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dark7angel
9th Jun 2011, 09:58
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P4GBLXFxABk

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_e3_2011_day1.mp3)

The first official day of E3 has drawn to a close. The past 24 hours have proven to be both fruitful and eventful for everyone at Square Enix.

Global Brand Director Karl Stewart, Senior Art Director Brian Horton, Senior Brand Manager Brent Dady, and I concluded the day by debuting the first Crystal Habit podcast.


UoPjprGcXBo

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_e3_2011_day2.mp3)

Here you go - the second official Crystal Habit podcast! This episode we answer your burning questions about the trailer, and then some. Enjoy!


lVI_HdgKEgw

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_e3_2011_day3.mp3)

Happy Thursday! Take a listen to the final Crystal Habit podcast from the E3 show floor, staring one superstar guest from within the Square Enix family.


p2HLhSHCwQM

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_01.mp3)

Returning to the studio after E3, Crystal Dynamics kicks off the first official Crystal Habit podcast. This episode, key staffers discuss the history of the development house, evaluate Tomb Raider’s reception at E3, and address the most popular questions of the month. Hosted by Meagan Marie.


B_jqZqKH5ck

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_02.mp3)

The Crystal Habit returns for a second full-length podcast. Global Brand Director Karl Stewart kicks off the show by answering the month’s most pressing questions. The second segment features a special call-in guest from sister studio Eidos Montreal – Art Director Jonathan Jacques-Belletête on behalf of the Deus Ex: Human Revolution crew. Make sure to stick around till the very end for an exciting announcement!


1dKnGkoaSHE

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_03.mp3)

This episode of the Crystal Habit Meagan chats with staffers about the reality of working in QA, and offers up advice about securing a multimedia position in a dev studio. The second half of the show Karl answers your pressing questions, and we reveal the final trivia question for the September Tomb Raider Xbox 360 Giveaway.

When you’ve got the answer to the final trivia question in hand, input all three of your selections into the entry form at tombraider.com/podcast. You have plenty of time to enter the running, so make sure to take your time and truly test your knowledge.

Best of luck!


gN3UKIJO9-I

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_04.mp3)

This episode of The Crystal Habit Meagan talks with the audio department about sound design, VO, and working with the yet-to-be-announced composer. Additionally Karl answers the month’s top five questions (and almost debuts a new character in the process), and we kick off our second custom Xbox 360 giveaway!


W0Bf9ydogoA

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_05.mp3)

This episode, CrystalD User Research Manager Janus Sorensen joins Karl Stewart in discussing the importance of research throughout the duration of game development. Karl sticks around to answer your top five questions of the month, and throws in a bonus pair for good measure. Make sure to listen till the end for the final question in our third trivia giveaway!


288sMQ20y8Y

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_06.mp3)

"Crystal Dynamics kicks off the New Year by discussing the big events and releases of 2012. In the second portion of the show Senior Producer Kyle Peschel and Art Director Brian Horton discuss what it means to hit Alpha, a milestone the Tomb Raider team recently achieved. The show closes out with Global Brand Director Karl Stewart answering the most popular fan questions of the month, and Recruiter Casey Manning breaking down the top positions currently open at Crystal Dynamics. Stick around for the final question in this month’s Tomb Raider Trivia contest.

This month we’re offering another rare prize - a custom Tomb Raider North Face jacket. The garment was previously only made available to Crystal Dynamics employees, making it an exclusive item. We’re also throwing in a “survival goodie bag” as a bonus.

The process to enter the trivia contest is the same as always. Check out the Tomb Raider Facebook page for the first question, the official Tomb Raider Twitter account for the second, and listen to the above for the final question! When you’ve got the answers to all three trivia questions in hand, input them into the correct fields at tombraider.com/podcast.

This contest runs from today till February 13. Best of luck and enjoy the podcast!

Housekeeping: You must be 18 to enter the contest."


_osEngGrQ6M

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_07.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in Engish (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1726353#post1726353)

"Ever wondered what it takes to script and shoot a cutscene? Crystal Creative Director Noah Hughes details the process in this episode of Crystal Habit Podcast. Karl Stewart also returns to answer a handful of longtime questions from listeners, and we crowdsource a segment from Tomb Raider fans as a Valentine’s week treat.

Due to a technical snafu, The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 6 was unavailable for a period of time. As such, we’ve extended the most recent Trivia contest till March 13, giving you plenty of time to enter the running to nab a limited Tomb Raider North Face jacket and survival kit. To make it even easier on you, we’ve compiled all the trivia questions in the final minutes of the podcast. Remember to enter all three answers in the appropriate fields of TombRaider.com/podcast to participate!

Also, The Crystal Habit Podcast is finally up and running on iTunes! Subscribe to keep up with the show.

Best of luck, and enjoy the podcast!"


bokN6xdS46s

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_08.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1735347#post1735347)

"The inner workings of a game studio are often enigmatic, and The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 8 aims to shed light on what it takes to keep a crew of creatives happy and healthy. Karl Stewart also returns to answer five questions from listeners, and we touch on in-demand positions at the studio with Recruiter Casey Manning. Hosted by Meagan Marie.


http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7274/7000893839_76c1c53d7f.jpg
(Benny, Michelle, and Brian)

As noted in the podcast, we’re changing up the format of the Tomb Raider Trivia Challenge in order to accommodate fans. I’ve received feedback that it’s a tad difficult for non-native English speakers to catch the questions posed on the podcast each month. As such, all three questions will be posted in text on our various social media outlets from now forward, including the Official Tomb Raider Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

The trivia challenge will still correspond with the podcast each month in regards to timing, but this adjusted format should make it easier for fans worldwide to participate. Look for all three trivia challenge questions on the blog later today.

Enjoy the show!"


bokN6xdS46s

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_09.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1742706#post1742706)

"Show Notes: As the largest museum and research complex in the world, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s decision to explore the forty-year history of the video game was a major point of pride for the industry. This episode we talk with Smithsonian Web & Social Media Content Manager Georgina Goodlander and The Art of Video Games Curator Chris Melissinos about the landmark exhibition. Karl also stops in to address five new pressing questions, and Recruiter Casey Manning invites potential talent to pop by at E3. Hosted by yours truly!

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5324/6950911248_3b71553842.jpg

I mention a handful of links in the podcast and as promised, here they are for easy access:


Art of Video Games Exhibit [Link (http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/)]
Companion Book: The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect [Link (http://www.welcomebooks.com/artofvideogames)]
Art of Video Games/NA Square Enix Members Giveaway [Link (http://member.square-enix.com/na/blog/2012/04/13/)]
If you like what you hear, make sure to subscribe to The Crystal Habit on iTunes (http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-crystal-habit./id447844486).

Enjoy the show!"


MzqLvZth4dg

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_10.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showpost.php?p=1758777&postcount=12)



M0QhNrV-e70

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_e3_2012_episode1.mp3)

"To clarify some questions spawned from this morning’s Microsoft press conference, I roped Karl Stewart, Kyle Peschel, and Brian Horton into a room for a short podcast and Q&A. Take a listen above!

I’ll do my best to record once more during the show, most likely on Wednesday after we’ve had a bit of time on the floor. I’ll put the shows up on iTunes post-E3."



UscRoczHSj8

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_11.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1782998#post1782998)
“Show Notes: This “Frankenstein” episode of the Crystal Habit Podcast combines clips from the team at E3, community Q&A, and an exciting interview with Executive Producer Scot Amos. Scot and Meagan discuss the decision to add new intellectual property to the studio portfolio. Hosted by Meagan Marie.”



hMtvabYKnSo

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_12.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1786085#transcription12)
“Show Notes: Recorded from Nerd HQ at San Diego Comic Con 2012, this episode includes special interviews with Chuck’s Zachary Levi and the newly announced voice & performance artist of Lara Croft - Camilla Luddington. Hosted by Meagan Marie”



742Kr6wZ7WI

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_13.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1793225#post1793225)
“ Show Notes: This episode the team takes Tomb Raider to GamesCom in Cologne, Germany. Meagan answers questions from community members during an exclusive showing at the convention, and then chats with German Marketing Director Lars Winkler about his lengthy history with Eidos. Tune in to find out who his favorite live Lara is! Hosted by Meagan Marie.”



NwBzdGtoQxs

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_14.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1799252#post1799252)
“ Show Notes: The Tomb Raider team hit a major milestone in September – six months until launch. To mark the occasion, Meagan chats with Karl Stewart and Crystal Dynamics newcomer Rich Briggs about what it’s like during the final stretch of taking a AAA title to retail. Hosted by Meagan Marie.”



6UJY2vfv6VQ

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_15.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1804749#post1804749)
“ This episode is dedicated exclusively to chatting with Tomb Raider lead writer Rhianna Pratchett. Rhianna talks about her history with the franchise, the immense task of reimagining an iconic character, and answers questions from the community! Hosted by Meagan Marie.”



t3DsFc_bzcY

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_16.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1816920#post1816920)
“ Show Notes: Episode 16 dives deep into the process of creating the recently revealed Tomb Raider cover art through a chat with Brand Director Karl Stewart and Art Director Brian Horton. Afterwards, Karl sticks around for an extended Take Five, answering your questions about recent Collector’s Edition announcements, pre-order bonuses, and more. Hosted by Meagan Marie.”



KoM1a1O4Ds4

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_17.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1843157#post1843157)
The first episode of 2013 talks Tomb Raider multiplayer with Eidos Montreal producer Joe Khoury and Crystal Dynamics game director Daniel Bisson. The episode closes out with an extended Take 5 lead by CES community ambassadors Melonie Mac and Max Murray. Hosted by Meagan Marie.



nOLK4olUbYQ

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_18.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1869134#post1869134)
For the final episode before Tomb Raider’s March 5 launch we talk to composer Jason Graves about the past two years working on the music and soundscape of Tomb Raider. The episode closes out with a tease of one of Jason Graves’ favorite audio segments from the game. Hosted by Meagan Marie.



_tawWtZ_Tyg

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_19.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1907861#post1907861)
Show Notes: Episode #19 of The Crystal Habit marks the first podcast post-launch for Tomb Raider. Senior Art Director Brian Horton, Creative Director Noah Hughes, and Senior Producer Kyle Peschel spend the hour answering fan questions and discussing all aspects of the game. For those of you who haven’t finished Tomb Raider – BE WARNED. Spoilers ahead! Hosted by Meagan Marie



ukOUjJhAU5k

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_20.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1922487#post1922487)
Show Notes: Episode #20 expands upon one of our recent GDC (Game Developer Conference) presentations – Emotional Synchronization in Tomb Raider. Senior Systems Designer Jonathan Hamel, Senior Software Engineer Matt Gaston, and Principal animator Brandon Fernandez spend an hour chatting about systems design and how it works to make you feel at one with Lara. Hosted by Meagan Marie.



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download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_21.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1933944#post1933944)
Show Notes: Episode #21 of The Crystal Habit gives you a virtual booth tour of Square Enix's E3 offerings. The show closes out with a new and hopefully reoccurring feature, Crystal Dynamics Uncut. The Tomb Raider team candidly reflects on the past few years, speaking to both the highs and lows of the journey. Hosted by Meagan Marie.



bALU6N5L-B4

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_22.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1940516#post1940516)
Show Notes: Episode #22 of The Crystal Habit kicks off our new feature offering up practical advice to game-industry hopefuls. This episode starts with an overview of the industry from longtime vets Rich Briggs, Alex Offerman, and Fred Dieckmann. We also chat with Crystal Dynamics Recruiting Lead Lindsey McQueeny, touching on best practices for resumes, interviews, and common mistakes. Hosted by Meagan Marie.


nY8eBCw3vC8

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_23.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1954593#post1954593)

Show Notes: Episode #23 of The Crystal Habit continues offering up practical advice for game-industry hopefuls. This episode drills down in to the role of production in gaming through a chat with assistant producer Sam Goldberg and producer Kam Zambel. Hosted by Meagan Marie.


c2xGB4Rd5jk

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_24.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1965139#post1965139)

Show Notes: Episode #24 of The Crystal Habit dives deep into the world of game design, getting practical industry advice from Crystal Dynamics' senior designer William Kerslake and associate designer Alisha Thayer. Hosted by Meagan Marie.


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download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_25.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1968823#post1968823)

Show Notes: Episode #25 of The Crystal Habit podcast dives into the world of concept, character, and environment art in our ongoing career-focused feature. Additionally, Crystal Dynamics Executive Producer Scot Amos pops in to talk Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Hosted by Meagan Marie.



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download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_26.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1979024#post1979024)

Show Notes: Episode #26 of The Crystal Habit podcast dissects technical art, animation, and UI in our ongoing career-focused feature. Additionally, Crystal Dynamics Senior Art Director Brian Horton pops in to talk about Lara's updated look in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Hosted by Meagan Marie.


JJan-JuMo6E

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/tr/assets/audio/Crystal_Compass_28.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eu.square-enix.com/showthread.php?t=125823&page=16&p=2114085#post2114085)

Episode #28 explores the mythology of Rise of the Tomb Raider with Franchise Director Noah Hughes, tackles fan questions with Game Director Brian Horton, and explores the allure of ancient Egypt in a retrospective feature. Hosted by Meagan Marie.


uESvDJNnX1I

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/tr/assets/audio/Crystal_Compass_29.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eu.square-enix.com/showthread.php?t=125823&page=17&p=2124321#post2124321)

"Episode #29 of the Crystal Compass Podcast talks the systems of survival with Rise of the Tomb Raider Game Director Brian Horton. Brand Coordinator Robin Huey explores popular franchise Easter eggs in the Classic Crystal segment. Hosted by Meagan Marie."



*NEW*


KgAFllp2Zl0

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/tr/assets/audio/Crystal_Compass_30.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eu.square-enix.com/showthread.php?t=125823&page=19&p=2155680#post2155680)

Episode #30 of the Crystal Compass Podcast keeps things simple, featuring news updates and a sizable Q&A session with Rise of the Tomb Raider Game Director Brian Horton. Hosted by Meagan Marie.

Abdullah10
9th Jun 2011, 13:09
thank you

.. i think that voice is keira knightley's voice (the new lara )

dark7angel
9th Jun 2011, 13:22
You welcome! :)

As for the voice actress being Keira Knightley, that's highly unlikely because Karl has said more than once that the new voice actress isn't a big name/famous actress, he says she's a new talent, so I think that rules out Keira...

andrew90
9th Jun 2011, 13:24
Great, thankyou for sharing this.

Abdullah10
9th Jun 2011, 13:41
You welcome! :)

As for the voice actress being Keira Knightley, that's highly unlikely because Karl has said more than once that the new voice actress isn't a big name/famous actress, he says she's a new talent, so I think that rules out Keira...

when i watched the trailer the first name i thought about was keira knightley
but that is fine. i don't like her after all:lol:

thanks again

Denis..
9th Jun 2011, 15:07
do they always laughing?

no i mean.. do they work a bit?

WinterSoldierLTE
9th Jun 2011, 21:45
do they always laughing?

no i mean.. do they work a bit?

Mate, if you've a job that you can't have a laugh or two in, I feel bad for you. Unless you're a dentist. No one wants a dentist coming at them with a live drill LHFAO. That'd be just... wrong. Anyways, yeah. Bit of a laugh always helps the day flow smoother. Nothing wrong with it.

aang001
9th Jun 2011, 23:26
thx

QiX
9th Jun 2011, 23:49
Sweet! Both my questions answered! Thanks a lot, Maegan, Karl and the crew. :D

dark7angel
10th Jun 2011, 09:58
And another one: Crystal Habit Podcast 3 (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/6371180052/happy-thursday-take-a-listen-to-the-final-crystal#notes)

MeaganMarie
15th Jun 2011, 20:22
do they always laughing?

no i mean.. do they work a bit?

Haha. Yes, we laugh a lot. This was out of exhaustion, though, as much as fun. When you are sleep deprived at a convention, you get the giggles :P

dark7angel
15th Jun 2011, 20:35
Haha. Yes, we laugh a lot. This was out of exhaustion, though, as much as fun. When you are sleep deprived at a convention, you get the giggles :P

One could really tell that you guys were tired!!! Specially in some video interviews with Karl and Brian!!! But you guys did an awesome job at E3! TR made quite an impression!!!! So Congrats! :thumb:

By the way Meagan, when can we expect a new Crystal Habit Podcast??? :D I love listening to you guys chatting about the game!!! You all seem like such a nice bunch! :cool:

dark7angel
4th Jul 2011, 19:17
Sorry to double post but I just wanted to let you guys know there's a new Podcast!

I updated the first post with a link.


The Crystal Habit: #1 (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/7232440295/the-crystal-habit-1-returning-to-the-studio)

Returning to the studio after E3, Crystal Dynamics kicks off the first official Crystal Habit podcast. This episode, key staffers discuss the history of the development house, evaluate Tomb Raider’s reception at E3, and address the most popular questions of the month. Hosted by Meagan Marie.

Editor Note: We’re in the midst of the the approval process over at iTunes, so expect an archive to be available soon!

d1n0_xD
4th Jul 2011, 23:44
Phew, that was a long podcast xD And when Karl came to talk about reception from E3, I was like: "Finally!" :p

Tomb Raider is a BOMB! :D

So, there are NO mansion levels, aaaand that's about it :p

P.S. I think there's a chance that the music (the violines and the piano, I think) will be the Main theme for this TR. Just a thought :D

dark7angel
5th Jul 2011, 08:54
Phew, that was a long podcast xD And when Karl came to talk about reception from E3, I was like: "Finally!" :p

Tomb Raider is a BOMB! :D

So, there are NO mansion levels, aaaand that's about it :p

P.S. I think there's a chance that the music (the violines and the piano, I think) will be the Main theme for this TR. Just a thought :D

Yeah, it's a long podcast, but I think it's cool!!! And I was also waiting for Karl to show up!!!! I love the guy!!! :D

I'm curious about the new IP they talked about...

And I wouldn't mind if that was the Main Theme for this game, I really LOVE it! It's beautiful.

Driber
5th Jul 2011, 20:04
Uhm, this is podcast #4, why is it called #1? :scratch:

I'll just call it #4 :p

d1n0_xD
5th Jul 2011, 20:10
Maybe because it's the first outside E3...

MeaganMarie
5th Jul 2011, 20:11
Sorry if the naming convention is confusing. We consider this the first "official" podcast because the other ones were just E3 specials. So this is the real format it will take in the future - longer, with better audio and all that! Any suggestions as to what you would like to see in the future?

d1n0_xD
5th Jul 2011, 20:16
More stuff related to TR :D That's all that matters :p

As I recall, the new podcast will be in a month or so, so if there's any news, we want to know ^^
I don't have any questions, sadly :p

WinterSoldierLTE
5th Jul 2011, 22:27
I've a question. Why is Karl constantly saying "We're not afraid to kill Lara"? Just strikes me as odd given the rather painful (and often humorous) deaths she suffered in "Legend" if we failed to hit a button in time during a QTE. Do those not count as "killing Lara"? Everytime I hear that I can't help but think: "Yeah, we know, dude. Alot of us failed the QTEs a time or two and saw." I'm not trying to rude, mind you, so please don't take it that way. Just curious.

As for features for the podcast, anything about sound design is always welcome.

Falcon
6th Jul 2011, 15:57
Sorry if the naming convention is confusing. We consider this the first "official" podcast because the other ones were just E3 specials. So this is the real format it will take in the future - longer, with better audio and all that! Any suggestions as to what you would like to see in the future?

Can we ask the new TR voice actress some questions? She doesn't have to answer directly, you can just relay the answers. I'm sure some of the other fans would also have questions.
My Q: Does she have fits of laughter recording all those screaming and "Lara freaking out scenes"?
Just thinking about someone recording all those moaning sounds seems hilarious:lol:. I think she's really good though, not easy to express emotion like that.

MeaganMarie
6th Jul 2011, 19:10
I've a question. Why is Karl constantly saying "We're not afraid to kill Lara"? Just strikes me as odd given the rather painful (and often humorous) deaths she suffered in "Legend" if we failed to hit a button in time during a QTE. Do those not count as "killing Lara"? Everytime I hear that I can't help but think: "Yeah, we know, dude. Alot of us failed the QTEs a time or two and saw." I'm not trying to rude, mind you, so please don't take it that way. Just curious.

As for features for the podcast, anything about sound design is always welcome.

I'll ask him, but I think it's more than likely a turn of phrase he uses to draw attention to the more human Lara, and how she expresses real pain and fear :)

And I agree! Sound design segments would be great. Perfect for a podcast!

MeaganMarie
6th Jul 2011, 19:12
Can we ask the new TR voice actress some questions? She doesn't have to answer directly, you can just relay the answers. I'm sure some of the other fans would also have questions.
My Q: Does she have fits of laughter recording all those screaming and "Lara freaking out scenes"?
Just thinking about someone recording all those moaning sounds seems hilarious:lol:. I think she's really good though, not easy to express emotion like that.

When we announce her, we'll absolutely do some sort of interview or feature!

LarasFAN
6th Jul 2011, 19:38
I have a question Megan. How much % is the game complete so far?

Driber
8th Jul 2011, 19:22
Any suggestions as to what you would like to see in the future?

Judging from the amount of votes we've received in the wishlist thread (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?t=118311), I think the number one question the fans have is:

Will the player be able to play on a high difficulty level and turn off all helper icons/hints/highlighting/survival instinct?

I'm all up for game accessibility, I think it's good that inexperienced players can get visual aides when they are stuck and don't know how to advanced or which lever to pull, etc. But what I find very important is that for the experienced players, there should be an option to go "hardcore" if they want to.

I've seen many concerns about TR9 again being a too easy game, as we've seen with past TR games. I've also noticed an outcry on other forums to the developers of other games to not dumb it down for the sake of "keeping the casual gamer happy", which seems to be a trend lately.

dark7angel
17th Aug 2011, 08:54
Just to keep this thread updated with all podcasts, I added the latest one to the first post!

LadyRufina
17th Aug 2011, 13:29
I have a question Meagan Marie:

Is the voice actress Tamzin Merchant?

I don't know if we're not allowed to ask this question or not so you don't have to answer it if you don't want to it's just if it is Tamzin Merchant I think you done a great job on picking the voice actress because she's an amazing actress.

d1n0_xD
17th Aug 2011, 13:41
How long is this new podcast? I don't have much time on my hands today XD
And what is the special announcement? :D

LadyRufina
17th Aug 2011, 14:04
How long is this new podcast? I don't have much time on my hands today XD
And what is the special announcement? :D

It's only half an hour and the special announcement is just that they'll have an xbox with Lara's face on it or something along the lines of that I can't remember really.

dark7angel
17th Aug 2011, 14:16
How long is this new podcast? I don't have much time on my hands today XD
And what is the special announcement? :D

Like LadyRufina said, is about 30min long!
The announcement in the end was that they'll be holding some competitions, and one of the prizes is an xbox360.
The first segment of the podcast is a Q&A with the always awesome Karl Stewart and the second segment is about DeusEx.

d1n0_xD
17th Aug 2011, 15:14
Nice, thank you all ^^ I'm going to listen to it as soon as I can :D

MaxRaider
17th Aug 2011, 16:45
Love these podcasts! I can't wait for September's. Sounds like its going to be fun! :lmao:

SE_Cath
17th Aug 2011, 19:07
This one is awesome to listen to (and the volume balance between the soundtrack and the dialogues is perfect :D)

Edit: by the way, what do we win if we find that karaoke video ? :p

MeaganMarie
17th Aug 2011, 22:47
This one is awesome to listen to (and the volume balance between the soundtrack and the dialogues is perfect :D)

Edit: by the way, what do we win if we find that karaoke video ? :p

HAHA. I love that you noticed that, Clara. I had one of the audio guys give it a once-over this time since I didn't do a great job balancing it last episode. I'm learning though!!

SE_Cath
18th Aug 2011, 10:41
Last time, the music was only a tad too loud for listening with headphones but overall, it was a great one as well, packed with a lot of info. And plenty people didn't mind the loud music anyway, because they're already addicted to that soundtrack :p I prefered the casual, natural tone of the most recent one though :thumb: Great job!

d1n0_xD
18th Aug 2011, 17:35
God, I hope that music between the two sections become the Main Theme of the new TR :D I can imagine it already, playing in the background while you're in the main menu :D

dark7angel
16th Sep 2011, 13:18
I've updated the first post with the latest Podcast!

sierra xb
16th Sep 2011, 16:12
really enjoyed the Q&A with Karl this time....sounded to me like some of those questions came right off of the forums here :) d1n0, totaly agree about the music

LadyRufina
16th Sep 2011, 20:33
God, I hope that music between the two sections become the Main Theme of the new TR :D I can imagine it already, playing in the background while you're in the main menu :D

Same. Put in with the right kind of level, the music could be so amazing!

hiMe
16th Sep 2011, 23:03
I just listened to the podcast as well. I've got to say: Brilliant audio guys!

Made it really comfortable to listen to :3

What the QA tester really made me think of my old course when I did testing on programs. And it is such a laborious task! I really feel for the guys.
And it sounds as if it's really hard to get a job with Crystal unless you actually live locally rofl. (as in in America :'( )

But ah well...I'll just move to Lara Croft way...then laugh while sitting in my leather arm chair! ONE DAY GODDAMIT! rofl

SE_Cath
19th Sep 2011, 09:20
This last podcast is the most fascinating so far. I'm just finishing the translation of the segment of Chris Bruno's interview and I really would like to know more about all of that :D

Awesome job, once again :thumb:

dark7angel
18th Oct 2011, 08:54
There's a new Podcast - Episode 4 (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/11591659952/thanks-for-listening-in-to-the-fourth-crystal)! I updated the first post with it!

d1n0_xD
18th Oct 2011, 08:57
^ Nice :D Entered the new Xbox competition :D So, there's a new character, whose name was beeped :p

dark7angel
18th Oct 2011, 09:23
^ Nice :D Entered the new Xbox competition :D So, there's a new character, whose name was beeped :p

I also entered!!! :D
I laughed so hard of Karl giving away the name like that and them beeping it! XD The Top 5 with Karl is always the best part of the Podcast!!!!! :D

Driber
18th Nov 2011, 20:27
The new podcast is live!

Download: The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 5 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_05.mp3)

What does everyone think of the stuff covered in this episode?

jakobsen
18th Nov 2011, 20:52
The new podcast is live!

Download: The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 5 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_05.mp3)

What does everyone think of the stuff covered in this episode?

Lucky people who can test new TR!
I wish I could test TR9, too bad Im far far from CD office :(

LadyRufina
19th Nov 2011, 00:40
Just heard the 5th podcast. So happy there's still a lot to do on Lara's hair and we got to hear some new TR music which was epic!!! :D

dark7angel
19th Nov 2011, 13:38
Loved this 5th podcast!!! Double dose of Karl!!!! :D The last segment with Karl answering the top 5 questions is always my favourite part of the podcast! :cool:

And I love how we get new segments of the TR theme in every podcast! Really awesome!

Danielsun_
19th Nov 2011, 18:31
brilliant podcast love listening to these :)

d1n0_xD
19th Nov 2011, 20:05
Wow, this one is really interesting! :D

MeaganMarie
21st Nov 2011, 19:48
I'm so glad you guys think so! I always struggle a bit deciding if industry-specific stuff is interesting to you guys. It's interesting to me, but I listen to design lectures on my iPod, so.... :P

dark7angel
21st Nov 2011, 20:43
^As long as you keep bringing Karl for the podcasts, they'll always be interesting!!! :naughty:

LadyRufina
21st Nov 2011, 20:58
^ I do like the other sections as well. I'm just a little too obsessed with TR so I like to know all those little facts about what the workers on TR do. Maybe Brian will feature in it some day and talk about art.:lol:

dark7angel
19th Jan 2012, 19:20
New podcast (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/16123820356/thanks-for-listening-to-the-sixth-crystal-habit) is available!!!! :D I updated the first post with it! Going to listen to it now!!! :cool:

d1n0_xD
20th Jan 2012, 12:54
^ Bioshock: Infinite!!! :D So, this is nice, the game(content) is finished, now they're polishing in putting it together, nice! :D This is big, dual pistols may or not be in this game, but don't worry, they want to make it memorable :D

dark7angel
20th Jan 2012, 13:54
Karl + Brian + more Karl!!! I really LOVED this podcast!!!!! :naughty:

Now seriously, it's really good to know things are moving on smoothly and according to schedule!

It's also great to have confirmation that the movie will be a close adaptation of the new game, keeping the surviving on an island scenario!

I'm also very pleased to hear that the game is being developed simultaneously for the 3 platforms, instead of being developed for one and then ported to the others (which I think was what happened in the previous titles).

As for the dual pistols, I'm kind of indifferent because it's more about image than it is about actual gameplay. I didn't mind at all the fact that AoD didn't have them so I'll be ok either they make an appearance or not.

d1n0_xD
20th Jan 2012, 14:10
As for the dual pistols, I'm kind of indifferent because it's more about image than it is about actual gameplay. I didn't mind at all the fact that AoD didn't have them so I'll be ok either they make an appearance or not.

Same here, but there was a lot of fuss on the forum about them, so question answered :D

dark7angel
17th Feb 2012, 13:28
New podcast (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/17763326004/thanks-for-listening-to-the-seventh-crystal-habit) is available!!!! :D First post has been updated with it!

Driber
17th Feb 2012, 13:31
And, for easy online viewing listening:

_osEngGrQ6M

Enjoy ;)

LadyRufina
17th Feb 2012, 14:26
When you think about, this new TR is attracting a lot of people new to the franchise but CD are still catering very much to the fans of Lara before this game - Much more than I have seen of other franchises and although TR is changing quite a lot I am very happy with CD for still keeping us old fans very much in mind even though there will be so many more new fans. I understand why they're not giving Lara a birthday because then her age is more of a mystique so I think it's better that way. Nice job CD :thumb:

Driber
17th Feb 2012, 15:03
^ Mystique has nothing to do with it :p

@dark7angel: here's the transcript of the podcast, in case you'd like to add it to your OP :)

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 7

MEAGAN MARIE: Hey, everyone, Meagan Marie here, thanks for tuning in to the Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 7. In this episode we have a couple of very cool segments for you. The first is called "Creating a Cutscene," and we'll have our Creative Director in here to talk about exactly that, the process of creating a cutscene in-game. After that we have the Take Five segment with Karl. I think it's quite an enlightening segment this episode, so definitely tune in for his answers to several questions that I've heard repeatedly. I'm very excited to finally get you guys definitive answers for them. And last, we have a crowdsourced segment featuring audio clips from webmasters worldwide, talking about why they love Lara, which we thought would be a fun little way to tie in the podcast to the recent Valentine's Day holiday. So, stick around and enjoy!

[musical interlude]

Segment 1: Creating a Cutscene

MEAGAN MARIE: I'm very excited for the first segment of our show, which is called "Creating a Cutscene." What I like about these segments is, I get to learn right alongside you guys, because this is all new to me. So I have with me Noah Hughes, who is our Creative Director. Hello Noah.

NOAH HUGHES: Hello.

MEAGAN MARIE: Would you be able to walk me through, kind of... Almost a timeline, from beginning to end, of what you do, before we get down to the nitty-gritty of creating a cutscene and getting these into the games?

NOAH HUGHES: Ah, yeah, just to walk through our high-level process... We'll start with a meta-script. Generally, we map out the story that we want to tell. From there we go into a scriptwriting phase, where we'll do several iterations of a script. From that point we'll break it down into the scenes that we intend to shoot, we will storyboard those particular scenes. We do a practice shoot with the actors at the motion capture stage. From that we'll iterate on the script, we'll do a revision based on how the scene was playing. We'll also learn more about the staging of the actors and where we want the camera in the particular scenes, so when we come back in and do the final shoot, we really have a clear understanding of where we want the actors and where we want the camera and things like that. We will iterate... From that session we'll actually get rough motion in data. So we'll cut together a version of the scene based on the practice data, make any last-minute changes to the script from that, and then go back into the motion-capture studio with the actors, this time with the full audio capture and the full set design and all of that. And we do a capture of the motion and voice of the actors playing that particular scene. We then bring that back in-house and do things like lighting and textures and refining the motion and all of that. That's basically, I guess, the high-level process.

MEAGAN MARIE: And then it winds up in the game. So how many people are involved in creating a cutscene? What departments have a hand in it, aside from... You talked about talent, and you talked about, obviously, your involvement as the Creative Director.

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah, we have a lot of people touching it at different stages. We have stakeholders on the team, who participate in the overall story that we're going to tell. I'll work closely with the writer and the cinematic director, turning that into script and storyboards. And then, obviously, we have a lot of professionals at the stage and the actors, things like that. And then once that data is captured, we work with an external animation group, who will take that data, clean it up, things like that. That's a lot of animators touching it at that point. When we bring it in-house, we have fewer people. At that point we're building our sets, we have a group of a few people who are helping with getting the animation on the actual rigs that we have and polishing it. We have our character group, which is essentially making the characters and making their visuals final, and then a few people who are making the cinematic sets and art final, lighting, things like that. And then we have an audio department doing the mix. I guess, at any given stage, it's usually in the hands of a few people, but by the time it's gone through the whole process, it's been touched by... I don't know, what, 30, 40 people, something like that?

MEAGAN MARIE: Wow. And at what time do you implement these cutscenes into a game? I know, looking at early footage, you see those storyboards, that are just panned across to give you an idea of what's going to be there, as placeholders. So when do you try to implement the final cutscenes?

NOAH HUGHES: Getting all of the cutscenes in around our alpha milestone is important, so we can start really judging the story of the game in the context of how it's actually going to be told. But as you mentioned, before that, we make sure to integrate storyboards and other stand-ins for the cinematics so that we can start to understand how it transitions in and out of gameplay and what the pace is going to feel like and those types of things. But really, alpha is when our cinematics start to drop in.

MEAGAN MARIE: And at that point in time, are they locked? Do they still have the ability to change, if necessary?


NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. They're a little more locked than a lot of our content, because we're trying to keep the capture data that we have, but at the same time there's a fair amount of iteration that happens. With cameras... The performance is happening in a way that's hard to change. If you change one character then they won't interact correctly with another character. But having said that, the camera can be changed so we just view that scene from a different angle. So we have a fair amount of liberties playing with the camera after the capture. But we also have done a lot of capture cameras, so even those we don't like to touch too much. We're trying to keep the organic feel of the hand-captured cameras. But that is something that we'll iterate on. Additionally, we'll do ADR sessions, essentially some dialogue replacement. If there's particular lines in performances that are bit rough, or if we'd like to change a line, we can do some of that on the home stretch as well. And then things like lighting don't even happen until later in the process. We really iterate on that a lot, to get the mood and the cool final polish.


MEAGAN MARIE: It's interesting seeing them progress, it's something I hadn't been privy to before, so it's cool seeing them layered and layered until you get the end result.

NOAH HUGHES: It's kind of scary, because at first they're pretty much a disaster, until it all starts coming together...

MEAGAN MARIE: But then they function as placeholders, and then, like you said, the puzzle pieces fit together and it's impressive. I think a lot of our fans are actually quite interested in the motion capturing process. And obviously, we haven't revealed who the voice actress is yet, so we don't get to say who's running around in the black suit, but... These people, are they in the traditional black suits with the little balls all over it? Can you kind of set the stage as far as what the motion capture stage looks like?

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. The motion capture stage... It's pretty cool. It's just a huge square warehouse-stage-type-feeling-thing. But it's got a carpeted floor and a grid on it, so we can use that for marking out the scene. And then actors, as you mentioned, they're in the jumpsuits with the little balls. The sets are built out of rough materials, when we need the physical form of the sets to be there. We'll have... The stage itself is very clean, with thousands of cameras, or I guess hundreds of cameras placed all around it, but then there's at least as large an area that's just full of wood planks and pillars and boards and apple boxes...

MEAGAN MARIE: Kind of a build-your-own set...

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. It's almost like a carpenter's Lego set for building the physical form of the set that we need. It looks more Tron-like than Tomb Raider-like. It doesn't look much like the game when we're doing it on the set, obviously.

MEAGAN MARIE: It's very interesting, though. So we capture... You said that we capture the voice and the motion simultaneously, is that correct?

NOAH HUGHES: That's correct, yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: So what are the benefits of doing that, in terms of character performance?

NOAH HUGHES: For us it was pretty important to try to really have the actors benefit from playing off of each other. So obviously, their ability to act in the scene together, but also even be giving that vocal performance as they're giving the physical performance. I think you get nuances out of all of that happening at the same time, that you don't necessarily get when you try to break that up into different stages. As I mentioned, it's fine for us to do some pick-up lines in a booth, stuff like that, but really, the ability to hear exertions underneath a line, if someone's straining as they're delivering it... Or even just the little bit of stepping on a line that you get between two actors as they're playing off of each other. There's a lot of nuance that we like to try and capture in the moment.

MEAGAN MARIE: How do you capture some of these more, like, grand action sequences? Like jumping or falling or... Is that all captured, or is some of that keyframed?

NOAH HUGHES: We try to capture as much of that as we can. We have stunt actors as well, so we have a stunt Lara and some other actors. We will do any number of things, I guess... We had wires hanging from the struts in the ceiling, or we had trampolines where they were doing head-over-heels flips to capture exposions, things like that. But, like you would do in a standard movie shoot, you break the scene up into different bits. One contiguous action sequence would actually be done in little snippets, so that moment where the explosion goes off, that will be one capture, where we'll get the stunt actors flying through the air, and then as we edit it together it becomes that contiguous action scene.

MEAGAN MARIE: This sounds like a lot of fun! I need to come down and see one of these stages. Stunts hanging from the ceiling... So how often do you need to go down there? Do you do a couple of very full days, do you do smaller bite-sized sessions, or... How often are you recording?

NOAH HUGHES: We try to do... We tended to do about two or three days at a time, and we've done... I don't know, probably six or seven of those particular sessions, with enough time in between... One of them being practice, and then leaving some time in to iterate on the script and do our initial edit based on the preliminary data. And then we do the final version of that shoot, and again, leave a little bit of time to prepare for the next one, get all the props ready, things like that. Then we go down and shoot the practice for the next batch. So we ended up doing three batches overall, doing a practice and a final shoot, with a little bit of test thrown in there for a total of about seven different sessions.

MEAGAN MARIE: So are you down there earlier than the actors, helping set up the stage, preparing all that, getting it all ready for the performance capturing?

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. There's a decent amount of preparation. Also, the actors' time is pretty precious. In games, we're used to working a really long day if we need to get things done, but the actors have the strict rules of how much they can work in a particular day, so what we try to do is get down there, do as much preparation as we can, so as soon as the actors are in there, we're actually shooting scenes. It's always a stress throughout the day, hoping...

MEAGAN MARIE: Checking your watch.

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. Are we gonna get that final minute that we need to get to today?

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. So once you get the footage... You're talking about how you have multiple cameras all over the motion capture stage. Who decides the angles and the panning and the camera view, once you get all that raw footage back to the studio?

NOAH HUGHES: That's actually a really fun part of the process. When I mentioned all the cameras around the stage, those are just for tracking the motion. So they have... If you look at the little shiny balls on the actors' suits, the hundreds of cameras around are really just tracking that and turning it into 3D motion. When we're actually doing the cameras for the cinematics themselves, we've already captured the actors and we're able to play them back in the 3D engine, watching the scene play out. And then we have a virtual camera, which we can take into the stage. So at that point, there aren't any actors on the stage. If you look through the virtual camera, you see the 3D characters performing, so we use that virtual, handheld camera, which has a little viewport just like a regular camera would, but you're seeing in to the digital version of it. You can move that camera around and shoot the performance from any angle you want, and then you can go ahead and start the performance from the beginning again and shoot from any other angle. So we have a cinematics director, who's doing the directing of the actors on the set, and then doing the directing of the cameras on the set. Those are two different days. The process of being able to shoot multiple cameras over and over with the same performance is pretty fun. The other things that are neat with that, that you can't do with a normal camera, is you can, say, for example, change the scale of the motion of the camera. So all of a sudden, it's as if you could be a hundred-foot-tall person, and when you move the camera around the scene, it's really more like a huge crane shot, something where, in a normal movie, you'd need that giant crane or a helicopter or something to get. Just by changing the scale of the camera motion, you're able to move the camera in all different ways. It's a super-fun part of the process.

MEAGAN MARIE: Very cool. I have to imagine it makes it that much more rewarding when you finally hear that audio layered in, and the texture and the lighting and whatnot.

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. And that really is the thing, it's... Every piece is done as a separate layer. It's always very exciting to capture one layer, but you're always then anxious to get the next layer in, so that you can see it all. When we first capture the performance, I'm really just looking at the videos from that day. But once we get to the cameras, we can look at the camera shots. But until you get the edits, it's not that interesting. Even once you get the edits, it's not that interesting until you put in... You know.

MEAGAN MARIE: But then when you see it all together... That's what everybody gets to see, and they don't realize how much work goes into it. So everything is rendered in-engine, correct? Nothing is pre-rendered?

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. For all the standard cinematics in the game. We have an opening sequence which is pre-rendered, but beyond that, we've really enjoyed using the realtime process. It allows us to transition seamlessly from gameplay to cinematic and have it really feel the same. That's something that's important to our game. The whole experience should feel like an intense performance from the actors, right? That goes in and out of gameplay. That ability to do it in real time has been an important part of us making it feel unified.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. Well, I can't wait for everybody to get to see more of the work that you've been doing down the road. So... Thank you very much for your time, I appreciate it.

NOAH HUGHES: Thank you.

[musical interlude]

Segment 2: Take Five

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, Karl, you know what's coming.

KARL STEWART: Cool, no problem. Take Fiiiive!

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes. And I'm actually extremely excited about this one...

KARL STEWART: Oh, dear.

MEAGAN MARIE: ...because I get Karl to answer two questions that the fans have been asking quite often, and that I know they're going to be excited to get definitive answers to. So!

KARL STEWART: I know they have questions about this as well, because I get more tweets, more questions on the forums and e-mails, I get hit up with this a lot. And every single time I walk by Meagan, this last week, all she keeps saying is, "What's the answer?! What are we gonna say?!" So for all you people giving Meagan crap for not answering, I'm the one who said, "We say nothing just yet, until we communicate it correctly."

MEAGAN MARIE: Thank you, Karl, you just made my day.

KARL STEWART: So Meagan presses me every single day to answer these questions.

MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, you just made my day. Thank you so much.

KARL STEWART: I always try to find excuses to have to go. "Gotta go to a meeting! Sorry!"

MEAGAN MARIE: But 90 percent of the time you do have to go to a meeting, so...

KARL STEWART: Yeah, I know...

MEAGAN MARIE: So, question number one, are you ready for this?

KARL STEWART: Yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: Does the new Lara Croft have a birth date, and if so, what is it?

KARL STEWART: No comment. Question number two.

MEAGAN MARIE: What?!

KARL STEWART: [laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: That was a bit of a loud screech.

KARL STEWART: Okay. So. Let me see if I can answer this in a very constructive way. When we went back to look at this new vision of Lara, obviously, we tried to make sure that we position the character in the future of the character. So we're not looking at a year, we're looking at the next 20-plus years, let's say, if she lasts that long. Obviously she will. We had to be very cognizant about dating our character. I know, in the past, we've had... Lara's birthday is February the fourteenth, it was Valentine's Day. For the life of me, I don't know who ever decided that, I don't know when it was decided, whether it was a year, five years... Well, I know it wasn't a year. Five years? Ten years ago? I do not know. And in all of the characters that I've been studying really closely, I have tried to make sure that... We give her a juice, right, so we're building the game better, we're telling a story. But really, there are certain personalities and certain things that... I, and the team here, just don't feel like you need to get into that level of depth. That brings a level which kinda starts to break down that fourth wall a little bit too much. And some of the examples that I will give are... You look at James Bond. I have studied it and looked it up. He doesn't have a birthday. Batman doesn't have a birthday. The Incredible Hulk doesn't have a birthday. So it's looking at characters and kind of going, "What is the rationale for having a birthday?" Right? Of course we want to celebrate and everyone wants to say, "Oh, Valentine's Day has just come," and we had loads to talk about, but... Does it necessarily mean that we have to pay homage to a fictional character on her birthday? So despite the fact that a lot of people will probably be a little bit peeved with us for not calling it out and saying, "Hey, February 14!", we look at it and kind of go, "Does she need to have a birthday? Is it something that we need to bring to her personality?" And I think that the answer is no. So...

MEAGAN MARIE: We can love Lara every day.

KARL STEWART: We love Lara every day. I don't want to disappoint people by kind of making them feel like we're disrespecting it, saying, "No more." But we have looked at a lot of characters and a lot of people, a lot of games, and really... My thought, and I think the team here's, is that we do not want to date the character. You put a date on it... It's like, how old is James Bond? James Bond has been the same age for God knows how long. It's just been a different iteration of James Bond. And I think even when you look through... There's always been speculation about when James Bond was born, what his birthday was, and the same with Batman, the same with many, many other characters. Really, from our perspective, we don't want to date Lara. But we still keep her in our hearts.

