One of the releases looming large over 2013 is the Tomb Raider reboot. So during this SDCC panel, what did the team behind the game have to say about it? Narrative designer John Stafford was joined by the game’s writer, Rhianna Pratchett, creative director Noah Hughes, global brand manager Karl Stewart, and the new Lara Croft herself, Camilla Luddington to discuss what went into rebooting the iconic character.
If you were paying attention to the PR disaster from a few weeks back that caught Tomb Raider in its jaws, it’s hard not to see the Square Enix/Eidos panel focused on the game as an attempt to walk back the (let’s say “unfortunate”) language that’s defined Lara Croft in the last few days. Between writer Rhihanna Pratchett and actress Camilla Luddington, there was a concentrated attempt to define the trajectory of the character as one where Lara Croft finds herself and finds her strength.
Before the panel got started, moderator Geoff Keighley showed scenes from the documentary, The Final Hours of Tomb Raider hosted by Zachary Levi. The doc will chronicle the end stages of the reboot’s development. The doc took us to studio Digital Domain where the mocap for the game is being handled, while providing an overview of the casting process for actress Camilla Luddington who took the role back in 2010.
In the video, Luddington describes the role as both physically and emotionally draining, with fans seeing her character’s first kill, which to the actress’ mind is the moment where the exlorer becomes the Lara Croft we’re familiar with. You can see more of the doc at www.thefinalhoursoftombraider.com.
Huges opened the panel by saying that at Crystal Dynamics they wanted to offer something fresh for the Tomb Raider games in a way that would bring her to life and celebrate her humanity. Karl Stewart said that after they inherited the series from original developers Core Design, they wanted to show fans something different, citing Batman Begins as a way of revamping the series.Stafford talked about reflecting Lara’s emotional journey through the gameplay and cinematics.
Luddington said that she couldn’t tell anyone what she was doing for two years, coming home with regular bruises from the motion capture.
Pratchett, who lists Heavenly Sword among her credits says that the T-rex attack in the first game was a genre defininig moment for her. She says that as a gamer, she also has a love-hate relationship with the character. Luddington joked that she had Pratchett to blame for all of her injuries during the development process.
When asked about her character’s arc, Luddington says that one of the takeaways from the character is her ability to find strength and push forward–without spoiling the story, she discovers her own ability and strength as a person.
When asked directly about the comments regarding the sexual assault controversy, Stewart says that his team hasn’t been attempting to walk back any comments about it and that much of the doubt and questions are borne out of a lack of context.
As for the balance between action and platforming/exploration, Hughes was careful to caution that the demo on the show floor might not necessarily represent the real balance of the full game, and that the action focus showed best for the con. Stewart added that there’s lots of the island’s long history to explore because at her core, Lara is an explorer.
Tomb Raider will be available March 5th of 2012.
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