industry. The franchise has died and reborn from the ashes several times to remain the most recognizable brand in the world. You know, it's not even so important whether they put an end to this story or not. In any case, for our generation, Lara will always have a unique place in gaming history. And not even because of her triangular bust (mind you, I never mentioned this :), but because she managed to go beyond the game and become a virtual model in the real world. Who can compete with her in this regard?