MEAGAN MARIE: Absolutely. Thank you so much for that one.

KARL STEWART: I know I'm going to get **** for it anyway. But I'm just... Trying to be as open and honest...

MEAGAN MARIE: And I think the fans will appreciate that. Thank you. Alright, question number two, this one's a little easier. What sort of additional content or replayability will we see in the new Tomb Raider game? Will there be side missions, alongside the main missions?

KARL STEWART: Over the coming months, as we've been sort of saying in the last podcast, we have loads more content we're going to talk about. I don't want to spoil anything, I don't want to give stuff away, but I think it's very simple to read between the lines and kinda go, "Look, we're Tomb Raider, of course this island is full of mystery, there'll be loads of other things you'll be able to do." As time progresses we'll start to introduce you to different storylines and different faces, sort of different times that'll be on the island. For instance, you step out on that cliff and you see all those ships, historically, there are ships from many different ages. There's a Viking ship there, there's a Spanish longship... Is a longship Spanish? What do you call it? A Viking longship, Spanish armada, made a mistake there. As well as, like, B-52 bombers, fishing trawlers. So of course there's tons of stuff that we want to talk to you about over the course of time, but really, our core is that the next time we come back, we're going to talk to you about the progression of our character, a little bit about the surroundings and the people on the island, before we start getting into that secondary stuff. But trust me, as with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, as with all the Tomb Raider games, there will be lots of other things to do. We're not going to stick to just...

MEAGAN MARIE: To cater to your play style...There are people who just want to plow through it, and then there's people like me who can spend an hour and a half in one little area because I'm trying to jump on everything and find everything...

KARL STEWART: Exactly. Guardian of Light, I loved all the challenge tombs, and to us that was a big deal, to make sure that the player felt like there was more than just that main story. And I think, you know, again, read between the lines. You see what we're setting up here. Over the coming months you'll see that there's a lot of other things that go on on the island that will keep you intrigued. I'm just not going to go into it right now. [chuckles]

MEAGAN MARIE: The third question goes into it a little bit more... But, similar parallel lines, not exactly the same. What variety of environments can we expect to find on the island? I think that some people have a fear that our game is dark and moody and scary and rainy and gross all the time, and that you don't get to see the beauty...

KARL STEWART: It's not.

MEAGAN MARIE: I know it's not, and that's why I can't wait for people to see more. But can you expand on that?

KARL STEWART: So one of the most important aspects, when we started work on this game, was setting the island up as a character. Now, in order to have the island as a character, you can't just have a one-dimensional character, you have to have a multi-dimensional character. So therefore, you're going to come across situations on the island where, yes, you've seen dark, dank tombs and you've seen ships on the bay, imagining being able to possibly get down to them, and then you see it's raining... Well, of course, you know, there's going to be so much more. There's going to be places on the island that will blow your mind, vistas, beautiful. Again, I'm big into not spoiling things for people. I love to remark on them, let you know that stuff's coming and not to worry, but I don't want to turn around to say, "She does this, and she looks out on this, you'll be, like, holy ****!"

MEAGAN MARIE: I think the character analogy is a very good one. The fact that it's a very multi-faceted location. Because it is... The game is on one island. That was one of the things, a persistent single location... So we wouldn't want it to feel redundant and boring just because it's in one space.

KARL STEWART: Exactly. And it's like... Trust us. We're not going to build a game where it's all nighttime and just rain. [laughter] Because we'd be very bored should we have decided to do that.

MEAGAN MARIE: And we didn't.

KARL STEWART: And we didn't.

MEAGAN MARIE: So rest assured. Alright, question... The next question is, is there any news about trophies and achievement support?

KARL STEWART: Only the fact that it's going to be in the game, of course, because it's a big deal in every single game. We'll try and make some easy, some very hard. But it's kind of a moot question because it's going to be in there, right? I don't think we can contractually submit a game to any first party without putting in trophies or achievements.

MEAGAN MARIE: It's, surprisingly, a question I get quite often, and I think that perhaps just hearing the reassurance is a good thing.

KARL STEWART: Alright, well, maybe on this one, I can answer wholeheartedly "Yes!" We will have trophies and achievements. What they will be, right now, there is absolutely no way on this earth that I know, because that doesn't happen until you have your game in a position where you can go in and play it and kinda go, "Oh, that's cool, let's make that really hard to get! That's a cool reward for doing that." So although it's in the back of our heads, it's not something, at this stage, that we start planning out. And then, of course, you don't want to give any spoilers. I will be doing my best to make sure that we keep it as quiet as possible, and that the XboxAchievements.com or whatever that website is doesn't get their hands on it...

MEAGAN MARIE: That always breaks them...


KARL STEWART: They always break it, they always tell people...

MEAGAN MARIE: And then there's storyline spoilers and...

KARL STEWART: Yeah. And I suppose, to comment on that, we will be very cautious about making sure that the names of the achievements aren't spoilers. Because I think that is a very important thing. It's a bummer when you turn around and say... Here's an example, it's probably a spoiler, but if you got an achievement in Arkham City for, say, "The Death of Joker," you'd be like, "Oh, no, that means he's gonna die!" Well, who the hell names an achievement that? Now, I know that Rocksteady did not give an achievement named "The Death of Joker." But that's a spoiler, that's a big deal...

MEAGAN MARIE: And there's a lot of people that go through the achievement list immediately, to see all of the non-hidden achievements, so they can make sure they've got their eye on the right activities and whatnot, so...

KARL STEWART: Exactly. Which is funny there, because just as I said "The Death of Joker," Meagan looked at her like I'd just given her the spoiler alert and she hadn't played it...

MEAGAN MARIE: No, I played it, I know.

KARL STEWART: Funny.

MEAGAN MARIE: Last question. So we bookended the Take Five with the hard questions. So now we're closing in on a hard one. Final question is, why have you guys gone so long without sharing any new information about the game? Is there a strategy to this?

KARL STEWART: So I would say, yes, there's a strategy behind everything we do. We do not just talk for the sake of it. It was very important to us that we time the announcement of our game, as well as the information that we reveal about our game, very strategically, so that we tell the story of re-imagining this character. Lara's been around for a very long time, and you cannot expect that you come out, 12 to 18 months before the game ships, and go, "Ta-da, here she is, she's shipwrecked on an island," and the next phase is, "Oh, she's getting stronger," and the next phase is, "Oh, she's an action-adventure hero." There has to be the right amount of time to allow everything to sink in, for people to understand what we're trying to achieve. Now, with that said, we have been extremely lucky in 2011 off the back of getting the cover on Game Informer, written by none other than Meagan Marie... We had planned to sort of say, "Well, right, for the entire year we will just talk about and focus on that one thing." Now, as the year progressed, and we found that the 35-plus covers and all the awards at E3 and the amount of people who came to see it, we were... It was almost a sellout concert. Every single time we did a demo, whether it be at E3 or any show, we had more people turning up than we'd imagined. So we felt like we achieved our goal of communicating this new vision for Lara in a fraction of the space of time that we thought it would take. And we really reached a point in time where we said, "Okay, well, the next stage has to be that evolutionary step of Lara. What's she going to do next?" So that each step of the way you kinda feel like she's growing and growing. And that's what we plan on doing now when we come back pretty soon. But as soon as we got to... Like, I think it was around the September timeline. Really, everybody had seen it. Everybody had seen what we wanted to show. All that happens is that, in my mind, you start frustrating people. Because you're regurgitating the same content, you're talkng about the same thing over and over again. Even if... As an example, we had the option to release the gameplay footage, narrated, that we'd shown at E3. At some point in time, everybody has seen it and it feels like you've got nothing new to show. We have loads of new stuff to show and we're really excited to get ready to do it. We just decided that for a period of time, we did not want to keep showing the same thing, because it starts to just date the product. People look at it and go, "Is that a one-trick pony? Is that all they can do?" And that's not all we do. So it has been very strategic. It was obviously a little bit... It's a little bit longer than we had planned, because we managed to achieve so much last year. Which we're very proud of and we're very happy, that the press and all the fans loved what we were doing. But let's just say that it will not be long before we will be coming back. We will be coming back and showing you the next phase, and trust me, from then on into the campaign it's a lot of content dropping.

MEAGAN MARIE: A lot of content, and it's not just game-specific, like trailers and screenshots. We'll be talking about talent, we'll be looking at ancillary things... All sorts of stuff.

KARL STEWART: We have loads to say. But it also takes time for this new vision to settle in to people. We're all fans, we're very close to it, a lot of the people who listen to this podcast have been close to it since day one. Re-imagining an IP like this takes a little bit of time for it to sort of seep through all the cracks and for everybody to be aware that it's happening. We believe that, when we come back in the very near future, we will have sufficiently sorta seeded the new vision, the re-imagining. And when we move into this next phase, people will understand where we're coming from in order to get there. These things take time.

MEAGAN MARIE: It does take time, but it'll be worth the wait. That's what I keep telling people. The content that we have coming is phenomenal. So I cannot wait to share it with you guys, and thank you for explaining that, Karl, I think it does provide a lot of insight into the motivation behind why we're doing what we're doing in the order and the timeline that we're doing it.

KARL STEWART: Excellent.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. Thank you so much!

KARL STEWART: And you see, that's only a Take Five. If you'd had a Take Six, that would have been... "Who is the voice of Lara Croft?" And that would have been... That's a great sixth question. But I'm not going to answer it right now.

MEAGAN MARIE: But you won't.

KARL STEWART: [knowing laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. Thank you.

KARL STEWART: Bye-bye.

[musical interlude]

Segment 3: Why we Love Lara

MEAGAN MARIE: In the final segment of this episode, I wanted to tie in to the recent Valentine's Day holiday, and I thought... What is better than asking the Tomb Raider webmasters, the members of the official fansite program, to discuss why they love Lara? It turned out to be extremely cool to hear everybody's voices for the first time, to hear all the accents from all over the world, and to hear all these very similar experiences to my own. So, here are some of the webmasters from around the world, talking about why they love Lara. Enjoy!

DRIBER: Hey, everyone, this is Driber, I am a staff member from the official forums, I'm a custom level builder, I live in the Czech Republic, and I'm a long-time Tomb Raider fan. What I probably like most about the games are the environments which Lara is placed in. My first-ever experience with Lara, if I remember correctly, was a demo of the Venice level from Tomb Raider II, I absolutely loved it, I instantly fell in love with the atmosphere of the game, and soon afterwards I headed to the local game store and I bought Tomb Raider one for the original PlayStation. I've just been hooked ever since. Over the years I've played many other types of games, first-person shooters, RPGs, racing games, fighting games, other adventure games. But Tomb Raider always managed to stand out to me for some reason. It's got that special something to it. I really can't explain what that is, though, it's hard to really put my finger on it. So far I liked every major installment of the game. Yes, that does include Angel of Darkness. Despite its flaws, I did like the original story which Core wanted to tell with it. I think it's a shame that their planned trilogy was never finished. It was actually funny for me, chasing Eckhardt in Prague, because I was actually in Prague at the time on vacation. I was staying at my girlfriend's parents house and looking out of the window, I could see the real Strahov, which by the way is in reality a football stadium here, not an actual fortress. I think the atmosphere in some of the levels of Angel of Darkness was some of the best in the entire series. But still, nothing really beats the first experience of Tomb Raider one. It left by far the biggest impression on me. The creepiness of the abandoned tombs, the subtle background ambiance, the weird creatures in the levels, especially the ones near the end, the giant alien eggs all over the place. I especially loved the awesome orchestrated soundtrack for the game. It was really something different at the time. What I also love about Tomb Raider is that it's still alive and kicking, after more than 15 years now. Everyone knows Lara Croft. She's such a major icon worldwide, both in the gaming industry and outside. And finally, I love Tomb Raider for its community. I love reading all those online discussions, playing those very creative custom levels, and seeing all that awesome fan art from you guys. You guys rock. And I love how the Tomb Raider community brings people from many different backgrounds and countries together. So in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I'll end by saying, thanks, Tomb Raider, I wouldn't have met my better half if it wasn't for this game.

Quentin: Hello everyone, my name is Quentin, I'm the webmaster of the website tombraideraddict.com, a French fan site about Tomb Raider and Lara Croft. I'm a fan of Lara for almost 11 years. Lara is my idol since I'm a little boy. I started playing it on PS one with my parents' friends, who already had the four Tomb Raider games. I fell in love with the Tomb Raider franchise, with the action, the adventure, and especially the character, who is strong, beautiful, and intelligent. If I had to choose my three favorite Tomb Raider games, I think I would first say, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. The Egyptian feeling that I love, it was a wonderful game. Lara was beautiful, and we could play as young Lara for the first time. Then I would choose Tomb Raider Legend, that I had on PS2. Lara is handsome in this game. The levels are very different. The environments are awesome, and the characters are lovely. The story wasn't that bad. Finally, I would say Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, that I also had on PS2. Lara is dark in this Tomb Raider, but she's not bad, and I like the way you go through the levels without having weapons like the other games. Infiltrate, kill, pick up, I found this very prudent. The Louvre was the best level of the game to me. About the upcoming Tomb Raider, I can't wait to play it. I've always dreamed about a Tomb Raider that would have to be played as a survival game, where you need to eat, to drink, to pick up equipment. And especially, to survive. I think about it every day. Crystal Dynamics is making a very good work. I know this Tomb Raider reboot will be great.

Jessica: Hi, my name is Jessica, and I'm the proud owner of the site Tomb Raider Level Editor of Brazil. I love Lara Croft because she inspired me a lot and made me learn that women can also be prominent, strong, and always wanting more. That is what makes her what she is today, a global icon!


Reno: Hey, this is Reno, from Lara Croft: The Raider community, I'm from Iraq and I want to take this opportunity to say that Lara Croft is one of the most important people in my life. She's more like a mentor and a best friend to me than just a video game character. She's always been there for me since I first started playing Tomb Raider in 1997, which was Tomb Raider II. And until now, Tomb Raider has been one of the most important and most inspiring video games I've ever played. Lara Croft has always been there for me, whenever I felt lonely, or upset, or just didn't know what to do. I turned my console on and I started playing for hours and hours. That's what I still do, to this very moment. It's all led me to creating a fansite, which later became an official Tomb Raider fansite, which is more like an honor, one of the biggest achievements in my life. I want to say that I'm more than just excited about the upcoming Tomb Raider title. I think it's going to be amazing, I can't wait to play it, and I have every trust in the developers, and of course, in the amazing Lara Croft.

Katie: Hi, this is Katie Fleming, from Katie's Tomb Raider Site in Canada. I've been a huge fan of Tomb Raider for 13 years, and it's my biggest passion. I love how each game brings you to unique places around the world, perfectly combining adventure, action, and puzzle-solving. I have so many great memories from the games, and here are a few of my favorites: locking Winston in the freezer; crashing the quad bike into a federal compound; discovering aliens do exist; kayaking down the river Ganges; and blowing up the speedboat in Venice. Tomb Raider is an amazing series with an incredible fan base, and I can't wait for her next adventure later this year.

Matt: Hello everyone, my name is Matt, I'm from Australia and I run tombraiderblog.net, and that's been going for almost a year now. I've been a Tomb Raider fan for about 14 years, and the demo from Tomb Raider II is what started it all for me. One of my favorite Tomb Raider moments would have to be from Tomb Raider III, in Area 51. Towards the end of the level Lara comes across this UFO, in the facility that she's found herself in, and eventually she discovers a way to undo the trapdoor underneath the craft. Now, it looks pretty small from the outside, but on the inside it's absolutely huge. Kind of like Doctor Who's Tardis. And then there's the artifact, Element 115. It's just sitting there on the floor, unlike the other artifacts throughout the game, where you practically have to kill Lara to retrieve them. So that's one of my favorite Tomb Raider moments.

Luca: Hello, my name is Luca, I'm from Germany, and I'm the maker of Tomb Raider Insider. Meagan has given us the opportunity to tell you why we like Tomb Raider so much. What I like best in the games are the great and awesome worlds and places you can explore. I think that's what makes a good game. Most of all, I liked Underworld, because the Thailand level was absolutely epic, I love it. In addition, Tomb Raider also offers a great and interesting story. But unfortunately I started very late in the series, so I'm really looking forward to the reboot, and I'm really looking forward to a new Lara, too. Finally, I extend greetings to all visitors of Tomb Raider Insider and everyone I know. Thanks for listening.

Marco: Hello everybody, I'm Marco, and I'm the webmaster of the website allgamestaff.altervista.org. I'm Italian, as well as my website, so I apologize for my English and my pronunciation. But I would really like to talk about the reasons why we love Lara Croft and Tomb Raider. Personally, I fell in love with Lara, so to say, since the first time I met her. A sort of love at first site. She was and she is very beautiful, but she's much more than this, in my opinion. I was struck, for example, by the characteristics that weren't hidden by her beauty. First of all, she's very clever. She's sarcastic. She's a self-made woman. And most of all, she has made her passion her job. Some people accuse Lara of being a symbol of the objectification of women, but I do not believe it is true. Lara is so beloved because she's an independent woman, and she can do what most men couldn't do. These are the reasons why I love Lara Croft, and I do believe that I'm going to appreciate the new Lara too. In my opinion, the franchise is going in the right direction. That's all. Thanks for listening, and I'll continue to follow Tomb Raider. See you!

[musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: And that concludes our episode. So, to wrap up, we do have a Tomb Raider trivia contest of sorts this month. If you've been following the blog, you know that we've had a couple of technical problems, and as such, the podcast number six was down for about a week. Because of that, we're going to extend the trivia contest from last month to make sure that everybody has a chance to get in and answer the questions, since the final question was on podcast number six. So, to make things a little bit easier, I'm actually going to recap all three trivia questions right now for you, so you don't have to hunt them down on Facebook, Twitter, and the podcast. And remember, you're going to take all three answers and you're going to plug them into tombraider.com/podcast.

As a refresher, the prize on the line this month is a custom Tomb Raider North Face jacket that is only available to us as developers, and also kind of a little survival kit that we picked up from REI. So, trivia question number one is, in the original Tomb Raider, touching what artifact will transform Lara into solid gold? Question number two is, who is the ill-intentioned cosmetics tycoon from Tomb Raider III? And question number three is, what is the mysterious Bermuda Triangle-esque location in which the newest Tomb Raider unfolds? Hope you got all of that, and best of luck.

'Til next time.

dark7angel
17th Feb 2012, 15:30
^ Mystique has nothing to do with it :p

@dark7angel: here's the transcript of the podcast, in case you'd like to add it to your OP :)

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 7

MEAGAN MARIE: Hey, everyone, Meagan Marie here, thanks for tuning in to the Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 7. In this episode we have a couple of very cool segments for you. The first is called "Creating a Cutscene," and we'll have our Creative Director in here to talk about exactly that, the process of creating a cutscene in-game. After that we have the Take Five segment with Karl. I think it's quite an enlightening segment this episode, so definitely tune in for his answers to several questions that I've heard repeatedly. I'm very excited to finally get you guys definitive answers for them. And last, we have a crowdsourced segment featuring audio clips from webmasters worldwide, talking about why they love Lara, which we thought would be a fun little way to tie in the podcast to the recent Valentine's Day holiday. So, stick around and enjoy!

[musical interlude]

Segment 1: Creating a Cutscene

MEAGAN MARIE: I'm very excited for the first segment of our show, which is called "Creating a Cutscene." What I like about these segments is, I get to learn right alongside you guys, because this is all new to me. So I have with me Noah Hughes, who is our Creative Director. Hello Noah.

NOAH HUGHES: Hello.

MEAGAN MARIE: Would you be able to walk me through, kind of... Almost a timeline, from beginning to end, of what you do, before we get down to the nitty-gritty of creating a cutscene and getting these into the games?

NOAH HUGHES: Ah, yeah, just to walk through our high-level process... We'll start with a meta-script. Generally, we map out the story that we want to tell. From there we go into a scriptwriting phase, where we'll do several iterations of a script. From that point we'll break it down into the scenes that we intend to shoot, we will storyboard those particular scenes. We do a practice shoot with the actors at the motion capture stage. From that we'll iterate on the script, we'll do a revision based on how the scene was playing. We'll also learn more about the staging of the actors and where we want the camera in the particular scenes, so when we come back in and do the final shoot, we really have a clear understanding of where we want the actors and where we want the camera and things like that. We will iterate... From that session we'll actually get rough motion in data. So we'll cut together a version of the scene based on the practice data, make any last-minute changes to the script from that, and then go back into the motion-capture studio with the actors, this time with the full audio capture and the full set design and all of that. And we do a capture of the motion and voice of the actors playing that particular scene. We then bring that back in-house and do things like lighting and textures and refining the motion and all of that. That's basically, I guess, the high-level process.

MEAGAN MARIE: And then it winds up in the game. So how many people are involved in creating a cutscene? What departments have a hand in it, aside from... You talked about talent, and you talked about, obviously, your involvement as the Creative Director.

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah, we have a lot of people touching it at different stages. We have stakeholders on the team, who participate in the overall story that we're going to tell. I'll work closely with the writer and the cinematic director, turning that into script and storyboards. And then, obviously, we have a lot of professionals at the stage and the actors, things like that. And then once that data is captured, we work with an external animation group, who will take that data, clean it up, things like that. That's a lot of animators touching it at that point. When we bring it in-house, we have fewer people. At that point we're building our sets, we have a group of a few people who are helping with getting the animation on the actual rigs that we have and polishing it. We have our character group, which is essentially making the characters and making their visuals final, and then a few people who are making the cinematic sets and art final, lighting, things like that. And then we have an audio department doing the mix. I guess, at any given stage, it's usually in the hands of a few people, but by the time it's gone through the whole process, it's been touched by... I don't know, what, 30, 40 people, something like that?

MEAGAN MARIE: Wow. And at what time do you implement these cutscenes into a game? I know, looking at early footage, you see those storyboards, that are just panned across to give you an idea of what's going to be there, as placeholders. So when do you try to implement the final cutscenes?

NOAH HUGHES: Getting all of the cutscenes in around our alpha milestone is important, so we can start really judging the story of the game in the context of how it's actually going to be told. But as you mentioned, before that, we make sure to integrate storyboards and other stand-ins for the cinematics so that we can start to understand how it transitions in and out of gameplay and what the pace is going to feel like and those types of things. But really, alpha is when our cinematics start to drop in.

MEAGAN MARIE: And at that point in time, are they locked? Do they still have the ability to change, if necessary?


NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. They're a little more locked than a lot of our content, because we're trying to keep the capture data that we have, but at the same time there's a fair amount of iteration that happens. With cameras... The performance is happening in a way that's hard to change. If you change one character then they won't interact correctly with another character. But having said that, the camera can be changed so we just view that scene from a different angle. So we have a fair amount of liberties playing with the camera after the capture. But we also have done a lot of capture cameras, so even those we don't like to touch too much. We're trying to keep the organic feel of the hand-captured cameras. But that is something that we'll iterate on. Additionally, we'll do ADR sessions, essentially some dialogue replacement. If there's particular lines in performances that are bit rough, or if we'd like to change a line, we can do some of that on the home stretch as well. And then things like lighting don't even happen until later in the process. We really iterate on that a lot, to get the mood and the cool final polish.


MEAGAN MARIE: It's interesting seeing them progress, it's something I hadn't been privy to before, so it's cool seeing them layered and layered until you get the end result.

NOAH HUGHES: It's kind of scary, because at first they're pretty much a disaster, until it all starts coming together...

MEAGAN MARIE: But then they function as placeholders, and then, like you said, the puzzle pieces fit together and it's impressive. I think a lot of our fans are actually quite interested in the motion capturing process. And obviously, we haven't revealed who the voice actress is yet, so we don't get to say who's running around in the black suit, but... These people, are they in the traditional black suits with the little balls all over it? Can you kind of set the stage as far as what the motion capture stage looks like?

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. The motion capture stage... It's pretty cool. It's just a huge square warehouse-stage-type-feeling-thing. But it's got a carpeted floor and a grid on it, so we can use that for marking out the scene. And then actors, as you mentioned, they're in the jumpsuits with the little balls. The sets are built out of rough materials, when we need the physical form of the sets to be there. We'll have... The stage itself is very clean, with thousands of cameras, or I guess hundreds of cameras placed all around it, but then there's at least as large an area that's just full of wood planks and pillars and boards and apple boxes...

MEAGAN MARIE: Kind of a build-your-own set...

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. It's almost like a carpenter's Lego set for building the physical form of the set that we need. It looks more Tron-like than Tomb Raider-like. It doesn't look much like the game when we're doing it on the set, obviously.

MEAGAN MARIE: It's very interesting, though. So we capture... You said that we capture the voice and the motion simultaneously, is that correct?

NOAH HUGHES: That's correct, yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: So what are the benefits of doing that, in terms of character performance?

NOAH HUGHES: For us it was pretty important to try to really have the actors benefit from playing off of each other. So obviously, their ability to act in the scene together, but also even be giving that vocal performance as they're giving the physical performance. I think you get nuances out of all of that happening at the same time, that you don't necessarily get when you try to break that up into different stages. As I mentioned, it's fine for us to do some pick-up lines in a booth, stuff like that, but really, the ability to hear exertions underneath a line, if someone's straining as they're delivering it... Or even just the little bit of stepping on a line that you get between two actors as they're playing off of each other. There's a lot of nuance that we like to try and capture in the moment.

MEAGAN MARIE: How do you capture some of these more, like, grand action sequences? Like jumping or falling or... Is that all captured, or is some of that keyframed?

NOAH HUGHES: We try to capture as much of that as we can. We have stunt actors as well, so we have a stunt Lara and some other actors. We will do any number of things, I guess... We had wires hanging from the struts in the ceiling, or we had trampolines where they were doing head-over-heels flips to capture exposions, things like that. But, like you would do in a standard movie shoot, you break the scene up into different bits. One contiguous action sequence would actually be done in little snippets, so that moment where the explosion goes off, that will be one capture, where we'll get the stunt actors flying through the air, and then as we edit it together it becomes that contiguous action scene.

MEAGAN MARIE: This sounds like a lot of fun! I need to come down and see one of these stages. Stunts hanging from the ceiling... So how often do you need to go down there? Do you do a couple of very full days, do you do smaller bite-sized sessions, or... How often are you recording?

NOAH HUGHES: We try to do... We tended to do about two or three days at a time, and we've done... I don't know, probably six or seven of those particular sessions, with enough time in between... One of them being practice, and then leaving some time in to iterate on the script and do our initial edit based on the preliminary data. And then we do the final version of that shoot, and again, leave a little bit of time to prepare for the next one, get all the props ready, things like that. Then we go down and shoot the practice for the next batch. So we ended up doing three batches overall, doing a practice and a final shoot, with a little bit of test thrown in there for a total of about seven different sessions.

MEAGAN MARIE: So are you down there earlier than the actors, helping set up the stage, preparing all that, getting it all ready for the performance capturing?

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. There's a decent amount of preparation. Also, the actors' time is pretty precious. In games, we're used to working a really long day if we need to get things done, but the actors have the strict rules of how much they can work in a particular day, so what we try to do is get down there, do as much preparation as we can, so as soon as the actors are in there, we're actually shooting scenes. It's always a stress throughout the day, hoping...

MEAGAN MARIE: Checking your watch.

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. Are we gonna get that final minute that we need to get to today?

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. So once you get the footage... You're talking about how you have multiple cameras all over the motion capture stage. Who decides the angles and the panning and the camera view, once you get all that raw footage back to the studio?

NOAH HUGHES: That's actually a really fun part of the process. When I mentioned all the cameras around the stage, those are just for tracking the motion. So they have... If you look at the little shiny balls on the actors' suits, the hundreds of cameras around are really just tracking that and turning it into 3D motion. When we're actually doing the cameras for the cinematics themselves, we've already captured the actors and we're able to play them back in the 3D engine, watching the scene play out. And then we have a virtual camera, which we can take into the stage. So at that point, there aren't any actors on the stage. If you look through the virtual camera, you see the 3D characters performing, so we use that virtual, handheld camera, which has a little viewport just like a regular camera would, but you're seeing in to the digital version of it. You can move that camera around and shoot the performance from any angle you want, and then you can go ahead and start the performance from the beginning again and shoot from any other angle. So we have a cinematics director, who's doing the directing of the actors on the set, and then doing the directing of the cameras on the set. Those are two different days. The process of being able to shoot multiple cameras over and over with the same performance is pretty fun. The other things that are neat with that, that you can't do with a normal camera, is you can, say, for example, change the scale of the motion of the camera. So all of a sudden, it's as if you could be a hundred-foot-tall person, and when you move the camera around the scene, it's really more like a huge crane shot, something where, in a normal movie, you'd need that giant crane or a helicopter or something to get. Just by changing the scale of the camera motion, you're able to move the camera in all different ways. It's a super-fun part of the process.

MEAGAN MARIE: Very cool. I have to imagine it makes it that much more rewarding when you finally hear that audio layered in, and the texture and the lighting and whatnot.

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. And that really is the thing, it's... Every piece is done as a separate layer. It's always very exciting to capture one layer, but you're always then anxious to get the next layer in, so that you can see it all. When we first capture the performance, I'm really just looking at the videos from that day. But once we get to the cameras, we can look at the camera shots. But until you get the edits, it's not that interesting. Even once you get the edits, it's not that interesting until you put in... You know.

MEAGAN MARIE: But then when you see it all together... That's what everybody gets to see, and they don't realize how much work goes into it. So everything is rendered in-engine, correct? Nothing is pre-rendered?

NOAH HUGHES: Yeah. For all the standard cinematics in the game. We have an opening sequence which is pre-rendered, but beyond that, we've really enjoyed using the realtime process. It allows us to transition seamlessly from gameplay to cinematic and have it really feel the same. That's something that's important to our game. The whole experience should feel like an intense performance from the actors, right? That goes in and out of gameplay. That ability to do it in real time has been an important part of us making it feel unified.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. Well, I can't wait for everybody to get to see more of the work that you've been doing down the road. So... Thank you very much for your time, I appreciate it.

NOAH HUGHES: Thank you.

[musical interlude]

Segment 2: Take Five

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, Karl, you know what's coming.

KARL STEWART: Cool, no problem. Take Fiiiive!

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes. And I'm actually extremely excited about this one...

KARL STEWART: Oh, dear.

MEAGAN MARIE: ...because I get Karl to answer two questions that the fans have been asking quite often, and that I know they're going to be excited to get definitive answers to. So!

KARL STEWART: I know they have questions about this as well, because I get more tweets, more questions on the forums and e-mails, I get hit up with this a lot. And every single time I walk by Meagan, this last week, all she keeps saying is, "What's the answer?! What are we gonna say?!" So for all you people giving Meagan crap for not answering, I'm the one who said, "We say nothing just yet, until we communicate it correctly."

MEAGAN MARIE: Thank you, Karl, you just made my day.

KARL STEWART: So Meagan presses me every single day to answer these questions.

MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, you just made my day. Thank you so much.

KARL STEWART: I always try to find excuses to have to go. "Gotta go to a meeting! Sorry!"

MEAGAN MARIE: But 90 percent of the time you do have to go to a meeting, so...

KARL STEWART: Yeah, I know...

MEAGAN MARIE: So, question number one, are you ready for this?

KARL STEWART: Yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: Does the new Lara Croft have a birth date, and if so, what is it?

KARL STEWART: No comment. Question number two.

MEAGAN MARIE: What?!

KARL STEWART: [laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: That was a bit of a loud screech.

KARL STEWART: Okay. So. Let me see if I can answer this in a very constructive way. When we went back to look at this new vision of Lara, obviously, we tried to make sure that we position the character in the future of the character. So we're not looking at a year, we're looking at the next 20-plus years, let's say, if she lasts that long. Obviously she will. We had to be very cognizant about dating our character. I know, in the past, we've had... Lara's birthday is February the fourteenth, it was Valentine's Day. For the life of me, I don't know who ever decided that, I don't know when it was decided, whether it was a year, five years... Well, I know it wasn't a year. Five years? Ten years ago? I do not know. And in all of the characters that I've been studying really closely, I have tried to make sure that... We give her a juice, right, so we're building the game better, we're telling a story. But really, there are certain personalities and certain things that... I, and the team here, just don't feel like you need to get into that level of depth. That brings a level which kinda starts to break down that fourth wall a little bit too much. And some of the examples that I will give are... You look at James Bond. I have studied it and looked it up. He doesn't have a birthday. Batman doesn't have a birthday. The Incredible Hulk doesn't have a birthday. So it's looking at characters and kind of going, "What is the rationale for having a birthday?" Right? Of course we want to celebrate and everyone wants to say, "Oh, Valentine's Day has just come," and we had loads to talk about, but... Does it necessarily mean that we have to pay homage to a fictional character on her birthday? So despite the fact that a lot of people will probably be a little bit peeved with us for not calling it out and saying, "Hey, February 14!", we look at it and kind of go, "Does she need to have a birthday? Is it something that we need to bring to her personality?" And I think that the answer is no. So...

MEAGAN MARIE: We can love Lara every day.

KARL STEWART: We love Lara every day. I don't want to disappoint people by kind of making them feel like we're disrespecting it, saying, "No more." But we have looked at a lot of characters and a lot of people, a lot of games, and really... My thought, and I think the team here's, is that we do not want to date the character. You put a date on it... It's like, how old is James Bond? James Bond has been the same age for God knows how long. It's just been a different iteration of James Bond. And I think even when you look through... There's always been speculation about when James Bond was born, what his birthday was, and the same with Batman, the same with many, many other characters. Really, from our perspective, we don't want to date Lara. But we still keep her in our hearts.

MEAGAN MARIE: Absolutely. Thank you so much for that one.

KARL STEWART: I know I'm going to get **** for it anyway. But I'm just... Trying to be as open and honest...

MEAGAN MARIE: And I think the fans will appreciate that. Thank you. Alright, question number two, this one's a little easier. What sort of additional content or replayability will we see in the new Tomb Raider game? Will there be side missions, alongside the main missions?

KARL STEWART: Over the coming months, as we've been sort of saying in the last podcast, we have loads more content we're going to talk about. I don't want to spoil anything, I don't want to give stuff away, but I think it's very simple to read between the lines and kinda go, "Look, we're Tomb Raider, of course this island is full of mystery, there'll be loads of other things you'll be able to do." As time progresses we'll start to introduce you to different storylines and different faces, sort of different times that'll be on the island. For instance, you step out on that cliff and you see all those ships, historically, there are ships from many different ages. There's a Viking ship there, there's a Spanish longship... Is a longship Spanish? What do you call it? A Viking longship, Spanish armada, made a mistake there. As well as, like, B-52 bombers, fishing trawlers. So of course there's tons of stuff that we want to talk to you about over the course of time, but really, our core is that the next time we come back, we're going to talk to you about the progression of our character, a little bit about the surroundings and the people on the island, before we start getting into that secondary stuff. But trust me, as with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, as with all the Tomb Raider games, there will be lots of other things to do. We're not going to stick to just...

MEAGAN MARIE: To cater to your play style...There are people who just want to plow through it, and then there's people like me who can spend an hour and a half in one little area because I'm trying to jump on everything and find everything...

KARL STEWART: Exactly. Guardian of Light, I loved all the challenge tombs, and to us that was a big deal, to make sure that the player felt like there was more than just that main story. And I think, you know, again, read between the lines. You see what we're setting up here. Over the coming months you'll see that there's a lot of other things that go on on the island that will keep you intrigued. I'm just not going to go into it right now. [chuckles]

MEAGAN MARIE: The third question goes into it a little bit more... But, similar parallel lines, not exactly the same. What variety of environments can we expect to find on the island? I think that some people have a fear that our game is dark and moody and scary and rainy and gross all the time, and that you don't get to see the beauty...

KARL STEWART: It's not.

MEAGAN MARIE: I know it's not, and that's why I can't wait for people to see more. But can you expand on that?

KARL STEWART: So one of the most important aspects, when we started work on this game, was setting the island up as a character. Now, in order to have the island as a character, you can't just have a one-dimensional character, you have to have a multi-dimensional character. So therefore, you're going to come across situations on the island where, yes, you've seen dark, dank tombs and you've seen ships on the bay, imagining being able to possibly get down to them, and then you see it's raining... Well, of course, you know, there's going to be so much more. There's going to be places on the island that will blow your mind, vistas, beautiful. Again, I'm big into not spoiling things for people. I love to remark on them, let you know that stuff's coming and not to worry, but I don't want to turn around to say, "She does this, and she looks out on this, you'll be, like, holy ****!"

MEAGAN MARIE: I think the character analogy is a very good one. The fact that it's a very multi-faceted location. Because it is... The game is on one island. That was one of the things, a persistent single location... So we wouldn't want it to feel redundant and boring just because it's in one space.

KARL STEWART: Exactly. And it's like... Trust us. We're not going to build a game where it's all nighttime and just rain. [laughter] Because we'd be very bored should we have decided to do that.

MEAGAN MARIE: And we didn't.

KARL STEWART: And we didn't.

MEAGAN MARIE: So rest assured. Alright, question... The next question is, is there any news about trophies and achievement support?

KARL STEWART: Only the fact that it's going to be in the game, of course, because it's a big deal in every single game. We'll try and make some easy, some very hard. But it's kind of a moot question because it's going to be in there, right? I don't think we can contractually submit a game to any first party without putting in trophies or achievements.

MEAGAN MARIE: It's, surprisingly, a question I get quite often, and I think that perhaps just hearing the reassurance is a good thing.

KARL STEWART: Alright, well, maybe on this one, I can answer wholeheartedly "Yes!" We will have trophies and achievements. What they will be, right now, there is absolutely no way on this earth that I know, because that doesn't happen until you have your game in a position where you can go in and play it and kinda go, "Oh, that's cool, let's make that really hard to get! That's a cool reward for doing that." So although it's in the back of our heads, it's not something, at this stage, that we start planning out. And then, of course, you don't want to give any spoilers. I will be doing my best to make sure that we keep it as quiet as possible, and that the XboxAchievements.com or whatever that website is doesn't get their hands on it...

MEAGAN MARIE: That always breaks them...


KARL STEWART: They always break it, they always tell people...

MEAGAN MARIE: And then there's storyline spoilers and...

KARL STEWART: Yeah. And I suppose, to comment on that, we will be very cautious about making sure that the names of the achievements aren't spoilers. Because I think that is a very important thing. It's a bummer when you turn around and say... Here's an example, it's probably a spoiler, but if you got an achievement in Arkham City for, say, "The Death of Joker," you'd be like, "Oh, no, that means he's gonna die!" Well, who the hell names an achievement that? Now, I know that Rocksteady did not give an achievement named "The Death of Joker." But that's a spoiler, that's a big deal...

MEAGAN MARIE: And there's a lot of people that go through the achievement list immediately, to see all of the non-hidden achievements, so they can make sure they've got their eye on the right activities and whatnot, so...

KARL STEWART: Exactly. Which is funny there, because just as I said "The Death of Joker," Meagan looked at her like I'd just given her the spoiler alert and she hadn't played it...

MEAGAN MARIE: No, I played it, I know.

KARL STEWART: Funny.

MEAGAN MARIE: Last question. So we bookended the Take Five with the hard questions. So now we're closing in on a hard one. Final question is, why have you guys gone so long without sharing any new information about the game? Is there a strategy to this?

KARL STEWART: So I would say, yes, there's a strategy behind everything we do. We do not just talk for the sake of it. It was very important to us that we time the announcement of our game, as well as the information that we reveal about our game, very strategically, so that we tell the story of re-imagining this character. Lara's been around for a very long time, and you cannot expect that you come out, 12 to 18 months before the game ships, and go, "Ta-da, here she is, she's shipwrecked on an island," and the next phase is, "Oh, she's getting stronger," and the next phase is, "Oh, she's an action-adventure hero." There has to be the right amount of time to allow everything to sink in, for people to understand what we're trying to achieve. Now, with that said, we have been extremely lucky in 2011 off the back of getting the cover on Game Informer, written by none other than Meagan Marie... We had planned to sort of say, "Well, right, for the entire year we will just talk about and focus on that one thing." Now, as the year progressed, and we found that the 35-plus covers and all the awards at E3 and the amount of people who came to see it, we were... It was almost a sellout concert. Every single time we did a demo, whether it be at E3 or any show, we had more people turning up than we'd imagined. So we felt like we achieved our goal of communicating this new vision for Lara in a fraction of the space of time that we thought it would take. And we really reached a point in time where we said, "Okay, well, the next stage has to be that evolutionary step of Lara. What's she going to do next?" So that each step of the way you kinda feel like she's growing and growing. And that's what we plan on doing now when we come back pretty soon. But as soon as we got to... Like, I think it was around the September timeline. Really, everybody had seen it. Everybody had seen what we wanted to show. All that happens is that, in my mind, you start frustrating people. Because you're regurgitating the same content, you're talkng about the same thing over and over again. Even if... As an example, we had the option to release the gameplay footage, narrated, that we'd shown at E3. At some point in time, everybody has seen it and it feels like you've got nothing new to show. We have loads of new stuff to show and we're really excited to get ready to do it. We just decided that for a period of time, we did not want to keep showing the same thing, because it starts to just date the product. People look at it and go, "Is that a one-trick pony? Is that all they can do?" And that's not all we do. So it has been very strategic. It was obviously a little bit... It's a little bit longer than we had planned, because we managed to achieve so much last year. Which we're very proud of and we're very happy, that the press and all the fans loved what we were doing. But let's just say that it will not be long before we will be coming back. We will be coming back and showing you the next phase, and trust me, from then on into the campaign it's a lot of content dropping.

MEAGAN MARIE: A lot of content, and it's not just game-specific, like trailers and screenshots. We'll be talking about talent, we'll be looking at ancillary things... All sorts of stuff.

KARL STEWART: We have loads to say. But it also takes time for this new vision to settle in to people. We're all fans, we're very close to it, a lot of the people who listen to this podcast have been close to it since day one. Re-imagining an IP like this takes a little bit of time for it to sort of seep through all the cracks and for everybody to be aware that it's happening. We believe that, when we come back in the very near future, we will have sufficiently sorta seeded the new vision, the re-imagining. And when we move into this next phase, people will understand where we're coming from in order to get there. These things take time.

MEAGAN MARIE: It does take time, but it'll be worth the wait. That's what I keep telling people. The content that we have coming is phenomenal. So I cannot wait to share it with you guys, and thank you for explaining that, Karl, I think it does provide a lot of insight into the motivation behind why we're doing what we're doing in the order and the timeline that we're doing it.

KARL STEWART: Excellent.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. Thank you so much!

KARL STEWART: And you see, that's only a Take Five. If you'd had a Take Six, that would have been... "Who is the voice of Lara Croft?" And that would have been... That's a great sixth question. But I'm not going to answer it right now.

MEAGAN MARIE: But you won't.

KARL STEWART: [knowing laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. Thank you.

KARL STEWART: Bye-bye.

[musical interlude]

Segment 3: Why we Love Lara

MEAGAN MARIE: In the final segment of this episode, I wanted to tie in to the recent Valentine's Day holiday, and I thought... What is better than asking the Tomb Raider webmasters, the members of the official fansite program, to discuss why they love Lara? It turned out to be extremely cool to hear everybody's voices for the first time, to hear all the accents from all over the world, and to hear all these very similar experiences to my own. So, here are some of the webmasters from around the world, talking about why they love Lara. Enjoy!

DRIBER: Hey, everyone, this is Driber, I am a staff member from the official forums, I'm a custom level builder, I live in the Czech Republic, and I'm a long-time Tomb Raider fan. What I probably like most about the games are the environments which Lara is placed in. My first-ever experience with Lara, if I remember correctly, was a demo of the Venice level from Tomb Raider II, I absolutely loved it, I instantly fell in love with the atmosphere of the game, and soon afterwards I headed to the local game store and I bought Tomb Raider one for the original PlayStation. I've just been hooked ever since. Over the years I've played many other types of games, first-person shooters, RPGs, racing games, fighting games, other adventure games. But Tomb Raider always managed to stand out to me for some reason. It's got that special something to it. I really can't explain what that is, though, it's hard to really put my finger on it. So far I liked every major installment of the game. Yes, that does include Angel of Darkness. Despite its flaws, I did like the original story which Core wanted to tell with it. I think it's a shame that their planned trilogy was never finished. It was actually funny for me, chasing Eckhardt in Prague, because I was actually in Prague at the time on vacation. I was staying at my girlfriend's parents house and looking out of the window, I could see the real Strahov, which by the way is in reality a football stadium here, not an actual fortress. I think the atmosphere in some of the levels of Angel of Darkness was some of the best in the entire series. But still, nothing really beats the first experience of Tomb Raider one. It left by far the biggest impression on me. The creepiness of the abandoned tombs, the subtle background ambiance, the weird creatures in the levels, especially the ones near the end, the giant alien eggs all over the place. I especially loved the awesome orchestrated soundtrack for the game. It was really something different at the time. What I also love about Tomb Raider is that it's still alive and kicking, after more than 15 years now. Everyone knows Lara Croft. She's such a major icon worldwide, both in the gaming industry and outside. And finally, I love Tomb Raider for its community. I love reading all those online discussions, playing those very creative custom levels, and seeing all that awesome fan art from you guys. You guys rock. And I love how the Tomb Raider community brings people from many different backgrounds and countries together. So in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I'll end by saying, thanks, Tomb Raider, I wouldn't have met my better half if it wasn't for this game.

