LaraCroft.Name Goes To E3 - Part 3


My Exclusive Interview with Brian Horton

Brian Horton

My first question is about Lara Croft's necklace that she's wearing. I saw that there is a symbol called Maori “Koru” which is (shaped) like a swirl and it symbolizes rebirth and basically the return to the point of origin, which is interesting, this being the new Tomb Raider game. I was wondering if there is any backup story behind this or significance behind what she is wearing?

Brian Horton: Her necklace is actually an invention, a way to spin on some of the Japanese lores, actually non Maori but I am familiar with that. We did want to give her a new artifact in the game, that was going to be something that she got early in life, and that was sort of the origin of her interest in past cultures. And it was her first find, something that she found on her own. And she's been holding on to this and it sort of becomes part of her identity. And it also has a little bit of a tie in to this Japanese myth as well. So, there is a really interesting connection of how first artifact she finds and the first adventure she has, how they somehow have a some kind of connection.

Yes, I've read a little bit about Dragon's Triangle and I know that you guys did a lot of research. That it's considered to be Pacific's Bermuda Triangle. And it's interesting because linguist Charles Berlitz links the disappearance of Amelia Earhart with that place. And I'm curious because Lara's mother used to be called Amelia. So would you be able to tell me a little bit about Lara's parents or origin? Has it been changed?

Brian: The origin...her parents are still a little bit mystery as far as I can detail on what we're going forward with. But she has a very similar background to what she's had in the past. She does come from a very storied family, they do have wealth. They are basically the same people but we are not focusing as much on their part of the story in this origin story. We don't go into a lot of detail. We spend a little bit more time with Roth and Lara's connection with Roth, who has a connection to that family. So Roth knows Lara's parents very very well, and he sort of seen Lara grow up from very young. He has a very close relationship with her.

Since you mentioned Roth, do any of the characters from previous Tomb Raider games return? Maybe Winston?

Brian: [Laughs] We don't have any ties to the mansion or anything like that in the story so we don't have any characters that could be tied to that. So Winston is not in our game. But the only character that's really tied to the past at this point is Lara. So in this game you're not going to see any of the other characters come forward.

A lot of fans expressed the way they like exploring the Croft mansion in terms of it being the training level. But as I understand now the training takes place on an island. Are you going to have a place where she can store the collectables that she finds?

Brian: We are using an idea of a more fictional kind of real estate at which she stores the artifacts. So ultimately we could consider how that history, what you've done, where it's stored in the future. At this point there is no actual location that all these artifacts are stored in the game. But it is part of our ui, and the base camps are very important to us as far a place where you can look at the character, upgrade the character and also review some of the artifacts and things that you've found.

Is Lara going to have a lot of outfits to chose from or unlock?

Brian: I've been talking about costume evolution on this game. We believe that it allows us to stay grounded and connected to the story. But the idea of costume unlocks, we are not going to a lot of detail beyond the fact that her clothes will evolve throughout the course of the adventure.

Yes and Lara Croft's character itself seems to be evolving in terms of survival skills and she has to face lots of tests, like her courage. Do you think that impacts both male and female gamers? How does that affect them? Do they feel protective of her or do you think she inspires them?

Brian: We have seen a couple of different reactions, which you just used the word “protect”. I think that some people feel that they are either are Lara or they are protecting Lara. Those are two angels that I've seen. Some people are either identifying as “I am her” or they want to help Lara get through this. And the thing that's good about both of those things is they are emotionally invested in her as a character. They feel connection to her and they feel that she is someone that they can believe in. Someone that feels real. That was our main goal, coming out of this redesign: how can we make Lara still feel like a character that we all know and love, but even more emotionally rich than she has been. And so far the reaction from people who have played it has been very strong, they do feel very strong connection to Lara.

In terms of moral choices, do they affect the game's ending? Or is there more than one possible way to go through the game?

Brian: There are no branching story lines in our game. There are choices you can make. The biggest choices we think will be had through the base camp system, how you chose to upgrade your character. We feel that's the best way the players may put their own expression into how they see Lara evolving as a character. So no one player will have the same exact trees of upgrades.

How did you approach the art design? When you went there (Japan) you took lots of photographs and videos. It it close to the original? If I were to travel there, would it look the same?

Brian: We were inspired by the ingredients, not the landmark, not the layout. So Nikko... I could show pictures and maybe it would be a good blog at some point that we can show. [For example] Here is the place that we have, and here's the inspiration. But there is no one location. But you can definitely see there are specific details. There are ingredients that you can say “that tree feels like it came from this place”, “this shrine feels like it came from this place”. So that reference trip to me was extremely important into getting authenticity.

Can Lara drive any vehicles in the game?

Brian: Right now we focused mostly on her ground moves. All of her jumping, running has been a primarily focus. Because she is on an island and it's full of ship wrecks, and everything's been wrecked, there is not much of a practical use of vehicles.

At what stage is the game in currently?

Brian: We have gone at the alpha stage, which means the game is playable from the beginning to the end. But it's not all the same level. We still have a lot of polish to do and decisions to make. That's why we want to spend an extra time, we want to make sure that we give you the best, most polished game that we possibly can. And the way we do that is we put the time in for polish. That's what we are doing right now.

What do you guys wish for us gamers, how do you want us to perceive the new Tomb Raider? Should we start new or still remember the best of the Tomb Raider series?

Brian: We want you guys... our goal, hopefully is that you'll hold this up as one of the greatest Tomb Raider games of all time. If we've done our job correctly we believe we are striking that balance of respecting the past and moving her forward. And then you get to do both. We are very much fans of the classics, but at the same time we knew that if we just kept going in a formula in that vein that we were sort of coming to the ceiling of what Tomb Raider could be. So by bringing her back down; giving her origin story; theming it around survival; introducing mechanics such as survival skills and gear gating and bringing the bow as a signature weapon, we're bringing flavors and ingredients that we think are going to create a very exciting new vision for Tomb Raider. So we don't want you to forget your memories and your love of past Tomb Raider games. I think through the new you'll be able to look into her eyes and see Lara Croft in there, and you could see her starting to grow and merge. So that's what I hope they'd get out of it. When they start to see her evolve they would start to feel that familiarity and they feel "I know this girl, wow she's becoming Lara Croft".

Images courtesy of the Square Enix.