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Crystal Dynamics On Managing Two Different Lara Crofts


Rise of the Tomb Raider won’t be released until Holiday 2015, but Crystal Dynamics do have a Tomb Raider game coming later this year as well. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris—the second game in the “Lara Croft” series—is a cooperative action game where 2-4 players can team up to solve puzzles and take down enemies as they explore tombs.


The catch is that the Lara Croft in Temple of Osiris isn’t the same one as in Rise of the Tomb Raider. She’s a simpler version of the character, who’s somewhere in between the old and new Lara Crofts. Siliconera recently spoke with Scot Amos, executive producer, to talk briefly about the two Laras that Crystal Dynamics are juggling.


When you’re making the Lara Croft games, what aspects of Lara do you want to emphasize, as opposed to Rise of the Tomb Raider or the older Tomb Raider games?


Scot Amos, Executive Producer: You know, Lara is Lara. At the end of the day, she seeks truth. It doesn’t matter if it’s an arcade game, or if it’s the gritty-realism game. She’s really about finding a myth and turning it into a fact, saying, “I want to know what’s real. I want to actually uncover this craziness in the world.”


So, we look at [the Lara Croft games] as our pressure valve. It’s our release to go crazy as a development studio and with our fans, and say, “Let’s go after the giant scarabs!” Whereas the grittier, M-rated Tomb Raider reboot is much more Lara becoming… she has this thing inside of her. That arc of when and how did she become the Tomb Raider? How did she discover who she really is?


So, for us, it’s actually designed to be two different brands of the same franchise. Two different versions to be able to say, “You’ve already got her established. You’ve been through all the muck and misery and the craziness. And look what you’ve come out on the other side as.”


So, when you say “two different brands,” you mean the Lara Croft franchise and the Tomb Raider franchise.


We look at it as two different brands in the same franchise. Because it is Lara Croft who’s the star of both. Either way we go, it is a Lara story. Even though Tomb Raider doesn’t say “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” you know it’s her. It’s [just] a different way of looking at her psyche.


You look at James Bond from the 1960s, and you look at James Bond from a few years ago… there’s definitely that evolution of the franchise, and what kind of character you want and how you want to be entertained by that character as a consumer. And there’s room for both [versions].


We actually get to appeal to different segments of fans and a lot of the same fans. There’s a crossover of people there. We’re in a very unique and lucky spot.


Compared to the new Lara Croft, the original Lara Croft was a little tongue-in-cheek—a little bit of a comical character. But this version [in the Lara Croft games] is somewhere in between the two. Was that you purposefully trying to dial her back a little?


We were, yeah. Certainly, we were looking at both the style of her and who she is as a character. Again, with sensibilities evolving—what we’ve done with the Tomb Raider reboot—we want to be sensitive to this audience. We don’t want to go all the way back to the original Tomb Raider.


We kind of want to embrace what we think are the roots of the “arcade Croft”. To let that mythology play out, and go fight giant scarabs. To use this as an excuse to go do the crazy stuff.


The idea of going back to the crazy, bombastic Tomb Raider… When you’re designing the Lara Croft games, what kind of things do you pick out from the original Tomb Raider games on PSOne?


Well, we have a unique benefit. Our franchise creative director, Noah Hughes, has been with Crystal for something like 18 or 19 years. As long as Crystal’s been around. He looks over all the things we do. So we have this incredible encyclopaedia of knowledge.


We have a lot of people at the studio who’ve worked on these games for a very, very long time, so we just go up to them and say, “We’ve got a puzzle in this game and used this mechanic. What do you think?” We actually still have a lot of that stuff on our servers and archives somewhere. So, we’ll actually go back and say, “What did we use here? Was there a weapon from there?”


But frankly, it’s a lot of listening to fans, a lot of listening to our instincts. Going to our historians and saying, “Do you think this fits? Does this feel like the right kind of puzzle?”


Was there anything specific you picked up from the older games for Temple of Osiris?


That’s an interesting one. We looked back at some of the enemy types. Even for some of the default skeleton characters we have in the game… looking at how they move, and how how their head is shaped. Their feet are cloven hooves. They aren’t human skeletons. They have a creature shape to them.


They’re influenced by one of the previous Tomb Raiders. I won’t tell you which one. I think some of the really hardcore fans are going to see it and say, “I’ve seen this guy somewhere. What the hell game was he in?!” And he was in a previous Tomb Raider game. So we’ve paid homage to some of the previous fiction.


That’s the kind of thing the team is really fanatical about.


Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris will be released for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on December 9th. Meanwhile, Rise of the Tomb Raider will be available for Xbox 360 and Xbox One sometime during Holiday 2015.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.