Quentin: Hello everyone, my name is Quentin, I'm the webmaster of the website tombraideraddict.com, a French fan site about Tomb Raider and Lara Croft. I'm a fan of Lara for almost 11 years. Lara is my idol since I'm a little boy. I started playing it on PS one with my parents' friends, who already had the four Tomb Raider games. I fell in love with the Tomb Raider franchise, with the action, the adventure, and especially the character, who is strong, beautiful, and intelligent. If I had to choose my three favorite Tomb Raider games, I think I would first say, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. The Egyptian feeling that I love, it was a wonderful game. Lara was beautiful, and we could play as young Lara for the first time. Then I would choose Tomb Raider Legend, that I had on PS2. Lara is handsome in this game. The levels are very different. The environments are awesome, and the characters are lovely. The story wasn't that bad. Finally, I would say Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, that I also had on PS2. Lara is dark in this Tomb Raider, but she's not bad, and I like the way you go through the levels without having weapons like the other games. Infiltrate, kill, pick up, I found this very prudent. The Louvre was the best level of the game to me. About the upcoming Tomb Raider, I can't wait to play it. I've always dreamed about a Tomb Raider that would have to be played as a survival game, where you need to eat, to drink, to pick up equipment. And especially, to survive. I think about it every day. Crystal Dynamics is making a very good work. I know this Tomb Raider reboot will be great.

Jessica: Hi, my name is Jessica, and I'm the proud owner of the site Tomb Raider Level Editor of Brazil. I love Lara Croft because she inspired me a lot and made me learn that women can also be prominent, strong, and always wanting more. That is what makes her what she is today, a global icon!


Reno: Hey, this is Reno, from Lara Croft: The Raider community, I'm from Iraq and I want to take this opportunity to say that Lara Croft is one of the most important people in my life. She's more like a mentor and a best friend to me than just a video game character. She's always been there for me since I first started playing Tomb Raider in 1997, which was Tomb Raider II. And until now, Tomb Raider has been one of the most important and most inspiring video games I've ever played. Lara Croft has always been there for me, whenever I felt lonely, or upset, or just didn't know what to do. I turned my console on and I started playing for hours and hours. That's what I still do, to this very moment. It's all led me to creating a fansite, which later became an official Tomb Raider fansite, which is more like an honor, one of the biggest achievements in my life. I want to say that I'm more than just excited about the upcoming Tomb Raider title. I think it's going to be amazing, I can't wait to play it, and I have every trust in the developers, and of course, in the amazing Lara Croft.

Katie: Hi, this is Katie Fleming, from Katie's Tomb Raider Site in Canada. I've been a huge fan of Tomb Raider for 13 years, and it's my biggest passion. I love how each game brings you to unique places around the world, perfectly combining adventure, action, and puzzle-solving. I have so many great memories from the games, and here are a few of my favorites: locking Winston in the freezer; crashing the quad bike into a federal compound; discovering aliens do exist; kayaking down the river Ganges; and blowing up the speedboat in Venice. Tomb Raider is an amazing series with an incredible fan base, and I can't wait for her next adventure later this year.

Matt: Hello everyone, my name is Matt, I'm from Australia and I run tombraiderblog.net, and that's been going for almost a year now. I've been a Tomb Raider fan for about 14 years, and the demo from Tomb Raider II is what started it all for me. One of my favorite Tomb Raider moments would have to be from Tomb Raider III, in Area 51. Towards the end of the level Lara comes across this UFO, in the facility that she's found herself in, and eventually she discovers a way to undo the trapdoor underneath the craft. Now, it looks pretty small from the outside, but on the inside it's absolutely huge. Kind of like Doctor Who's Tardis. And then there's the artifact, Element 115. It's just sitting there on the floor, unlike the other artifacts throughout the game, where you practically have to kill Lara to retrieve them. So that's one of my favorite Tomb Raider moments.

Luca: Hello, my name is Luca, I'm from Germany, and I'm the maker of Tomb Raider Insider. Meagan has given us the opportunity to tell you why we like Tomb Raider so much. What I like best in the games are the great and awesome worlds and places you can explore. I think that's what makes a good game. Most of all, I liked Underworld, because the Thailand level was absolutely epic, I love it. In addition, Tomb Raider also offers a great and interesting story. But unfortunately I started very late in the series, so I'm really looking forward to the reboot, and I'm really looking forward to a new Lara, too. Finally, I extend greetings to all visitors of Tomb Raider Insider and everyone I know. Thanks for listening.

Marco: Hello everybody, I'm Marco, and I'm the webmaster of the website allgamestaff.altervista.org. I'm Italian, as well as my website, so I apologize for my English and my pronunciation. But I would really like to talk about the reasons why we love Lara Croft and Tomb Raider. Personally, I fell in love with Lara, so to say, since the first time I met her. A sort of love at first site. She was and she is very beautiful, but she's much more than this, in my opinion. I was struck, for example, by the characteristics that weren't hidden by her beauty. First of all, she's very clever. She's sarcastic. She's a self-made woman. And most of all, she has made her passion her job. Some people accuse Lara of being a symbol of the objectification of women, but I do not believe it is true. Lara is so beloved because she's an independent woman, and she can do what most men couldn't do. These are the reasons why I love Lara Croft, and I do believe that I'm going to appreciate the new Lara too. In my opinion, the franchise is going in the right direction. That's all. Thanks for listening, and I'll continue to follow Tomb Raider. See you!

[musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: And that concludes our episode. So, to wrap up, we do have a Tomb Raider trivia contest of sorts this month. If you've been following the blog, you know that we've had a couple of technical problems, and as such, the podcast number six was down for about a week. Because of that, we're going to extend the trivia contest from last month to make sure that everybody has a chance to get in and answer the questions, since the final question was on podcast number six. So, to make things a little bit easier, I'm actually going to recap all three trivia questions right now for you, so you don't have to hunt them down on Facebook, Twitter, and the podcast. And remember, you're going to take all three answers and you're going to plug them into tombraider.com/podcast.

As a refresher, the prize on the line this month is a custom Tomb Raider North Face jacket that is only available to us as developers, and also kind of a little survival kit that we picked up from REI. So, trivia question number one is, in the original Tomb Raider, touching what artifact will transform Lara into solid gold? Question number two is, who is the ill-intentioned cosmetics tycoon from Tomb Raider III? And question number three is, what is the mysterious Bermuda Triangle-esque location in which the newest Tomb Raider unfolds? Hope you got all of that, and best of luck.

'Til next time.



Nice! I'll add it right away! :thumb:

d1n0_xD
17th Feb 2012, 17:53
Wow, this is nice, I always wondered how do they make cutscenes, especially mo-cap :D The part with the virtual camera explained it all! Thank you, Noah!

And it's good that they don't date her, especially since a lot of fuss was about how old was she in this game, and how come she's 21, blah blah :D

And, man, every time I listen to a new podcast, I get more excited :D Can't wait for that content :D

Driber, you sound so cool, I absolutely loved that segment of the podcast, I really enjoyed it ^^

Driber
17th Feb 2012, 20:25
Driber, you sound so cool, I absolutely loved that segment of the podcast, I really enjoyed it ^^

Hehe :cool:

I had fun doing that. I did have some reservations at first when Meagan asked me to participate, but since it was Valentine's Day, I thought "what the hell"!

I get sappy on V-Day :D

Shaikh
18th Feb 2012, 03:32
And, for easy online viewing listening:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_osEngGrQ6M

Enjoy ;)

Thanks for the YouTube. Didn't know you had posted podcasts in YouTube.

And a nice podcast too. Again something to hear about TR after a month, but still no sign of new medias. :(

Driber
18th Feb 2012, 13:03
^ yw

I actually didn't until a few days ago, for re-organizing the official media thread (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?t=115169).

I'll be doing that with every new podcast now. I heard that some had a problem getting the embedded player on tumblr to work, so I figured I upload a copy to YT, because everyone can play YT videos, hehe

Plus, scrolling through the podcast is much easier with a YT embed :)

Shaikh
22nd Feb 2012, 15:10
@dark7angel: here's the transcript of the podcast, in case you'd like to add it to your OP :)

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 7


Is there any transcription of the Podcast #6? :confused:

Driber
22nd Feb 2012, 15:16
No, there is not. The transcription is something new, which started with Podcast #7.

Shaikh
29th Feb 2012, 08:40
No, there is not. The transcription is something new, which started with Podcast #7.

I read some transcription on Captain-Alban site using google translate. But they have from Podcast 1-5. :)

Driber
29th Feb 2012, 08:54
Ah, I didn't know that. I assume they are all in French, though?

Anyway, try PM'img Clara. Maybe she does have it somewhere or will in the future :)

http://forums.eidosgames.com/private.php?do=newpm&u=81268

Shaikh
4th Mar 2012, 14:01
Ah, I didn't know that. I assume they are all in French, though?

Anyway, try PM'img Clara. Maybe she does have it somewhere or will in the future :)

http://forums.eidosgames.com/private.php?do=newpm&u=81268

I follow this link-
http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dcaptain%2Balban%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1024%26bih%3D606%26noj%3D1%26prmd%3Dimvns&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=fr&twu=1&u=http://www.captain-alban.com/tr9podcasts.html&usg=ALkJrhh0czJYXq7YZ94FT-5J_l4GpaGdGw

They have only 5 till now. :)

Driber
5th Mar 2012, 07:27
I guess writing everything while having to translate takes time... :)

Driber
20th Mar 2012, 20:28
Podcast 8 is live :)

bokN6xdS46s

download as MP3 (http://www.tumblr.com/audio_file/19638638403/tumblr_m177nc8Vrv1qkq7tb)

And here is the full transcription in English:

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 8


Meagan Marie: Hey everyone, Meagan Marie here, community manager at Crystal Dynamics. I have to first and foremost apologize, because I'm a little bit under the weather this episode, so I may not sound quite as chipper as usual. But thank you for listening in, and hopefully you're taking advantage of our new status up on iTunes. For the first segment of the show, we're going to look at what it takes to run a video game studio. This is something that's quite often overshadowed by the production of a game itself, and something that a lot of fans have inquired about, in terms of what it's like to work at a game studio, and the culture behind it. I really think you'll enjoy it. After that, we'll have our monthly Q&A update with Karl, and an HR update about some of the exciting new job positions we have open at the studio. We'll end with our trivia challenge in a new format, and another one-of-a-kind prize, which I actually just picked up today, and I'm really excited for you guys to check it out. I hope you enjoy the show!

[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: Maintaining a Game Studio

MEAGAN MARIE: A question I often receive is, "What is it like working at a game studio?" The inner workings of game studio are often enigmatic, especially to people that are in the press, like I was previously. During my time at Game Informer, this fact made a studio visit or tour the highlight of my month, or even year, because they were very few and far between. So this segment is actually aimed at sharing a bit of the magic of working at a game studio with you guys. We're going to talk to some of the key people who help ensure the studio is properly maintained, and that Crystal employees are happy. So, with me today I actually have three guests. I'm excited, as they're new voices and fresh faces for the podcast. I have Brian Venturi, who's the IT Director, say hello, Brian.

BRIAN VENTURI: Hello.

MEAGAN MARIE: And then I have Benny Ventura, the Facilities Manager.

BENNY VENTURA: Hel-lo.

MEAGAN MARIE: And then we have another lady on the podcast, Michelle Miceli. Did I do it right?

MICHELLE MICELI: Yes, you did it right.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great, and she's our HR generalist. These are the people that help keep everybody in the studio happy, and kind of make sure everything is in working order and everyone's comfortable, and often fed...

BRIAN VENTURI: That is the overall goal.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes, exactly. So I'm going to start by touching on the general areas... We'll start with Benny in facilities. And then people, just jump in, if you have funny stories to share. I know some of you have been here for a long time... Yeah! It's exciting. So, Benny, what did you do prior to joining Crystal, and how long have you been at the studio?

BENNY VENTURA: Prior to joining Crystal, I was shipping and receiving manager at Crate and Barrel, at the Stanford Mall. This is my 13th year at Crystal.

MEAGAN MARIE: I knew you had been here a long time.

BENNY VENTURA: I'm OG.

MEAGAN MARIE: You're OG. So to set the stage, can you actually... Because we can't, unfortunately, post a video fly-through of the studio, because we've got intellectual property and secretive stuff all over... Can you describe and set the stage of what Crystal is like, some of the amenities and the general layout of the studio?

BENNY VENTURA: Well, let's see. We have four... Four or five conference rooms, all fully equipped with AV. We have a larger area for team and company meetings, that houses a nice foosball table, a ping-pong table, couple of arcade units. What else we got... We have a kegerator which is kinda cool.

BRIAN VENT: Yes... Very cool.

MEAGAN MARIE: Everybody appreciates that come Friday.

BRIAN VENTURI: And it's on wheels.

BENNY VENTURA: Yeah, it's on wheels. Mobile. What else we got?

MEAGAN MARIE: We have two kitchens.

BENNY VENTURA: Two kitchens.

BRIAN VENTURI: Can't forget the hub, just in general, has a LAN gaming area...

MEAGAN MARIE: Lots of board games, puzzles, fun stuff to put together, for people to break.

BRIAN VENTURI: Pretty common to see that place packed during lunch.

BENNY VENTURA: Yeah, lunchtime activities, big time. Lot of board gamers over there.

BRIAN VENTURI: Playing board games, we should say.

MEAGAN MARIE: Lots of "bored" gamers... [laughter] That's something we never want to have in the studio, is bored gamers.

BENNY VENTURA: You know what I mean.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yep. So I am going to brag about you a little bit, and I hope that I got this title right. You recently received the Unsung Hero award, is that what it is? Unsung Hero?

BENNY VENTURA: Yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: I know it's a general sentiment. We had our giant year-end party, and Benny was given the Unsung Hero award, because... I think a lot of people don't realize how much work you do for the studio, and really what it takes to be the head of facilities. I feel like I should ask, "What don't you do?" But what do you do around here that helps keep everyone happy?

BENNY VENTURA: I provide snacks and beer.

MEAGAN MARIE: That's underselling yourself a little bit, I think.

BENNY VENTURA: Nah, I mean... We take the approach of, "Hey, what can we do to make the place better." So, I mean, whether we provide, like I said, a little snack here, we'll do random barbecues or something like that, just to keep morale up. We'll bring in bagels or whatever. In a general sense, the typical day, it's hard to say, because we don't know what can pop up at any given time. It's just a matter of always being ready for anything, for us.

MEAGAN MARIE: Some of the things that you do touch on, that I'll bring up specifically, then, is... People work hard, they may work late, they come in the morning and there's going to be some sort of breakfast for them. We always stock cereal, right? And on Fridays we bring in bagels, which is one of my favorite things. It's a little thing, but it's a gesture that I appreciate, that I'm looking forward to. But I need to talk about the coffee machine, because the coffee-bot...

BENNY VENTURA: The coffee-bot, yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: ...is impressive.

BENNY VENTURA: Yes, yes, that is our workhorse there. Most often drank out of that as of late is the chai tea.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, I like that.

BENNY VENTURA: And the cappucino-milk combo. That's a recent addition, that's pretty popular.

MEAGAN MARIE: But it's actually a little machine that has all these pre-made packets and recipes for combining them for certain gourmet coffees. The times it's not working, which are very few and far between, I think the studio just falls apart on itself. Well, not really, but people... If people love it so much, it's like the lifeblood of the studio.

BENNY VENTURA: This is true.

MEAGAN MARIE: It is.

BRIAN VENTURI: Rage does set in, if it's not...

BENNY VENTURA: Normally we're pretty on top of it. When we get notification that there's a backup or whatever, we can usually fix it in about a week or so.

BRIAN VENTURI: A week...?

BENNY VENTURA: That's so wrong. About an hour or so...

MEAGAN MARIE: But that's when we get to drink the tar coffee. Whoever comes in, at like eight in the morning, and decides to make... Who is that? Is that Ron?

BRIAN VENTURI: That's Ron coffee.

MEAGAN MARIE: Ron makes the tar coffee.

BENNY VENTURA: I'm gonna plead the fifth on that one. [laughs]

MEAGAN MARIE: I actually like the tar coffee, because you only need half a cup.

BRIAN VENTURI: There's always a "Beware" sign next to it.

MEAGAN MARIE: And then it lasts all day.

BENNY VENTURA: Yeah, the brew cup coffee tends to be made a little sludgy, if you will. Most people will go for the individual teacup stuff.

MEAGAN MARIE: But in an emergency, the old-fashioned grounds, traditional coffee pot is there.

BENNY VENTURA: Or you can have the vending machine for Red Bull.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, that's always an option too. Along the same lines of food, this is something that I also thought was magical when I first started here, if people end up working late, we provide dinner for them, which I think is great. How does that process work?

BENNY VENTURA: If you're working past seven, normally we send the e-mail out to production, we get a headcount, and we have food catered in during the week.

MEAGAN MARIE: And what kind of stuff do we offer? It's always different.

BENNY VENTURA: It varies. I'd say, we can go traditional, hamburgers, hot dogs, to more interesting stuff like... I think the last week I saw this weird combination of Thai food brought in, it was kinda cool.

MEAGAN MARIE: Haven't I seen Greek pitas and...

BENNY VENTURA: Yeah, some Mediterranean stuff.

MEAGAN MARIE: Or, obviously we still have pizza every once in a while.

BENNY VENTURA: We try to phase that out, just because it's a little too common. These guys, give them some variety.

MEAGAN MARIE: And then every once in a while when you do have the pizza, then it's grub status...

BENNY VENTURA: Yeah, if there's pizza... Or occasionally we'll go for the six-foot burrito. That was pretty cool.

MEAGAN MARIE: And every once in a while, especially during times when we're trying to hit a milestone, people will come in on the weekends, and it's the same thing. It's food catered, we don't want anyone to have to worry about being hungry, help everybody be happy and efficient. I've seen anything from... One morning I think I came in on a Saturday and I'd swear I saw... It was like a shrimp egg bake or something like that. Really good, high-quality food.

BENNY VENTURA: Yeah, we'll bring in breakfast and sometimes brunch. And sometimes even the producers, they'll get down and they'll make waffles, which is kinda cool.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, I like that, and I like when we do the barbecues and we have people outside... The producers are cooking and handing everybody their hot dogs or their hamburgers and stuff like that. It's always nice. Speaking of the weekends, are you in charge of the air conditioning thing? This is actually something funny that people may not think of...

BENNY VENTURA: Yes, I am. After hours AC.

MEAGAN MARIE: Studios get warm, and if the AC doesn't work people get a little bit unhappy. Unless you're me and you're always cold and you have a heated blanket at your desk. So that's something that you take care of, ordering... Michelle totally knows I do, I'm bundled up to my armpits in a heated blanket.

BRIAN VENTURI: Looks like a Snuggie.

MEAGAN MARIE: It does, but I don't care, because that makes me work more efficiently. But you order AC on the weekends if people plan on coming in and make sure temperature controls...

BENNY VENTURA: Actually, that process is... I'll ping the producers every Thursday, just to see what the headcount is for the weekend, and we'll get services scheduled. Roughly from 9AM to 7PM. Just so the guys aren't in the sweatbox all day. Without it on, it tends to get really warm in here, really fast. Just because of the amount of equipment we have on the floor.

MEAGAN MARIE: What about... I know this is something you've actually helped me out with, incredibly. It's shipping stuff worldwide, you also take care of all shipments in regards to, like, international packages... Recently we've been sending a lot of stuff out for the various Tomb Raider trivia contests, forum winners, all of that daily shipping you take care of and make sure everything's out on time, or call people in and...

BENNY VENTURA: If it's small stuff we'll just use UPS, but the bigger stuff, we'll go for somebody like... International logistics, so an Adcom or someone.

MEAGAN MARIE: And what about these infamous Costco runs and Costco deliveries, where you've always got food and snacks coming in... What do we have, we have the trail mix...

BENNY VENTURA: Yes, a fan favorite.

MEAGAN MARIE: Always gone within five minutes of you refilling the jar. And I'm fairly certain you lock away the reserves, don't you?

BENNY VENTURA: Yes we do.

MEAGAN MARIE: Dammit! I'm always opening drawers looking for them.

BENNY VENTURA: It's all secured.

MICHELLE MICELI: Oatmeal...

MEAGAN MARIE: Lots of oatmeal.

BENNY VENTURA: Breakfast stuff, the cereals, we're really big on Hot Pockets here... Real big on Hot Pockets.

MEAGAN MARIE: I've been petitioning for some Lean Pockets.

BENNY VENTURA: I'm trying, I'm trying. But, you know, it's... Little perks we can give the employees. Not necessarily because we want to keep them in their seats all day, but just, hey, if you're hungry, we have stuff for you to eat.

MEAGAN MARIE: If you forget your lunch it's not the end of the world. Because we're out on the Peninsula, it's a little bit of a drive to find food. If you don't want to venture into Redwood City or something, it's nice to be able to grab some grub here and never have to worry about going hungry. And then also I put a note to make sure we remember to mention the beer cart, which we did. But we can actually... We have people vote on the beer. I've never actually participated in voting on the beer, but now that I know that, I'm going to.

BENNY VENTURA: Well, you can. We'll take requests. We have a set stock that we rotate in.

MEAGAN MARIE: What's the most popular?

BENNY VENTURA: Right now...? Probably Sierra Nevada, or Fat Tire.

MEAGAN MARIE: Blue Moon? I thought we had Blue Moon in there a while ago. That was the one that I opted to actually have a beer at five o'clock. We do these weekly recap meetings called "Awesome Town," where we look at new content and everybody gets excited and talks about what they did that week, and that's when we roll out the beer cart and kinda come together as a studio, which is one of the things I really enjoy each week. So is there anything... I feel like that wasn't comprehensive enough, actually. Was there anything I missed? Because it's not just all about superficial things like food and shipping. You make sure that everything runs and that nothing's broken...

BENNY VENTURA: Anything that pops up that we can take care of, we'll do. Of late, a lot of folks, they like an elevated desk, so we'll take the time, we'll work with IT, we'll elevate it so it's a standing desk and they're not hunched over all day animating stuff. Little things like that.

MEAGAN MARIE: Whenever employees have concerns, they know to come to you. Which is great.

BENNY VENTURA: Yes. I will generally have the answer, and if not, I'll help find it for you.

MEAGAN MARIE: One thing I did forget to mention, which is specific to the fact that we do work with new IP, is that we actually have a visitor policy. You have to make sure the visitor policies are enforced. What do you guys call the little area, the glass area?

BENNY VENTURA: Just the elevator lobby...

MICHELLE MICELI: The fishbowl.

MEAGAN MARIE: The fishbowl! There we go. So we have the little fishbowl area outside the elevators where people can sit on the couch and wait for someone, because they have to have a liaison show them around the studio. We can't just have people wandering around. So what are some of the processes involved with having guests in the studio?

BENNY VENTURA: Um... They have to be announced to our visitor request page, and basically it's a one-stop shop listing out who's going to be here on that day, what the nature of the visit is, if it's business or personal. And then from there, we'll follow up with the requests, like... "What are your requirements for this person?" If it is a personal visit we kind of have to enforce the policy, like no recording devices of any type on the floor, if you want to take pictures make sure it's in the lobby away from dev spaces. Stuff like that.

MEAGAN MARIE: That must have made, when we did the all-nighter... Brian and Benny, I think you guys remember that. That must have been a tricky thing to put together. If you don't know what the all-nighter was, we had a Dead Island all-nighter when Dead Island, which Square Enix published here... We had some journos in, and they did an all-night session playing it, live-streaming it, and so having not only individuals in, but individual press people in, playing a game all night... That was a bit of a...

BRIAN VENTURI: Absolutely. Heightened alert, yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: That was a little bit of an endeavor, to get everything together.

BENNY VENTURA: That one was interesting from the facilities side, because we wanted to make sure that, A, the guests themselves were comfortable enough, but we also wanted to protect our IP. So... [laughs] We ended up building a huge wall, where these journalists could not travel down into development areas, which was kind of interesting.

MEAGAN MARIE: But they had fun. I remember we had couches for them to crash on, we had food catered for them...

BENNY VENTURA: We had little survival packs...

MEAGAN MARIE: Survival packs, which were, like, deodorant and toothpaste and Mentos... So I think that was fairly successful.

BENNY VENTURA: Yeah, that was a fun time.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Well, let's move on to Michelle, since you've been a little quiet.

MICHELLE MICELI: I have been quiet, I'm sorry...

MEAGAN MARIE: That's okay, I basically let Karl talk half the time and then just giggle every once in a while, so people know I'm still there. That's how that works.

MICHELLE MICELI: Thanks. I'll remember that. [laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: You can't get by with just giggling now.

MICHELLE MICELI: I'll try my best.

MEAGAN MARIE: How long have you been at Crystal, and what did you do prior to joining the team?

MICHELLE MICELI: I have been at Crystal for just over a year, and prior to working here I lived in Los Angeles, and I was at an internet company. I did human resources there, and I've done HR my entire career.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think I remember that. I started not too long after you did, right?

MICHELLE MICELI: Right.

MEAGAN MARIE: I just came to you and assumed you'd been here forever. You seemed like you were very well-integrated into the family already, so...

MICHELLE MICELI: Thanks.

MEAGAN MARIE: You were a pro already when I got to Crystal.

MICHELLE MICELI: Thanks for that. I got to jump right in, I think I had someone start the same day I did, and I got to do his paperwork for him also. I was like, "I don't know what I'm giving you, but here we go." We went through and it was exciting and I got to do just learn...

MEAGAN MARIE: Learn on the fly.

MICHELLE MICELI: Yes. Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think that's how a lot of jobs end up working, just jump in the deep end and...

BENNY VENTURA: I think I remember that.

MEAGAN MARIE: ...hope everything works...

MICHELLE MICELI: Which is great, because it's the best way to learn, right? I mean, you kind of figure everything out really quickly, you're integrated really fast to the team, you learn everyone's names and faces as quick as possible that way.

MEAGAN MARIE: I still have to work on learning everybody's names, I'm so bad with names.

MICHELLE MICELI: It's tough.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah. We have a decent-sized studio, and so it's more or less... I'm starting to remember people by funny quirks or things on their desk, instead of specific names. I need to rectify that immediately. So what is your primary focus at Crystal, then? What is the bulk of your HR duties?

MICHELLE MICELI: Oh, goodness.

BRIAN VENTURI: Everything.

MICHELLE MICELI: I feel like I'm just like Benny in that people come to me for everything, with initial questions and requests. Our main focus and priority as an HR team is just to make sure that our employees are happy and get their questions answered as fast as possible and as thoroughly as possible. So we focus highly on customer service.

BENNY VENTURA: I think that's a general trait for operations, right? We all... I consider operations kind of like small factions of one large team, if you will. We all kinda cross all the time.

MICHELLE MICELI: Yeah, that's a good way to look at it. It's true, because I often defer to Brian or Benny if I have questions, and they help me out, definitely. They help the studio out, that's the number one priority all the time.

MEAGAN MARIE: I was very impressed, when I joined Crystal, at how... How willing everybody is, how approachable everyone is and how willing everybody is to help you out if you have questions. Everybody's like, "Sure, come talk to me," and that was something I really appreciated, especially since I moved across the country. "What am I doing here?"

BRIAN VENTURI: It's kind of hard when you sit two spaces next to me. I can't avoid you as much as I want.

MEAGAN MARIE: I know, I feel kind of bad for some of you guys, because I sit right next to IT. If I have a problem I don't necessarily file a ticket, I just start yelling at someone...

BRIAN VENTURI: "BRIAN!" [laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: I'm gonna work on that, I promise. So can you touch on some of the more creative or interesting things that you try to initiate, or programs that we've done to make life here a little bit more comfortable?

MICHELLE MICELI: Sure. In addition to having an awesome benefits program, human resources likes to keep its employees engaged. We feed them a lot, so in addition to all the snacks and treats that facilities provides in the kitchen, we do like to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays each month, so we always have cakes or pies or brownies...

BRIAN VENTURI: There's a lot of cookies coming out of HR.

MICHELLE MICELI: Yeah, lots of cookies. We love Specialties cookies, we love to order those in bulk and pass those around, we're slightly addicted.

BENNY VENTURA: That's an understatement.

MEAGAN MARIE: We appreciate them, though, because it's often enough that it's an appreciated activity, but it's not often enough that we're starting to see it in our waistlines or something along that line.

BENNY VENTURA: Speak for yourself. [big laughs]

MEAGAN MARIE: You must be finding secret cookies here somewhere.

BENNY VENTURA: No, I just... I have to receive them when they come in, so...

MICHELLE MICELI: We taste-test them.

BENNY VENTURA: ...I know when they're here.

MICHELLE MICELI: We like treats. But yeah, so we keep the employees happy through acknowledging their birthdays, their tenure here. We also like to acknowledge random holidays, like we just recently celebrated Pi Day, which was 3/14. So we brought pies into the office, and then of course right after that was Saint Patrick's Day, and the office manager hosted a little party in the afternoon for that, and human resources sponsored scratchers for the staff, so it was kind of a lucky Saint Patrick's Day thingy.

MEAGAN MARIE: I was actually out of town for the Pi Day, so I saw the announcement, and I was sitting here all sad thinking about the fact that everybody was eating pie and I didn't get any.

MICHELLE MICELI: It was amazing. Just go buy a pie... I just... I like pie.

BENNY VENTURA: It was pretty good.

MICHELLE MICELI: So of course, with all that eating, we also have to sponsor wellness programs and keep everyone active and healthy, and their lifestyle happy. So we sponsored an IPS Wellness program last year for the first time, and we think that was really successful in the studio. We had some people team up and support each other in their own wellness goals, and that was all around wellness, in terms of mental, emotional, physical wellness.

MEAGAN MARIE: It was like a game-ified point tracking system, where you set goals for yourself on this online program and then you...honor system...have to say whether you maintained those goals. It could be everything from a set calorie amount to working out a certain amount to stop drinking so much coffee, or have more glasses of water a day... So that was something where you threw a couple of little prizes on the end, and it really incentivized people to take control and step up and consider their health a little bit more. I know a lot of people appreciated that one.

MICHELLE MICELI: Absolutely. It was good, and it was a really good team-building activity also, because people were on teams and trying to compete against each other in terms of their point system. And they could, like you said, choose their own challenges and what was best for them in their life at the time.

MEAGAN MARIE: Other things, like I remember the chair massages, I appreciated those... And I got to appreciate those more than the ten minutes. I got to appreciate it all day, because it was right next to me. I got to listen to the music all day and the lights were down low. It was a very relaxing day.

MICHELLE MICELI: That was nice. That was part of the wellness program also, we did bring in chair massages for a day and everyone got to sign up for a time slot and get a chair massage. I was lucky, I got a 20-minute one, because the person signed up after me didn't show up.

BRIAN VENTURI: Oooh, preferential treatment...

MICHELLE MICELI: I wasn't going to stop him.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think if you're organizing it, you can get a little throwback every once in a while.

MICHELLE MICELI: Totally. But yeah, we brought an on-site yoga person as well, for the wellness program. We'd like to do that again, that got some pretty positive feedback. As well as the chair massages, that was definitely positively received.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, it was wonderful. Going outside in a... I'll have to post some photos eventually of our campus, but it's beautiful. The lawn is so well-manicured and maintained, and going outside and doing yoga midday was totally relaxing. I loved it.

MICHELLE MICELI: And it got some people who'd never done it before, who wanted to do it, to actually try it.

MEAGAN MARIE: There were a couple of guys who came out, and they were a little bit embarrassed and a little bit hesitant, and by the end they were just like, "That was amazing." It was great, I thought it was great. And then other things, like... We have free flu shots, make sure that people aren't getting sick, taken care of and all that. So it's a widely-encompassing... Not just making sure that the studio's running properly, like Benny does, but make sure that we're running properly too, because we make the studio go.

MICHELLE MICELI: Absolutely. Yeah. That's... Like I said before, HR's number one priority is to just get employees' concerns and questions handled, number one. If employees are happy, that means they're here at work producing and doing what needs to be done on the game.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes. And that's what everybody wants, because everybody's excited for the game. Are there any unique HR considerations that relate to working at a gaming studio? This is one that I'm just throwing out there, I don't actually know if it's true... If there is something specific to gaming studios. Like I know a lot of people touch on... Benny touched on the standing desks, they're really popular, and looking into ergonomic chairs because game designers are sitting a lot, they're at their desks a lot...

MEAGAN MARIE2: You know, that's a good question, I'm trying to think... I just think that the people here are very unique, and very creative. It's just being dynamic with the people and matching their enthusiasm. I think that's the biggest thing that we focus on. As an HR function, you're always trying to get benefits questions answered, handle 401K stuff, the basic onboarding of employees, giving them the information that they need, that's kind of universal. But the people here are really dynamic and fun and full of energy and full of life...

MEAGAN MARIE: They are, definitely. I love the group here. Alright, are you ready for your time to shine, Brian?

BRIAN VENTURI: Let's do it.

MEAGAN MARIE: We're going to talk IT.

BRIAN VENTURI: Oooh, boring.

MICHELLE MICELI: Exciting stuff...

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, as IT director, I expect that this isn't too boring to you.

BRIAN VENTURI: Oh, I love this stuff. IT? Are you kidding me?

MEAGAN MARIE: So how long have you been at Crystal, and what did you do prior?

BRIAN VENTURI: Well, I'm not quite a Benny, but I've been here...12 years.

MEAGAN MARIE: You're not quite a Benny by one year.

BRIAN VENTURI: One year, he's got me beat.

MEAGAN MARIE: That's not too much of a discrepancy...

MICHELLE MICELI: No, that's a long time.

BRIAN VENTURI: No... April 2000, yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: And what did you do prior?

BRIAN VENTURI: Before I was a network engineer, before that I actually managed a hardware store.

MEAGAN MARIE: So you know more than just the tech stuff, you also know some pretty cool hardware building stuff, which I've actually picked your brain about...

BRIAN VENTURI: Yeah. I've got weird hobbies, I do weird stuff. Yeah...

MEAGAN MARIE: I know a little bit about that... Alright, so as IT lead, your team's in charge of computers and networking and handheld devices and so on. Am I missing anything? What's the gamut of stuff that you have to keep track of?

BRIAN VENTURI: For the most part, it's really anything plugged in. Anything that comes in. Kind of to Benny and Michelle's point, we work in tandem on all kinds of different projects, and that goes through the whole range from setting up events to, let's say, our E3 presence. I've actually led a team from the technology aspect since, really, 2000 for our presence down there. Not so much in the last couple years, because Square's really taken the lead on that, and done a fantastic job, but it shows that what we do here, not only all aspects of the teams, but really outreaching beyond as well. And then both IT and these other groups, we help out on a larger scale globally as well with our company as well. A lot of fun stuff.

MEAGAN MARIE: What is the bulk of your day usually consumed by? I know we have a ticket system where people put in a request, unless they just yell at you from their desk...

BRIAN VENTURI: They do that too. Especially you. [laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: "My Mac isn't working again!"

BRIAN VENTURI: In IT, just kinda thinking about that... Once again, anything when it comes to the operating system, but being in the games industry, we have to support consoles and all the specific softwares that have to do with making a game. But really, it's hard for me to say that anything is typical about our day here for IT, because each day it's something completely new. Every day feels like a Monday, it's hilarious. But it's great, it actually keeps the job very challenging. If it was monotonous I probably wouldn't have been here for 12 years. It's actually kind of fun in that way. I didn't really answer your question, but yeah, it's different, it's challenging. It's good.

MEAGAN MARIE: Are there any special considerations you do have to make because it's not just IT for... Just a standard communications company, it's IT for a gaming company...

BRIAN VENTURI: First and foremost, this is not a slacks and buttoned-up shirts kind of job.

MEAGAN MARIE: Which is nice.

BRIAN VENTURI: Yeah, which is good, but it does also mean you're going to be doing everything from really basic troubleshooting to really in-depth hard weird stuff. The typical IT person, this job would break them.

MEAGAN MARIE: Really?

BRIAN VENTURI: Yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: You need someone with some grit to do this job.

BRIAN VENTURI: Definitely grit. A lot of IT people take pride in what they know, and you come into an environment like this and that's shattered. Absolutely shattered, because you think you know something, but it all changes. You have to remember, as we were saying, the people that we're supporting here making these games, they are fantastic, creative, intelligent, frustrating, challenging... [laughs] They know a lot. More like, they know enough to be dangerous. So yeah, it's very interesting here.

MEAGAN MARIE: Touching back on the intellectual property, Benny has said that from a visitors standpoint we have to go through certain procedures to have people in the office, but there's also some tech rules. Recently we have, now, our console systems locked to our desks, which is something that... It's pretty much to protect the integrity of everyone's hard work. But are there any other examples of that sort of thing that we have to take into consideration, to make sure that our IP is protected?

BRIAN VENTURI: Yeah, there's a lot of different aspects we look at. We try with the simplest things, like no recording, no taking photos, no USB drives, that kind of stuff, just to make sure our code does not walk. We're trying to protect everybody's job, really, we want to make sure that when something launches, it's a surprise. That's what it's all about. But IT in general, we try to make sure a lot of requests come through us, even if it does not directly affect us, just so we can maybe get the right departments involved, or get the right levels of security to sign off on whatever that may be. Again, people like myself and Benny that have been here a long time can look at questions and think about it a little bit deeper as far as who it may affect. We're always thinking security, and we're always reminding people about it. Let's think about this, who can this touch, who can this affect.

MEAGAN MARIE: Exactly. Karl, actually, when I was talking to him about the segment, he'd mentioned that when he travels and he's taking a kit with him, he keeps the hard drive in a separate briefcase or a separate suitcase from where he keeps the actual console...

BRIAN VENTURI: We might as well have handcuffs and a suitcase for him, traveling. Never shall the two be together kind of stuff. There's a lot of behind the scenes process that we have going on.

MICHELLE MICELI: There's stuff I wouldn't have even thought of.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, and that's the stuff that surprised me when I joined the studio, but it absolutely makes sense, because everybody's excited, everybody wants something... It needs to go out the right channels at the right time, to really protect what becomes of a studio of passionate, dedicated people's hard work. You can't be too careful.

BRIAN VENTURI: Yeah. It's definitely an industry where everybody wants to see stuff as early as they can.

MEAGAN MARIE: I understand that. Are there any special tech or IT considerations, considering that we're global? It's Crystal Dynamics in Redwood City, but Square Enix is a global company. We talk with people internationally all the time, so I know that we have some cool videoconferencing programs, lots of...

BRIAN VENTURI: Yeah. Different ways of file sharing, videoconference... Your vidcon and your conference calling systems, all your basics there. We have a lot of sites connected, and we make sure that the communications levels are high between IT departments, HR departments, facilities, all ops, really, in general. Just making sure that the people on the ground doing the job can communicate and talk in a timely fashion and a secure fashion.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes. Absolutely. So it's not just... Like we've mentioned, it's not just about making sure computers and networks run. You guys also have to deal with those game builds, make sure the game builds are prepped and on the consoles and everything's updated. Can you explain a little bit of what that process is like?

BRIAN VENTURI: No.

MEAGAN MARIE: [laughs]

BRIAN VENTURI: But I will tell you, we definitely work with other teams within our company, whether that be mastering, QA, the production teams themselves, about reminding them, about which software is best to use or how to serialize or track... All that stuff happens behind the scenes.

MEAGAN MARIE: But it's a big part of your job. Testing, playing through, updating builds, looking at content, it's a huge part of the daily in and out of what's done at the studio.

BRIAN VENTURI: Yeah. IT has a part in that. We're not solely responsible for testing and stuff like that, but to make sure the protocols work, that the process is being followed, we help establish that and make sure it's followed. Benny here is keeping quiet, but he has been everywhere from QA to production to IT and now facilities, so he knows all about this stuff as well.

BENNY VENTURA: All-purpose ninja.

MEAGAN MARIE: All-purpose ninja Benny, I like that. So... I think all of that is extremely interesting. Like I said, when I came to the studio all of these little details... I don't know why, but the cereal drawer was like the most amazing thing to me. I even took pictures of it my first day, I was like, "Look at this! There's free Life cereal!" And it's not just Life, it's Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats, it's all this amazing stuff. It's really impressive how much you guys work to keep the studio running and to keep everybody happy. I think I can say thank you from everyone.

BENNY VENTURA: We do whatever we can do, right?

MEAGAN MARIE: It all feeds back into making an amazing game, which is what we are gonna do for everyone listening.

BRIAN VENTURI: Absolutely.

BENNY VENTURA: Yep.

MICHELLE MICELI: Definitely.

MEAGAN MARIE: Thank you all so much for participating.

All: Thank you!

[Musical interlude]


Segment 2: Take Five


MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, Karl. Take Five time. We're actually going to drop straight into it, because everybody is crazy busy right now, preparing some exciting new stuff. So are we ready for question number one? Is Toby Gard still involved with the Tomb Raider franchise?

KARL STEWART: At this time, no, Toby Gard is not associated with the Tomb Raider franchise. As we've mentioned in many, many conversations and interviews in the past, Toby is a friend of the studio, so he has been up and he's been a part of what we're doing for a little bit, but at this time, no, Toby is not. He's off doing his own venture. We talk a lot, Toby's a good friend, he's a good guy. But he's got a lot of creative juices that he wants to keep working on, so he's always going to... He's going to appear somewhere else, doing something else, and we're going to be jealous, I bet you.

MEAGAN MARIE: Question number two, and this one might seem slightly trivial, but we actually get it quite a bit, and it gives a little bit of insight into how retailers work. EB Games listed Tomb Raider's release date as December 31, 2012. Is this correct?

KARL STEWART: Has nobody told you? December 31? Did you miss the memo? No, this is... From my days working on the publishing side, then moving over to the development side, this is just a standard thing that retailers do when they don't have a date to put in that little box that they need to tick. It's like one of those... If you imagine a content management system, and it says, "Put in the date here," and if you say "Not Applicable" it just picks a date and spews it out and puts it on the site. So... I can guarantee you that if you go to a dozen or so unannounced games on EB or GameStop or any retailer's website, they'll all probably say December 31. Or January 1. So no, we haven't announced a date. We will be doing that pretty soon, as you all know, but the December 31 is wrong. We have not said we're going to ship on the 31st, which would be kind of a screwy day to launch a game on, I think...

MEAGAN MARIE: Question number three, will Crystal Dynamics ever opt to have their own Tomb Raider online store, like BioWare? And the sentiment behind that is, "We want Lara goodies!"

KARL STEWART: And I want to sell Lara goodies! Yes, so... We have been working tirelessly over the last six months, although people may think that we've gone quiet and we've just been in our offices playing video games, which we partially have... In actual fact, one of my roles is to be out there making sure that we bring together all of the merchandise, all of the licensing and all of the extensions and partners, great partners, all together in one place so that when we do come back with our next round, inside of that will be everything from online stores to collectibles to you name it. We've been busy. You'll see, pretty soon. I can't give you a date right now because we're still in some of our final talks, but it is exciting. Every game has to have its own store. We've looked at nearly every single game out there who has it to take reference from what they've done, and what makes it exciting, the types of goodies. You've all seen Meagan's desk, so you cannot say that you don't expect to have a collection of collectibles appearing in the near future. Meagan has given a lot of her time to help pick and find and source and we're excited. We've picked a very strong collection of partners. Hopefully in the very near future I'll get out there and announce them all, bit by bit.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, on to the next question, and again, this is a very popular one, especially in the forums right now. Was Tomb Raider in any way inspired by the Hunger Games, and if not, what do you think of the Hunger Games?

KS: Um... Okay. Take this as two parts. No, it wasn't inspired by the Hunger Games. We had begin doing the re-imagining, and Lara having a bow, before the book came out in...late 2008, I believe? So Katniss has got similarities, without a doubt. I'm sure some of you have read my tweets. I was going through a state of listening to that, I think it took me like 48 hours or something on audiobook from my drives back forth, some stupid time... I love it, I think it's awesome, I can't wait to watch the movie. I actually tried to get my midnight tickets for IMAX. I'm excited to see where they've taken it. I've been reading some of the reviews over the last couple of days and I think they've put it in a good position. Although Haymitch, I believe, is not the same character, in the same way. Haymitch was this, you know, abrasive kind of drunk in the book, and seemingly they've made Haymitch... Well, he's not as abrasive from what I hear in the reviews. But that's a spoiler alert...

MEAGAN MARIE: I've actually only seen a couple of the trailers, so I've been staying away from that kind of stuff. But I think, hey, it's a great thing if we can have more strong, respectable female protagonists.

KS: I think it's a huge support, and I have no doubt that over the coming months there will be a lot of comparisons drawn. We saw that way, way back when we had sat down with all of our visions, and kinda thought about the future of the franchise. And then not too long after, the Hunger Games book came out, which was relatively unknown for quite a while. People were talking about it, but it certainly didn't get anywhere close to where it is now with the movie being signed. I just think now, it's in the spotlight and people are making comparisons, but... No, I think it's great. Female characters, strong leads, bring 'em on. I think it's great.

MEAGAN MARIE: Final question, and again, this is one that we get a lot, but I guess all of these questions are ones we get quite often, because that's why I pick them. Why all the secrecy around the voice actress? I think some people think that it's a little strange, that we're keeping such an important factor and an important part of the game from the public for so long. Can you explain the thought process behind that?

KS: Okay, so... Let me see if I can answer this properly, so that a lot of people won't be P'd off at me. When you go through the process of... When you're hiring voice actresses, you go through a lot of changes. You get so far into a project where you think, "Okay, is this it? Is this the voice, or do we need to change it again?" So obviously we have to be very careful in one sense, that we don't go announcing somebody and then have to backtrack and say, "Oh, sorry, we decided that when the game got X percent of the way through, we felt her voice wasn't relevant anymore." Or, "This game is all about Lara's arc, and that going in as a young naive girl and then coming out as an action-adventure hero, we need to find the right actress for that." So we believe we have... The girl that we've signed, we're absolutely delighted with her. But with that comes making sure that it's announced at the right time. Announcing her right now, when there's no new content, doesn't make sense, because the goal of the next beat that we come out with, in the very near future, is all about how Lara has made that transition as a character. So our goal when we come back is to show the next stage of her progress. And with that we want to be able to present the voice, we want to be able to present her in a light in which you're immersed in this world of how our character has now become this next... She's come into that next stage. We want to make sure that you can put a face to that and put a voice to that, you can see what this girl has done in the past. Plus, she's been busy doing what she's been doing right now, so it's hard to sort of say, "Hey, by the way, can you come and do some press tours?" We have to be very structured in how we manage that and how we get her out there and allow her to talk to the press when the time is right.

MEAGAN MARIE: Because you don't want to just tweet, "Hey, this is the voice!"

KS: Every single thing that we want to do, we want to put prestige behind it. So if we get out there and we do a cover, you don't just do any cover, you want to do Game Informer. If you get out there and want to show the game for the first time ever, you don't just want to turn up and show it in a video, you want to get it on the Microsoft stage. So for us, we look at it and think, "How can we make this big?" This is a very important aspect of the game and the campaign going forward. We're very serious about making sure that when we present it, we present it in the right light, so that people can understand the gravity and the thought process and structure that went into making these decisions. They're not decisions that are made on a whim overnight. These take weeks and months to get to the point where you feel comfortable that this is it, because... When we announce her, she's going to be the voice for quite a long time. It's not like we're going to say, "That's great, next game, next voice." It's a very serious thing. And we have to respect her career too. This is a big deal for her, for her to be announced. If she was working on anything else, she'd be announced in the proper way. So we can't just expect that we're going to...

MEAGAN MARIE: It's a partnership.

KS: Yeah, it's a partnership, it surely is. And as you all know, again, from my tweets, I met with her before the holidays and we've been, planning this and talking about this. We're going to catch up again in the next few weeks, and it's actually been hard. She's got a schedule too, much like us, and trying to find that date to sit down and talk has been hard. We'll see. It's getting very close, we will say that. You won't have to wait too much longer. It's something that we're very excited... I don't think we can keep the lid on it for too much longer, before it'll explode itself.

MEAGAN MARIE: Something will happen and it will come out. Well, thank you very much, we appreciate it, Karl.

KS: No problem, you're more than welcome. Thanks.


Segment 3: HR Highlight

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, so we are back with a quick HR highlight section. I have Casey Manning, our recruiter extraordinaire...

CASEY MANNING: Hello.

MEAGAN MARIE: He's been on the podcast before, so it's exciting to have him back.

CASEY MANNING: Good to be back.

MEAGAN MARIE: So at first, we have just opened a new Twitter account, haven't we? For looking specifically to hire. You want to talk a little bit about that?

CASEY MANNING: Sure, absolutely. So the HR department here at Crystal Dynamics has opened a specific Twitter for all our job-related and HR needs. It's the Twitter stop to go to, if you will, for everything related to recruiting and HR at Crystal Dynamics. The handle is @CrystalJobs, you can find that on Twitter. Look at that particular site to get information on openings, maybe some events we're doing in the area, recruiting events, meetups, things of that nature. It's a great site to follow for that. It does not necessarily replace the current Tomb Raider Twitter or the Twitter that our brand department's setting up. This is specifically for jobs and candidates that are seeking to get information about how to submit portfolios, what they should be studying, maybe internship programs that we'll have down the road, and information related to that aspect of what we do here.

MEAGAN MARIE: It also shares mugshots, evidently, of some of our hiring talent... I remember seeing your photos up there.

CASEY MANNING: Yes, yes, during GDC we took some Instagrams, if you will, of our beautiful faces and our branded HR gear for GDC...

MEAGAN MARIE: Just to kind of show who you'd be working with...

CASEY MANNING: Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: I actually thought that was a nice touch.

CASEY MANNING: You could recognize us on the street and tackle us.

MEAGAN MARIE: Do we have any particular job openings that we're still looking to fill, and how would someone apply?

CASEY MANNING: Yes, we still do have several openings available. A lot of them are senior and lead positions, positions such as Lead Environment Artist, Lead Character Artist. We're still strongly looking at tech talent, I know there is a war for tech talent, especially in the Bay Area, so any of your tech guys out there, please apply and let us know what you're interested in. We're looking for lead engineers, rendering engineers, gameplay engineers, technical artists, as well as engineers focused on potentially emerging technologies. Research-based engineers. If you have a technical focus within games, we'd be happy to chat with you about what you could potentially bring to our organization.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome, and how does one apply? Where should they be sending in their resumes and super-impressive qualifications?

CASEY MANNING: Yes, I should mention one thing, we actually just recently rolled out JobVite. If you go straight to our site at crystald.com and click on the job section, that will pull up a list of available opportunities as discussed before, and it links directly to our JobVite, so you can either apply directly, or if you have a friend that you think might be interested in an opportunity in games or at Crystal, you can send them an invite directly from that page as well. That's definitely the best place to go. Or of course you can e-mail our recruiting team directly at cmanning@crystald.com, and we'll be happy to take a look at your background and qualifications, see if you're a fit.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great, well thank you very much, I appreciate it. And I'm sure all those people that are itching to get into the games industry or looking for a way into Crystal appreciate it too.

CASEY MANNING: Yeah, absolutely. Happy to talk with them.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great, thank you.

CASEY MANNING: Thanks.

[Musical interlude]


MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, that's it for this show. Thank you for listening. As I mentioned, we're actually changing up the format of the trivia challenge this month, in order to accommodate fans. I've received some feedback that it's a tad difficult for non-native English speakers to catch the questions posed at the end of the podcast each month. And I totally understand, because I speak very quickly and I apologize for that. As such, from now on, all three questions are going to be posted in text form on our various social media outlets from now forward. So that'll be the official Tomb Raider blog, the Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more. The contest will still correspond with the podcast in regards to timing, but it should make it a bit easier for fans to participate this way. So you can look for all three trivia challenge questions on the blog later today. And that is the officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com. Best of luck and tune in next month!

TranceTrouble
20th Mar 2012, 21:04
cool listening now :D

Metalrocks
21st Mar 2012, 02:38
nice. was interesting.

aussie500
21st Mar 2012, 08:25
Thanks for providing the transcripts. I seem better at reading than listening to podcasts these days. :flowers:
I do listen to the podcasts, about 4 times before I actually hear the whole thing, the music is getting more and more interesting as I notice it, but the words unfortunately do not always sink in while I am busy doing something else.

Driber
21st Mar 2012, 09:05
So, who entered the trivia comp? :)

I myself didn't this time....already have the Day One print :whistle:


Thanks for providing the transcripts. I seem better at reading than listening to podcasts these days. :flowers:
I do listen to the podcasts, about 4 times before I actually hear the whole thing, the music is getting more and more interesting as I notice it, but the words unfortunately do not always sink in while I am busy doing something else.

Dude, shame on you! When a new podcast is live, you should instantly download it, put it on your MP3 player and lock yourself in the bathroom with the lights off!

:D

MeaganMarie
21st Mar 2012, 18:03
Ah, I didn't know that. I assume they are all in French, though?

Anyway, try PM'img Clara. Maybe she does have it somewhere or will in the future :)

http://forums.eidosgames.com/private.php?do=newpm&u=81268

Clara used to transcribe and translate the podcast each episode! She's one of the people who inspired me to actually transcribe the podcast for everyone, to make it a bit easier on non-English natives. It will be standard from here on out!

Driber
21st Mar 2012, 18:26
Good thinking :thumb:

Hmm....if only YT's voice recognition software would be advanced enough (so that their closed captioning system would be actually useful to someone :p) then we could have the podcasts subtitled on-the-fly. That would rock. Oh well, perhaps technology will catch up in 50 years or so, by the time of TR28, lol.

Shaikh
23rd Mar 2012, 17:31
Clara used to transcribe and translate the podcast each episode! She's one of the people who inspired me to actually transcribe the podcast for everyone, to make it a bit easier on non-English natives. It will be standard from here on out!
So you transcribe the whole thing actually? I thought Dribber did it. :) Transcribe is good for me because when the MP3 version is downloading I can read the TAKE FIVE (most important part of podcast) :p and it also helps to skip food and coffee stuffs. :p

Shaikh
23rd Mar 2012, 17:32
So, who entered the trivia comp? :)

I myself didn't this time....already have the Day One print :whistle:


Tell me the answer then. :p

Sorry for double post. I thought this forum automatically add the post with the previous one. :(

Driber
24th Mar 2012, 12:40
So you transcribe the whole thing actually? I thought Driber did it. :)

OMG NO, haha!

I get the transcription in my inbox when the podcast launches. I wouldn't dream of typing all of that out :p


Sorry for double post. I thought this forum automatically add the post with the previous one.

You can use the MULTI QUOTE buttons to do that :)

dark7angel
20th Apr 2012, 20:45
New Podcast (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/21449348680/happy-friday-everyone-the-newest-crystal-habit)!!! Going to listen to it now! :D

Driber
21st Apr 2012, 12:58
Uploaded to YT for easy online listening:

POcutxd7Sd8

And here's the transcript in English:

Transcription.
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 9


MEAGAN MARIE: Hey, everyone thanks for listening. This is episode nine of the Crystal Habit podcast, and as always, I'm your host, Meagan Marie. This episode I departed a bit from the beaten path and set up an interview with some external experts in the realm of video games. We spend the better part of an hour discussing the Art of Video Games exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Stick around for a very insightful conversation. We round out the podcast with a chat with Karl for our regular Take Five segment, along with another hiring update from Casey Manning, leading into the very busy E3 season. Enjoy the show.

[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: The Art of Video Games

MEAGAN MARIE: Founded in 1846 and located in Washington DC, the Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum and research complex. Boasting 18 museums and galleries, the Smithsonian is renowned for its collection of art and historic works, in addition to sizable education and research applications. As such, when the Smithsonian American Art Museum revealed its intent to explore the 40-year history of the video game, and detail the medium's impact on art, culture, and entertainment in a dedicated exhibition, it was a major moment of pride for the industry. This was also true for the studio and franchise talent, when Tomb Raider's inclusion in the exhibit was revealed. So, that being said, I'm very excited to be talking with two key organizers of the exhibition, to speak to the motivation, collaboration, and reception of the art of video games. With me I have Georgina Goodlander, which, I need to say, I absolutely adore your name, by the way.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Thank you.

MEAGAN MARIE: The Smithsonian web and social media content manager. And then I also have Chris Melissinos, the curator of the Art of Video Games. So, hello Georgina and Chris.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Hey. Thanks for having us.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. So, I told you guys I was starting with a really simple but important question in our interview. Do both of you identify yourself as gamers? And if so, what was your first video game or fondest memory?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Georgina, would you like to go first?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Sure. I absolutely consider myself a gamer. I grew up with an Amiga 500 Plus, I used to play a lot with my sister and our neighborhood friends and my mom. I still play today with my husband.

MEAGAN MARIE: Fantastic. And how about you, Chris?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Um... Absolutely. I started playing video games when I was... Goodness, probably three or four years old? In the 1970s. I was born in 1970, so of course my first home console was a Pong machine. I have been playing and collecting ever since. I've amassed a collection of about 43 consoles, couple of arcade cabinets. A good portion of the systems are in the exhibition right now so they won't be coming back to me for a couple of years. There's a little bit of separation anxiety, but... In our household, being a parent as well, we play video games on an almost daily basis in our home, with my three kids and my wife and myself. I've been a gamer my entire life.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: If I'm a gamer, I think you need a whole new word for what Chris is.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, that's dedication, giving up some of your personal collection for the exhibit...

CHRIS MELISSINOS: I've already warned that I may have to get back on eBay and pick up a Saturn or something to tide me over, until it comes back. I need to get some retro gaming fix in there.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, I think we all appreciate your sacrifice for the time being. So on to actual interview questions... Just to give a little bit of background information, Georgina, when did you first begin working with the Smithsonian, and what are your responsibilities as the web and social media content manager?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: I started at Smithsonian as an intern back in 2003, so I'm heading up on my nine-year anniversary here. I've only been web and social media manager for a few months now; it's a new position at the museum. I'm in charge of pretty much all of our online outreach, figuring out how we want to connect with folks who might not make it to the physical museum.

MEAGAN MARIE: I have to imagine, with this exhibition in particular, that was a very important facet...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Well, it's interesting.The exhibition kind of led to this role. I think we learned through the Art of Video Games, very early on... We discovered this huge online community of passionate people about video games. And so we started connecting with them more than a year before the exhibition actually opened. And so the exhibition was a great opportunity for us to experiment with lots of different ways to connect with online audiences. It grew into wanting to do that with other exhibitions at the museum.

MEAGAN MARIE: That's fantastic to hear, that there were some actionable insights out of the exhibition.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Oh, there were many. This exhibition represented so many firsts for us, it's been wonderful.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: With regard to that position, too, prior to doing this, since Georgina won't say it, I will... She had conducted the very first Alternate Reality Game ever done at the Smithsonian, or any major museum actually. It was very successful, she won an award, actually, which was given to her by Wayne Clough, the tech director for the museum. For innovation. And so it was Georgina's connection to games and introducing the museum to gameplay frameworks that kind of paved the way for us to start having this discussion, which led to the Art of Video Games.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well that's wonderful, that you have Chris to brag about you. I understand not wanting to necessarily do that yourself...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: I'm usually pretty good at it, but thanks, Chris.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, Chris, how about you brag about yourself a little bit? Can you give us a little bit of history about yourself, how you were brought onboard with the project? And as curator, what were your tasks?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: As I said, I started playing games when I was very young, and I started programming, actually, when I was nine years old. I wrote my first full video game, called Space Degree, by the time I was 12, on my Commodore VIC-20. Which had only 3K of RAM, folks, 3 kilobytes. Which is very, very tiny. So video games have always been, and programming has always been a fixture, a part of my life. In the mid-'90s I ran the Atari and Sega forums for AOL. Always trying to make technology and games part of whatever career path I was walking in at the time. When I was at Sun Microsystems I created the opportunity to focus on building the next-generation web-based and -connected technologies for game development. So Java on mobile phones, gameplay APIs, server technologies... That led to me becoming the chief gaming officer for Sun Microsystems. That was a position that I held for well over a decade. So I've been very involved in the industry, at GDC, E3, conferences and all these sorts of things. But it was as a collector, and somebody who's not only played games his whole life, but also been around the development of video games for a very long time... I was invited into the museum back in 2009 for an event that the museum held called Smithsonian 2.0. This was an event where about 20-plus senior technologists from all over the technology world were invited to the museum to help them understand opportunities that technology could provide the Smithsonian for reaching out to new audiences and connect with them in ways they hadn't before. It was at that meeting that I had the opportunity to meet with Georgina and actually connected over a common like of a show called Big Bang Theory. "Oh, you love that show too?" It had just come out. And that's where the discussion started. Eventually the museum said, "Hey, we need to do something around video games." Georgina goes, "I know the guy."

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: I should clarify, too, that the Smithsonian 2.0 event was Smithsonian-wide. It wasn't just at the American Art Museum. It was actually organized by the secretary, Wayne Clough. He wanted to figure out how the Smithsonian could become more relevant in people's lives in the 21st century. Our mission is from the 19th century. He wanted to figure out what we could do to make it apply today. So that event happened across the Smithsonian with a bunch of experts from the outside world, including Chris. And then it kind of morphed into a conversation that Chris and I had with our museum's director about what the museum might be able to do with video games.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: It's important to point out, too, is that part of my background is in focusing on preservation and understanding the preservation of the medium. The technical as well as the social issues with regard to doing so. So I've been involved, adjacent to the IGDA's game preservation thing, I know the folks on that, I've sat on panels with them at conferences and things of that nature. So this kind of hit all the things that I really... That I'm truly passionate about. Video games, development, preservation, and the cultural significance. So this is the perfect storm of an opportunity for me personally.

MEAGAN MARIE: It definitely sounds like it. So looking specifically at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, was this sort of an unprecedented exhibit, or has pop culture and entertainment been embraced within the museum in a similar capacity before?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: I think this was certainly a first for us. We hadn't really done any exhibitions on this kind of pop culture. We did do a show on the illustrations of Norman Rockwell a while ago, which could be said to be in that vein. But not quite. But we are... We have always been at the forefront of how we collect art, how we exhibit art, and online programs that we do, too. We were one of the first art museums to have a website, one of the first art museums to have a blog. Like Chris said, we did the world's first museum-based alternate reality game in 2008. So I don't think it was completely surprising that we would do this. But definitely a first.

MEAGAN MARIE: Wonderful. So I'm sure that there are many people... Because this is a podcast that is listened to globally, there are many people who won't be able to make it out to the exhibition, unfortunately. So would you be able to give us a virtual tour, a walkthrough of the highlights and major contributors? I know that you broke down the exhibition into five areas of gaming, that kind of punctuate the 40-year history. So can you speak to that, and the core narrative of the exhibitions?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Sure. So the idea behind the exhibition was to really look at video games an art form. There have been other exhibitions that have begun that look at the art within video games, and I've seen several of them, and they're quite lovely. So rather than just looking at, again, the artistry within video games, it's what do video games as an amalgam of all traditional forms of art mean as a new art form? So we really tried to take this approach to it.

As such, we divided it in a variety of different ways. There are three major components to the exhibition, so if you were to visit this, the first exhibition space you walk into really describes the humanity, the people behind these games. Their philosophy, where they draw their inspiration from. We interviewed...was it 34, 36 industry luminaries? Ranging from Nolan Bushnell to Tim Schafer and Kellee Santiago. A whole variety of people. Ed Fries. Cliff Bleszinski. All these guys. We really draw out of them what was important, with regard to video games, and why they feel it's a medium in which they want to craft their stories, to bring their experiences to the world and find deeper meaning in them. We show a lot of concept art. We show the progression of mechanics, how things like a jumping mechanic, let's say from Pitfall on the Atari VCS, how that same mechanic is then demonstrated over and over again through time, through Tomb Raider, right? Leading ultimately to something like Uncharted 2, when you see Nathan Drake leaping from a vine and you see Pitfall Harry leaping from a vine, you realize the mechanic has held over time, but the technology gave the artists a much broader palette with which to pull from, a bigger canvas on which to paint. So we talk about the people and the humanity in the first area. I should also mention, there's one incredible piece here called "Gamers," where... This was designed by Michael Mansfield, who worked with us at the Smithsonian, and he came with this idea of videotaping people playing these games with a high-def camera, alone in a room. And so by themselves they're sitting there talking to the game, their bodies are moving all over the place, you can actively see them think. It's an absolutely wonderful piece.

So you go into the second area and in this area we have five games, one game from each of the five eras represented in the exhibition. Each of these five games did something different in their respective era that changed, not only the way people played games, but also the way designers and artists looked at game creation. So we have games in there... Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., the Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and flower. Each one of those games did something unique and different in their era to change perceptions of games, the way designed worked, so on and so forth.

And then the final area is the evolution of the artform over time. So we start at the Atari VCS, we end at the PlayStation 3, and you traverse these 20 systems that span 40 years, and you can follow the progression of these games that are displayed above each one of the systems, over that trajectory. So rather than having people play them, which would not be conducive to an art museum, we have 60 and 90 seconds of annotated footage that accompanies each one of the game. So people can get a better understanding of what the artist was intending, why it was important, and what it meant in its era.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Obviously we're not able to replicate the exhibition online, but we have put all of the interview videos online. There is additional content that we weren't able to fit in the physical exhibition that's available on the website too. Those are such an important part of the exhibition, that we were able to talk to all these people, wonderful video game designers. That is... If you're not able to come to DC you can at least watch those videos.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: I should also mention we wrote a companion book to the exhibition called "The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect." And in there we actually draw out the 80 games, of which Tomb Raider is one that's included in there. People can actually go through and read further descriptions and expansion on those ideas that we were not able to incorporate into just 60 or 90 seconds of video. So there's a variety of different ways that people who can't make it out to the museum can explore more materials, more of the study that went into creating the exhibition.
MEAGAN MARIE: Absolutely. I'm actually going to revisit that a little bit later towards the end of the interview, because I know that Square Enix North America is currently doing a contest for that book. So I'll return to that in a minute. I'm curious right now as to what degree the exhibit was curated by the public, and if this is a common practice or if it was a decision made to kind of hold to the interactive theme of the exhibition.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Well, the idea behind allowing the public to have a say in the materials... It's very hard to clarify, but this was not an open vote in which we allowed to the public to vote on the 80 games that sit in that third component of the exhibition. This is a carefully-curated list of 240 games, which we allowed the public to help whittle down, to make sure that their voice was heard in the exhibition they were going to come and see. I felt very strongly about this for one particular reason, which is that... The premise that we set up that informs the narrative of the exhibition is around what we call the "three voices" of video games. And the first voice of video games is that of the designer or the artist, crafting an experience and using video games to bring that to the player and the public. The second voice is the game itself. It's the mechanics of the game, it's literally that mechanical vocabulary. How you are to interact with the game, how it communicates to you as the player what you are to do and how you are to engage it. But the third voice is the player. And this is where video games stand apart from any other form of art. Because it is in the playing of the game that art emerges, that the art of video games is then realized. Because you and I and Georgina can each play through Tomb Raider, let's say, on the Saturn, and we can get to the same points, we can get to the end of the game, but we may take away very different pieces of information or experience out of that journey. We don't do that with books, we don't do that with movies. We can do that with video games. So if we're staying true to the three-voice premise of the narrative, I felt that it was important that the voice of the public, who have as much love and admiration and personal connection to these games, that they had their voice represented as well.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: I think it's certainly... This is certainly the first time that our museum has done... Had the public help select the works for an exhibition. It's not the first time this has been done by a museum in general. But museums as a whole are really looking for ways to become more participatory in how they put together exhibitions, how they run programs, things like that. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to experiment with doing a public vote like this. For all the reasons that Chris just listed, this was the ideal medium for it, a participatory medium. The player is essential to understanding it as an art form. It just seemed completely natural to let the public help us choose the works.

MEAGAN MARIE: So the voting was open from February 14, 2011 to April 17, 2011. What did it seem like the motivating factor was for individuals casting their votes? Was it an international voice, were any communities more active than others? And were there maybe any surprise wins?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: First of all, we... I think we got 119,000 votes, 119,000 people voted, they cast 3.7 million votes, and they represented 175 countries. So that was phenomenal. Definitely very international, and I think more international audience than we are used to at the American Art Museum. It certainly generated a lot of debate. What surprises me was, we did have some concern that just the best-selling games would win in every category, or the most popular games. And that absolutely did not happen. People for the most part were extremely thoughtful, they considered what they felt was the most artistic game in each category and they voted for it. We were shocked. Because I mean, the public said that they were concerned too, that this just meant that all the best-selling games would be on view. Absolutely not. If you go through and look at which games won, there are a lot of surprises in there.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Speaking to that point, I received many e-mails from people that said they refused to cast all their votes. Because what we did was, we didn't let them just go pick any 80 out of this list of 240. Each of these... We had them broken down into four very large genres of games. Adventure, target, action, and tactics. Within those buckets, you were able to go and pick one of three games that fit any of those genres for any particular platform. So it wasn't just this wide-open vote. So what happened is, there were some people that said, "I had no experience with these systems, so I won't cast a vote against that. I couldn't discern which I view is the more artistic than the other." We had other people that said, "I refuse to vote because how dare you put me in that position?" Which is wonderful. The one that really sticks out in my head was on the Super Nintendo under Adventure. We had Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, and Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. People are like, "You jerk! All three deserve to be in there!" I said, "I don't disagree with you. However, this is one of the problems that's actually highlighted and brought more attention to when it comes to creation. Even for the curator, as I'm the guest curator here, all the games that I chose were not in the exhibition. There were systems that I personally would have liked to see in there. But because it didn't serve the broader purpose of this, it had to be omitted." So for the record, I chose Chrono Trigger, but Legend of Zelda won. So it was very interesting. People were very careful and they were very respectful of how they voted. I thought it was pretty wonderful, it was fantastic.

MEAGAN MARIE: It sounds like it was sort of a with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility moment, where they realized that they had a real degree of influence, and took it very seriously. That's fantastic to hear.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: There was so much discussion about all the games that we left off. It's wonderful, too, because it generated this whole conversation about what should be in a museum, and what shouldn't. Not everyone agrees on that.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Yeah. I got everything from, "Why didn't the museum hire anybody that knew anything about video games? Obviously they would have chosen X, Y, or Z." Yes, I understand, Planescape: Torment is a beautiful game. It just did not fit the narrative or the space we had. I'm sorry!

MEAGAN MARIE: If gamers are one thing, they are unbelievably passionate. So I can see that it would spawn a lot of debate about that. I have to visit Tomb Raider at least once in an extended capacity, because we were very excited to find out that the franchise was really highlighted in the exhibit. So Tomb Raider was chosen as one of the games to be showcased on the Sega Saturn, so from the standpoint of what I'm going to refer to as a gaming scholar, Chris, what made Tomb Raider a standout title in the transition phase, which is where it ended up being placed?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Well. You happened to pick the era that I'm probably... I guess I feel most romantic about it, this transition era. There's a reason why. During the era of the Saturn and the transition era, what was happening was almost this visual struggle for artists and designers. We're moving from a world that was principally... That had a tremendous amount of experience in building two-dimensional experiences. There's a whole artistic process and mechanical process that is then built up over time. All of a sudden it was as if the technology world turned to all these game developers and artists who had building in 2D for years and said, "In the past you've done all this work in painting, now create your next game by sculpting it." And so there was this very real, this struggle that emerged there.

Tomb Raider happened to fit right in that era, that transition into 3D. Helping people to understand the possibility space that could be afforded them if we moved in that direction. There were other games in that era there, around that, that tried to do this. But Tomb Raider did something different. It was, from a level design, from the fact that there was a very strong female character, the principal character in this... Not surprising the player, as in Metroid. "Samus was one of the first!" Yes, but nobody knew that until the end of the game, when she removed her helmet. You're taking up this role and it just, it forced a conversation about that type of game, about the importance of women in gaming, the female character in gaming and in that narrative. And what can be achieved by moving into this new style, this new artistic space, from the old. And Tomb Raider fulfilled all of these things extraordinarily well. Aside from the fact that it had very compelling gameplay as well. It was able to fill this grand, sweeping narrative that sat on top of all these things. It sat right in this perfect storm of accessibility and progression. So for me it represents all of these things in that era. And that's why it was selected.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, it's kind of the same... Obviously, being the community manager for the franchise, I speak to a lot of fans who express the same sentiment. I do hear the term "perfect storm" echoed a lot, feeling representation, especially with females for the first time, and phenomenal gameplay. At the time I remember the graphics being so astounding that I'd just sit there and flip around and stare at the water effects and whatnot. Again, it's very exciting as a fan, to see Tomb Raider being represented in this way in the exhibition.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: It was interesting because some people say, "Well, why didn't you do it on the PlayStation versus the Saturn?" This is, I think, a little bit of where I have some license as the curator to say... That in creating the narrative, part of what you see in the exhibition is me. All of the video, principally, that you see for most parts of the games, that's me actually playing the game. And so I constructed the narrative in there that Georgina and the awesome team at the Smithsonian helped to whittle down. To help me become more succinct. As you can tell by talking to me, it's not one of my strong suits. And so... I said, "Look, this is where I first experienced Tomb Raider on the console platform. It was on the Saturn." I remember where I was, I remember the feeling, I remember the observation framework that I had at the time. So I had the opportunity to take a little license and that's where it meant the most to me, that's why it appeared on the Saturn.

MEAGAN MARIE: I do want to ask you, because I know that your research for this exhibition must have been absolutely exhaustive, especially now that I'm finding out that you donated some of your personal collection, you played for the videos and all that...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Yeah, Chris captured all of the footage that you see in the exhibition too. I don't think he slept for three months last year. Late summer, early fall...

MEAGAN MARIE: So what I'm interested in learning is if there were any fun stories or tidbits of information that you learned about particular franchises or character designs or things that many people may not know about during your interviews. I was watching something online, I think it was the webisode where you guys revealed the 80 games to be featured in the exhibit, and I learned for the first time about why Mario has a mustache. So do you have similar stories that you discovered in this process?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Well, you know what story I'm going to tell.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Please, go ahead.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Well, no, I was going to talk about the response we had from some of the game companies when they had to review footage.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Oh, yeah, that was a good reveal. Okay. You know... We had to play through all of these games, and it's very interesting. One of the things I've learned the most was... I have a completely newfound respect for testers. Let me put it that way. There's a difference between playing a game for enjoyment versus playing to actually get to a thing that you need.

MEAGAN MARIE: Absolutely.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: And I wasn't always... I didn't necessarily approach them with the care that I would have had I been playing them for the experience. So Georgina would like to go... Tell them what at least one developer said.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: There were some of the companies that we were working with that needed to review footage before we could go ahead and put it in the exhibition. One came back and told us that whoever had been playing the game in the footage wasn't good enough at the game. They actually ended up providing us with the footage, so that they could have a good enough person playing it. But it's very difficult, too, when you're capturing live gameplay footage, to make it look smooth. Because it doesn't, when you're just watching it.

MEAGAN MARIE: You also have to try to be cinematic, keep in context, the camera... I have the same understanding and appreciation from when I demo games to audiences. You have to stop and have a beat and pan the camera and whatnot...

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Georgina, thank you for that support, and you bring up a really good point, which is... In trying to make sure that I pulled things out of the game that I wanted to highlight, things that fulfilled the goal of the narrative that we took, that meant literally trying to manipulate someone else's point of view. Trying to go and use someone else's mechanics and system and camera movement and things to convey what I needed to. I imagine every time you pick up a different camera to take a picture, dealing with entirely different controls. It's one of the issues.

But I'll give you a great tidbit that I discovered in the interview process. Don Daglow, who worked on the Intellivision platform and created an incredible series of games, one of them was called Utopia, which was on the original Intellivision. It was the very first god sim game, where you basically are building things on your island and you have to deal with natural disasters and encroaching armies, all these sorts of things. He got the inspiration for building this game because he used to be a middle school teacher in the '70s. One of the things that he did was, he went to the cafeteria one day, he looked at the floor and he realized the floor was made out of tiles, linoleum tiles. Which is exactly how a game designer looks at constructing a world, right? Tiles. And what he did is that he took electrical tape and he made a map of the globe, and he brought his students in and he had them stand on different countries and then they all engaged in diplomacy simulations and trade simulations and these sorts of things. So he was teaching them about global frameworks and policy and things, and from that was born the god game genre. It came out of teaching students in middle school, that this pioneer in the industry then created and tried to bring that sort of gameplay framework into video games. I think that's fascinating.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: My favorite tidbit was from the interview with Ken Levine, because I'm a huge fan of the Bioshock games. I knew that Bioshock was based on Ayn Rand's novels, but what I didn't know, and he talked about it in the interview, was that he was fascinated by Rand's books, with the idea that her heroes were always completely flawless. So he wanted to take that concept and then imagine a world where the hero had flaws, and see what would happen. That's what created Rapture in Bioshock. And that's where you find yourself in the game. That to me is fascinating, it's a really interesting take on the kind of... The world that Ayn Rand created in her books.

MEAGAN MARIE: I do have to ask for you guys to expand upon the Mario mustache thing, since I brought that up. That was one that I personally found was really interesting.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Sure. It speaks to what happens when there is intent that needs to overcome limitations. So when Shigeru Miyamoto was creating the character Jumpman, right, which then became known as Mario, he only had a very limited resolution and palette in which to work. The reason Mario wears a hat is because they couldn't draw hair to make it look like hair. You put a red thing on top of this little blobbish head and all of a sudden you have a hat. He wears different-colored overalls because they couldn't do very detailed animation. So by having contrast between the arms and the overalls, the sleeves and the shirt and the overalls, he created this sense of structure to the body. And he has this kind of bulbous nose. Because they couldn't articulate the nose versus the face, they removed a block. And when they remove that block, and there's Jumpman standing on a screen that has a black background, it looks like he has a black mustache. I imagine if the screen had a yellow background, he would have looked like he had a blonde mustache, right? It's out of that necessity to create, and faced with those limitations, how they overcome them, that's ultimately what comes out. That's how Mario has these iconic characteristics. That became part and parcel of his character.

MEAGAN MARIE: It's fascinating to hear, that these iconic traits were born out of technological constraint. It's also a real testament to the ability to overcome those constraints, and the creativity that developers had back then. I personally found that one quite interesting. So I want to move on to when the exhibit opened. It opened on March 16, correct?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: What did the Smithsonian American Art Museum do to mark the occasion? I know it wasn't like a necessarily "open the doors and here's the exhibit" thing. You guys celebrated.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: We did a lot. I'm still recovering from that. We had... So March 16 was opening day, that was a Friday. We held a three-day event called GameFest, which was fully open to the public on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So it included panel discussions with key video game designers and pioneers. We had keynote talks by Nolan Bushnell and Robin Hunicke and Hideo Kojima. We have a huge covered courtyard in the center of our museum, one of the biggest event spaces in DC. So we filled that with a ton of stuff, we had live musical performances from 8-Bit Weapon, Compute Her, Triforce Quartet. We had live-action video games from Spontaneous Art, which were fabulous. If you see the photographs online, it's all the people in the lycra shiny bodysuits throwing things at each other. We had open-play consoles in the courtyard with a lot of the consoles that didn't make it into the show. We gave people the opportunity to play those. We had different consoles representing right from the beginning through to contemporary games. Chris, what else did we do? What am I forgetting?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Oh, my goodness. We showed Tron and King of Kong in the museum. We did book signings and meet-and-greets. There were pixel art things, where kids could... Well, anybody could...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: It was supposed to be for kids, but I think we had more grownups playing that than anybody else...

CHRIS MELISSINOS: It was fantastic. People could go in and create these bitmapped images of everything from Mario mushrooms and fire flowers to other 8-bit art. It was just this whole celebration of the art that goes into making this... Again, this amalgam of artforms that then comes forth as video games. It was unbelievably fascinating.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: It was amazing. Over the three days we had 23,000 people visit, and the Saturday, March 17, was the fifth-busiest day in the history of our museum. It was crazy.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: It was pretty insane. And just so wonderful. One of the things about the exhibition that... Again, I've communicated, in the museum, basically at every turn, and it's the same sentiment that makes it into a lot of the public discussion... The one thing that I really wanted to see achieved, I think really was achieved. Which is the connection that video games provide across generations. The observation that I had in being able to quietly stand in a corner for a brief few minutes and just watching how people interact with each other in front of these games... It just speaks to the deep connection video games have in society, across multiple generations. The fact that all of us that grew up playing the first video games are now in our 40s, and we're raising gamers of our own, and so it is no longer relegated to... "Well, it must be the plaything of children." No, it was, but all of those kids grew up, and they are raising children. It's just... It was very emotionally overwhelming, and very satisfying to see that what I hoped was achieved was achieved. I think pretty much, right, Georgina?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Oh, absolutely. And still now, I mean, every time I walk through the exhibition, you see kids explaining the contemporary games to their parents, and then the parents explain the early games to their kids. We've had a lot of feedback from parents saying, "My son had never played the original Super Mario Bros., and now he absolutely loves it." It's just wonderful to see those connections being made. I have to say, also, we have discovered that gamers are the best people at forming lines and being polite and respectful in lines. Oh, my goodness. We had, on the Saturday, the line in the exhibition circled the entire museum, which takes up two city blocks. It was practically meeting itself at the end. I don't think we have ever had such polite, patient, respectful, wonderful people in line at the museum before. So that is a testament to gamers. They were awesome.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Yaaay!

MEAGAN MARIE: So... Speaking to all the foot traffic that's now working its way to the American Art Museum, have you seen a change or a shift in the demographic that attends the museum because of the exhibition? And do you feel that the exhibition has helped to further the understanding of and respect for gaming as an industry and as a medium?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Yeah... I think so. I mean, I don't know that the demographic has changed too dramatically, because we've been working for a long time on attracting younger audiences, more diverse audiences, families, young adults, that kind of thing. But I definitely think we're probably skewing more male than we were before. I don't have any numbers on that, that's just my perception. And definitely, huge, huge numbers of families coming through together. People saying that they would never have otherwise visited our museum if not for this exhibition, but now they plan to come back. I think that is the most wonderful thing for us to hear, that they wouldn't have visited us before, and we've got them in the door and now they're excited about us in general and they want to come back and see other things.

MEAGAN MARIE: So the exhibition is actually the gateway to the rest of the museum.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: I think so, yeah. We've definitely had a lot of feedback from parents who say, you know, it's the first time they haven't had to drag their kids to an art museum. So yay. But it isn't the first thing we've done with that kind of goal.

MEAGAN MARIE: And Chris, then, do you feel... Do you obviously, as the curator, feel like the exhibition has helped to further the understanding of gaming and the appreciation of it?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Um... I think even more than that, what it's done is... It has made people realize that the things that they were engaging with all along have had more meaning than they believed they had. One of the things that has been really interesting to observe is what happens when the latent gamer comes in. Somebody who played for a period of time and, for whatever reason, stopped. And either the romance of games or... It just kind of fell away from them and they forgot. It's watching them reconnect, it's watching when they get in front of something that speaks to them and they go, "Oh my god, I remember when I did this, or I did that, and this was so important in my life. I remember the feelings that I had." And all of it just comes flooding back to them. And they're so appreciative of that. I've often said that... People have asked, well, why didn't we do this before now? Why did it take 40 years for us to pull video games up and look at them and appreciate them and have a discussion about them as an important form of art? I always say, "It's because we lacked the maturity of a vocabulary." We didn't realize that this is what we were engaging with when we were younger. We didn't have the maturity and the hindsight to understand that. We do now. And so it's kind of watching that re-ignition of love within games, of meaning, and seeing ourselves reflected in it. That has been the most rewarding thing. Is it going to help? I hope. But for me it's already been fulfilled. I've gotten some of the most amazing e-mails sent to me by people who have attended the exhibition and said, "This makes me feel like I matter." "This makes me feel like what I do is important." All these sorts of sentiments that come out of it. It's more than I could have hoped for. I'm just absolutely blown away by the outpouring from the public. It's been awesome.

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: I think for our regular museum audience, for the non-gamers who come through the exhibition, we've definitely seen that it is helping knock down some of the stereotypes about video games. And also just show people the vast potential for expression that exists within these games. I think we had a lot of feedback from people, just like, "I had no idea video games could do this. I didn't know you had video games about these types of things." And that has been wonderful as well, because one of my personal goals was reaching out to the non-gamer skeptics out there. Showing them how wonderful this medium is.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Yeah. It's funny. Just to tie that closed there... Going in to train the docents that would be in the exhibition to guide people through it. Typically they skew a little older, and typically there's many more women than men. And so I'm getting up to explain to them the importance to this. I can't say how many of them have come up to me and said, "Not only have I never considered video games before... Now I do, and I will never look at them the same way again." Things like, "I never played video games, but I now understand why they're important, and I can see what you mean when you say they're an art form. It makes sense to me."

MEAGAN MARIE: That is a perfect transition into my next question, because I want to broaden the scope of our conversation, just slightly, as we wrap up. There are a number of games that are repeatedly referenced as "games as art." Including ICO, flower, Okami, Braid, Passage, one of my personal favorites Machinarium, Limbo, and so on. So where do you two fall in the argument of games as art? Are video games art inherently, or contextually, how do you feel about that subject?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Do you want to go first?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Sure. Give me the difficult question first.

CW: I'm happy to answer first...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: No, no, no. I think all video games are expressive. I think as with all art, there is a vast range in the type of expression, and then also whether... I mean, art is always subjective. So it's really up to the viewer to decide whether an individual game is art. I think one thing we wanted to do with this exhibition was really look at all kinds of games. We didn't want to narrow the view to just those that have been traditionally viewed as "art." We wanted to say that all games can be art. Are they all art? Well, that's up to you.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Thank you. And I hold the same position. In fact, in the intro text that adorns the wall when you first come in, the last statement in the intro text I wrote is, "They may even be art." That isn't to draw a line in the sand and say definitively, "Yes! Art!" Because as Georgina said, it's very subjective. Having said that, I have a very serviceable definition of art, it serves me and my tastes very well. And quite simply, it is that, I believe if you can observe and understand the intent of a designer and artist and find personal resonance with that message, then art has been achieved. Because that's what it's about, it's finding the personal connection with somebody else's message, somebody else's work, and what they're imparting to the world. It's very simple. And I can tell you that I've spent a lot of time through this project, touring museums and things, where I've never felt the same range of emotions in front of any other works of art that I had in playing certain video games. I've been able to see everything from early folk American artists at the American Art Museum, the Smithsonian, to going and seeing the Last Supper in Italy. It runs the gamut. But I've never been so moved by a piece of art as I have when playing certain games. For me, video games are the ultimate form of art.

MEAGAN MARIE: I have an easier question before the last one. Sticking with the art theme, but slightly simpler, what games personally top your list as the most visually striking or beautiful games?

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Oooh...

MEAGAN MARIE: It's a tough one, right? I can go first if you want some of my perspective, give you a second to think.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Yeah, give me your perspective.

MEAGAN MARIE: One of my personal favorites, I listed several of them earlier, would be Odin Sphere and Okami. Two of the most striking, beautiful... Just looking at a screenshot absolutely astounds me. I actually really enjoy the fact that the exhibition uses the Illusive Man screen from Mass Effect 3...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Yeah, we like that image.

MEAGAN MARIE: It's stunning, the color palette and everything in it is so wonderful. It's one of my favorite pieces of imagery from the entire industry. So I'm just curious as to what you guys have found the most beautiful, visually striking games in the years that you've been playing.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: I'd say things like Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. That transition, when we got into that 16-bit era from what we'd seen in the 8-bit was just so... I don't know. It was delicious, right? It was just this, all of a sudden the refinement of what had come before. Shadow of the Colossus, just the vistas and the environments that the game placed you in. They're breathtaking and they're startling. Games like Myst, when I first encountered it, it's actually a very scary game if you play it alone and in the dark. It's this very isolated sort of thing that the art really conspires to create, this fear and dread in you. But visually striking... Those are three...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: I think mine is going to have to be Heavy Rain. I don't think I've ever been so blown away by the kind of immersive nature of the visuals of that game. Never mind the story and the emotional involvement, but... And then talking and getting to interview David Cage as part of the development of this and finding out what went into creating that world, it was absolutely incredible. I mean, they did motion capture on 90 actors to get all of that. What was fabulous is, he talked about how many of the actors thought this would be easier than acting in a movie. Without realizing that they would have to play every possible outcome of every scene with realistic emotion. They all realized afterwards that no, it was nothing in comparison to acting in movies. That is an incredible game visually.

MEAGAN MARIE: I was going to say, one of the moments that really stuck with me in Heavy Rain was the scene in the convenience store. I found myself wanting to momentarily disregard the narrative and just look at the shelves. The items, and the brands that they came up with for random little bits and bobs on the shelves was absolutely fascinating...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: The level of detail in creating that world... And it's the same with Fallout 3, especially because that's in DC, so there are a lot of familiar landmarks as you explore that world. But the level of detail is just incredible in contemporary games.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: I'm a little older than the both of you, so when I first experienced that sense of immersion was in Shenmue on the Dreamcast. Being able to do things like, for the first time, walk into a room, open up any drawer, and in there is something to interact with. Picking up stuff off the shelves. Playing arcade games and all those things. That is one... I first experienced the "Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment" or whatever it was they had called it, which was basically quick time events... That game was just absolutely beautiful. Another game, too, this one was Alice, the new version that came out... Just incredibly artful and grotesquely beautiful.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes, absolutely. I agree with all of those. So on our way out, I just wanted to give you a chance, are there any personal projects you are working on that you want to share about? Is there an online outlet that you want to throw out so we can keep up with you on the web if people are interested in the work you do?

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: The museum, we have an e-mail signup, if you head to the museum's website, there's a little sign-up link at the top and you can customize what you want to hear about. That way you'll get to hear about all upcoming stuff at the museum. Hopefully we'll have lots of exciting new projects to share in the next few months.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: I'm involved with those projects at the museum, and of course... The exhibition will be traveling to ten more venues through the beginning of 2016. Not the museum, the exhibition will be traveling...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Yeah, we're not moving the museum.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Yeah. The exhibition will be traveling, yeah. That is going to be a huge feat. The exhibition will be traveling to ten more museums through the beginning of 2016, so make sure you check the museum's website to find out...

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: If you sign up for e-mail announcements, one of the categories is video games, and if you sign up for that category you'll get all information about the exhibition while it's still here, but then we'll be sending out details of all the different venues that it travels to as well.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Right. And you can follow the stuff that we're doing on Twitter, mine is @CMelissinos, and the tag that we're using is #TAOVG, The Art Of Video Games. So you can hit us on Twitter to find that.

MEAGAN MARIE: Wonderful. So like I said, I'm going to revisit the Art of Video Games book really quickly. Finishing off with the exhibition, the Art of Video Games runs from March 16 to September 30, and if you can't make your way to the museum, you can purchase the book online, and I will link to it in our show notes. However, before purchasing the book, it's worth noting that North American Square Enix Members is currently giving away copies of The Art of Video Games in a contest that runs through April 23. So you don't have a lot of time left to enter, but it's a pretty easy contest to enter. You need to compose a 100-word or less statement about the most inspiring video game memory that you have, and share it as a comment on the corresponding Square Enix Facebook page or at the official Twitter account. Again, I'll make sure that those links are in the show notes so that you can properly find them and enter the running. So. Thank you both so much for being on the show, I very much appreciate it, and I really enjoyed the enlightening conversation about such an important moment in gaming, and I really think that our listeners will too. Thank you!

GEORGINA GOODLANDER: Thank you so much.

CHRIS MELISSINOS: Yes, thank you very much, it was a pleasure to speak to you as well.

[Musical interlude]


Segment 2: Take Five

MEAGAN MARIE: Hello everyone, we are back for Take Five, I have Karl here, how are you doing Karl?

KARL STEWART: Good, good, you may all find that my cough has gone finally.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, the last couple of podcasts you've been under the weather or something along those lines. You have a nice strong voice this time.

KARL STEWART: Back to normal.

MEAGAN MARIE: That kind of plays right into our first question, because this one is actually not necessarily related to Tomb Raider, sort of tangential, but I get this a lot of the time. What is it like traveling to a press junket? How long are you away from home, how do you deal with the language barrier, have you ever had surprises thrown your way? What's your favorite place to travel? Because this is a lot of what you do, you do public-facing press events...

KARL STEWART: There's two sides to what I've been doing over the last, probably, two-plus years now doing this for Tomb Raider. I traditionally fly in for a business side, to look at overarching plans and work with all the territories and set out our goals and our vision for the franchise, and because of that, obviously as a spokesperson, we kind of eat, sleep, and breathe it. So therefore, we're then asked to do the press side as well. So we spend a lot of time over the course of the entire year... Last year is a great example. We started the year with Game Informer, flew up there, you flew down here, then all of a sudden it was into some big presentation, here's the future of the franchise, here's where we're going to go with it. We had to fly around doing business stuff. And then once you do that, that opens up a whole awesome can of worms, to be able to follow up with loads of partners. Then you're on press tours. Most of you that follow me on Twitter saw that, between Germany, France, Tokyo, London, I was all over the place. Russia. It's fun, you fly in, it's a mix of trying to see everybody, trying to stay as motivated and passionate about the product, which we all love, day in day out. You get a lot of the same questions coming at you, which... I do my best to make sure I give the same passion behind them, but obviously hearing the same thing, tell me about Lara, after a while you're like, "Okay, gimme another question."

MEAGAN MARIE: And a lot of times you're in the same room, and it's like a revolving door. You have five minutes, get a drink of water, and then the next interview starts.

KARL STEWART: Turning up at the show, going up to my hotel room... Not even my hotel room, it's a hotel room with the bed taken out and two sofas and a big poster put behind me, and every 30 minutes for three days it's back to back interviews. You talk about the product and you do what you have to do. And then that night generally you're out talking to business partners to try and make sure that you catch up with them too whilst you're there. It's exhausting, absolutely exhausting, I will say. I love it, don't get me wrong, I think it's awesome.

MEAGAN MARIE: What's the longest you've ever been away in one stretch?

KARL STEWART: Um... I think two weeks was the longest I've been away. I left and actually took some time, rather than flying back from Europe and then back to Europe again, I took some time off with family who live in the UK. And then I continued my travels. That was the longest. And then the shortest, I think the shortest, I actually have two of them that were the shortest, and then I have the strangest. The shortest was less than 36 hours flying to London and back for one meeting, which was hard... Well, it wasn't that hard, because I didn't adjust initially. I just landed, did my meeting, came back. And then in the space of four days, again, anybody who follows me on Twitter knows about it, I circumnavigated the world in less than four and a half days. I flew from here to London, did a set of meetings in London, hopped on a plane, flew to Tokyo, did a set of meetings in Tokyo, then hopped on a plane and came back. I don't think my body ever caught up.

MEAGAN MARIE: Didn't have time to get used to anything.

KARL STEWART: It certainly didn't thank me either, because I was ill for a little bit after that. It's all fun, I will not complain, but it's tiring. For anybody who sees it, don't think it's a jolly... If you could see how jet-lagged I am in most of my meetings.

MEAGAN MARIE: So your voice now is going to be robust for another couple of months, and then once we start up again, it's going to be...

KARL STEWART: Yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: A big year.

KARL STEWART: Actually, I've had to think hard about it, in my meetings. I've learned to sort of go down a few octaves, because I have a bit of a booming voice when I present and I talk rather loud. I'm trying to keep that as low as possible, because the louder I talk, the less airtime I have. My voice will disappear very quickly. And that's a very important thing for all of the people that I represent, I try and distill that into every single presentation, we try to keep the noise levels in the room down so you're not having to shout. Once you start shouting, your voice goes.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, on to our second question! In several screenshots Lara has a rough, handmade-looking bone axe, whereas later she receives a shiny-looking metal one. Is this an example of the gear gating and progression that you've talked about?

KARL STEWART: This is something that we've shown, that's why I think that... We've been very clear with people about gear gating and about how, when you begin the game, you have to evolve, and evolve in a way of... You've landed with nothing, and you have to, through your skills, sort of improve who you are and your abilities. Some of the demos that we showed last year, of course... We've shown her with this makeshift axe, and over time we'll start to expose how she gets it and why she gets it, how she uses it. But then we also showed Roth giving Lara a climbing axe. So yeah. We've talked about the idea of gear gating, that's a very important part of it. We look forward to presenting how that fits into the overarching story of the game and the character development and personality over the next couple of months.

MEAGAN MARIE: Neat. This is one that I like. Will there be a Play Arts Kai Lara Croft figure? Some people are trying to connect some dots...

KARL STEWART: It's not hard to connect those dots. It's Play Arts Kai. We are looking at an entire... A pretty extensive array of licensed products. Of course, it's Tomb Raider, we're very picky about what we do and how much we put out there. But we're blown away by the Adam Jensens and the Final Fantasies and the Metal Gear Solids of the world. Anybody who could see my office right now, Meagan's looking at my shelf, we have loads of stuff from the Batman Arkham Asylum to Deus Ex to Metal Gear. I collect them all, I'm a big fan. So I'm not going to give away any scoops here, but just wait and see what we do. I'm a big fan. But that's all I'm gonna say.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. Here's another very specific question that I got from a big fan on Tumblr. The majority of Tomb Raider titles, Lara has a dark and sarcastic sort of humor. Is this inherent to her personality still, or is it a product of experiences that she's yet to have at this early stage?

KARL STEWART: Again, with the presentations I've been doing over the last 12-plus months, we've been very careful to sort of make sure we present Lara as this young and ambitious character. She hasn't been out in the world and done this before. So she's kind of wanting to learn and evolve and... She was ambitious enough to want to get on the ship and go on this journey in the first place. We want to make sure that the character is of today, this is her first time. In past Tomb Raiders, there's been a sort of... An amount of arrogance or sarcasm in her voice when she says certain things. That's not a trait that you'll find in this Lara, and certainly not a trait that we currently have in the plans to shine through. We want the player to have an emotional attachment to this character, sort of see a personality which they feel is relevant to today. It's a bit, you know, again, it gets back to what I've given in the past about IPs. What James Bond said in the '60s is not what James Bond says today. If you were to take what he said 40 years ago and imply it to a character of today, people would look at it and go, "I don't understand. Why or how or... How relevant is that to today's audience?" We were very careful about the character expiration in development. Again, we're not going to get into spoilers and telling you what she does and doesn't say. But we made it very clear in the press demos that we've given, we show a side to Lara where even she doesn't believe that she's a Croft. She has to grow and she has to become somebody.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, the final question is kind of parallel to the Play Arts Kai one. This is pretty popular on the forums, actually. Square Enix seems to be embracing a high degree of crossovers in content post-launch, such as with Final Fantasy XIII-2. Is there any potential for this in Tomb Raider, some sort of crossover within the company, externally, costumes... Something along those lines?

KARL STEWART: Right now there's absolutely nothing planned. Our goal is to work on the single-player and I think it would be kind of strange for Lara to be on an island then come across Lightning or...

MEAGAN MARIE: Ezio or Gears of War or Final Fantasy characters...

KARL STEWART: Yeah. So right now, no, there is no plan whatsoever to do any crossovers. I don't see that on the horizon right now. But you know, never say never, there's always opportunities. I think there's many products out there who left it until the very last minute to add something they felt was relevant, and they did and it worked. But right now, no, we don't have anything... It's focused. It's all about Lara.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, thank you for those answers, Karl, and for your time. Enjoy the rest of your day.

KARL STEWART: No problem, always a pleasure. I look forward to seeing you again next month. Although you sit outside my office all day...

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, 'bye.

[Musical interlude]

Segment 3: HR Highlight

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, so before closing out the show, we have Casey Manning, one of our recruiters, back. So welcome back, and what do you have for us this month on the hiring front?

CASEY MANNING: Hey, Meagan, great to be back. We're still hard at work at hiring for all types of positions, we've had some great fills lately and we're still looking for strong lead and senior technical talent. As well as really talented artists at the senior level. Always on the lookout for great artists and designers.

MEAGAN MARIE: And specifically, leading into E3, you had a couple of updates.

CASEY MANNING: Yeah. Absolutely. Our recruiting team is getting prepared for E3, we're very excited to be back in the fun of everything this year. Something we're doing this year that's a lot of fun is we would definitely like to meet specifically with any lead engineers or senior engineers that might be at E3 this year. We might have a few fun things planned for you, more details will follow, probably later in May. But anybody who's interested in syncing up with us, please feel free to e-mail me directly at Crystal. My e-mail address is cmanning@crystald.com. Or send your resume with a note in the cover letter to resume@jobvite.com, or just apply directly on our website at www.crystald.com under the Jobs section.

MEAGAN MARIE: Right, so if you're attending E3 and meet the criteria, just pencil it into your notebook for now. Reminder, meet up with Crystal.

CASEY MANNING: Yeah, we'll take you out and show you a good time, promise.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Thank you so much for popping in.

CASEY MANNING: No problem. Thanks, Meagan.

MEAGAN MARIE: And that's it for today. Whereas this space has previously been reserved for the Tomb Raider trivia challenge, as mentioned last month, we are going to let that contest live on our social media outlets from this time forward, to make sure that participation is accessible for fans worldwide. Our next trivia challenge will start on May 1, and we'll share info via all the major social media outlets, such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. So keep an eye on those spaces. Thanks for listening!

Shaikh
21st Apr 2012, 14:19
Congrats on making the most boring podcast of all time.
http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o307/EscondeR_Croft/Smilies/96xlkw_th.gif
There's nothing interesting except the 2nd question of 'Take Five'. Not going to be excited for a podcast in future. :o

d1n0_xD
21st Apr 2012, 14:28
^ Haha, I think podcasts that are after E3 are going to be more fun, since we're gonna get a lot more info, and a lot more questions shall be asked :D

Shaikh
21st Apr 2012, 15:39
^ Looking forward to those podcasts. Last year's E3 podcasts were Phenomenal. Hope they starts to give away info soon. Not going to listen May podcast. Will start from E3 podcasts again. :)

Would love to hear more about behind the scenes of Tomb Raider, how it is being made but not about Museum stuffs. ;) Game Development Stage Discussion in Podcast #6 was good. :)

Driber
21st Apr 2012, 17:12
Congrats on making the most boring podcast of all time.
http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o307/EscondeR_Croft/Smilies/96xlkw_th.gif
There's nothing interesting except the 2nd question of 'Take Five'. Not going to be excited for a podcast in future. :o

Sarcastic posts like these are not welcome here.

Shaikh
21st Apr 2012, 17:45
Sarcastic posts like these are not welcome here.

So I am going to be banned? :whistle:

It wasn't sarcastic though. :o

Driber
21st Apr 2012, 17:53
It wasn't sarcastic though. :o

Saying "congratulations" when you don't mean it and ditto the applause GIF is sarcasm.


So I am going to be banned? :whistle:

Not by a long shot. Members have to *really* cross the line before they are banned here; I'm a pretty patient man :cool:

Just saying....try to be less snarky about what CD is giving the community *for free* ;)

Shaikh
21st Apr 2012, 17:57
Not by a long shot. Members have to *really* cross the line before they are banned here; I'm a pretty patient man :cool:

Just saying....try to be less snarky about what CD is giving the community *for free* ;)

They should have understand how frustrated a long time fan could be. :scratch:

10 months 14 days and nothing. :(

Anyway, 43 days, 22 hours and 30 minutes till Microsoft E3 Press Conference. Got to be patient. :)
Countdown (http://www.timeanddate.com/counters/customcounter.html?msg=E3+2012+Microsoft+Press+Conference&month=06&day=04&year=2012&hour=09&min=30&sec=00&p0=137)

Driber
21st Apr 2012, 18:10
They should have understand how frustrated a long time fan could be. :scratch:

Dude, I'm a long time fan, too. I've been into TR since nearly the beginning, but I have no problem waiting for this next game :)

I'm not saying I don't understand your frustration, but perhaps trying to be a little bit less obsessed with it would be healthier!


Got to be patient. :)

Yes :)

Shaikh
21st Apr 2012, 19:05
Dude, I'm a long time fan, too. I've been into TR since nearly the beginning, but I have no problem waiting for this next game :)

But you can get to know 'Things', you can see 'Things' that we can't. :(



I'm not saying I don't understand your frustration, but perhaps trying to be a little bit less obsessed with it would be healthier!

Hmm, probably I should join CoD community. Game in every year is a must. :p



Yes :)
OK. See ya in OT thread. :wave:

Metalrocks
22nd Apr 2012, 09:21
dint find it that interesting. dint bother to listen to it. was just reading through the text to the parts i find more interesting.
i thought our questions will get asked but i dint see any. will they be answered separately or did i just miss them?

Driber
23rd Apr 2012, 07:58
But you can get to know 'Things', you can see 'Things' that we can't. :(

Whether or not I know or have seen something you haven't, doesn't come into play here; my general stance on videogames is "it's just a game". I don't follow every single dev's twitter and (over) analyse every single tweet (or blogpost/podcast/newsletter, etc).

Some games I anticipate more than others, but overall I (and I think most of us here) are pretty laid back about it and happy to see the final product whenever it comes.

FYI, I was invited to come to the SE offices to play TR9 in alpha stage last year, but I declined. One of the reasons was that I don't like spoilers; I like to experience the full "WOW moment" when I have the full game in my hands :)

Shaikh
23rd Apr 2012, 12:58
FYI, I was invited to come to the SE offices to play TR9 in alpha stage last year, but I declined. One of the reasons was that I don't like spoilers; I like to experience the full "WOW moment" when I have the full game in my hands :)

Those who want opportunity like this, never gets it. :(

Driber
23rd Apr 2012, 13:27
Those who want opportunity like this, never gets it. :(

You think (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?t=123366)?

MeaganMarie
25th Apr 2012, 00:43
Congrats on making the most boring podcast of all time.
http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o307/EscondeR_Croft/Smilies/96xlkw_th.gif
There's nothing interesting except the 2nd question of 'Take Five'. Not going to be excited for a podcast in future. :o

I have to agree, Shaikh. Even I thought your comment was a bit rude, keeping in mind that you give me a hard time regularly on Facebook and Twitter and whatnot. You remember that we've discussed that it's the Crystal Dynamics studio podcast, correct? We aim to discuss not just our games, but important events in the industry. I don't just love Tomb Raider, I love video games, and I know many followers feel the same way. Just because there wasn't any new Tomb Raider information dosen't mean discussing such an important moment in video game history is without merit. I'd really appreciate it if you'd keep that in mind in the future. I understand that you're hungry for new information, but please try to keep it a bit more respectful, on these forums at least.

Lukass
25th Apr 2012, 10:57
Wow!

Shaikh, I told you that was too rude. I noticed that you're pretty impertinent when speaking to Karl or/and Meagan on Twitter etc. I'd brake the horses if I were you.

Shaikh
25th Apr 2012, 15:19
I have to agree, Shaikh. Even I thought your comment was a bit rude, keeping in mind that you give me a hard time regularly on Facebook and Twitter and whatnot. You remember that we've discussed that it's the Crystal Dynamics studio podcast, correct? We aim to discuss not just our games, but important events in the industry. I don't just love Tomb Raider, I love video games, and I know many followers feel the same way. Just because there wasn't any new Tomb Raider information dosen't mean discussing such an important moment in video game history is without merit. I'd really appreciate it if you'd keep that in mind in the future. I understand that you're hungry for new information, but please try to keep it a bit more respectful, on these forums at least.

My sincere apology Meagan, for making snarky comment and making things rough for you. :o

Yes I am hungry for new information about Tomb Raider but please don't get me wrong. I know these podcasts wouldn't have much information about Tomb Raider as it is Crystal Podcast. I wished to know more behind making games like Tomb Raider and others at Crystal Dynamics. I loved three special episodes of Podcast during E3, about hearing role of the Quality Assurance in Podcast #3, about what Audio departments do in Tomb Raider in Podcast #4, importance of research throughout the game development in Porcast #5, Game Development process in Podcast #6, even I liked Maintaining a Game Studio segment in Podcast #8 and about Deus Ex: Human Revolution discussion in Podcast #2. But you have to admit that this 53 minutes conversation about art of Video Games was a little bit of boring comparing with other podcasts. That's why I expressed my opinion like that. And apology for that again. :o

Probably I am a little bit too much obsessed with this Tomb Raider but I also do love other games like as you mentioned. There are loads of title that I love(excluding call of duty). :)

Crystal Dynamics is quiet about this Tomb Raider for too long. You guys could at least tell us when exactly the next wave of info is coming. I guess the reason CD is quiet for that long is you guys have to make best impression at E3 by not giving anything else before the event. So as we have no other option we will see the new phenomenal stuff at E3. Only 40 days and 1 hour to go. :D

Driber
25th Apr 2012, 15:45
FYI, Shaikh: an apology doesn't come across very sincere when it is followed by more criticism and demands.

Instead of repeating the cycle of making rude comments, then apologizing, then making rude comments again, etc...how about just stopping it and be more polite and show a bit of respect for something you receive for free.

So far I've been patient and let your rude comments pass on this forum, but more of them after this point I will start deleting. You'll find that I run a pretty tight ship around here in order to maintain this forum's good atmosphere - constructive criticism is fine, but unnecessary and repeated rudeness is not.

Shaikh
25th Apr 2012, 17:02
Just wanted to clear things up. My English is too poor. Couldn't make you understand I guess. Not going to post any more comments again.

Apology for everything. :)

MeaganMarie
25th Apr 2012, 17:33
Just wanted to clear things up. My English is too poor. Couldn't make you understand I guess. Not going to post any more comments again.

Apology for everything. :)

Apology accepted. I know you're just excited and I do appreciate your intense fandom, Shaikh. When we show off our next bit of content, I know you'll be pleased and have plenty to talk about and gush over!

dark7angel
25th Apr 2012, 18:01
Apology accepted. I know you're just excited and I do appreciate your intense fandom, Shaikh. When we show off our next bit of content, I know you'll be pleased and have plenty to talk about and gush over!

Any chance we're getting that next bit of content before E3? :naughty:

Driber
25th Apr 2012, 18:04
Just wanted to clear things up. My English is too poor. Couldn't make you understand I guess. Not going to post any more comments again.

Apology for everything. :)

:)

Shaikh
25th Apr 2012, 18:13
Apology accepted. I know you're just excited and I do appreciate your intense fandom, Shaikh. When we show off our next bit of content, I know you'll be pleased and have plenty to talk about and gush over!

Thanks Meagan. You are the best. :worship: <3
http://www.juliamallet.com/images/weasel_giving_flower_lg_clr.gif

Metalrocks
26th Apr 2012, 06:53
Thanks Meagan. You are the best. :worship: <3

you forgot to give the nice lady some flowers ;)

like this :flowers:

Shaikh
26th Apr 2012, 08:10
you forgot to give the nice lady some flowers ;)

like this :flowers:
Silly me. How did I forget it! :o Couldn't find a cat animation though. :(

dark7angel
19th May 2012, 17:20
New Crystal Habit Podcast is now available on iTunes -> http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-crystal-habit./id447844486

Driber
19th May 2012, 17:25
Don't have iTunes :(

It's also not up on the blog yet. Can you perhaps upload the MP3?

dark7angel
19th May 2012, 17:29
I don't have iTunes either!!! :(

But Meagan has posted the Transcript on tombraiderforums (I don't have an account there, but I lurk around from time to time! :cool: ):

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 10

MEAGAN MARIE: Hey everyone, thanks for listening. This episode 10 of the Crystal Habit podcast, and I'm your host, Meagan Marie. This episode, we're throwing the usual format and features out the window, and we're going to sit down with head of studio Darrell Gallagher and brand director Karl Stewart to discuss the recent news that Tomb Raider's release window has shifted from fall 2012 to Q1 2013. The reason we're dedicating the entire podcast to this segment is because, obviously, it's a very important announcement. We want to do it justice and really take the time to answer the questions that we've gathered from the community since Sunday's announcement. So... Enjoy the show!

[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: Release Date

BOTH: Ready!

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Let's do it.

MEAGAN MARIE: Thank you for joining me, Darrell and Karl. Before we start with the questions, Darrell, would you mind running us through the recent release date update and explain the studio's reasoning behind the decision?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Yep. Okay, so this week we announced that we were moving the release of Tomb Raider from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013. And really, that was to give us the time to take it to the polish level that we really want to achieve with this particular title. As we said in the statement, we think that we're creating a truly unique piece of content, we think it's very special, and we want this to be one of the games of our careers. We're at a stage right now where we feel like we need a little bit more time to achieve that, but it'll be well worth the wait.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. So let's start with an easy question. Can you clarify what months Q1 encompasses?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: So Q1 for us is January 1 through to March 31, 2013.

KARL STEWART: How broad is that? [laughs]

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Take a lottery, put your tickets on which date.

MEAGAN MARIE: You know what, people actually will do that in the forums. Someone's going to work that out. Alright, another question about the release date specifically is, did you guys have an exact release date nailed down when it was fall 2012? Or was it still evolving? And similarly, do you have a date in mind that you're looking at for Q1 2013?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Um... No, we didn't really have a date picked out. We had a window, as we said, fall 2012, and that was a generic window that we felt we would fall in. It's not an exact science when you're making games. When you start making a game, two or three years out or whatever it may be, you pick a window and say, this is where we think we'll fall. And it may be a year to start with. We say, we hope we can get it done this year. And then as you progress further, well, we think it can fall in this window... And as you get closer and closer to finishing the game it gets more predictable. We're trying to put something together that's very complex, that is very quality-driven, that really is this amazing origin story that we're creating. We really want to take the time to make sure that we hone it in and deliver it in a way that we wanted to achieve.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. I think it's a big undertaking, it's a reimagining of our franchise. We take that very seriously.

MEAGAN MARIE: I say this... I find a way to say this all the time, with great power comes great responsibility. Alright, so similarly, from a business standpoint, why is picking the perfect release date so important, and therefore kind of secretive?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Well, this is a little bit related to what I just answered. It's not necessarily a secret. It's just not entirely predictable up until you can really see it in your hands, you can look at the product as a whole, you can play the game from start to finish. And then we can start penciling in, as an organization, when we think the ideal place for a game to land is. And that just doesn't happen at the beginning of the game, when you start creating it. It happens as you get further in. So it's not really a secret, we just wouldn't want to disappoint people by, three years out, saying it's going to be this day and date, and then missing it for some reason. Because it didn't come in exactly as we expected. So it tends to be a little bit more organic and loose until it becomes predictable.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. And so why did we release this news on Sunday night?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Well, because in Japan they were releasing an update to shareholders on the Monday. We wanted to get out to the community first and make sure that we were communicating from our standpoint why we were moving the date, rather than just hearing the news from a financial report from Tokyo.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, take a little bit more personal approach...

KARL STEWART: Yeah, we've seen that happen and we've read communities' feelings and thoughts on that. We thought it was very important to get Darrell out and make sure that we announced it beforehand.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, I can tell you firsthand that they appreciated it.

KARL STEWART: Good! We're glad.

MEAGAN MARIE: Earlier this year there were rumors of a delay, and some fans are wondering, why didn't you break the news to us then?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Well, I don't know where those rumors came from, to be honest...

KARL STEWART: They appeared out of nowhere, yeah. It didn't come from us.

DARRELL GALLAGHER: I did read some of those on the Internet, and to be honest with you, we weren't delayed at that point. We really didn't make this decision until much later. There wasn't a point where we could have made that decision, because we were still mid-production on this particular title.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. We can never report on rumors, so when that came up in the press... There's nothing to do. Somebody decided, on the world wide web, to type in "delay." That's their prerogative...

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. So fans were also wondering if the decision to push back the release date was made internally at Crystal Dynamics, or if this was one that was suggested by Square Enix?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Well, it was neither. Ultimately it's a big decision and it needs to involve everybody. So it doesn't come from one place necessarily. What I can say is it's a decision that's been supported by Square Enix, and as a group, as a whole, we feel like this is the right landing spot for this game. We made the recommendation that we needed some more time, and that was well-supported by the organization as a whole. They came back and said, we want you to make the game you want to make, so we all agreed on it and we feel that Q1 is the best date.

KARL STEWART: I think it's... What we've been saying, it's a Crystal quality thing. Everybody who's been working on this, as Darrell said in the statement, people want it to be the game of their careers. There's a lot of people who spent a lot of hours working on this game. We want to make sure we get it right.

MEAGAN MARIE: You confirmed this in your update, Darrell, but just to kind of reiterate it, we are going to be at E3. And what can fans expect from E3 in terms of Tomb Raider's presence?

KARL STEWART: Don't even tell them a thing. [laughter]

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Well, I can tell you that we're working hard right now on it. That's for sure.

KARL STEWART: If you let anything out of the bag I'll strangle you.

DARRELL GALLAGHER: We obviously can't spoil the surprise. What I can say is we put a lot of effort into making sure that we have the best E3 this year. It's a huge E3 for us. I'm personally tremendously excited about what we're going to show. I know the team is too. We've got tons of team members coming down to E3 because they just want to see it out there...

MEAGAN MARIE: Be there for it.

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Yeah, be there for it, because they're so proud of the work they've done. Without ruining the surprise, I think it's going to be a great E3.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think just telling them that we will be there, this is going to be a huge show for us, that you're going to feel Tomb Raider's presence, that's enough for now.

DARRELL GALLAGHER: You will not be able to miss Tomb Raider this E3.

KARL STEWART: Yes. Good answer. [laughs]

MEAGAN MARIE: Great, great. I'm excited. So this is a concern past E3, and this is probably the most popular concern that I've heard. Because we did have a long silence between last year's E3 and this one, some fans are concerned that we're going to go quiet again after E3, that they're going to get tons of information and tons of goodies and then we'll kind of disappear for a while. So is this true? Are we going to do regular updates after E3? Are we going to have a triple-A marketing campaign for Tomb Raider after...?

KARL STEWART: Yeah. I think... What we've reported in podcasts in the past is that last year we had a very successful year, we announced our product and we managed to get a great amount of coverage and a lot of great sentiment, and we felt that it was right for us to go quiet and not keep sort of bleeding it over a period of time. We had made the commitment to say we're coming back at E3, as Darrell said in his statement, and I can confirm that throughout the rest of the year, all the way until we launch the game, that we'll continue to have presence at all the major shows. We won't be going quiet. We'll be back, we'll be back in a big way. We're excited. Loads of great plans.

MEAGAN MARIE: It's still... Yeah, even though the release date has shifted, 2012 is still a huge year for Lara. So it's very exciting.

KARL STEWART: With that said, for the fans, if we do go quiet for a week, please don't come to us and say we've gone quiet. We will not be putting something out every single day. There is a plan in place.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. So now we have some specific questions from the official forums and the Tomb Raider Forums, that we gathered. So... LaraRocks asks... You'll love all these names by the way... "How do we know that this is really an issue of quality and not a move so that Tomb Raider doesn't have to compete against all the other triple-A titles this fall?"

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Ah... So ultimately this is about passion, and us actually putting the passion and energy into making the greatest game that we can. It's less about our competition. Obviously, last E3, we had a great E3 and it showed that we can stand toe to toe right next to the competition. So that's not something we're necessarily concerned with. What we're most concerned with and what we're most focused on here is making the greatest game possible.

KARL STEWART: And I would just add to that... There's always triple-A titles that are breathing down your neck or coming up right in front of you. There's nothing you can do. You pick a window and you can guarantee that within a few weeks before or a few weeks after, there's some other big title coming out around you. It's not just, did we move it out because of the fall... Whether we like it or not, there's always a great title around the corner.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, so... This is more of a complex one. Awestruck asks, "When did you know that you were changing the release date? Did something go 'horribly wrong' with the development of the game, or were there minor issues that you encountered?" And then Moon Safari similarly asks, "Is the delay because you're behind schedule, or because you had new features that occurred to you during development?"

DARRELL GALLAGHER: That's a complex question. Horribly wrong... Definitely that is not what happened. Again, kind of going back to one of the earlier answers... Making games is not a science, right? It's very complex. In a lot of cases you're doing things for the first time. You're trying to break new ground with every game you try and make. So it's not like you're repeating the same old formula time and time again. So therefore, when you try and pull it all together, and you have all the pieces and parts, moving parts... It can be difficult to predict and difficult to actually plan out a year or two years in advance and get it spot-on. Especially when you put a premium on making the best game ever. [laughter] That becomes difficult too. So for us it is really more about refining what we have, less about new features, less about "horribly wrong" then just saying, hey, this is the natural evolution of what we once started, what we intended to do. We want to see that through. We have a commitment, and we didn't want to compromise that original commitment and vision to put the game out a few months earlier.

KARL STEWART: I'd love to know what his definition of "horribly wrong" is. Because to us that could be the coffee machine exploding.

MEAGAN MARIE: Natural disasters... Oh, man, coffee machine breaking is horribly wrong in my morning. So Shaikh asks... "If you guys hit alpha in the January-February window, why is there a delay? Does the game really need that long to polish?" I think this comes from a lot of the community, who are looking at how other companies put their flag down and say, this is how long alpha is, this is how long beta is. So there was some sort of an expectation set within the community itself. So can you kind of speak to that a little more?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: Yeah. The game is at alpha. We have the whole game in place, it's great to see start to finish, you can play it beginning to end, and it's in great shape. We have a great structure of a game here. In terms of six months, 12 months for alpha, it's just not apples to apples. I can't really compare one development team or one studio or publisher to another. It's just very difficult to make that comparison. What we can say is that this is the amount of time that we feel we need to take it to the quality level that we believe in, and that works for us.

KARL STEWART: Although I do love people's timelines, when we said we hit alpha a couple of months ago. People were coming up with... "It takes 18 weeks to get from alpha to beta!" I'm like, wow, what game are you making?

MEAGAN MARIE: There really isn't a science to it. You can't take the average of all the other studios and divide it up...

KARL STEWART: Certainly not.

MEAGAN MARIE: It's very organic, it's very natural to the studio itself. I mean, we know ourselves best, so...I thank you for clarifying that one. So MyRaider4Life asks... "Since the game has been pushed back, does that mean that crucial media such as a gameplay trailer have also been pushed back?

KARL STEWART: All I can say on that is that it takes to months and months and months to plan a campaign. Even if we moved the release date, we made a commitment, as we said, to be at E3. There will be assets, there will be things released. But you know, we don't want to spoil things for anybody. We don't want to start giving away too much. Let's just say we will be at E3, and you will see a flood of content which we're very excited to start putting out...

MEAGAN MARIE: And that's been for the pipeline for a long time...

KARL STEWART: It's been in the pipeline for a long time. Like I said, planning takes a while. It's not something we can change right now, this close to E3. We're sticking to our guns.

MEAGAN MARIE: That would be a nightmare. Alright, so The Kramer asks, "Are you scared to miss out on holiday sales?"

DARRELL GALLAGHER: That's a great question. Actually, I was a little late for this podcast because I just got back from lunch, picking up Max Payne 3 from Rockstar. Honestly, that's a great game, a big game, and it's in May. So I don't think there's any particular window when you have a big game, one that people actually want to come to and play. I don't think it really matters whether it's in the holidays, May, February, April, June...

KARL STEWART: The game is big enough, it defines its own window and its audience.

DARRELL GALLAGHER: I think we've got one of those games that people will come and play no matter when.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Alright, so... Tommy asks, "I'd like to know if Crystal D is planning to show Tomb Raider at other events, like Gamescom, PAX Prime, and so on?"

KARL STEWART: Everybody wants us to spoil the campaign, don't they? Our plan is to participate in a number of the big shows throughout the course of the year. So yes, of course, things like Gamescom, we're very excited to be at. And shows such as...

MEAGAN MARIE: Can we say that we'll be at San Diego Comic-Con in some capacity...?

KARL STEWART: Comic-Con, yes, okay, yes, we'll be at Comic-Con. But of course, you know, there's many, many places we want to show the game. I don't want to give away too much right now, but yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: It falls in line with having the big campaign post-E3.

KARL STEWART: Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: We'll be a lot of places, bringing the game to a lot of people. And these are two questions I'm just tacking on, because... I told everybody that we were just talking about the announcement of the release window, but... If you wouldn't mind, we had a couple of questions about the screenshot.

KARL STEWART: Sneaky Meagan...

MEAGAN MARIE: Which went over extremely well, by the way! People loved the screenshot, they were very excited to see that moment. So two really good questions. Was the screenshot taken recently? Was it from a newer version or build of the game? We weren't just sitting on it for a long time, right?

KARL STEWART: The screenshot was taken...probably this time last week. Very close.

MEAGAN MARIE: So it is a new screenshot. And the follow-up question is one that's probably good to address. Can Lara climb trees, or was that just a contextual scene of her reaching for the bow?

DARRELL GALLAGHER: This one is a contextual one, actually the screenshot was a contextual moment in the game, so it is not free climbing in trees for this particular Tomb Raider.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Just nip that one in the bud...

KARL STEWART: That's two. No swimming and no climbing trees. We're going to get hammered.

MEAGAN MARIE: But wait until you see everything that we have, so...

KARL STEWART: Yes, exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. Well, I cannot tell you two how much I appreciate you stopping in, and the community's definitely going to appreciate this opportunity to expand upon the announcement. Thank you for your time!

BOTH: Thanks for having us.

MEAGAN MARIE: So that's all for this episode of the Crystal Habit podcast. I know that it was super short. As I said, I wanted to make sure that we dedicated this solely to expanding upon the new release date window. But don't fret. E3 is coming up very quickly, and as we've said, we're going to be big. We're going to go big at the show. So you will have lots of new Tomb Raider information very soon. Thanks for tuning in.

[Musical interlude]

Driber
19th May 2012, 17:39
Ah nvm, someone just sent it to me.

Here it is: http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_10.mp3

And uploaded to YT for easy online viewing:

MzqLvZth4dg

(^ Will take a few minutes to finish Processing :))

Edit: cheers for posting the transcript, dark7angel!

Shaikh
19th May 2012, 17:47
They pick my question and Meagan pronounced my name, though in a little bit different way. But Yahoo.
http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gif http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gif http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gif http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gif

http://www.shrani.si/f/3t/Wg/1u4ASXLM/3/carameldansenemotebycook.gif http://www.shrani.si/f/3t/Wg/1u4ASXLM/3/carameldansenemotebycook.gif http://www.shrani.si/f/3t/Wg/1u4ASXLM/3/carameldansenemotebycook.gif

Thanks to Meagan. :flowers:

TranceTrouble
19th May 2012, 17:56
updated the times thread with new episode :D

dark7angel
19th May 2012, 17:59
Thanks, Driber!!! :D Listening to it now!!!

LadyRufina
19th May 2012, 18:12
That was very assuring :) Just over two weeks and we get a butt load of info about the new game. I can't wait. i'm so happy that TR is gonna stand up against all the AAA titles once again where it belongs :D

Driber
19th May 2012, 18:23
updated the times thread with new episode :D

:thumb:

TranceTrouble
19th May 2012, 18:27
awesome episode, its good that they only focused on the shifted released date this time:D
enjoyed you guys answering the questions, looking forward to next one :)

MeaganMarie
19th May 2012, 18:27
They pick my question and Meagan pronounced my name, though in a little bit different way. But Yahoo.
http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gif http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gif http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gif http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gif

http://www.shrani.si/f/3t/Wg/1u4ASXLM/3/carameldansenemotebycook.gif http://www.shrani.si/f/3t/Wg/1u4ASXLM/3/carameldansenemotebycook.gif http://www.shrani.si/f/3t/Wg/1u4ASXLM/3/carameldansenemotebycook.gif

Thanks to Meagan. :flowers:

Haha. I'm so sorry I didn't pronounce it right! I went back and forth trying to figure it out.

I'm working at getting the podcast up on the blog - I'm just waiting for the transcription doc to be hosted so people can download it. Looks like you guys already have it handled here, though.

What did you think of the podcast? I know it's short, but did it answer your questions properly?

FearEffectInferno
19th May 2012, 18:47
I'm just waiting for the transcription doc to be hosted so people can download it.

:flowers::flowers::flowers:http://e.deviantart.net/emoticons/t/tighthug.gif

Shaikh
19th May 2012, 19:05
Haha. I'm so sorry I didn't pronounce it right! I went back and forth trying to figure it out.

I'm working at getting the podcast up on the blog - I'm just waiting for the transcription doc to be hosted so people can download it. Looks like you guys already have it handled here, though.

What did you think of the podcast? I know it's short, but did it answer your questions properly?

Its OK. I love the way you say it actually. :D Here we don't pronounce it like She-ikh, its actually Sha-ikh. No big deal. :D

I must say this is one of the best podcast. No unwanted stuffs there. :p From first to last it was awesome. Yes my question answered properly as you say. Thanks again. :)

Just one question Meagan, will you do multiple special E3 podcast this year as well like previous year? I loved those episodes, everyone was so exciting. :)

Driber
19th May 2012, 19:12
^ That would get my vote, too :cool:

TranceTrouble
19th May 2012, 20:29
Great idea, let's make it happen :D

LadyRufina
19th May 2012, 20:33
I third that. There'll be so much to talk about and I'd love to see how CD thought it all went.

dark7angel
19th May 2012, 22:52
I fourth that! ;P

And just a suggestion: what about video instead of podcasts for E3?!?! :D

Shaikh
20th May 2012, 05:43
I want all the podcast to be video. GameInformer sometimes do interviews this way, not podcast though. :)

Metalrocks
20th May 2012, 12:48
i also think it would be nice to to have videos instead of an podcast of the interviews.

we all have asked lots of questions throughout these months.
will you ask our questions, which havent been answered in the older podcasts, during the E3? would be nice to get them answered. :)

Lukass
20th May 2012, 16:40
People will never be pleased huh? Why ON EARTH one would need a video podcast? They don't have to make any, it's Meagan's good will and she have to put a lot of effort in it even if it's "just" an audio podcast.

LadyRufina
20th May 2012, 16:48
It's just a harmless suggestion, Lukass. It not like they asked CD to stab themselves in the eyes :rolleyes:

Driber
20th May 2012, 17:22
Nothing wrong with posting suggestions, folks :)

MeaganMarie
21st May 2012, 17:37
I'd really like to do the E3 podcasts again this year! To be honest it will be a bit difficult, as I'm going to be tied up most of the show on a semi-secret community project I'll be ready to talk about this week.

But seeing that you guys are really interested, I'll mull it over. I'd have to keep them short, but it could be doable!

dark7angel
21st May 2012, 17:44
^You are the BEST, Meagan!!!! :D

Shaikh
22nd May 2012, 06:50
Meagan is the best. :D

Wonder what is that "semi-secret community project" is!

Driber
22nd May 2012, 18:40
...I can assure you, it's something really awesome, sir ;)

Oops!

http://driber.net/os/penguins-of-madagascar_skipper_you-didnt-see-anything.png

heh :D

LadyRufina
22nd May 2012, 19:16
Is it TR related? I'd guess so seeing as Meagan is the Community Manager...

MeaganMarie
22nd May 2012, 19:29
Is it TR related? I'd guess so seeing as Meagan is the Community Manager...

Yep! TR-related! I'm almost ready to share it with you guys. I've been working on it for a few months now, as a means of helping ensure TR fans feel like they've got inside access and representation at E3. You'll see what I mean in a few days. :)

LadyRufina
22nd May 2012, 19:36
Argh! I'm so excited. You guys really know how to cater to your fan-base :D

L3ggy
22nd May 2012, 20:25
Very interested, I am.

TranceTrouble
22nd May 2012, 20:42
...I can assure you, it's something really awesome, sir ;)

Oops!

http://driber.net/os/penguins-of-madagascar_skipper_you-didnt-see-anything.png

heh :D

you shouldnt keep king Julien waiting :D
http://lisadiakova.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/king-julien-whoareyou.jpg

Shaikh
23rd May 2012, 13:46
Argh! I'm so excited. You guys really know how to cater to your fan-base :D

Don't be super excited! It might come out as nothing but trolling. ;)

Driber
23rd May 2012, 13:54
lol @ TT :D

Ahhh....Shaikh, back to your pessimistic ways again, I see? :p

It really is something truly awesome, I wouldn't say it is otherwise.

But oh well, I guess you'll see with your own eyes in a few days :naughty:

LadyRufina
23rd May 2012, 14:07
come oooooooooon. Give us a little tip-off. No one has to know... :whistle:

Driber
23rd May 2012, 14:21
The hints are:

- It is for the TR community.
- It is awesome.
- It is in the works for several months.
- It is a means of helping ensure TR fans feel like they've got inside access and representation at E3.
- It is going to be revealed to the public in a few days.

If I say anything more without Meagan's consent, she might not be a happy bunny :whistle:

The only thing I can say - and I know Shaikh will love this :p - is this: SOON!

LadyRufina
23rd May 2012, 14:29
Is this for real TR fans or 'TR fans' that have suddenly become interested in TR? Is it like a competition?

Metalrocks
23rd May 2012, 14:35
for the community you say. hmmm, and its awesome?!
a real life lara croft included in the collectors edition :p

oops, i have a wife :mad2::nut:

seriously now.
it sounds all interesting and i will keep my eyes open here. sounds very promising. CD surly knows how to keep us on edge.

Driber
23rd May 2012, 14:43
*Lips tightly sealed*

Yes, keeping a close eye on the forum the next few days will be advisable ;)

L3ggy
23rd May 2012, 17:43
If I say anything more without Meagan's consent, she might not be a happy bunny :whistle:


Wouldn't want that, would we?

Timberley
24th May 2012, 12:25
*Lips tightly sealed*

Yes, keeping a close eye on the forum the next few days will be advisable ;)

[Jedi Mind Trick] You will reveal this information to us... *waves hand* [/Jedi Mind Trick]

:D

Tim

Shaikh
24th May 2012, 14:53
Ahhh....Shaikh, back to your pessimistic ways again, I see? :p

It really is something truly awesome, I wouldn't say it is otherwise.

But oh well, I guess you'll see with your own eyes in a few days :naughty:

We only got forum competition or something like that when Meagan said about being awesome stuff. That's why not getting my hopes high. But seeing its so close to E3, this time it might be a real treat. ;)


The hints are:

- It is for the TR community.
- It is awesome.
- It is in the works for several months.
- It is a means of helping ensure TR fans feel like they've got inside access and representation at E3.
- It is going to be revealed to the public in a few days.

If I say anything more without Meagan's consent, she might not be a happy bunny :whistle:

The only thing I can say - and I know Shaikh will love this :p - is this: SOON!

I guess it might be some way to show us CrystalD's E3 booth. Like maybe Meagan will sit in front of a webcam and show us live feed of E3. Might be going live stream via YouTube. UBISOFT also do that.

I hate that SOON word so far. But this time it is really very soon. Not going to hate it right at this stage. Ooh 11 days until E3. 7 days until a possible Tomb Raider trailer on GTTV on May 31st. Its so SOON. :D

Driber
24th May 2012, 15:04
One day less away from the announcement :whistle:

Metalrocks
24th May 2012, 15:39
dont worry shaikh. time flies by quicker then you think. it always sounds long but if oyu keep your mind on something else, you are suddenly holding the game in your hand and you tell your self how fast time can be. ;)

Driber
24th May 2012, 16:09
In fact, before you know it, you'll find yourself complaining about the lack of news on TR10 :lol:

Shaikh
24th May 2012, 17:01
OK. Not worrying MetalRocks. :) Nice sig BTW. :thumb:


One day less away from the announcement :whistle:

Goosebumps ready.



In fact, before you know it, you'll find yourself complaining about the lack of news on TR10 :lol:
10? :eek: This one is 9.

Klona13
24th May 2012, 17:37
10? :eek: This one is 9.

He's talking about how fast we'll get there to TR10 too. :p

Driber
25th May 2012, 10:09
^ Indeed ;)

@dark7angel: apologies for derailing your thread. If you'd like, I can move all the recent OT into a different thread :)

dark7angel
25th May 2012, 11:13
^No problem, Driber! It's fine by me! ;)

Driber
5th Jun 2012, 07:54
^ :)

---

First E3 2012 Podcast:

M0QhNrV-e70

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_e3_2012_episode1.mp3)

LARALOVERnr1
5th Jun 2012, 13:04
Yay, thank you Meagan! :D

Shaikh
5th Jun 2012, 13:39
A very good podcast. Thanks Meagan. Hope to listen more of them in next three days. :)

dark7angel
5th Jun 2012, 13:54
^Indeed, this was really nice! Thanks for taking the time, Meagan! You rock!!! <3

Driber
22nd Jun 2012, 16:52
Podcast 11 is live, folks!

UscRoczHSj8

(still processing. will be up in a few minutes :))

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_11.mp3)

Driber
22nd Jun 2012, 17:13
Around the 6 min mark, it seems there's someone on the background busy with an electric sander.

Man, those devs are really committed.....even at E3 they were still polishing the game :lol:

Darkwoodsoftime
22nd Jun 2012, 17:28
thx for the Podcast Driber :) and they do seem really busy , they sure "sound" busy xD

Shaikh
22nd Jun 2012, 17:58
Thanks for the podcast Driber. :thumb: Downloading now. :)

Driber
22nd Jun 2012, 23:02
Does podcast #11 show up for you guys on this page (http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-crystal-habit./id447844486)?

TranceTrouble
23rd Jun 2012, 08:30
it does now, for me at least, states release date June 22 :)

Driber
6th Jul 2012, 08:34
Looks like the transcription of the latest podcast wasn't posted here yet, so......


Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 11


[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: E3 2012 Microsoft Press Conference Q&A

MEAGAN MARIE: Hello everyone, this is Meagan Marie, and we are on to the eleventh episode of the Crystal Habit podcast. So this podcast is a bit of a funny one, because it’s an amalgamation of content from E3, our official forum community ambassador at the show, and then an in-studio interview with Crystal executive producer SCOT Amos about new IP, which is very exciting. Because some of the content was recorded at the E3 show floor and some on the phone and some in person, I apologize for the varying degrees of audio quality. However, I think the content, which essentially boils down to a slew of awesome Q&A sessions, makes up for the quality. So, to set up this first segment, this clip was recorded with Karl, Kyle, Brian, and myself at E3, directly after the Microsoft press conference. Some of you may have already heard this little mini-episode during the show. But basically, we followed up on the Microsoft presentation, where Darrell and Daniel showcased content later on in Lara’s growth into a hero, and kind of gave a taste of how intelligence and resourcefulness will play into combat in the game. I hope you enjoy the show!

[Musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: Today we have a really exciting thing to talk about. I have Karl here with me…

KARL STEWART: Yo yo!

MEAGAN MARIE: I have Kyle Peschel…

KYLE PESCHEL: Yo… PE-schel.

MEAGAN MARIE: You’ve been on the podcast before. PE-schel. I always say Pe-SCHEL, because I make it all fancy.

KARL STEWART: Peschkel! Peschkel!

MEAGAN MARIE: And then we have Brian Horton.

BRIAN HORTON: Hey, guys.

MEAGAN MARIE: You have an easy last name. So! How was this morning? Was it nerve-wracking, was it exciting? Unfortunately, Darrell’s not able to be on the podcast, he was up on stage, and so we don’t have somebody who was actually up on stage, but Karl, you were behind the scenes, and you guys were front row, so what was the mood like, showing off the game?

BRIAN HORTON: I was as nervous as they were, I’m assuming.

MEAGAN MARIE: So nervous.

BRIAN HORTON: But, you know, I felt confident of the product we were going to show. But you never know. Anything can go wrong in a live demo, right?

KYLE PESCHEL: Yeah. That’s why it’s live, right? That’s part of the thrill of it.

KARL STEWART: That’s why we had somebody back there, just in case something went wrong…

MEAGAN MARIE: Just in case. But nothing did, it looked good.

KARL STEWART: It was good, it was wonderful.

MEAGAN MARIE: So, I mean, the reactions that we saw, I was monitoring the Twitter feeds, it exploded, we got global trending for “Lara Croft,” “Tomb Raider,” and “Crystal Dynamics,” which is very exciting.

KYLE PESCHEL: That’s amazing, right?

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah. It was wonderful. We’ve been hearing great things from community, from press, from other industry peers, so it’s very exciting to have been a part of the Microsoft demo again. We opened up the community thread on the forums to allow people to ask some questions about the demo…

KARL STEWART: Oh dear.

MEAGAN MARIE: So… Some of them are going to be a little bit tougher questions, because our community is always the toughest on us…

KARL STEWART: Brian, you can take all of these.

MEAGAN MARIE: The way it should be. But here’s an easy one, we’ll start with something super easy, okay?

KARL STEWART: Yes, the name of the game is Tomb Raider.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes. We’ve established… I think we’ve established that fact, if anything.

KYLE PESCHEL: Oh, wait, I’m in the wrong room… [laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: So LaraLover asks, how far into the game was the demo that we showed?

KARL STEWART: Ah… Approximately a third of the way. But… That depends on how you play the game I suppose.

BRIAN HORTON: It was pretty far in. Really, what we wanted to show is a sneak peek of where Lara will go, right?

KARL STEWART: Yeah. It’s a peppering, an example of where we’re going to take her.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, that’s good. I think people recognized that there was quite a jump from the footage we showed in the trailer to this awesome bad-ass Lara. But more on that… I’m going to follow the easy question with a really difficult one. What is a timed exclusive, when it comes to DLC? And why are we announcing DLC this far in advance?

KARL STEWART: It’s exactly that. A timed exclusive. So… We were excited to make the announcement that we are actually making DLC, but at this stage, it’s very far out, right? We kinda have an idea of what we want to do, but our focus is on the single-player. So we’ll talk about it closer to the date. Right now there’s no more information to be had on that, and you cannot pry it out of me, even over a drink later.

MEAGAN MARIE: Putting your stake down. But you can say, I mean, we’re emphasizing the timed exclusive, so…

KARL STEWART: It is timed, and that’s pretty much all we can say on that. It’s still very early to be talking in any depth whatsoever.

MEAGAN MARIE: More details to come.

KARL STEWART: More details to come.

MEAGAN MARIE: Following up on the second question I had, if we’re trying to make Lara a bit more believable, why is she so aggressive in this portion of the demo? Did you maybe want to expand on that, Brian, since you had a…

BRIAN HORTON: Yeah, I think what we want to do is to show that Lara’s been pushed. A lot of what we’re trying to establish here is continuing the story that we started last year, right? Where she is a believable person, she’s in an unreal situation. And she has to fight to survive. This is our moment where she goes from reaction to action. Like I said, the demo that we just showed was sort of a sneak peek of where she’ll go in the future. It’s purely because these… The people there that she’s dealing with are brutal killers. She has to use equivalent force. It’s all going to be justified in the arc, and you’re going to see more as we show you guys more. We’ll… More details to come.

MEAGAN MARIE: The behind-closed-doors demo that we’re going to show this week to the ambassadors this week is really, I think, going to help…

KYLE PESCHEL: Piece it together.

MEAGAN MARIE: Piece it together, yeah. I think that you guys are… You as in the community listening are going to get a lot of an idea of that progression and that arc when you see it. So that’s exciting. LaraLover also asks, will Lara have unlimited arrows, and will she be able to use weapons from slain enemies?

KYLE PESCHEL: Can you survive with unlimited arrows? I don’t know…

BRIAN HORTON: No, we don’t have unlimited arrows.

KYLE PESCHEL: We don’t have unlimited arrows.

KARL STEWART: That’d be a crazy thing to have…

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s part of the scavenging…

BRIAN HORTON: That’d be making our survival game a little harder…

KYLE PESCHEL: There’s a finite amount of resources, right? So you have to fuel some of your exploration. Like when I’m off in the edges of a village or something and I’m finding things, I’m a little more excited when I’m like, woo-hoo, these are some arrows, sweet, I know what I’m going to be able to do with these. And so… It all kinda ties together to the arc that we’re putting together, right? On that journey, she’s starting to find some of those resources. That’s why she’s a resourceful character, that’s what we’re bringing to the table…

MEAGAN MARIE: She knows what to look for…

KYLE PESCHEL: Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: This is actually one that people got super excited about, I’m happy that people picked up on this. Can you expand upon the AI? They actually really liked the creative shooting, how Daniel showed that you shot them in the knee and then they went down by the knee. Is that something… I know we can’t go into too much detail, but is that something that we’re going to continue to see?

KARL STEWART: At this stage… As mentioned, that’s just a vision of what we’re going to do in the future. We’re not going to be going into detail or any great scope as to what they were looking at, what they saw, and what it means. Um… Our focus for this E3 really is to show this behind-closed-doors, sort of… The first kill. What makes her get to that stage. It’s very important that we know where she’s going, but it’s the journey and getting there that’s equally as important.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, so we have A Big House… This is one of the larger concerns of the community, and again, I think once we get the ambassadors in here this week, it’s really going to be cleared up. What we showed in the trailer and what we showed in this demo is somewhat more linear. Are we going to allow for some freedom of exploration for the player, or is it a lot of linear, scripted moments?

KYLE PESCHEL: I’ll address that. A lot of what we showed today was, in the interests of time… We wanted to make sure that people understood and saw something exciting. But our aims are still the same. We want to have moments where Lara is going to be able to go off-path and explore, exploration is a big part of our tenets and our goals in the title.

BRIAN HORTON: Yeah, we spent a lot of time building real estate that we really want people to go check out.

MEAGAN MARIE: Show it off.

BRIAN HORTON: Yeah. When you’re on that Microsoft stage and they’re like, okay, you have five minutes… You know, you’re not going to be like…

KYLE PESCHEL: Here’s where I chose to go to the right.

BRIAN HORTON: Yeah.

KARL STEWART: You have to truncate the experience quite a lot in order to make it work in six minutes.

MEAGAN MARIE: For the trailer we wanted to really show a strong narrative, we wanted to show that character arc. And then with a limited amount of time that you had on the stage for the demo, it’s more about showing the action and highlighting the combat. So just because we’re not necessarily showing that…the lengthier demo, that has the freedom of exploration, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

KARL STEWART: So trust us! We’ll be talking about hub systems for so long… Trust us, they’re there, it’s not the linear game that you think it is.

MEAGAN MARIE: So I know that we’re not going to be able to answer these, but I’m going to just ask them so that he knows that I did actually ask them. How many weapons can Lara carry? Is there XP from killing? And will wolves be the only animals that Lara can hunt, or that attack her, rather? We’re going to go into combat more later. Those are all very, very specific…

KARL STEWART: Yeah. There are too many things at this early stage to be commenting on…

BRIAN HORTON: Think about it this way. It’s summer, right, guys? Christmas is coming. Right? You get excited about it, you put your Christmas list together, and then we’ll be able to reveal more later.

MEAGAN MARIE: So those will all be answered at some point in time.

All: Yeah.

KARL STEWART: Gonna dress up as Santa Claus?

MEAGAN MARIE: But I just wanted them to know that we did ask…

BRIAN HORTON: I will, if I keep going at this rate…

KARL STEWART: Okay, so you hear it now, Brian Horton’s going to dress up as Santa Claus for one of our podcasts.

MEAGAN MARIE: I will take pictures and put them on the blog.

KARL STEWART: And he’s going to go through your wishlists. Photographs to come.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright… Looking at it, we have more cover-based questions, stealth questions, all of that kind of stuff, I suppose all along the same lines… One little clarification question. Who is Lara talking to in the demo when she hears somebody over the radio?

KYLE PESCHEL: She says a name.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. Could nobody hear?

MEAGAN MARIE: Who is she…? No, people have picked up on Sam, and they really like her, but what can we say? I know it’s very limited, about Sam…

[long pause]

BRIAN HORTON: Sam’s a very important…

KARL STEWART: Ha! I was waiting for the silence, I was going to go, “that much.”

BRIAN HORTON: Sam’s very important to the story. All we can say at this point is, she’ll play an integral role in your adventure. That’s all we can say at this point.

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s better that you find out the right way, more about Sam. Having experienced it myself.

KARL STEWART: We don’t want to spoil stuff, we don’t want to keep… I love getting the questions and I love being able to sit here and answer them with you, but there is a point in time where, you know, it feels like if we were to answer every single thing, we’ve just spoiled the entire game for you. So…

MEAGAN MARIE: Absolutely.

KARL STEWART: We have to be very careful that we tailor our messaging at the right time.

KYLE PESCHEL: And Karl loves to tease.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. You know, that’s kinda part of the journey. We want everybody to enjoy the game. If we were to turn around and say, oh, XYZ happens at the end of the game, you’d be like, okay, fine, not interested in playing it now. Like, really? And do they really want to know the information? Do they want to…?

MEAGAN MARIE: I think that for a game that’s so much about mystery, and this island has so much mystery to it, there’s definitely going to be a point where, well, we’re just not going to say anything else. Because you have to experience it. We wouldn’t want to ruin the fun for people.

KARL STEWART: Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: Last question, this isn’t strictly to the trailer, but I wanted to ask it, because it’s something that we’ve been getting a lot of this morning. FearEffect asks, “10 Hours?”

KARL STEWART: 10 hours is the goal that we’ve set, to say that you could play the game in… That’s not replayability and it’s not all the other fun stuff, so in terms of the 10-hour thing, you have to put a number around it. We’re not going to lie and say it’s 16 hours plus or it’s five hours… You have to put a number around it. And all of our testing comes in around the 10-hour mark.

KYLE PESCHEL: Yeah, I haven’t read some of the most recent reports, but I mean… You want a meaty game, you want an adventure that tells that character arc, that goes through that hero’s journey. And we will hit the mark that allows us to tell the quality level that we want, about what she’s enduring and what perseverance looks like when she hits that woman versus nature element.

MEAGAN MARIE: But there is going to be variance in play depending on your play style?

BRIAN HORTON: Absolutely.

KARL STEWART: Of course.

KYLE PESCHEL: We’ve already had the focus testers we had to kick out of the building, right?

KARL STEWART: And there’s the people who are completionists, and that’s always a thing…

BRIAN HORTON: If you’re an explorer, you’re going to find a lot of game in there.

MEAGAN MARIE: I find people like Brent just plowing through the campaign when he’s playing it, and then an hour later I’m still in the exact same spot. Because I’m like, I wanna go up here, I wanna look over here…

KARL STEWART: That’s the difference. Everybody has a different type of play style. So we have to get the aggregate and say… If you bring in X amount of people to play it and they decide to sit there and just play the game from start to finish in their own style, we have to find a benchmark of what we’re aiming towards. I think compared to many action-adventure games, single-player… 10 hours is pretty good. I’ve played a lot of single-player games and gotten through them in five and a half or six hours, and I feel like… Wow, that wasn’t very long at all. I think before you add in replayability and being able to go back into the hub spaces and re-traverse them, straight playthrough, I think 10 hours is awesome.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, thank you for clarifying that. And thank you all for coming in, I know I’m holding you guys back from some important duties in the booth, which I’m actually going to show off right after this, I’m going to go run around and take pictures of this booth, because it is amazing this year, it is huge.

KYLE PESCHEL: It’s great.

BRIAN HORTON: It is large.

MEAGAN MARIE: So much bigger than last year. So we’ll have lots of pictures and other updates on the blog tonight, but thank you, guys, for popping in and clarifying some of these questions.

KARL STEWART: No problem, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

KYLE PESCHEL: Thanks for listening, guys.

BRIAN HORTON: Thanks, everyone. ‘Bye.

[Musical interlude]





[B]Segment 2: E3 2012 Eidos Forum Ambassador Q&A

MEAGAN MARIE: This next clip comes from an interview between Chip Henson, who was our official Eidos forum ambassador for E3, and Karl Stewart. Let me first say, though, that the entire community ambassador experience was completely unforgettable. After the initial stress from flight delays and so on dissipated, my stress, I don’t think it was their stress… The group had a great time, and represented the larger Tomb Raider fandom very well. They didn’t cut corners when it came to tough questions and I think they posed inquiries that long-time fans really cared about.

There was this moment when we all met in a lobby for the first time, on Wednesday morning, that I was taken aback, because so many pillars of the Tomb Raider community were in the same place at the same time, it was a really cool moment. So I wanted to say thank you again to them, thank you for making the trip and thank you for making this my most memorable E3 ever. Now, on to the clip!

I especially apologize for the audio quality in this one, you can hear breakfast plates clanking around in the background during the 8AM interview. But a private meeting room wasn’t available at the time, so we conducted our interviews out in the open. Without further hesitation, here’s Chip and Karl.

CHIP HENSON: What pros and cons that you considered at the initial stage of production did you cut out or limit versus where you've come considerable further in the game?

KARL STEWART: When looking at the origin we actually stayed very close to the Lara Croft we have. We had from previous Legend universe and Underworld's, in the pros and cons where it we were taking it from a game that was predominant about puzzles into this survival based. Wanting to get to know the character, laying new foundations and we realized very quickly that we needed to move away from the Lara that we had of yesteryear and move into this new space because we couldn't portray and we couldn’t bring the same level of depth, grounding of a character by using who we had and that was a hard one. That was a big decision to make for us because after 15 years of Lara kind of evolving along that same stream, to kind of break away and say right now that, as our history book says, our Lara Croft of yesteryear but this is a new vision. You know the pros and cons where we were losing something that was identifiable, that was ours and it became very iconic.

What the pros were, we were to go into a space were we could now bring a new level of emotion that we never had before, so it was actually very hard. It was a tough decision and with that then the pros and cons came across into areas such as the rating. When we decided to go for that realistic approach of grounding a character, of bringing her on this zero to hero journey we also realized we couldn’t do that with kid gloves. We couldn’t just treat the sort of idea of survival with a T rating that you get to a situation where you know it naturally play out a particular way then you would have to tapper it off and make it feel like worked inside a T rating. We realized quickly that the cons were we could not deliver the experience, the pros were going into a M space would allow us to do that but then the cons were your going into an M space and you have to take a lot more things into consideration such as your audience when you come out with a game where it can and can't be shown what M means. A lot of people think that M means that it is just gratuitous violence and naughty language. To us, presenting an M rated game in the way in which we are, in that it's about bringing you closer to an experience and feel the realism. That took a lot of explanation as well. So it was a lot of pros and cons. Not just in the decision to move away from the older Lara Croft but also in the decision to re-imagine the game. What does that mean, it was a pretty big undertaking.

CHIP HENSON: Where there any “Ah Hah!” moments that you had?

KARL STEWART: Yeah, the bow. The bow was something that from the very first few concept sketches, we started putting the bow in and the then creative Director Tim Longo had started sort of casting the story and thinking about what the bow and really there was an Ah Hah! Moment when we started to see it on screen. To see Lara using this new piece of equipment. That she is always known to have her twin pistols, to all the sudden start firing this and for us to see it being used in a particular way. It was a real Ah Hah! Moment. It is one that we are very very proud and very happy that we got to continue it because bows are sexy.

CHIP HENSON: Is Lara still an aristocrat? Does she have a similar background to the past games?

KARL STEWART: So one of the things we tried to do with this is... Two things.. One, veer away from the complexities from past Tomb Raiders so that you really feel like it's a day 1. She doesn’t come with too deep a back story or any baggage you feel will take you into a space where you start going “Oh, I remember the mansion” or “I remember blah blah blah”. What we are trying to do is keep certain elements of what made Lara Croft, Lara Croft and her history but also move it to a place where it's relevant for today. And again it's gets back to the Batman (please see Ambassador Group Q&A) idea. You looked at how Batman and his back story was portrayed in the earlier movies. You look at the Michael Keaton Batman, who he was then you move into this new Batman. You still see tenants of what makes his character unique but he is not portrayed in the exact same way. There are certain things about who he is that don’t have to meet Ra's al Ghul on Mongolian boarders and having to fight to become the person he is. They moved his character in a slightly different way but it still feels like its on the same vain, so for us we tried to look at Lara and make her feel like you still have familiarity with her. You still feel like yet I know a bit about her background as I play through the game but we are not going to use the literal sense of here she has all this money, She is from this lineage of family.To us right now you don't really need to have to have that along for the ride to experience the emotion we portray. So you will start to see certain things come through but what I will say, She right now is not the person she once was. She didn't pay to be on this journey, She didn't buy the ship, she didn't cast the crew. She just wants to be likeeverybody else. She wants to be accepted and she wants to be a part of the team and that's a Lara which we've never really seen before. We'll see her strengths play out but you have to start at a point where you feel she's grounded before you can take her to a place she becomes an identifiable strong character.

CHIP HENSON: Can you tell something about secondary characters, apart from Conrad, and their involvement with Lara and the plot? Without giving too much away.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, I think it is very important you come across and talk to these characters in game, understand their story and see 2 things. One, who they are, giving them weight and relevance. The other side is helping expand your knowledge of Lara because she will interact and talk to these in very different ways and as a result of that you get to see a side you haven't seen before. You get to realize that she can operate and talk in many different levels to different people. She knows who they are and their attributes and that's something we haven't seen before. An interesting one is Whitman. You know, Whitman is the, you know this adventurer and explorer who has done this for a long time. He's a seasoned pro but he's also, as you can see, become somewhat arrogant and Lara just doesn't have much time for him in a way, you know. She talks to him like, you know, get real. We don't want to become killers like these guys on the island, these scavengers and also when he's like... she says I need to get more salvage to make my pickaxe stronger, he is like “okay then”.You can see where that is going. You can see he is the type of person that is only in it for himself and as a result you will start to see how Lara's.. her interaction for instance when they are attacked she says “don't, you have a gun, don't put it down. What are you doing” and he is more interested in “take me to your leader. I want to talk to the head guy here”. She's like “your crazy” so as a result you start to see a side of Lara play out because of her interaction with these characters. Whitman is an exciting one. I want to do more with Whitman. I want to try to expand him a little bit and maybe before the game because he is somebody that has some very unique facets to his character. It is going to be fun playing him out a little bit more.

CHIP HENSON: This Tomb Raider seems more serious and realistic than previous games.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, without a doubt. It certainly is.

CHIP HENSON: Will this reflect in the storyline?

KARL STEWART: Yes, yeah, with out a doubt. You will feel the realism of the story line like you haven't in many other games and I think it is a product of its time. I think we're exposed to a lot more depth and plot and emotion in TV's and movies and videogames today than we have ever been and as a result people have an expectation when they pick up a piece of entertainment medium and engage with it. We know now that there is a varying degree of levels of expectation and a great analogy of this that videogames is like Las Vegas. You can go to Las Vegas and play many different games. Some games suit you more than others and certainly with Tomb Raider we're trying to bring very specific emotion and feeling to the player and I think it is something we are struggling very hard to achieve.

CHIP HENSON: So no T-Rex moments?

KARL STEWART: No T-Rex moments.

CHIP HENSON: Why call it just “Tomb Raider”? Are you concerned about confusing it with the original?

KARL STEWART: No. I think we thought long and hard about this. A fresh entry point to the franchise means so much. It means more than just making sure that from a fans standpoint or from players that who played the original and hold it in high regard. You know that was 15 years ago. We know that was a product of its time and that was a very strong game when it came out. It stood the test of time for so long that now when we come out with this Tomb Raider, audiences have moved on. A very large percentage of the audience fully never played a Tomb Raider game so our concern was if you give it a tag line, at what point do you start to actually confuse the new players because they feel it's just another part of the series. So to us its the day 1. If your going to go with day 1, it's literally just that. I think on top of that Christopher Nolen stole Begins.He used it so we couldn't say Tomb Raider Begins *laugh* you know, but ultimately what we are trying to say is that this is the beginning. This is day 1 and that we want people to understand this is not a continuation of any. So it was a risk but I think it is paying off. People understand it.

CHIP HENSON: Now where into the gameplay portion. Is the new Tomb Raider going to be a completely open-world?

KARL STEWART: Uh, no. It is not a completely open world. We tried to make that clear. I think our communication of our hub system has maybe confused people a little bit and the best way for me to explain it is that we want the player to be able to explore, we want the player to be able to follow the story line. You want the player to be immersed into this sort of experience and to do that tell a linear story of sorts. You have to have the player go from A to B to C. To build an open world game would make it very hard to say you got to be at the beach to capture the next piece because you can do what you want. It's a very different game having Assassins Creed open world game vs Tomb Raider emotional story driven game. So for us we built these hub systems and the hub systems allow us to be able to enlarge spaces and give the player freedom to move around but also allow us to have connectors that take you to the next part of the game and have this larger hub system so you can explore. So we have these systems all over the island that are the major locations but you wouldn't be able to say I'm going to walk from here to the north of the island to the south of the island and east and west. You will still have to play along that narrative to make sure we keep you in the experience.

CHIP HENSON: Do Lara's weapons deteriorate over-time meaning that she will have to find/make new ones?

KARL STEWART: They actually get stronger because she has to salvage to improve them so what you are going to see is thatshe gets the very bare-bones, the very basics to be able to survive and then she will start to improve and upgrade those as we go through. I don't want to spoil it because that’s part of one of our next big communications is what that means to the player. She starts with very little as she gets more and more and gets stronger as she goes on.

CHIP HENSON: Without giving too much away, will there be and vehicles on the island for Lara to use?

KARL STEWART: Yeah, no there’s no, unfortunately there is no vehicles. By chance in the trailer you saw that the helicopter. That's pretty much the only moving thing, only moving vehicle on the islands. Even the plane that we showed in the trailer, the plane that came in that looks like it crashed. Not much moves.

CHIP HENSON: So she's going to be hoofing it?

KARL STEWART: [laughs] Yeah.

CHIP HENSON: Is Lara's carrying capacity limited?

KARL STEWART: No, she carries a lot. You'll see some very umm very big scenes play out that will bring you a side of Lara that you've never expected and I have to be careful because it is probably one of the most iconic moments is when you see how she cares for something. That is a big deal to us because that shows something. That shows something that we've never seen in her before. It's very important.

CHIP HENSON: Does the Jade necklace play a role in the story or is it just for show?

KARL STEWART: This jade necklace is something we toyed around with quite a lot is to try and figure out how it played a part and it does play a part. It's not an integral part of the story but it has some symbolic value that you will see start to play through so we've had it in and out of in render out render. It's notan asset or an element that you will feel “Oh my god. I needed to know how she got that” but certainly there is a story behind it and we will flesh it out.

[Musical interlude]







Segment 3: New EP and New IP


MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, so for our next segment of the podcast, I’m very excited, because we have someone new here. I was going to say we have a fresh face, but it’s more of a fresh voice. So hello Scot…

SCOT AMOS: Hi!

MEAGAN MARIE: First and foremost, who are you, and what are you doing here on the podcast? What are we talking about?

SCOT AMOS: Well, it’s great to be here, I’m Scot Amos, I’m an executive producer here at Crystal, just freshly minted about a year ago, about April of last year when I joined on. So… It’s very great to be part of the podcast.

MEAGAN MARIE: And so you’re an executive producer. What do you do here at Crystal?

SCOT AMOS: Pretty much… The fun thing about executive producer, I get to set the vision, the broad scope of what the product’s going to be, and then pull all the talent together and let them go crazy making a great game. So at the end of the day, I really facilitate everything that they need to be successful. It’s awesome, I get to work with Darrell, figure out a business strategy, get to work with Square and figure out what’s the right thing for our company, and then put a team of people together and say, go make a cool game.

MEAGAN MARIE: We’ll touch on the team later, because that seems like a very exciting part, kind of cherry-picking your dream team… But first, what is your history in the industry? What were the things that made you shine? We’ll let you brag about yourself a little bit, coming over here to Crystal…

SCOT AMOS: I appreciate that. I don’t really like bragging about myself all that much, I don’t think that’s fair, but… 20 years, almost 21 years now I’ve been in the industry, actually. So I started very early in QA of all things, I came out of… I lived on the east coast and moved out to California to work at Sierra On-Line, back in the day when Leisure Suit Larry and Police Quest and those kind of games. Actually going to work for them as a QA guy, and specifically they’d just started an online network at that point, at the time it was the Sierra Network, it became the ImagiNation Network, it was the first direct-dial, login, 2400-baud modem, paying long-distance phone calls and monthly service fees just to get online and play games with each other. It was one of those worlds… It was just the coolest job ever, and I got to go from being a QA guy to being a designer and an engineer. All the way up through to eventually getting to be a producer.

I crossed a couple of different companies, from our own startup company we had making games for people, worked at Accolade during the Test Drive and Star Control days, and then I got to go to Atari, even where the coin-op division was, and then we had Midway as well. Got to work with some great industry veterans, like the guys who invented Gauntlet, the guys who invented Asteroids and Centipede, just amazing history. And all of that stuff was really the transition when I went from PC games, and one of the first console games I did back at Accolade, into Midway, where we started working with Nintendo on the N64 and the Game Boy. I’ve made a game for pretty much every console that existed. At the end of the day, with Midway… I’d moved down to their studio in San Diego and moved back to Maxis, that’s when I joined the EA world. That was about eight years ago. I got to work four years on the Maxis side of the house with all the Sims products, and then before joining Crystal, I was at Visceral Games, I was part of the studio where we had everything from Simpsons and Godfather to Dead Space and Dante’s Inferno and all that stuff.

MEAGAN MARIE: That was exciting, hearing about the work at Visceral was definitely a selling point, I know. So specifically with your job here at Crystal, Crystal is known for creating or working on very high-profile franchises throughout the last 20 years. So why was the decision made to start fresh, rather than revisit an established property?

SCOT AMOS: I think it’s an interesting combination of both Square’s perspective and Crystal’s perspective. Seeing the studio and what they’ve done, they have a pantheon of great properties, if you just look through the history of all the games that they’ve made and that they have, and that they still have… They’re even, as you know, doing some very new versions of those games. But saying, we have all these great IP, now is a great time, looking at what’s coming in the future, what’s coming up in the console space, what’s going to be happening next… Let’s start now, with a blank page. We take that kind of bold step of, let’s make something new, something where we don’t already have a finger in that particular pool, and let’s try, from scratch, to make a new game with all of our abilities and skills. What would be a new great experience for our future?

MEAGAN MARIE: So then, you have obviously worked on new IP before, because I can imagine that it’s both liberating and overwhelming. You have limitless opportunities to explore. So what most excites you about new IP, and what most challenges you?

SCOT AMOS: It’s a good question, because for sure, working with licenses has both that… You have a canon of data that you can work from. Working on something as big as the Simpsons and saying, wow, there’s all this stuff, 20 years of history at that time, you can draw from it and say, how do you get that experience and deliver it as a game? Working from a blank page, and literally saying, we can do anything, we can do something that’s completely off-the-wall and that nobody’s ever heard of, we can go make up mechanics and be completely innovative and inventive… Problem is, if you go too far away from what people are familiar with, one of the phrases we use a lot is “fresh and familiar.” Where something is similar enough that, oh, I understand that, I’ve seen something like that. Immediately, people can get bought into it and say, I kind of expect a certain type of experience. And then you put a couple of really unique twists on top. Like, oh, I haven’t seen anybody combine these types of mechanics or this type of world with that type of system. And you start putting a little bit of that new, fresh face on top of something familiar, and you get people hooked. So I think… Trying to take what you know, build on top of that, and then take something that they don’t expect and just blow them away.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, so… What, then, can we say about this new project? I know it’s not going to be much, because we haven’t announced it yet…

SCOT AMOS: We haven’t, no, that’s absolutely right. So we’re still very much in the early throes of creating both the team and this product. But certainly from a conceptual level, we’re on a path that we’re very happy with. We can’t go into details, as you said, until we actually announce it. But if you look at what we just showed at E3 for Tomb Raider, you get a sense of the kind of experience and expertise that this company and this studio has. The kind of things that the talent, the tech, and the tools can do. Being able to take that and leverage that into a future product, again, an original world, original script, all new content, all kinds of new mechanics… But taking that as a starting base gives us a huge advantage for making a new game. Honestly, that’s as much as I can say right now.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Well, that’s enough for now. It’s a teaser. So… Do you have any developmental models or new industry trends that you’re eying that are kind of factoring into the dev process while you’re working on this new IP?

SCOT AMOS: Yeah, certainly. Even talking with my own guys about what we play every day, because we’re gamers as much as we’re game developers. We play everything. But a new game comes out on any kind of tablet or smart device, for us, we all play it. We look at that and say, what does that do? When we look at consoles and what’s out there, we play those together and say… This world is evolving rapidly. You look at, from social to mobile to connected, as well as to the kind of hardcore triple-A experiences, we play all of that stuff, and we’re saying, how do we take that world and that idea and apply it to what we get to do from scratch as a new IP? What are the things we can blend together, how we play games and where we play games, into a new type of experience.

MEAGAN MARIE: What’s it like building a team from the ground up? Again, what are the disadvantages and the advantages of starting from scratch?

SCOT AMOS: I think the most advantageous thing for me is having that 21 years of history. I know a lot of people, a lot of different studios, from a lot of different experience. Being able to pool guys who’ve also been in the industry for 10 or 20 years and getting to work with these folks that I already know understand what it takes to make a great game. They know what triple-A looks like, they know what a high quality, 90 Metacritic game feels like, and how to make these online experiences. That’s one of the big advantages, pulling this talent together.

The disadvantages, certainly, with a new IP you really don’t know what you have until you have it. Being able to test it, focus test it, come up with it again, there are so many limitless possibilities. You’ve got to find ways to hem yourself in and say, here’s the sandbox for playing in, and then go ahead and craft and test that experience. So it’s definitely an interesting mix for us, with Crystal. We have so much great talent already here, we get to build a little bit of that new blood, old blood kind of mix, taking existing experienced developers that are already here and blending them with a bunch of new fresh faces and putting together a new team.

MEAGAN MARIE: I know you’re being modest, but I’m going to make you brag again… [laughs] Can you tell me a little bit about the team that you’ve already established, in terms of what their pedigree is? Not only in gaming, but entertainment.

SCOT AMOS: Well, that’s… Yeah, it’s interesting. Right now we’re a fairly small team, but frankly, looking at the leads themselves, we probably have a combined… I’d say 60 or 70 years of development experience, as far as the amount of different games and companies and studios we’ve been at. The amount of products, all of us have at least one or two, if not half a dozen or more, triple-A games. A few of us have 90 Metacritic games under our belts. So I have a great, rich history from that. We have people that have been in film, guys who’ve been in 15 years working with the greats, the Camerons and Spielbergs and Lucas and have been on those projects and have seen what it takes to make those kinds of great cinematic experiences, on the film model. And we have a bunch of guys from the top, crème de la crème of the company. Looking around, we do have some folks who’ve worked on great, known franchises, who’ve been at… Folks we know from Visceral, folks we know from Ubisoft or Naughty Dog. Some really rockstar people that we’ve managed to pull together to make something that I think they all believe is unique, which is why they’re here.

MEAGAN MARIE: Speaking of greats, we recently brought on Cory Barlog, correct? Do you get to work with him at all?

SCOT AMOS: It’s funny, actually. Cory and I met a couple of years ago, back at Visceral of all things, when we were talking about maybe getting together then. But at this point, sadly, no, he’s actually on a completely different IP. He is here at Crystal, I actually don’t even see him, he’s on the other side of the building somewhere.

MEAGAN MARIE: Wave every once in a while in passing…

SCOT AMOS: Once in a while we might pass each other in the coffee shop area, but at the same time, he’s on something else, so he’s not part of my new IP.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well then, I know it’s difficult because you are working on a new IP and it’s unannounced, it’s difficult to get specific with talent that you’re looking to recruit, so… Can you share anything in terms of qualifications or skills that you are looking for? Key positions that you’re looking to fill for the team, or anything along those lines?

SCOT AMOS: Sure. We’re really looking for the best and the brightest. I mean, who isn’t, in the overall industry? But from where we’re at, we want people who can say, hey, I either have the skills and the talent to come in here and say, I can take this to the next level of what that realistic fidelity should be, for art, for animation, for how characters move and run and walk… What the complexities are going to be like for the engine system, the requirements that we’re building on top of… We have a great proprietary tool chain and technology that guys who’ve worked on other very known, name-brand engines say, this is as good as anything I’ve ever worked with. We still need to upgrade that for the stuff we’re building going forward. We’re looking across the board, frankly, everywhere. From production methodologies and how you change dev plans and dev teams, all the way up to the engineering resources we need for that kind of next-level experience. At the end of the day, we’re still making triple-A experiences here. That’s a big deal for me, getting people who have that appetite and desire, who play them and then say, I want to be part of a team, from scratch, to make something that great. Because those opportunities are really rare right now in the industry.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, that leads in to my last question then. Without sounding too much like a sales pitch, what do you say to potential recruits, why should they join the team? What’s unique about the position and the opportunity that you’re offering here at Crystal?

SCOT AMOS: I think there’s a great set of things here for Crystal. Both the studio itself… Across all the studios I’ve been at, I’ve been at six-man startups, I’ve been at ten-thousand-person companies, being at Crystal feels like a family. It has this really great interconnectivity. A small enough place where you can really have a big voice. And I don’t really like to make roles and then have people fit into them. I prefer to hire people for their skills and have them define their own role. So right now is a great time to be part of this world at Crystal where you can say, I have four or five different things that I can do, I can come in and be a tech artist and a designer. Great, we’ll make a role for you and put you to work. We’re at an early enough point in this project, we’re trying to change a lot of things about how you make great games, how you make games for the future. Joining a team that has this much history and experience, this much legacy of stuff we’ve done and people we’ve worked with, it’s a great place to learn things that you may not have ever connected with, and be able to come in and try and test ideas that you haven’t gotten to do anywhere else. Because we’re really open to exploring new ways to make great products.

MEAGAN MARIE: So flexibility and ownership…

SCOT AMOS: Absolutely.

MEAGAN MARIE: That sounds fantastic. Okay, well thank you so much for stopping in. Like I said, it’s great to get someone new. I wonder sometimes, I mean… Karl and I, I hope people like us, but I feel like our voices might get annoying at some point. So thank you for stopping in and for talking about something new and exciting.

SCOT AMOS: Oh, it’s my absolute pleasure. We have so many other new guys on the team, I hope you get to rotate them into the podcast as well.

MEAGAN MARIE: We’ll do our best. Alright, thank you.

SCOT AMOS: My pleasure, thank you.

[Musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: And that is it for our podcast. Thank you for tuning in to our Frankenstein episode, featuring highlights from different facets of E3 and a new and exciting chat about IP, new IP here at the studio. If you’re looking for more information specifically on Tomb Raider, definitely keep your eyes on our official Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr feed, which is our blog, because we have a lot of new info and opportunities that will be popping up with San Diego Comic-Con just over the horizon. Thanks!

Shaikh
6th Jul 2012, 11:45
Chip asked Karl "Is Lara's carrying capacity limited?" But Karl answered like how Lara cares for other people. :lol: My poor question got picked up, but not answered properly. :o

Driber
10th Jul 2012, 19:55
I have to say I'm a little disappointed, guys :eek:

Before the latest podcast went live (#11) I made a request with Meagan, asking if the podcast could be encoded in 192kpbs this time. Up until that point, it always was 96 or so and every time I found the heavy compression such a waste of such nice content!

As I expected, when #11 was up, I instantly noticed a huge difference in the audio; Meagan's voice no longer had any compression distortion and also the musical interludes were MUCH more clear and vibrant than in all the previous podcasts. Yet I've seen not a single comment on this anywhere.

Now, are you folks telling me that no one has even noticed the difference?

Am I really the only audio purist here and did Meagan boosted the quality just for me? :p

TranceTrouble
10th Jul 2012, 22:13
I have to say I'm a little disappointed, guys :eek:

Before the latest podcast went live (#11) I made a request with Meagan, asking if the podcast could be encoded in 192kpbs this time. Up until that point, it always was 96 or so and every time I found the heavy compression such a waste of such nice content!

As I expected, when #11 was up, I instantly noticed a huge difference in the audio; Meagan's voice no longer had any compression distortion and also the musical interludes were MUCH more clear and vibrant than in all the previous podcasts. Yet I've seen not a single comment on this anywhere.

Now, are you folks telling me that no one has even noticed the difference?

Am I really the only audio purist here and did Meagan boosted the quality just for me? :p
no no Driner, i heard it to it definitely has a more clearer sound and i would like to hear the next episodes in the same quality(or better) as well. :D

dark7angel
10th Jul 2012, 22:25
Now that you mention it, I do remember thinking this last podcast sounded more clearer than the previous ones!!! :thumb:

Shaikh
11th Jul 2012, 06:57
To me, the final part of the podcast (segment 3) sounds clear and better. Too many lousy noises during the first segment (Meagan cleared it before why), and second segment wasn't much clear as well. But really enjoyed segment 3. Both Meagan and Scott Amos has nice voice and speaking skill. :)


no no Driner, i heard it to it definitely has a more clearer sound and i would like to hear the next episodes in the same quality(or better) as well. :D
:lol:

TranceTrouble
11th Jul 2012, 06:59
lol it's Driber ofcourse not Driner:p

Driber
11th Jul 2012, 07:06
Hmmm, looks like someone needs a lesson....

FQQpISIbUs4

:p :D


i would like to hear the next episodes in the same quality(or better) as well. :D

Meagan told me that they will be from now on! :) :thumb:

Metalrocks
11th Jul 2012, 07:56
i also have noticed the difference with the sound. much better now. dont have to turn up the speakers anymore.

what also would be nice if you can add some time description when things start. like, for e.g, at "3.45min" the community questions. "12.33min" the new lara, etc.

i just say this because the podcasts are very long and not everything in there is interesting.

Driber
11th Jul 2012, 08:06
^ If you don't want to listen to the entire podcasts (1 measly hour per month and you still have to skim? Seriously?) then there's the transcripts.

Shaikh
11th Jul 2012, 10:04
i also have noticed the difference with the sound. much better now. dont have to turn up the speakers anymore.

what also would be nice if you can add some time description when things start. like, for e.g, at "3.45min" the community questions. "12.33min" the new lara, etc.

i just say this because the podcasts are very long and not everything in there is interesting.

After the podcast finished last month, I asked myself why it finished so quick! :o Was really enjoying the podcast. :)

Metalrocks
11th Jul 2012, 10:28
^ If you don't want to listen to the entire podcasts (1 measly hour per month and you still have to skim? Seriously?) then there's the transcripts.

like i said. not everything is interesting to listen to and 1 hour is still long. thats why i basically read the transcript were i can read the stuff i want to know or sounds more interesting.

d1n0_xD
11th Jul 2012, 10:35
^ That's what I do too, all hail transcripts ^^

Driber
11th Jul 2012, 11:23
I don't think 1 hour is long, but I guess everything has to be quick quick short short nowadays :p

I myself always put podcasts (not just Crystal's) on my MP3 player and listen to them when I take some time to chill out or when I'm on the road.

dark7angel
11th Jul 2012, 11:56
^I get easily distracted when just listening to a podcast so I like to have the transcript while I listen to it!!! :)

Driber
11th Jul 2012, 12:13
^ Is that because you're listening to it behind your computer and you feel you need to "do something"? Or is it because it's harder to focus on a foreign language than if it would be in Portuguese? Or both?

dark7angel
11th Jul 2012, 12:21
^ Is that because you're listening to it behind your computer and you feel you need to "do something"? Or is it because it's harder to focus on a foreign language than if it would be in Portuguese? Or both, lol.

The first one actually! If I am just listening to it I'll start browsing the net while listening and eventually get distracted! So it's better to have the transcript in front of me!!! :p

Metalrocks
11th Jul 2012, 12:27
The first one actually! If I am just listening to it I'll start browsing the net while listening and eventually get distracted! So it's better to have the transcript in front of me!!! :p

my thought as well. just sitting there, listening to it gets boring and you want to do things.

sure i can download it and listen to it on the way, but i rather listen to music then some chatter.

TranceTrouble
11th Jul 2012, 13:42
interesting that you bring that up, i also find it more difficult to focus on the long podcast while browsing other things on the computer. but when i have the podcast on my mp3/telephone and listen to it while on the road i get less distracted and find them quite pleasant to listen to :)

MeaganMarie
11th Jul 2012, 14:22
i also have noticed the difference with the sound. much better now. dont have to turn up the speakers anymore.

what also would be nice if you can add some time description when things start. like, for e.g, at "3.45min" the community questions. "12.33min" the new lara, etc.

i just say this because the podcasts are very long and not everything in there is interesting.

Glad some of you have noticed the difference!

Ha. I personally think that all the content is interesting, but time stamps in the text description isn't a bad idea! :D

Shaikh
11th Jul 2012, 14:29
I myself always put podcasts (not just Crystal's) on my MP3 player and listen to them when I take some time to chill out or when I'm on the road.
That's what I do too. But I put it on my Mobile phone. :D

Metalrocks
11th Jul 2012, 14:44
Glad some of you have noticed the difference!

Ha. I personally think that all the content is interesting, but time stamps in the text description isn't a bad idea! :D

thank you for considering it. :flowers:
escapist magazine does it with their podcasts, so you can really skip to the parts you think are more interesting.

@listening option
i have an MP3 player. my phone is not really good for it. listening to an hour of talking is not very pleasant in the loud environment im in. the bus i take is loud so as the shopping mall where the school is i work. music is more pleasant in that moment.

Driber
20th Jul 2012, 22:37
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 12

hMtvabYKnSo

(video still processing. will just take a few minutes :))

download as MP3 (http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_12.mp3) | Full podcast transcription in English (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?p=1786085#transcription12)

d1n0_xD
21st Jul 2012, 04:25
^ The link for the transcription doesn't work, it's some kind of a site "pending.com" :s

But I think I'll listen to this one :D

Driber
21st Jul 2012, 07:25
^ The link for the transcription doesn't work, it's some kind of a site "pending.com" :s

But I think I'll listen to this one :D

not .com, just simply "pending". I wrote that because the transcription is exactly that - pending :p

The podcast is not up on the blog yet, either. As soon as we get the transcription, I'll update the link.

But yeah....you should just listen to it. That's what podcasts are for, after all :p

Edit: it's up now :)

transcription12

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 12


[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: San Diego Comic-Con – Nerd HQ

MEAGAN MARIE: Hey, everyone, Meagan Marie here! If it’s a little bit noisy I apologize, but we are on the show floor at Nerd HQ at San Diego Comic-Con 2012. Now, because we’re at Comic-Con, it means we have access to a lot of awesome talent for this episode, which I think is episode 12 already. First off, we’re going to interview Zachary Levi, and we’re going to chat with him briefly about the Final Hours of Tomb Raider and his involvement on that project, about his work with Nerd HQ, and the awesome charity work that he does. We’re also going to do a Take Five with Karl, and answer a couple of pressing questions that popped up since of E3. We’re going to end with a really lengthy and awesome interview with Camilla Luddington, talking about her recent debut as the voice and performance artist of Lara Croft. So! Enjoy the Crystal Habit podcast, episode 12.

[Musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: We are here at San Diego Comic-Con, and I’m super excited to have a special guest here, because as I’ve said on the podcast before, I think people get tired of just hearing Karl and my voices. So I have Zach Levi here with me!

ZACHARY LEVI: Hi!

MEAGAN MARIE: Hi, thank you so much for joining us.

ZACHARY LEVI: I like that I’m a special guest.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah…

ZACHARY LEVI: Is this special like little yellow bus special?

MEAGAN MARIE: You’re special as in anyone that’s not at Crystal. So where are we? We are here at Nerd HQ.

ZACHARY LEVI: You’re at Nerd HQ, my little brainchild.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, it’s your baby at Comic-Con.

ZACHARY LEVI: We started the Nerd Machine…two Comic-Cons ago, so this is the third Comic-Con that the company has existed. But the first year was just kind of a soft launch. The first official Nerd Party. We had a lot of fun, and the next year around, we… You know, we were just trying to have a little presence, a little booth on the convention floor, and throw one more party. And that just kind of snowballed into our own event, our own mini-Comic-Con at Comic-Con. Last year we had a lot of fun, and it was really special, and so we’ve just tried to build on that. Basically, it’s just a giant free event for fans to come and play kick-ass video games that they can’t get their hands on anywhere else. You guys, Tomb Raider, are essentially premiering in a public stance. Critics, some people have been able to play it. But not the world. So this will be the first time anybody gets their hands on that. New Gears of War is here as well…

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m excited to see that one too.

ZACHARY LEVI: Gosh, what are some other ones that we have? Looking around the room…

MEAGAN MARIE: Everything’s being set up right now, so not everything’s put up…

ZACHARY LEVI: Yeah. It’s just… I mean, as a gamer myself, I love the idea of offering a big hands-on arcade for people. And then simultaneously there’s computers and charging stations everywhere. I wanted it to feel like a really cool nerdy clubhouse. I wanted it to feel like this place where people could go and if they needed to take a break from the hecticness of the convention floor, they could. It’s really right nearby…

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, just a couple of blocks away.

ZACHARY LEVI: And then the entire time, we have our own panels that we throw that are very small, very intimate, and they’re all for charity, called Conversations for a Cause. Last year we raised 40 grand, I think this year between the panels and some other branded things we’re doing for money… We’re hoping to raise about a hundred grand.

MEAGAN MARIE: That would be great. We talked about, on the blog, and in our different social media outlets… We have the Tomb Raider panel, but what are some of the other highlights in terms of panels, what are you excited about?

ZACHARY LEVI: Oh, gosh…

MEAGAN MARIE: Everything, I know.

ZACHARY LEVI: It’s funny how some things work out. Last year, we had a kind of rudimentary ticket-selling system. This year we really thought we had it figured out, and it blew up in our faces. We had people trying to buy so many tickets at the same time.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, that’s a good thing… It’s good that people are excited.

ZACHARY LEVI: Well, yes. Absolutely. And it ended up kind of working out in our favor a little bit, or rather the charity’s favor, because a few of those panels oversold by double. The shopping cart couldn’t refresh fast enough, so we ended up selling twice as many tickets as we were supposed to. Actually more than double. But we were able to add extra panels in order to accommodate that, so… We’re doing a Chuck panel, obviously. It’s the first panel that this cast has done since the show was wrapped, the first time fans have been able to gather and talk to us or ask us any more questions, so I’m excited about that.

MEAGAN MARIE: A reunion.

ZACHARY LEVI: A reunion of sorts, yes. We’re doing two of those, we double-booked that one. We double-booked Nathan Fillion, he was ready to offer us a second one.

MEAGAN MARIE: Of course. Everybody loves him.

ZACHARY LEVI: Absolutely. Joss Whedon is doing a panel with us. Guillermo del Toro is doing a panel with us. You guys are doing a panel with us. And I’ll be a part of that one as well. Damon Lindelof. Gosh, who else?

MEAGAN MARIE: It sounds like you guys will hit that mark.

ZACHARY LEVI: We’re trying.

MEAGAN MARIE: And does everything go to Operation Smile?

ZACHARY LEVI: Every penny from the panels. The only money that the Nerd Machine makes on this event is merch that we may or may not sell. I believe in incentivizing people. Give them a cool place to come, they’ll dig what you do and who you are… Then they’ll support you. So I’m hoping that we get traffic through, that people appreciate this, that through that they’ll want to buy a shirt.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great!

ZACHARY LEVI: Yeah. But all the panel money, all that goes to charity.

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s fantastic, I know that’s a really cool angle. So you kind of have provided your incentive for Nerd HQ, but how did Nerd Machine in general evolve? Where did that come from, what was your inspiration or motivation for starting it up?

ZACHARY LEVI: I guess I just kind of… I consider myself to be a nerd. First of all, there’s a couple of things I wanted to accomplish with the Nerd Machine. One of them was offering kind of a life brand for nerd culture. I looked around the kind of landscape of brands, and clothing and stuff like that, and there wasn’t one, you know, solid brand for nerds. If you’re an athlete of any kind, if you’re a traditional athlete, Reebok and Adidas and Nike and all that stuff…

MEAGAN MARIE: You have your jerseys and stuff.

ZACHARY LEVI: Totally. If you’re into extreme sports, there’s Quiksilver and Volcom and Rip Curl and all that stuff. But if your sport is more in the range of gaming or comics or whatever… There was no real brand for you. You could go on Café Press and get some quirky ironic shirt. But there was no unified brand. There was no brand that nerds across the board could all buy a nerd shirt, a Nerd Machine shirt, and say, I’m with you, we’re on the same team. We’re into the same thing. So that was one thing I wanted to do. And that was… That’s just the tip of the iceberg, right? Ideally, if you want to continue to build a company and offer gadgets and gizmos and hardware and software and content… Apparel was just the easiest and smartest place for us to start with all that. But then another thing I wanted to accomplish with Nerd Machine is really kind of turning the tables on the way people perceive nerds. I think that being a nerd just means that you’re passionate about something.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, exactly.

ZACHARY LEVI: That just gets applied to what Japanese call the otaku way… Like you’re into anime or comic books or video games. You live in your mom’s basement or whatever. Clearly you’re very passionate about those things. But there are people that are so passionate about basketball that if you were to ask them a question about their favorite team, their favorite player, they would rattle on for hours about it. I’d say they’re a nerd about that, you know? Jay Leno is a nerd about cars. The guy owns a thousand billion cars. That’s a number, I looked it up. He could tell you anything there is to know about a friggin’ carburetor. So it’s just… whatever you’re passionate about. So I really wanted to kind of tell everyone, look, you’re all a nerd, and then thereby break down the barriers and break down the ways that people get stereotyped. It’s not just the horn-rimmed glasses and the pocket protector. You can be passionate about anything, and therefore be a nerd about anything, and therefore anyone can wear the nerd shirt.

MEAGAN MARIE: So you can embrace the term, kind of shift the connotations of it. That’s great.

ZACHARY LEVI: We’re being honest. “Nerd” is a made-up word from Dr. Seuss, so… You know what I mean? “Geek” was a term from the carnivals. What they’ve all become now is kind of, in modern nomenclature… It is what it is. But it doesn’t mean we can’t embrace it.

MEAGAN MARIE: And we can at events like this, where the entire city right now… That’s one thing I love about Comic-Con, the entire city is just dripping in fandom, any type of fandom. That’s what I love about it. I’ll go on a Comic-Con tangent, because I love this show. So… Is Nerd Machine sort of your future? Is acting still where you’re staying, that’s going to be your vocation, or are you trying to expand into different venues? Is “nerd” kind of where it’s at?

ZACHARY LEVI: Well, I…

MEAGAN MARIE: Are you gonna stay a jack of all trades? Because you are!

ZACHARY LEVI: Well, I try to be. I don’t know. Look, I think that when you’re blessed enough to have opportunity, and that opportunity gives you a certain amount of voice or command over something, or a power of sorts, you know… You can either utilize that, or you can waste it. One of the things that I saw happening with Chuck and the audience that we built over that time, I really believed in the audience, I really believed in the fans. That is just on a philosophical level, it’s an entertainment thing, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… I don’t believe in glorifying actors to be anything other than entertainers. And that’s also, by the way, a very important goal. For a while, I kind of was always like… I downplayed it. And then I went on a USO tour. I was at some military bases in the Middle East and Africa. And it was amazing how many soldiers…and Navy men, Navy guys don’t like to be called “soldiers”…

MEAGAN MARIE: The things you learn on the road…

ZACHARY LEVI: Exactly, right? Just servicemen and women, that would come up and get a Chuck DVD signed and say, you have no idea how much your show means to me and my family. I would connect with these people. It’s how I can spend my time, 16 months or 15 months at a time. And so I realized that we actually do provide a pretty cool service to people, an escape, the chance to enjoy some time away from whatever their vocation may be. So I do think it’s cool to be an entertainer. But I think that you’re only as good as your audience, you’re only as good as your fans. I think you really need to take care of them and foster those relationships. So through all that time, I was like, look, I just want to do cool things, I want to do memorable things.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah…

ZACHARY LEVI: And I believe in being an entrepreneur and I believe in being a philanthropist, I believe in incentivizing people. So as ideas come into my mind and I think of cool things that I would like to do, I want to make them a reality. That doesn’t mean I have to stop acting or writing or directing or producing, hopefully, all that stuff can feed into the Nerd Machine and vice versa. I mean, I have so many ideas for shows that I want to produce and maybe they’ll all be on our own network. Turn on your smart TV in a couple of years and there’ll be a Nerd Machine channel or a sister company that has our content. You’ll go, oh, cool, it’s that show with Zach and Nathan Fillion, God willing. I mean, that would be amazing! Just being ourselves and totally autonomous. Our fans are the ones that support it. You’re not beholden to advertisers anymore, you’re not going to need that, you just pay as you go. I see a brave new world of content.

MEAGAN MARIE: So curating and creating the content. That sounds great.

ZACHARY LEVI: Yeah!

MEAGAN MARIE: Having a flexible future to do whatever you love. That doesn’t sound so bad. I like that.

ZACHARY LEVI: And all the while kind of believing in the idea of what I call conscientious capitalism, which is… It’s okay to make a buck in this world, and to give a buck at the same time. Do things where people are incentivized to help you survive and you can in turn help others to survive.

MEAGAN MARIE: Giving back. That’s a great motto. So when we… We just recently announced you as the host of the Final Hours, which is extremely exciting. When we announced you, we got a whole bunch of people on Twitter going, CHUCK! They were all excited. Then we also got a bunch of people going, FLYNN! So you’ve done V/O before, you did Flynn in Tangled, and you’ve also, correct me if I’m wrong, done Halo Reach and Fallout New Vegas. You had some parts in that. So is voice acting something else that you want to keep doing in the future?

ZACHARY LEVI: Yeah, I think that falls right into acting, still. Entertaining, still. In fact, it’s in a really cool and different way, it’s a challenge to me, to create an entire character with just your voice. I mean obviously the designers are building these characters, in Tangled it was the modelers and… Actually I guess that’s true for video games as well. You’ve got to animate these characters, bring them to life. There was no mocap, I’ve never done any mocap…

MEAGAN MARIE: Add that to your list.

ZACHARY LEVI: Yeah, right? But you’re still forming, you’re still bringing a character to life, and I think it’s so much fun. And because I love video games, it’s fun to play a video game where I’m like, that’s me!

MEAGAN MARIE: Is it kind of surreal?

ZACHARY LEVI: It’s so weird.

MEAGAN MARIE: I have to imagine. Every once in a while I’ll do temp V/O in the game, and it’s just really bizarre. And actually kind of embarrassing, because I’m not trained in any capacity, so I hear my voice coming out of the game and I usually just shy away and start walking away. But it’s weird! It is.

ZACHARY LEVI: Unless you’re, like, those super-famous movie trailer guys…

MEAGAN MARIE: “I love the sound of my voice…”

ZACHARY LEVI: “This summer…” Those guys love their voice. But everyone else, it’s kind of like the answering machine syndrome. When you hear your voice on someone’s answering machine, is that really me? Is that what I sound like? You go to play this back, and my god, I sound so nasal, what’s the problem?

MEAGAN MARIE: At this point I’ve been doing the podcast for, what, 11 or 12 episodes now? I’m kind of getting used to it, people tell me it’s not as offensive as I think it is. So that was actually the next question I was going to ask you, about what other roles you’d like to try in gaming. We need to find a way to get you into some mocap, too. Right? You’ve done voice acting…

ZACHARY LEVI: Video games or film, whatever… I don’t know. Honestly, I have some favorite types of games. But to me, I just want to do cool stuff. Whether it’s a title that already exists or has yet to exist or whatever, I just want to do stuff that people dig. I want to be a character in a game where people, at the end of that game, go, wow, that was satisfying! I believe in satisfying people. I hate it when you’re part of something and at the end of it you go… Yeah, that was alright.

MEAGAN MARIE: Knock it out of the park.

ZACHARY LEVI: There’s nothing worse than “good enough.” I’d rather try with all my might and fail than be good enough. Good enough sucks.

MEAGAN MARIE: I can understand that.

ZACHARY LEVI: Either be great or die trying.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. That’s a good motto too. Okay, so any future projects that you can talk about that you’re excited about?

ZACHARY LEVI: Well, yeah. I just, actually just last night, I was able to finally announce that I’ll be doing Thor 2.

MEAGAN MARIE: How exciting is that?

ZACHARY LEVI: Beyond exciting.

MEAGAN MARIE: I mean, as a massive nerd…

ZACHARY LEVI: Yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: You must just be…

ZACHARY LEVI: Marvel was a huge part of my childhood, and even now, I’ll still kind of check in from time to time. I’m more in the graphic novel world… Talk about a dream role, not necessarily video games, but I’d love to be Yorick in Y: The Last Man.

MEAGAN MARIE: Ohhh! Best comic ever. Sorry, I’m going to geek out. I love that book.

ZACHARY LEVI: It’s so good.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m going to start a petition. You’d make a great Yorick.

ZACHARY LEVI: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I think so. But anyway, that’s besides the point. The point is… When Thor one came around, it’s actually a really crazy kind of serendipitous kismet whatever, but… So I auditioned for Thor one. I got the job as Fandral. And then Chuck, at the eleventh hour, got picked up for six more episodes, and I couldn’t do it.

MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, no…

ZACHARY LEVI: So Josh Dallas ended up doing a fine job with it, but now his show, Once Upon a Time, conflicts with the schedule for the second.

MEAGAN MARIE: So you get a second chance. It’s yours!

ZACHARY LEVI: They called and said, you wanna do this? And I was like, man… I mean, I feel like it’s kind of meant to be. I wasn’t able to do it the first time around, but it came back. It’s like that old adage, if you love something, set it free.

MEAGAN MARIE: And it’ll return to you.

ZACHARY LEVI: That’s so lame. It’s so lame.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, that’s a very exciting project.

ZACHARY LEVI: I’m super excited. I get to be this Errol Flynn lothario, Fandral the dashing, and work with Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman and Ray Stevenson…

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s a pretty good cast of characters.

ZACHARY LEVI: It’s so ridiculous. And I’ll live in England for five months and be there during the Olympics. I don’t know, it’s just a dream come true.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. Well, I’m very excited to hear that, that’s a really cool role. Alright, well, thank you so much for stopping in. We’re going to let you go, because we’re actually about to have you record more Final Hours.

ZACHARY LEVI: Love it!

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, see you later.

[Musical interlude]





Segment 2: Take Five

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, so we are still at Nerd HQ, we just had a really lovely interview with Zach Levi

KARL STEWART: Isn’t he cool?

MEAGAN MARIE: He’s very nice. Alright, so we do have some other Tomb Raider goodness, we have our Take Five. Were you here… Did we have one last time? No, you were traveling. I think we skipped it because we had that whole E3 thing which was like a Take 500, we answered so many questions that we just skipped it for a month.

KARL STEWART: Once nobody answered questions when I was away, and I don’t know what the answers were…

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, so I have five very specific questions that I’ve been hearing over and over and over.

KARL STEWART: Okay, so just before we start, everybody, normally she shows me the five questions… I have not seen these questions.

MEAGAN MARIE: He has no idea what these are. I like it this way, because then I keep you on your toes. Media training.

KARL STEWART: Okay, yes, exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay! So, the first question is kind of E3-related, actually, because people are wondering if the… If Tomb Raider will ever take advantage of Square Enix’s new graphics engine, the Luminous engine.

KARL STEWART: That’s kind of a tough question, because… You know, what the guys have been doing on Luminous, as I believe you saw, is absolutely phenomenal. They’ve been working on that for so long. I think as a company that shows the vision of where we want to go. It shows the vision of how every single studio is looking at the technology that we’ve got. Whether we as a studio ourselves use it has yet to be seen. But certainly, you know… There are cross-benefits of the technology that we’re seeing come through.

MEAGAN MARIE: Learnings and best practices and all that within the studio.

KARL STEWART: It was built by the team in Japan, so as we know, even working with Visual Works… When systems are built that way, by that team, to operate and use, when you try and take that entire engine and move it across to our game, there’s a lot of translations, a lot of work. It’s built specifically for them in a way. I can’t talk too much because I don’t actually know. When it was presented they kept it under wraps.

MEAGAN MARIE: And we have our own fantastic engine, too.

KARL STEWART: We have our own fantastic engine. We’re excited to see the company pushing with Luminous, but we have our own, and you know, we push our engine pretty hard. Everybody has seen that with this new Tomb Raider.

MEAGAN MARIE: So no plans, no specific plans, but we’re proud of what the company has been doing.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, no plans at this stage to use it right now at all.

MEAGAN MARIE: Second question. Some fans have spotted a Games for Windows Live symbol used in conjunction with Tomb Raider and are somewhat concerned with some DRM issues. Can you clarify our stance on that, if we are taking advantage of Games for Windows Live?

KARL STEWART: No, there’s no plans right now to do Games for Windows Live. I’m not sure where that logo was seen. It may have been something somebody else put up. It’s certainly not from the studio. In terms of DRM… We’ve had some great successes with Steam. We are doing a boxed version of course, but they’ve been great partners in the past and I have no doubt they’ll continue to be great partners. Still more to come on that, we’re way away from making that final decision right now. We’re still focused on getting the game finished.

MEAGAN MARIE: Absolutely. Okay, speaking of getting the game finished, this is another one that came out of E3, and I think that there’s just some merit in explaining the strategy behind it. Why do you announce DLC so long before the game is going to release? What’s the benefit of thinking that far in advance?

KARL STEWART: So to be honest, it was a great opportunity because we were on stage with Microsoft, to be able to announce some of the things that we’ve got planned. I think we’ve made it very clear so far that any DLC that we do will basically be an addition to the game. The game will come on day one and it will be the game from start to finish. The DLC that we’re looking at is complementary. We haven’t given any details on that yet, because we’re still working through the fine details. Coming up with the final story of what that will be or what that content is. But I just think it was a great opportunity to be able to get up and announce something as big as that. We’re very proud of our partnership with Microsoft, and they are very proud to give us the opportunity to be able to tell people that we have something coming.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. And this was a funny one, but I’ve actually had it several times. Is the deer-killing scene optional in the game? “I don’t want to hurt Bambi!” And then a sad face. There were so many people who are just like, no, the deer! [laughter]

KARL STEWART: Unfortunately, it’s not optional. And the reason why it’s not…

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s one scene.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, it’s one scene. It’s not something that you’ll do over and over again. It’s contextualized because it is part of her growth and it’s something that you kind of go through to be able to see her get stronger and stronger. But if you do decide to kill a deer a second time, when you walk over to it and harvest it, it won’t kick in a cinematic a second time. It’s just something that you have to go through the first time around.

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s supposed to be a touching scene, it’s amazing that people… You have these jaded people who’ve been playing games for so long, journalists who’ve seen it all, and they see this scene and it is moving…

KARL STEWART: Yeah. And if you watch… I did the Up At Noon piece with Miller at IGN. If you get a chance, look at his second Up At Noon, the one after that, where he screamed “Debra!” And now I call her “Debra,” I feel like I need to get it into the credits again, “In Loving Memory of Debra.”

MEAGAN MARIE: Debra the Deer. Sacrificed herself for a greater cause.

KARL STEWART: Sacrificed… [laughs]

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, one of the last questions that we got…

KARL STEWART: Hold on, that’s six!

MEAGAN MARIE: No, it’s actually five this time. Usually I try to sneak in six.

KARL STEWART: Maybe we’ve just been talking too long.

MEAGAN MARIE: So! Will you be coming to [insert my show here] and showing off Tomb Raider in the near future? Everybody wants to know if we’re coming near them, and so I thought we could maybe…

KARL STEWART: I haven’t heard of that one, InsertMyShowHere. Is that a new one? Where is that? Azerbaijan or Brazil or something?

MEAGAN MARIE: On the moon. Hot new gaming destination. So can we just talk about some of the shows that we’ve discussed publicly that we’re going to be at?

KARL STEWART: We’re getting into the big period of time when trade shows are on and we’re getting out there. This is obviously… E3 was the start to it. Now we’re here at Comic-Con, we’re going big at Comic-Con, then we’ve got Gamescom not long after it, then we’ve got PAX. Just show after show after show. I know last year… I did a whole long sort of schedule of going from show to show myself. I know we had you traveling as well, and we had Brent in South Africa. This year’s not going to be any different. We have an export team…

MEAGAN MARIE: We’ve confirmed Eurogamer.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, Eurogamer we will be at. We have an export team who, outside of the European and the American shows, which are the ones that we always turn up to, we always try to show off content there, we then have the export team, who are coming to us and saying, can you do Spain, can you do France, can you do Italy, can you do South Africa? Somebody even asked me if I’d go to Saudi Arabia, and it happens to be that that show is… I think it’s some time around September, when my second child will be due, and I will not be traveling for about six weeks.

MEAGAN MARIE: Six weeks is all you can…? That’s the length of the break?

KARL STEWART: That’s the lockdown. Basically it’s just a couple weeks before and a couple weeks after. Fortunately, even with my schedule…

MEAGAN MARIE: They’ll just have to send me.

KARL STEWART: They’ll have to send you. But unfortunately, I won’t be at Eurogamer, I won’t be at Tokyo Game Show. Because they are…

MEAGAN MARIE: We will hold down the fort for you.

KARL STEWART: Yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: I just discovered a whole bunch of new Japanese Tomb Raider fan sites, so we have to make TGS happen.

KARL STEWART: Awesome, no, we’ll definitely be there. Right now it’s going to be a busy year for us, and we have a lot of plans to be at as many shows as we possibly can.

MEAGAN MARIE: And hands-on, a lot of hands-on from now on.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, a lot of hands-on from now on. I’m sitting up here with Meagan looking out on the floor at Nerd HQ, looking around here, so far I can only see two games as prominent. One is Tomb Raider and one is the new Gears of War. People, tomorrow morning, will be flocking in here, getting some hands-on. It’s a huge screen there behind you, Meagan, about fifty foot, sixty foot wide showing Tomb Raider trailers, it’s going to be exciting. But yeah, from here on in, we’re giving people the opportunity to get some hands-on, and you know… The big thing about hands-on for us, going off on a tangent slightly, for anybody who does get to play our hands-on, is that we’re giving people the opportunity to sort of get to know the hunting, pick up the bow and fire it for the first time. That’s very important to us, because it’s a part of our game which people will rely on the most as they play through. Aiming, shooting and so on. Moving around the space and traversal. Even though this is a shorter demo, we’ve had to be very careful about how the demo plays and how fun it is. We’re hoping that people understand that it’s not like they’re going to be able to sit and play an hour of our game. That’s a big thing for us. It’s going to be a small portion, long enough to be able to feel the emotion of the situation, pick up the bow and move around the space a little bit, maybe find one or two little hidden gems, but yeah, as with any demo, it’s our first time putting it out and the studio are very…

MEAGAN MARIE: A little nervous actually.

KARL STEWART: Anxious, to say the least. We’re very curious to see what people think.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Okay, thank you so much for stopping in, and we’re going to have a big show. Lots of news from Comic-Con. Although by the time I post this, the show will be over and everybody listening will know that we went big…

KARL STEWART: It was a success! Woo!

MEAGAN MARIE: We went big and then we went home.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. Make sure we put all the posters, the pictures out. I’m sitting here, as I look around I see, on the right-hand side there, Zach and Rihanna… Both, by now, people will know exactly who she is, Rihanna Pratchett, the new writer, the lead writer on Tomb Raider.

MEAGAN MARIE: Not new… She’s been doing this for a while.

KARL STEWART: She’s been doing this a long time. I just say “new” because it’s like… We’ve just announced it! New information!

MEAGAN MARIE: We finally have a name out there.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. But no, she’s been working on this for years, so how we’ve managed to keep it quiet is absolutely beyond me. It really is.

MEAGAN MARIE: We’ll definitely have to talk to her at a later date.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, yeah, over the next one or two podcasts, we’ll definitely get her on. I think you have a guest tomorrow as well, is it Friday morning we have someone to talk to?

MEAGAN MARIE: I’ll have to put her segment after this one, since you’re teasing her… We’ll mix it up a bit and we’ll put Take Five in the middle, but yes, tomorrow we’ll be talking to Camilla.

KARL STEWART: Yeah… She’s super excited to get on a podcast for the first time.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think everyone’s going to be able to hear Lara in her voice…

KARL STEWART: It’s going to be cool. And the fact that she is from London and she is English…

MEAGAN MARIE: Isn’t she from Ascot?

KARL STEWART: Ascot? Is that an Ascot around your neck?

MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, God, people are going to make fun of me for bastardizing that… But it’s Ascot, right? Because didn’t Zach make the comment about things you wear around your neck? I’m never going to forget now.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, yeah. Which… My geography being what it is, that tells me it’s still somewhere around London, if not in London. So her accent is real, people.

MEAGAN MARIE: It is, most certainly.

KARL STEWART: In my head I’m, right now, reciting the names of all the handles of all the people on the forums who were saying, “She’s not English! She’s got an American accent! She’s an American putting on an English accent!” I’m not going to call you out, but you know who you are.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, well, thank you for stopping by, Karl. We’ll have much more Comic-Con content coming soon.

KARL STEWART: Cool! Thank you very much, talk to you soon. Bye!

[Musical interlude]




Segment 3: Camilla Luddington

MEAGAN MARIE: So thank you, everybody, for tuning in to the podcast. I’d mentioned before that I’m really excited about this episode, because we had Zachary Levi on earlier, and now we have Camilla Luddington. Hello Camilla.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Hello, hello. So happy to be here!

MEAGAN MARIE: It is great to have you on the podcast. It’s sort of like… I know they can’t see you in person, but having your voice and having you as Lara, it’s kind of surreal. I can sort of hear bits of Lara popping through. And we also have Karl…

KARL STEWART: Don’t forget me!

MEAGAN MARIE: Hello, Karl.

KARL STEWART: I’m not important anymore.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: No…

MEAGAN MARIE: So, what we did last night is we went on all of our social media channels and we did a call for questions on our blog, our Facebook, our Tumblr, our forums, and then Twitter. So we have lots of questions from the fans, but what I wanted to do is I wanted to start with some general questions… There were four or five questions that everybody was asking. So we’ll get those out of the way and then we’ll get to the more fun, specific ones.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Okay.

MEAGAN MARIE: So, first. What is your background as an actor?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, I started stage acting in England when I was five. I was trained at an acting school from five years old until I was about 18. And then I went to New York and trained at the New York Film Academy. And then since then I’ve come to Los Angeles, obviously I still… I’m in class in Los Angeles, but I think being on set, more than anything, teaches you the ropes of being an actor. So that is my background.

MEAGAN MARIE: And when did you first get involved with the Tomb Raider project? You had to keep it quiet for a long time, didn’t you?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I did! Yeah. Two and a half years ago is when I got involved on the project, and I swear I’ve never kept a secret for that long. [laughs] It’s been so agonizing, and I’ve been bothered so much on Twitter about it by fans, I so badly wanted to say… But yeah, two and a half years ago.

MEAGAN MARIE: The fans are super sleuths, and what they’d actually done is they took samples of your voice…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yeah!

MEAGAN MARIE: And samples of a couple of other actresses that they thought it could be. By the time we announced, they had already figured it out.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yeah, there was a point where I think everyone sort of was…

MEAGAN MARIE: Everyone was messaging you.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yeah. And I even saw something photoshopped of me in a mocap suit, and I’m like, they are so smart!

KARL STEWART: Yes, they are, fabricating evidence…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yes! I love it.

MEAGAN MARIE: And then what was your reaction to learning the news, when you found out that you got the part? Was some part of it intimidating, knowing that you’d be playing such an iconic character?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I just was hoping that finally my brothers would think I was cool. That’s the first thought that went through my head.

MEAGAN MARIE: Your motivation…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: Do they? Do they think you’re cool?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Probably not, still, to be honest. But I think maybe a bit cooler. When I found out, I was in my car, because when we went through the audition process, it was all encrypted, they had coded it, I had no idea it was Tomb Raider. So then, at the end of the conversation when I got the role, they were like, oh, by the way, you’re Lara Croft. I freaked out.

MEAGAN MARIE: Really.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yes. I really did. Of course. I mean, she’s so cool and… I was completely blown away.

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s an interesting tidbit, that they kept the fact that it was Tomb Raider from you until the last minute.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: They did. Her name was “Sarah” when I was reading the script. But what’s funny is that I thought, in a breakdown for the character, that she sounded like Lara Croft. So when I went in, I actually dressed in shorts and boots…

MEAGAN MARIE: Oh? You thought you’d kind of figured it out?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I was like… No, I didn’t think I’d figured it out, I just thought, she’s kind of like Lara Croft. That’s how I was inspired, which is kind of cool.

KARL STEWART: So you were spot on.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: It was.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. So you are from England, what is it… Ascot?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Ascot. I was born in Ascot.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m not ever going to forget now, because Zach did the little ascot thing…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yeah, the ascot.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’ll always remember where you’re from. But you’ve lived in LA for a bit too.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: So do you feel like your accent changes at all depending on your roles or where you are?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, of course it changes when you get a role. It definitely changes. On Californication, True Blood, this, I’m British. For the last third of my life, I’ve lived in the states, so I think it’s more mid-Atlantic. But the thing is, when I go home and when I’m around my family, it just gets instantly more English, just naturally. I don’t really think about it. And then when I’m back here, the more I’m here, it gets a little more American. It’s somewhere in between right now, it’s not something that I think about unless I’m on set and I’m playing a characters.

KARL STEWART: I get that too. A lot of the fans came back and said to me, who’s the American guy being interviewed? You all know I’m Irish, but you end up changing your accent depending on where you are. When I go home and come back here, people are like, wow, where do you live?

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, so we’re going to go straight into Tumblr questions, then. We’ll start with that first. Twin Pistols asks… “Have you played any of the previous Tomb Raider games to get a feel for the character of Lara Croft? What sort of research did you do when you were getting into the role?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: When I was younger, my older brother had the first game. So when I was allowed to play… [laughs] I would play, probably not very well. But I did play some of the first game. The research I did… Well, I sat down with Crystal and I really talked to them about their… What they wanted to do for the reimagining, where they wanted to go, what journey they wanted to take Lara on. So I definitely did listen to them and that was part of my research. And then… I think I talked about this, I did archery as a kid, so that was kind of fun. I was doing archery again. But I’d never done motion capture before. I don’t think there’s a way to ever prepare for that experience. You sort of learn on the job.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay! Tumblr questions first. Twin Pistols asks: Have you played any of the previous Tomb Raider games to get a feel for the character of Lara Croft? What sort of research did you do before taking on the role?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: When I was younger, my older brother had the first game. So when I was allowed to play… [laughs] I would play, probably not very well. But I did play some of the first game. The research I did… Well, I sat down with Crystal and I really talked to them about their… What they wanted to do for the reimagining, where they wanted to go, what journey they wanted to take Lara on. So I definitely did listen to them and that was part of my research. And then… I think I talked about this, I did archery as a kid, so that was kind of fun. I was doing archery again. But I’d never done motion capture before. I don’t think there’s a way to ever prepare for that experience. You sort of learn on the job.

MEAGAN MARIE: FYeahLaraCroftTombRaider, which I had to abbreviate because it’s the name of a blog… They say, “Hey, Camilla, loving your work on Lara at the moment, my question is, with Lara being such an iconic character in gaming, do you feel pressured about meeting the expectations of fans and gamers? How do you handle the pressure? And do you ever look online at fan feedback regarding how they want Lara to sound, or your performance…?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, first off, I think of course you feel some sort of pressure, because there’s such a huge fanbase behind Lara Croft. You don’t want to disappoint anybody. Do I go on fan forums and read stuff…? No, I don’t. I think that wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing for me to do. I read everything on Twitter, and so far I’ve had the most amazing support, so I’ve been really thankful for that. But for the most part, no, I don’t read that stuff.

MEAGAN MARIE: Is that more like, as an actress you just…do your craft, and then separate yourself from the media?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: You know what’s funny? This is a fun story. One time, I was in a bar by myself, because my friend worked there, and Will Smith walked in. And he sat down with me for an hour, we chatted, and he said, never read anything online, because it’s poisonous to an actor…

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s what I’ve heard, that’s why I asked, because I hear it’s a pretty common sentiment among actors.

KARL STEWART: And I think it’s right. We hired Camilla to basically perform the role, and the role has to be fresh, it has to be only what she reads on paper and how she brings that performance… I agree in the sense that, once the game is done, you can jump on and listen and talk to people, but really, right now it’s about keeping the character in the bubble. There’s got to be that bubble where you’re not getting anything from the outside and you’re focusing on the role itself.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I think I need to just immerse myself in the game when I’m acting. I don’t think it would be good if, between breaks, I was quickly going on to see how somebody had commented on it.

KARL STEWART: But don’t worry, I keep her updated on the positive stuff. All the negative, we have to keep that out. [laughs] That doesn’t help. It doesn’t help me! I get tearful when I read some of people’s comments…

MEAGAN MARIE: When you see the pictures that they photoshop of us…

KARL STEWART: Oh, yeah, thank you all you people who like to play with my face…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: And I think, of course, you know as an actor that you’re not necessarily going to please everybody. There are some people, everyone’s going to have their own opinion, you just really hope that people take a chance, play the game, and embrace you.

KARL STEWART: We had the same thing… Yesterday it was interesting, when we were doing all the interviews and people were asking Camilla if she plays games. We hired Camilla to be the voice. Right? To perform and act and bring emotion to it. We didn’t hire Camilla because Camilla was a gamer. It’s like hiring a composer to be an actor and saying, what do you bring… You’re hiring somebody for their skills and what they bring to the part. That’s very important, too… Camilla knows games, she’s very aware of games, but Camilla lives in the world of acting. And that’s what Camilla brings to the role, it’s something that she’s immersed herself in for so long.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, speaking of the role then, VioletStory asks, “Did playing the role strike any particular chords with you emotionally?” I know we saw, during the Final Hours, that there were definitely some high emotions in some of these scenes.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yes. I mean… Have I experienced everything that she experiences in the game? No. She’s going through a really extreme, nightmarish disaster. So have I ever been shipwrecked on an island? Absolutely not. [laughs] But I think that there are… We can all relate to loss, and I think that’s something that she really is feeling throughout the entire game. And of course, as a human being, you understand that feeling of sadness and desperation. So in that way, yes, I definitely can relate.

MEAGAN MARIE: So… Awestruck asks, “What exactly is it like performing in a motion capture studio, and how difficult is it to make things feel authentic compared to acting on a real set? And also, is it physically demanding?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, first of all, I hadn’t ever done motion capture before, like I said. The first thing I had to get used to was, we wear a helmet that has a camera attached to it, and it’s inches away from your face. That was something that, at first, I thought was going to be distracting. But the amazing thing about it is that you’re not having to… Because the camera’s right there following you, you don’t have to be aware of where you’re stood, where you’re cheating out to a camera, so in that way it felt like being on stage. I felt like I was actually more free doing motion capture, sometimes, than being on set. And what was the last part of the question…?

MEAGAN MARIE: Was it physically demanding? Is it tough running around in the suit?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Oh, yes. Ah… Yeah. There would be sometimes where they’d put ropes around me, I’m not exaggerating, they would drag me across the floor and I would have rope burn and I’d have bruises on me, I’d be falling off stuff. It was definitely physically demanding. But that was also realistic. She’s exhausted, I would end up being exhausted. So I think it helped.

MEAGAN MARIE: Hunter Wolfe asks, “What’s the most exciting, funny, or memorable thing you’ve done since you joined the Tomb Raider group?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, actually, I would have to say Comic-Con right now…

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s a unique experience.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: It really is. The other thing that was great, though, was actually doing the motion capture on my very first day. I didn’t know that I would be synced to her and able to see her on a big flat screen in front of me. That was really strange, once I had been suited up. Being able to see her mimic my movements live, over a live feed. That was really fantastic.

MEAGAN MARIE: The last Tumblr question we have is from Gamer’s Area. They ask, “If you were offered the role, would you agree to play Lara Croft in the movies?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Who wouldn’t agree? I want to know!

MEAGAN MARIE: Karl? You probably wouldn’t agree to play Lara…

KARL STEWART: No, if Camilla wants to go with the role, she can go with the role. It’d be awesome.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I would love to, of course.

MEAGAN MARIE: That was a very popular one… We had to get that one in.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yes, of course I would love to.

KARL STEWART: Unfortunately, it’s out of our hands. [laughs]

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. So now we are on to the forum questions… RobM_2007 asks, “Were there any other famous women who also auditioned for the voice of Lara?” I don’t know, was there any transparency in this process, Karl?

KARL STEWART: I’m not going to give names, but at the very beginning, of course, there was a vision we had for bringing a particular kind of actress, and I flew to the UK and I met with a few… This gets back to what I said yesterday. Every single time we heard somebody’s voice, we kept saying, why are we doing this? Camilla nailed it the first time.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: So sweet…

KARL STEWART: So yes, we did look further afield. But I think it was in the stars, it was meant to happen.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: And I, of course, have no idea who auditioned for it. [laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: That’ll stay a secret.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, that will stay with me and Darrell as a secret forever.

MEAGAN MARIE: So LaraLover asks, “How long ago did you start with the motion capture and voice recording for the game? Have you finished all of the work at this point?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I started two and a half years ago, and I’m yet to finish. There’s only a tiny bit left. It should only be maybe a couple of weeks of work.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, we’re in pickup right now. So this is… The idea, people see the Final Hours of Tomb Raider, this is the idea, that Camilla’s coming to her final hours. This is like the end of it now for Camilla. We’ve got a couple of pickup lines and then it’s into promotion.

MEAGAN MARIE: Exciting. Promotion seems like it’s going to be the fun part.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: So far, yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: Karl’s stepping away for just a second, so maybe we should ask a bunch of tough questions…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Oh, no.

MEAGAN MARIE: No, we’ll go back into the list. So TombRaider, which is a nice, original name, asks, “Have you had a chance to play the entire game yet? If not, do you plan on playing and completing the game?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Of course I plan on completing it. It may take me forever. But yes, I actually was playing the game yesterday. We’re here at Nerd Headquarters in San Diego, and they have it all around the edge of the room, so I had to get on and play. It’s a lot easier shooting arrows in motion capture than it is in the game.

MEAGAN MARIE: How bizarre is that?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: It’s really… Here’s what’s so strange about it. I get so into it, I’m swearing constantly. Anyone around me is probably thinking, what is this girl doing? I’m swearing constantly and saying things like NO! at the same time as Lara in the game saying NO!

MEAGAN MARIE: They hear that similarity, turn towards you…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: It’s just so strange for me, though, to hear that, too. It’s bizarre. But yes, I am playing the game.

MEAGAN MARIE: AdobeArtist asks, “If you could have a say in the character development, in what direction would you like to see Crystal Dynamics take Lara?” It’s just an interesting one, to see your personal take on Lara’s character…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I would love for Lara to go to a spa for a few days. [laughter] Just relax.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think she’s earned it, right?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I think she has at this point. I’m sure they’ll take us to some awful, awful place. I just think that… You know, Lara, you really see her grow in the game, and I just hope that that continues.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes, I agree. And JerryC asks, “What are the differences and similarities between you and the current Lara Croft?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, I think that… I would like to think that I’m actually ambitious and adventurous, which of course she is. And also, I loved history as a kid, that was my favorite subject in school, other than drama. So that we kind of have in common. But other than that, I would say that she’s a lot more fearless than I am, and she takes more chances. I think she’s more fearless than anyone I know. But I think that’s what makes her heroic, that’s what makes her iconic and special.

MEAGAN MARIE: Is that something that inspires you, then? Does it inspire you to be more fearless, to take chances?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Of course. Absolutely. I don’t see how it couldn’t inspire you.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, now we’re on to Facebook. So… And the Facebook crew were particularly interested in some of your adventures outside of Tomb Raider, so… Mike Pleat asks, “What was it like to work on the set with the cast of Californication?” He says you were awesome last season.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, thank you, Mike. It was amazing. I really did not know, again, what I was getting myself into, because you don’t… As an actor you don’t see the scripts for the entire season. You get them that week, you read it, and I would just flip through and be like, oh my God, are they doing this to my character? Are you kidding? But everyone on that set is so fun. I laugh as much off-set just hanging out with them, just as much as I did on the set and watching it. So it’s an incredible show, it’s such an honor.

MEAGAN MARIE: Let’s see, Petey Vendt asks, “How does Camilla feel that her and the developer’s take on Lara is different from the original? Is it an easier character to relate to on an emotional and motivational level for you?” So the original Lara compared to this new Lara.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well… Again, we’re going back to Lara’s origins, and we’re rebooting it. I think she’s more relatable. The Lara in the past, she really did kick butt, obviously. But she didn’t feel that pain and despair that Lara feels in this game, that really drives her to have to do whatever it takes to survive. So… I think as an actress, that’s much easier for me to pull from, because you relate to it as a human being. Okay, your friend’s been killed or whatever’s happened, and now you have to survive this or you have to attack this person… I think that just, again, making her more of a human being helps. And hopefully the gamers will relate more to her, too, when they’re playing, and root for her even more.

MEAGAN MARIE: Kevin Pooley asks, “I really believe Lara Croft to be the first sex symbol in modern games. Is that being abandoned in the new game? Will she be in so much trouble so early in her career that we won’t really see that glamor to her character?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Huh…

MEAGAN MARIE: Which I think is an interesting question, because obviously, the original Lara was…physically very much a sex symbol.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: She was.

MEAGAN MARIE: But what’s your take on this new Lara…?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, I think I’ve said it before, that… I think her courage and her fearlessness is sexy. I think she does it in style, whether she’s in trousers or whether she’s in shorts. I don’t think that she’s not sexy in the game right now. Will she be wearing the hot pants any time soon? I don’t know, that’s probably not a question for me. But I think she looks great.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think she looks great too, I definitely agree with that. Desiree Campbell says, “Is Lara in the new game somehow modeled after Camilla, or was Camilla chosen because she looks like Lara?” We get this a lot!

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yeah… Um, no? Absolutely not. She is not modeled after me. Because by the time I got the role, she had already been modeled. I think it just happens that I’m this brunette playing her, so people think that maybe there’s some similarities. But actually, no, she is not.

MEAGAN MARIE: Cleared it up once and for all. It’s a compliment on both ends, though, that works quite nicely.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I would love to lie and say yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, where are we at? Christopher Jake Waller says, “Being British myself, do you feel that because Lara is from a British background, that you find it easier to relate more and get into character?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: That’s a hard one. I think that, really, to relate to the character… You kind of just have to have those core emotions that every human being has. I don’t really think it depends on what nationality you are. I think that you just have to be human to really relate to her.

MEAGAN MARIE: And the last one, from Facebook, Dale Andrew Tucker says, “From Lara Croft of Tomb Raider to Claudette of True Blood, how does it feel to be given the opportunity to play such large characters that already have huge fan bases? I know I’m 100 percent pleased you’re playing both of them, being a hardcore fan of both series…”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, thank you so much, Dale. It’s an honor, of course. I mean, I feel like I’m just one of the luckiest actresses to get to play such iconic people. So I thank my lucky stars every day, and I love… The best part about it is, honestly, meeting all the new fans of Californication, of True Blood, whatever it is I’m involved in. Tomb Raider… Meeting the fans has been amazing, because there really are such huge fan bases behind each of the things I’ve done. I’ve been so lucky to be part of those projects.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. So we’re on to Twitter, which is the last one. So Shaikh asks… “Camilla, which one do you love most, between acting in films and voice acting and doing mocap for Tomb Raider?” So where’s your heart at?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Where’s my heart at…

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s a tough question, because I think it could be multiple places…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yeah. You know, they kind of are really different. I almost feel, sometimes, more free doing motion capture. But they’re completely different. I love them both, I really do.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think that’s fair… I get asked all the time about what’s my favorite game, and really…?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yeah. It’s hard.

MEAGAN MARIE: They’re such different experiences.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: They really are, yeah. I wouldn’t give up either.

MEAGAN MARIE: AlienFan17 asks, “Would you think about starring in another video game other than Tomb Raider?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, I do have some sort of loyalty to Tomb Raider at this point, since it is my first game. But who knows what lies in the future? The process has been so amazing that I would love to experience it again.

MEAGAN MARIE: RayMusic asks, “This game is about Lara becoming an adventurer. Do you feel like you’ve had that urge, to become more adventurous, since taking on the role?

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I think I’ve always had an element of wanting to be an adventurer. As a kid I was out in my own imaginary world, climbing trees with my brothers. I moved around a lot ever since I was a kid, too, so I’ve always liked to travel. And also, I’m a Sagittarius, and apparently we are naturally adventurous. And also, with the archer, which is interesting because archery is used in the Tomb Raider game…

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s a little tidbit we can take away…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yeah, there we go. Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: I don’t even know how to pronounce this one… UpKoral asks, “Since you’ve been acting, do you feel prepared to survive by yourself on a deserted island?”

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: I would like to think so. I really would. The reality…

MEAGAN MARIE: You’d be able to string a bow and take out a deer…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Exactly. I’m sure there are bows lying around… No, I’m sure I would be awful. But I would definitely think, what would Lara do?

MEAGAN MARIE: What would Lara do? We need to have those bracelets made…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Yes, exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: And last but not least, because this person’s name is SwooshyLeaf…

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Oh, nice.

MEAGAN MARIE: They ask, “What is your favorite thing about Lara in this new Tomb Raider? By the way, you’re beautiful.” SwooshyLeaf says that.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Oh, that’s so nice. What’s my favorite thing… This is a really tough question, but I love how realistic she looks. I think that, to me it looks so cinematic and the whole game looks like such an adventure. She looks like such a real person to me, and I think that’s what I love about her the most. And also… She’s fearless. I love that quality about her, and I love that she’s a real person in this game. All those things.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. That was a sizable segment with you, I think we had you about half an hour. That’s a lot of goodness.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Well, it’s fun answering the questions from the fans, because…

MEAGAN MARIE: Absolutely. They’ve been waiting patiently. I mean, they’ve been waiting so long to have you announced… I promised them, like, at some point when we announce our voice actress, I will get her on the podcast! So I’m happy to be able to deliver on that.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: That’s good, because I get these questions tweeted to me too. It’s nice to be able to answer them.

MEAGAN MARIE: Thank you again so much for being on the podcast, and I hope you enjoy the rest of Comic-Con.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON: Thank you! You too.

[Musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: And that is it for our San Diego Comic-Con episode of the Crystal Habit podcast. I hope you enjoy getting some fresh voices and fresh perspective on the show. If you have any comments, critiques, or podcast ideas, segment ideas for the future, feel free to send me a message at community@crystald.com, I’d love to hear from you. Until next episode!

dark7angel
24th Aug 2012, 18:43
First post updated with the new podcast:

THE CRYSTAL HABIT PODCAST: EPISODE 13 (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/30109455474/episode-13-is-live-enjoy-crystaldynamics)


Friday goodness incoming!

The newest Crystal Habit podcast has just gone live.

Show Notes: This episode the team takes Tomb Raider to GamesCom in Cologne, Germany. Meagan answers questions from community members during an exclusive showing at the convention, and then chats with German Marketing Director Lars Winkler about his lengthy history with Eidos. Tune in to find out who his favorite live Lara is! Hosted by Meagan Marie.

If you like what you hear make sure to subscribe to The Crystal Habit on iTunes.

Enjoy the show!

(If you are hearing impaired or English isn’t your native language, a transcription of today’s podcast can be downloaded here.)

Here's the transcription:

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 13

[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: GamesCom Fan Q&A 1

MEAGAN MARIE: Hello everyone, Meagan Marie here, and this is episode 13 of the Crystal Habit podcast. So it’s going to be a little bit noisy, because the booth is coming down around me. Once again, I am recording from the show floor, showing off Tomb Raider. This time, we are at GamesCom in Germany, and we’re three days in. They’re closing down the business center because the rest of the event is just for consumers. It’s been an awesome show, and it’s afforded me the opportunity to actually talk to some German community members about the game and… I guess I put myself in Karl’s position and tried to answer some Take Fives and have a new appreciation for being asked a difficult question. After that, I had a chance to chat with Lars Winkler, he’s the head honcho over at Square Enix Germany and an all-around cool guy. He’s been a part of Eidos for a very long time before we were picked up by Square Enix. He’s got some interesting stories and memories from his time working on various franchises. So I hope you enjoy it.

[Musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: We have a couple of community members here. Do you guys want to introduce yourselves?

BOMB FIGHTER: Alright. Hi, I’m Bomb Fighter from the Tomb Raider Forums. And my friend…

ABBY: Hi, I’m Abby.

MEAGAN MARIE: It was really awesome for you guys to come out here. Where did you come from? How far was the journey?

Fan 1: From Slovakia.

MEAGAN MARIE: And guess what? He brought me chocolates. They’re chocolates, right?

BOMB FIGHTER: They’re not chocolates, no. You’ll have to find out.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m going to find out. They look amazing. I super appreciate that. So, what did you guys think of the demo? Do you have any questions for me? What do you want to chat about?

BOMB FIGHTER: It was amazing.

MEAGAN MARIE: Was it cool seeing on this massive screen, in the theater?

BOMB FIGHTER: Yes!

MEAGAN MARIE: I’ll post photos so all of you guys listening can see it.

BOMB FIGHTER: I want to bring it home.

MEAGAN MARIE: I know, I would play on that all the time. So what kind of questions did you have for me?

BOMB FIGHTER: Well, the first one is about Lara’s necklace.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes.

BOMB FIGHTER: Why does she have it in the game, but not in the renders?

MEAGAN MARIE: There’s a special meaning behind the necklace. It’s something that you’ll find out at some point. When we did the initial trailer, we hadn’t quite decided when it was going to be on yet. So I know that there’s a little discrepancy. People are trying to work out when she gets it, and there’s a little bit of a discrepancy in the resources… It’ll make sense in the final game, but I know it’s missing from some of the renders. And is it in…? Yeah, it’s in Crossroads, because it’s all gameplay. It’ll make sense in the game! It just doesn’t quite make sense in the context of the renders at the moment.

BOMB FIGHTER: Maybe a stupid question, but… Are there going to be spiders in the game? Because I hated that in Underworld.

MEAGAN MARIE: [big laughs] You hated that?

BOMB FIGHTER: Yes.

ABBY: He’s so afraid of the spiders. I had to play all the levels where the spiders were.

MEAGAN MARIE: But all the Tomb Raider games have had spiders!

BOMB FIGHTER: No…

MEAGAN MARIE: Haven’t they?

BOMB FIGHTER: Well, Tomb Raider II…

MEAGAN MARIE: The ones in Tomb Raider II… Oh, yeah, in the Wall of China level. Those ones creep me out. The little noise that they made? That always creeped me out.

ABBY: Are there spiders in Legend?

BOMB FIGHTER: No, only in Tomb Raider II and Underworld…

MEAGAN MARIE: This is the only way I can answer this. I have seen a spider, personally, and I can leave it at that. I’m not entirely sure if it made it into the final game. I saw that early on. So I can’t answer that for sure. I have seen a spider at one point. Just like those little crabs, they’re spider-like… Well, not really.

BOMB FIGHTER: Well, the small spiders, they were okay. But the huge ones…

MEAGAN MARIE: Those ones were terrifying. And they had them in Guardian of Light, also.

BOMB FIGHTER: Well, those weren’t as much of a problem, because they could be well away from the screen, and they weren’t that big.

MEAGAN MARIE: Do you yell when you see spiders in real life? Do you make somebody else kill them…?

BOMB FIGHTER: I don’t yell, but somebody else has to kill them.

MEAGAN MARIE: I sick my cats on them. “Look, that little thing, get it for me!”

BOMB FIGHTER: Question number three… Is Lara’s mother’s name still de Mornay?

MEAGAN MARIE: I saw that one on the forums. We’re not… Just a blanket statement, we’re not going into her parents right now. You hear her say stuff like, “That’s something my father would say”… We just don’t want to reveal any of that. That’s stuff that, if we go into it, you’ll find it out through the story. Because I know that, obviously, her parents have been at the center of the movies and the center of all of those things, and it’s very much something we want you to experience and find out for yourself.

BOMB FIGHTER: So we’re going to learn about Lara’s past as well in the game…?

MEAGAN MARIE: You will learn about her past to some degree. I’m not going to go into how much. You can already kind of pick up from some of her conversations…

BOMB FIGHTER: Yeah, I heard her mention her father.

MEAGAN MARIE: She mentions her father. She talks about… Roth uses examples of things that they’ve done in her past. I love the little dialogue with Sam, when she’s warning her about something. I love that dialogue. You pick up stuff about Lara and her experiences through that.

BOMB FIGHTER: Another one… Is there going to be hand-to-hand combat? I saw some skills of that kind, I think…

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, you saw that. [laughs]

BOMB FIGHTER: Just a confirmation.

MEAGAN MARIE: Aw, man. These are really hard. [big laugh] Now I know how Karl feels. The thing is, Karl has a better grasp of what he can say, and if he overextends himself, he doesn’t get in trouble anyway because he’s the boss. I’m not going to confirm hand-to-hand, like punching or anything like that. But you have seen that, like, if there’s a guy near the edge, Lara can run up and push him off the ledge. She’s very capable in many ways.

BOMB FIGHTER: I noticed the collectibles in the game. Like the historical statues, and the comments. Are these going to reveal any of the mysteries of the island, through those comments?

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, that was definitely something that we were okay with you guys finding. So… There are journals around the island at times, and they’ll help reveal a bit more about the other people who’ve been on the island before. The great thing about is that… You’ve seen the shipwrecks. There are people from all ages and countries. It’s just had a very diverse history.

BOMB FIGHTER: The collector’s edition. There’s going to be one, you already said that. At what time are you going to announce what’s in it?

MEAGAN MARIE: I don’t know. It’s a transient thing, and I’m not allowed to use the word “soon.”

BOMB FIGHTER: It’s going to be this year.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, I would expect so. We’re still trying to figure out the exact window. And there’s just so much involved in it. There’s restrictions in some countries on the things you can put in the collector’s edition. Some things make it harder to do digital content in some countries. It’s really hard to finalize them. But that’s something we’re working on right now.

BOMB FIGHTER: We’ve never had a real collector’s edition in Slovakia.

MEAGAN MARIE: Do you have to import them?

BOMB FIGHTER: Yeah. I had the premium collection of Legend. That was from Austria. [uncertain – 7:20] got one, but that was just the bonus disc. The special one from Austria was really cool. But far away.

MEAGAN MARIE: Hopefully we’ll have details for you in…an expedient amount of time. That is not “soon.”

BOMB FIGHTER: Alright, that’s all for now.

MEAGAN MARIE: Dun dun dun… That’s all for now! Alright, I’m going to sign off for a minute. I’m going to go find someone else to chat with.

Segment 2: GamesCom Fan Q&A 2

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, Luca, do you want to introduce yourself?

LUCA RÖHRL: Thank you, Meagan. I’m Luca, from Germany, and I’m the webmaster of the website Tombraiderinsider.de.

MEAGAN MARIE: What did you think of the evening?

LUCA RÖHRL: I liked the show. Karl had talked about much more than on the ship, I think… And we got a chance for hands-on with the demo. It’s really great to see how the game feels and plays. It’s totally different from looking at a screen with somebody else playing, when you just watch it. It’s a different feeling getting to play it yourself.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, getting hands-on for the first time is totally different. What did you think of the hands-on experience? Did you throw Lara off some ledges?

LUCA RÖHRL: Yeah, sometimes. It’s different because I’m always playing it on the PC, and now playing it with a controller is very different.

MEAGAN MARIE: I actually had a nightmare the other day, that they were going to make me demo it on a PC. [laughter] I wouldn’t even know what to do. I’m such a bad PC player. I mean, I know I can get by and move around, but…

LUCA RÖHRL: Yeah, I’m the total opposite.

MEAGAN MARIE: I like controllers. I’m definitely a console gamer. Did you have any questions for me, sir?

LUCA RÖHRL: Yeah. We had a demo on the community day last year, at GamesCom in 2011, and then at E3 there was a demo. My question is, will people at home get a chance to play a demo as well at some time?

MEAGAN MARIE: I get that question quite frequently, and unfortunately, we just don’t have an answer yet. I mean, it’s something we’re still looking into. There’s timing and all the work that goes into it… We’re just not entirely sure yet. It’s something that I will follow up on with Karl. But I don’t have an answer. I’m sorry. If we do, you will find out. I will be shouting it from the rooftops. It’ll be on Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook. We’ll make sure everyone knows.

LUCA RÖHRL: Yeah, I’m sure. My other question was, I heard you planned to release a special edition for big fans. Will it be available for pre-order from the first day, or just later, or…?

MEAGAN MARIE: Those details are going to be… “Soon”… Those details will be coming in the near future. We’re actually still in the process of finishing up the final details on the limited editions and all that kind of stuff. One of the questions I was answering earlier was very similar. It takes a lot of time to tailor them to each country, meeting different restrictions and all that. We’re getting there. That’s one of our highest priorities right now. We will have information, like I said…at a point in time in the near future, and then I’ll share it with everyone. That’s another one that you’re not going to miss. I’m going to be so excited to share it. Because I’m a nut for the limited editions and special editions. I love them, I get them for all my favorite games. I have Batarangs and life-sized statues… Well, not life-sized. But statues and stuff. I love collector’s editions. So, more details coming.

LUCA RÖHRL: That’s it.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright.

Segment 3: GamesCom Fan Q&A 3


MEAGAN MARIE: These two don’t have any questions for me, but I just wanted to get them on the podcast, because they’re awesome. So will you guys introduce yourselves, and say what website you’re from?

JANINA: Yeah. I’m Janina from Lara’s Generation, a German fansite. But people also may know me as Minerva.

MARTIN: I’m MARTIN from Lara’s Generation too.

MEAGAN MARIE: You guys recently came out to E3, which was an awesome experience, I think.

JANINA: Yeah, absolutely.

MEAGAN MARIE: And I learned a very funny story over dinner with you guys. So! How did you two meet?

MARTIN: Well… Okay. [Awkward laughter all round] That’s a story which I think is quite romantic. My wife was quite angry when I told her the truth. We met when we both lived in Marburg, in Hessen, which is the middle of Germany, and we were both studying archaeology. I saw my now-wife in a seminar at the university, and at the moment I saw her, I knew I wanted to get to know her somehow. So when I got back home, I googled her. [laughter] And I found her Tomb Raider website. Just by coincidence, I had bought one of the Tomb Raider games a few weeks before, but I hadn’t played it, actually.

MEAGAN MARIE: So you found your motivation to play.

MARTIN: Yes, I did. [laughs] And I used the forum on the website to contact her, and I pretended that I had some problems playing Tomb Raider and needed help with that.

MEAGAN MARIE: I love it.

MARTIN: I used that to chat her up, and then I pretended… “Oh, you study archaeology too? Well, what a coincidence… And you live in Marburg too? Well, we should probably meet up some time.”

MEAGAN MARIE: “Are you that person on the other side of the hall that I can see during class?” So had you guys never run into each other before that?

MARTIN: No, we only had that seminar together. But I never chatted her up there. I used the website to get to know her, and…yeah. I have to admit, it worked.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, obviously. How long have you guys been married now?

JANINA: One year.

MARTIN: Yes, we’ve just had our first wedding anniversary last Monday.

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s wonderful. So I have to ask, obviously… If you didn’t, it’s no big deal, but did you have anything Tomb Raider-related in your wedding because of how you met?

JANINA: Ah… In the wedding? No. I guess not. Or, yeah! My mother had a kind of photo show with memories from our childhood and so on. There was actually a picture for Lara Croft in there.

MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. Just a little Lara presence at the wedding. That’s great. So! You had been running the fansite, and you had just played Tomb Raider. How long ago was this, and how many Tomb Raiders has she made you play since? Have you caught up?

MARTIN: Yes, I did. I think I have to admit one other thing, though. I haven’t played all of the Tomb Raider games yet.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, you have something to look forward to.

MARTIN: That’s true. When we got together, that was seven years ago. We spent some nights playing Tomb Raider together.

JANINA: Yeah, I forced him to play.

MEAGAN MARIE: Was he any good? Did he get the puzzles?

JANINA: : Yeah, we played Tomb Raider III.

MARTIN: I think I wasn’t too bad. Otherwise she wouldn’t have married me, probably…

MEAGAN MARIE: She’d have gotten angry. “It’s so obvious! This puzzle is so simple!” Okay. Well, this may be one of my favorite Tomb Raider stories in existence. Were you legitimately mad at him? I guess I might have been slightly mad for a while…

MARTIN: Well… She thought it was all fate. [big laughs]

MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, okay, I can see that.

MARTIN: And when I told her she got so angry and called me a stalker…

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. It’s still adorable. I think that’s great, and it’s awesome to see you guys at events all the time. What did you think of the evening? I know you obviously saw the game at E3, because Lara’s Generation is…how old? 12 years?

JANINA: Well…just a moment.

MEAGAN MARIE: Calculating. Counting the years back. There’s so many.

JANINA: Yeah, 12 years.

MEAGAN MARIE: They were invited out because they’re one of the longest-running fansites in Germany, which is awesome. So you saw the demo at E3, and then you saw it again on the Captain Sandiego, the ship. Or were you there?

JANINA: No, unfortunately not.

MEAGAN MARIE: So then maybe this is awesome. I was talking to Luca, who was on the ship, and he was like, “Well, this isn’t a ship…” So it’s maybe not as impressive. But I think this is still a fun event.

MARTIN: Yes, it definitely is.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think anybody listening to this podcast is going to call me crazy, because I’m so jet-lagged. I’m making stupid jokes and going off on tangents.

MARTIN: No, you’re doing fine.

MEAGAN MARIE: Forgive me, guys. Alright. Any final words? Thoughts you want to share, impressions?

MARTIN: Buy the game, everybody who’s hearing this. Buy the game.

MEAGAN MARIE: I hope they will to. That sounds like a good idea.

MARTIN: It looks like it might be the best Tomb Raider game yet.

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s exciting to hear. Alright. Well, maybe we should let you go back and try to play the 20-minute demo for another hour. [laughter] Have a good night.

MARTIN: Thank you. You too.

[musical interlude]

Segment 4: Lars Winkler Q&A

MEAGAN MARIE: So I am now here with Lars Winkler. And you are… I just say you’re the head honcho, kind of, over at Square Enix Germany. What is your official title.

LARS WINKLER: My official title is marketing director of Square Enix in Germany.

MEAGAN MARIE: You get to do a lot of fun stuff. I first met Lars last year at a German community event that we threw, which I thought was a lot of fun. I remember walking into your office and seeing all this crazy Tomb Raider stuff, and then we just started talking about stories, about the stuff you’ve done at Eidos throughout the years, and I was insanely jealous of your Angel of Darkness rose-base statue that you had, right?

LARS WINKLER: Right.

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s one of the rare ones. So I wanted to have you on since we’re in Germany. I thought it would be a great chat, just about some of the stuff you’ve done over the years. But first… What do you do at Square Enix Germany as the marketing director? Just an overview of your job.

LARS WINKLER: Yeah, yeah. Square Enix Germany is a subsidiary of Square Enix Europe, and we’re pretty small. A tiny office based in Hamburg, where we do all the marketing and PR stuff. Internally, we communicate with the studios, like Crystal Dynamics, but we also do the marketing campaigns and PR campaigns for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and talking to our distributor here in Germany to bring the products to market.

MEAGAN MARIE: How many games are you supporting at the moment? Because it’s obviously not just Tomb Raider.

LARS WINKLER: No, we have a good lineup. Right now we’ve finished the campaign for Sleeping Dogs, which was released today, obviously. That’s more or less done. Next big thing, triple-A thing, is Hitman: Absolution, coming out on November 20 of this year. And then, yeah, we’re looking forward to Tomb Raider, March 5 in Germany. It’s a bit earlier, maybe, two days or so in North America?

MEAGAN MARIE: As far as I know it’s March 5 everywhere.

LARS WINKLER: Okay, everywhere, I’m sorry for that.

MEAGAN MARIE: So we’re going to be coordinating some big stuff. Speaking of Hitman, I love that you guys did this. I mentioned earlier in the podcast, we’re at GamesCom right now. What are some of the cool things that you guys did for the Hitman marketing at GamesCom? I saw these…perhaps, little tongue-in-cheek “Assassin” signs that you had all over.

LARS WINKLER: Yeah, the name of the game is Hitman, but obviously this is a game about an assassin, about assassination in a way. This is Hitman 5, we call it Hitman: Absolution, but the last game came out in 2006, and right after our release, a new franchise made it to the market, called Assassin’s Creed. We found it very interesting to see the color palette of this game, and the pose, and the music they used in the game… It reminds us a bit of our Hitman game, in a way. You should have a look. It’s very, very interesting to compare both games. We thought, you know, now that Hitman is coming back in November, we feel that, honestly… We think we are the original Assassin, and that’s why we created this campaign, about the original Assassin. It’s a very, very, I think, self-confident… It’s creative, but it’s also a very funny campaign. We take it in a fun way, and we think that there are some steps where we can really ask the community… If you like Assassin’s Creed, for instance, just have a look at Hitman. It’s really worth a try to play our game. It’s going to be really interesting. There’s a lot of things you can compare with Assassin’s Creed and Hitman in a way. We made a lot of fun things about it. I think when you check out Facebook and YouTube, you’ll see some parts of our campaign.

MEAGAN MARIE: There were little cutouts of, basically, the Assassin character from Assassin’s Creed sitting with a help-wanted sign…

LARS WINKLER: Yeah, it says, like, “Wow, Hitman is back, I’ve lost my job, I’ll have to go look for a new one…” We made a photoshoot with a guy who put on a robe, and maybe it’ll remind some people of the Assassin’s Creed character…

MEAGAN MARIE: I thought it was cute. And it is tongue-in-cheek, so I think it’s funny. It’s hard to take offense to it. I liked it a lot. Just in general, before we dive into some of the stuff that you’ve done in the past, how’s the show gone so far?

LARS WINKLER: Great.

MEAGAN MARIE: You were just running around doing signings for Final Fantasy. Lots of Final Fantasy stuff going on here also.

LARS WINKLER: Exactly. Naoki Yoshida, the executive producer from Final Fantasy IV reborn, is here at our booth, and he’s doing great, great work. Obviously he’s there for the whole day putting on a lot of shows. He just finished an autograph session with the fans. We asked the fans beforehand to print out some stuff that makes it a bit easier for him to sign… They’re coming up with banners and T-shirts and white and pink PS3 consoles, which are only available in Japan. They’re really, really dedicated fans. It’s really interesting. The feedback has been absolutely awesome so far. The fans are really looking forward to Final Fantasy, so it’s great to see their reaction.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, so let’s go back a bit. How long have you been at Eidos and then Square, in total?

LARS WINKLER: I started with Eidos in 1999. It’s been a while. I started with Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. My first game at Eidos was Soul Reaver, that came out the same year, a couple of months before Last Revelation. It’s a long time. But I’m a big Tomb Raider fan, I’m a big fan of Lara Croft. That was my motivation to join the company, to be honest. I come from a totally different direction, nothing to do with the entertainment industry at all, or video gaming.

MEAGAN MARIE: Really!

LARS WINKLER: Yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: And Tomb Raider was one of your motivations to try to get in?

LARS WINKLER: Well, the personal story behind that is that… My girlfriend, at that time she worked for an agency. This agency, they created a job description ad. Before they booked it into the newspaper, she brought it home and showed it to me, and I saw that Eidos was looking for a creative director. So I was calling the managing director of Eidos Interactive in Germany a day before the newspaper was out and he said, “Hey, where do you get this from?” I said, “You know what, I’m a big fan, and I can’t believe I could join the company, so just have a look at my CV and maybe it’ll fit.” Then I got into the interview, and it’s all good from there.

MEAGAN MARIE: So you started with Last Revelation, but you’d played the Tomb Raider games beforehand, so you’re an original early adopter?

LARS WINKLER: Yeah, absolutely. I love Tomb Raider, and I played all the games. I even made a speed run with Tomb Raider II. I’d already won a competition in Germany. I think the guy who finally got ahead of me on the speed run with the first level, the Great Wall in Tomb Raider II… I think he cheated. [laughs] Maybe he changed the time in the photos. Because I can’t imagine that he can do it faster than I could. I played all the games. And not only the games. I replayed them looking for the treasures and everything else in the game. Over time, of course, when it comes to the campaigns and the goodies and the models you meet, and Angelina Jolie for instance… You collect a lot of stuff. When we first met and you came into my office…

MEAGAN MARIE: I was so jealous, because you had so many unique, one-off kinds of things. It’s always interesting when I travel, to see things that were created specifically for certain countries. This is a huge, broad question, but what are some of the coolest campaigns you’ve done surrounding Tomb Raider?

LARS WINKLER: I think it has something to do with… This is more or less marketing chitchat, maybe about the positioning, but… Lara Croft, honestly, in the early days, especially in North America, some people would say “Laura Croft.” The whole pronunciation was… The game itself was about more like Tomb Raider and the action part, in North America. Whereas in Germany, it was absolutely awesome to see the reaction when the game released. A woman was the main character in a game, and the third-person perspective was something new. There were two components which created a big buzz in Germany about the game itself, but also Lara. So I can’t tell you what has more weight, Lara or the game. The positioning in Germany, when I started on it with the guys before me… They said, “We can’t concentrate only on the game. We have to make Lara big in Germany.” So we created different stuff for the German community. Back in the days with Core Design and the brand direction they took, they mainly focused, of course, on the big markets. Germany is among the big markets, but maybe it’s not the biggest. We felt that there was room to improve, in a way. That we could make it more casual… Make it fit in a better way for the German community. So we created some stuff around Lara Croft on her own. You know the statue with the roses? That was at a time where we felt that we should put Lara on a higher level. She’s an icon, you know? She’s not a gaming character anymore. She’s so mass-market. She had cover stories on the biggest German newspapers and magazines. She was on a cover before Mario was on a cover in Germany. Honestly, it’s really, really interesting. I have all the covers still. It’s really interesting to see that. So we started to think about adding more depth to Lara. It’s interesting to see how many things you can create. At a certain level, when a character in a game is very popular, then other things come to the game. We were asked by different museums, if they could have a dedicated show just about a gaming heroine, Lara Croft.

MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, wow.

LARS WINKLER: Yeah! Another story about Assassin’s Creed, maybe… I met Yves [Guillemot] and the managing director for Ubisoft two years ago, and they were speaking about how they now have an art museum in Germany that’s having a big opening, and I said… What? We had that back in ’99 with Lara! It was really great. Obviously they didn’t know about that, but it wasn’t a surprise to them. When you look at the whole life cycle, you really find out… Lara has been on the market for such a long time now, so there’s been a lot of campaigns, a lot of things just around Lara. Especially in Germany. We tried to find ways to focus more on the character.

MEAGAN MARIE: Do you have any examples of specific things that you created? Do you have a hand in merchandising and licensing, also? Just products and things like that, anything that you created that you’re especially proud of or that was really fun to work on?

LARS WINKLER: It’s not so much like merchandising stuff, the stuff that you produce for the community. Like art prints or special frames or special branded, airbrushed editions… We felt that it’s great to have such a gaming legend like Lara, but we want to share it with the community. So it’s not like producing something to make more revenue or something. At a certain point you have to give a lot of things back to the community. Whenever we did that, we looked, first… Should we do it in a limited way, to let the community buy stuff from us, but in a limited way so that they really feel special? Or should we just give it away? That’s what we did. We’re looking to ways of producing other statues around Lara, maybe with the new Tomb Raider game or other stuff that’s coming up. We started, first, with a company who’s creating the great life-size statues for Tomb Raider in Germany. The company was based in Mannheim, near Frankfurt, but now they’ve moved to Australia. All this is something that we created because we feel that we can definitely do something with Lara that’s special.

MEAGAN MARIE: Did you guys do some kind of Swarovski crystal 360? Was that you guys? That’s kind of an example, one of the one-offs that you did, one of the unique pieces.

LARS WINKLER: Exactly. That was for Tomb Raider Underworld. It was a collaboration we set up with Microsoft in Germany. By that time it was very popular… It was called “Pimp Your Phone” or “Pimp Your Mobile.” Behind that is a company based in Berlin, and they gave us a contact with the Swarovski company. We said, you know what? Normally on the phone you put on something like 100 or 1,000 Swarovski crystals. So what do you say if we create three unique Tomb Raider Underworld Swarovski Xbox versions? We were asking people to think about how many Swarovski crystals were on there, and then the winner got one of them.

MEAGAN MARIE: Wow. How many were there?

LARS WINKLER: Of course, we gave one to Microsoft… There were 42,000. It was incredible.

MEAGAN MARIE: It really is.

LARS WINKLER: I didn’t count them personally, but they said it was 42,000.

MEAGAN MARIE: Have you met all of the Tomb Raider models throughout the years? I feel kind of evil asking if you have a favorite… Did you get to interact with them at all?

LARS WINKLER: Yes and yes… [laughter] I don’t know if I remember all of them, but Jill de Jong and Lucy Clarkson, Lara Weller… Honestly, whenever we had a live Lara model… Because we asked them to travel to GamesCom… It was Leipzig before, now it’s Cologne. We asked them to travel to the venue and help out with doing some promotions. But the best… If I can say that? The best… Karima Adebibe.

MEAGAN MARIE: You know what? So many people love her. And I love her too. I love all the classic ones too, but she’s just so personable and fun.

LARS WINKLER: Absolutely. Every Lara model was great, and very handsome, very nice. It was very interesting to meet them and talk to them. But the will to support Lara in a special way, that was really Karima, and I’m really thankful that I met her. We did some great stuff here at GamesCom a couple of years ago.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, another evil question. If you had to pick one item out of your Tomb Raider collection that’s your most valuable or most prized, what would it be?

LARS WINKLER: Yeah, that’s Lara on the roses. I have two versions of the statue, and then the big billboard, which is framed in my cellar where I have all my game stuff.

MEAGAN MARIE: Can I request a photo of that?

LARS WINKLER: Yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m going to get a photo of that and I’m going to put it on the blog. I promise. Okay, so they’re literally about to take the booth down around us. I think we’re gonna get kicked out. So we’ll have to cut the interview a little bit short, but thank you so much for chatting with us! It’s actually really interesting to hear from the marketing side of it. Man, I wish I could have been there for some of these experiences.

LARS WINKLER: Oh, but it’s so boring!

MEAGAN MARIE: No, actually, it’s quite fascinating, so thank you. I appreciate your time.

LARS WINKLER: Thank you very much, and have fun with the new game.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, that’s it for now. Thanks for listening. We’ll be doing plenty more podcasts while we travel about and promote Tomb Raider. I think the next stop we have is PAX. So hopefully we’ll get to see some of you there.

[Musical outro]

MeaganMarie
24th Aug 2012, 18:45
Sorry about the 10 minutes of silence at the end! A musical interlude clip got stuck out there and I didn't notice it. :P

I'll fix it on Monday when the UK team is back.

d1n0_xD
24th Aug 2012, 19:47
I like that you have little messages and journals on the island, I like reading those, like the Codex in Mass Effect :D Don't hesitate to put lots of those on the island, and probably like a Journal pause-menu, where we can read everything we've found so far or have encountered :D

MeaganMarie
24th Aug 2012, 20:07
I like that you have little messages and journals on the island, I like reading those, like the Codex in Mass Effect :D Don't hesitate to put lots of those on the island, and probably like a Journal pause-menu, where we can read everything we've found so far or have encountered :D

You'll be able to access them via a menu and read them again, for sure!

d1n0_xD
24th Aug 2012, 20:11
^ Game of the Year! :D

pidipidi39
24th Aug 2012, 21:56
You'll be able to access them via a menu and read them again, for sure!

awesome podcast :thumb: and awesome game :D really can't wait :nut:

i think that if is true that when you play the game is better than when you watch it, this is going to be amazing, because is still awesome only when you watch it :D so, if when you play it, is better than awesome is really great :cool:

sorry for the little muddler post. i confused myself too :scratch:

Shaikh
25th Aug 2012, 05:07
Ah Tomb Raider makes another couple. How Romantic! :D

pidipidi39
25th Aug 2012, 10:43
Ah Tomb Raider makes another couple. How Romantic! :D

yep, i found this story very awesome too :D

Driber
25th Aug 2012, 13:10
And, as usual, on YT for easy online listening :)

742Kr6wZ7WI

Shaikh
25th Aug 2012, 18:27
This new podcast is amazing, mainly because of Meagan I guess. Meagan could answer more Q&A. :D Those fans could have asked few more hard questions to Meagan.

Oh Congrats Driber on your 10K posts. :thumb:

MeaganMarie
24th Sep 2012, 19:39
New podcast guys!

http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/32205053879/podcast-time-hopefully-you-enjoy-our-chat-about

I really enjoyed this one. In particular there is one small tidbit I wasn't expecting Karl to drop that I think you guys will be excited about. :)

larafan25
25th Sep 2012, 02:14
^Yay thanks! :D

I haven't finished listening!

OH

EM

EFF

GEE

MY GOD

NO WAY

Comic Boo..



I can't.

D:

Holy crap I'M SOOOO excited for that. Oh My God. D:

edit: Karl mentioned a staff member who joined to work on a feature they'd be talking about later. I wonder what that feature is and if it's something they've already mentioned slightly.

edit: I don't get the whole Russian deal, it sounded fine to me. :/

hiropon056
25th Sep 2012, 03:17
hmmm yes this sounds interesting... i really wonder how this stuff will look like

MeaganMarie
25th Sep 2012, 03:38
^Yay thanks! :D

I haven't finished listening!

OH

EM

EFF

GEE

MY GOD

NO WAY

Comic Boo..



I can't.

D:

Holy crap I'M SOOOO excited for that. Oh My God. D:

edit: Karl mentioned a staff member who joined to work on a feature they'd be talking about later. I wonder what that feature is and if it's something they've already mentioned slightly.

edit: I don't get the whole Russian deal, it sounded fine to me. :/

Hehe. That's the sort of reaction I was hoping for. :P

Shaikh
25th Sep 2012, 04:34
Very good podcast indeed Meagan. :thumb:

Welcome Rich Briggs & Dan Bison. :wave: Good to see some dev from EA & UBISOFT. Now CrystalD is getting more stronger. :D But still no sign of other new IP announcement from CrystalD. :scratch:

Final Hours #2 is still 2-3 weeks away. :(

And also Congrats Karl for the second baby. :thumb:



edit: Karl mentioned a staff member who joined to work on a feature they'd be talking about later. I wonder what that feature is and if it's something they've already mentioned slightly.





We all know what feature that is:



M
U
L
T
I
P
L
A
Y
E
R

:D

Driber
25th Sep 2012, 12:24
As usual, uploaded to YT as well :)

NwBzdGtoQxs

And the transcription:

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 14


[Musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: Hello everyone, this is Meagan Marie, your host for the Crystal Habit podcast number 14. We’re actually going to keep this podcast episode a little bit shorter today. Everybody is crazy busy for different reasons. I’m about to head out of the country for 25 days, taking Tomb Raider on the road, and everybody’s got some interesting things on the horizon, including Karl. Maybe he’ll share that personal tidbit with you little bit later in the podcast. So for our primary segment on the show, I’m going to talk to Karl, as well as a new member of the Crystal D brand team, about what it means to close out a game and to ship a game. As we recently posted all over our social media channels, we hit the six-months-til-launch milestone on September 5. We’re all very excited to be on the home stretch. After that, we’ll end with a quick Take Five, and that’ll close out our how. So, enjoy.

[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: The Final Six Months

MEAGAN MARIE: Welcome to the first segment of the podcast. Now, like I mentioned, I am here with Karl, who everybody knows. We also have a new member of the Crystal brand team here, Rich. Would you mind really quickly, before we dive into anything, introducing yourself so everyone knows what you do here?

KARL STEWART: Who is this man of mystery?

RICH BRIGGS: Hi, everyone. My name is Rich Briggs, and I am the new Senior Brand Producer on the Crystal Dynamics Team. Very excited to be here. Previously was at Electronic Arts. I had three main roles there. I started in marketing. I worked on a couple of franchises like The Sims and Battlefield. Then I moved over on to the Dead Space team, where I was a producer on Dead Space I and II. Then I wrapped up my EA career on the Origin team, and that was a business development and marketing job.

KARL STEWART: And then we stole him.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah. This is why I think you’re a good person for this podcast segment. You’ve got some nice titles that you’ve closed up there. We’re going to be talking about the long road to launch. But first, I think that this is just a fun little personal tidbit to share. Karl has not been away from his phone. It has been tethered to him every moment for the last couple of days. Do you want to share why?

KARL STEWART: It’s always tethered to me. I never let it go anywhere.

MEAGAN MARIE: It is! But more so than ever, I see you looking at it.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. My wife is 37 weeks pregnant in a few days, so I could get a phone call any second now to say, “Get your ass home, quick.”

MEAGAN MARIE: And so, every moment, you’ve got it with you.

KARL STEWART: Every time she calls me, even if she asks me what I fancy for dinner, I answer it in like three seconds. And she says, “You never answer your phone! Now all of a sudden you dive on it!” This morning when I got up… We were on a call, I got off the call, and she started having contractions. I thought, “Here we go.” And then about 20 minutes later, she stopped having contractions, and she’s like, “Nah, go on, go to work.”

RICH BRIGGS: I think that’s dedication, Karl.

MEAGAN MARIE: It really is!

RICH BRIGGS: I’m impressed.

MEAGAN MARIE: When I was at Game Informer, I was working on the Gears of War 3 cover story, and one of the PR ladies was text messaging me, answering e-mails on her Blackberry, from labor, in the hospital. Someone finally messaged me and told me that she was doing it, so I said, “Nope! I am not responding to any more of your e-mails.”

KARL STEWART: I do remember, when my daughter was born four years ago… I was working on a game called Monster Lab. That was just one of those titles we had in our portfolio that I was looking after. I remember my daughter was born at about 1:00 in the morning. I got in the car to drive home at maybe 3:30, 4:00, to go pick up some clothes and have a shower. On my way back, I don’t know what made me do it, but I kicked into gear. I picked up the phone, I got on a conference call, and I started talking to some of my colleagues about it. They said, “You’re up early.” I said, “Yeah, my daughter was born about two hours ago.” And they said, “WHAAT?!” And they just hung up. That was it. I was like, “Hello? Hello?”

MEAGAN MARIE: Intervention. Not allowed anymore.

KARL STEWART: “We are not talking to you, you doofus.”

MEAGAN MARIE: So we appreciate you coming in for the podcast, and if you have to check out…

KARL STEWART: By the time people listen to this, I will probably have my second child. Or my wife will. I won’t.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m sure she’s hoping…

KARL STEWART: Yeah, she’s ready. She’s ready.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, so… Getting back to the topic at hand. We recently hit the six-month milestone for launching Tomb Raider. That was really exciting. We’re launching on March 5, 2013.

KARL STEWART: Scary…

MEAGAN MARIE: Now, because this is the first time I’ve worked in a studio… I’ve been at Crystal for about a year and a half now. I’ve not launched a triple-A game. But you guys have launched games. So you know what it’s like. That road up to launch and what it entails for the different departments. How our campaign will be ramping up. I’m interested to talk to you guys about that first. You mentioned Dead Space. Are there any other particular games that you worked with, Rich, that were big campaigns or that you can add to your roster as far as experience?

RICH BRIGGS: Yes. I think the Battlefield franchise were some of the biggest games. Battlefield 2142 was a big one. I was involved on a few of the expansion packs on Battlefield 2, and also on Battlefield: Modern Combat. But more recently, The Simpsons Game was another big one, before I moved over on to the Dead Space team. It’s definitely… I would say the crunch mode goes in phases. Different departments are gearing up at different times. The dev team, I think, is just about always in crunch mode…

MEAGAN MARIE: Always. I get that impression too.

RICH BRIGGS: You get the marketing and the PR teams and the brand teams… They really start to kick into high gear around this time frame. You’ve sort of been stoking the fires all along, but now you’re getting to the very executional part, where you’re really trying to engage your audience. It gets pretty fun.

MEAGAN MARIE: And Karl, we know, obviously… Guardian of Light and Batman. What other games have you shipped?

KARL STEWART: Age of Conan, Kane & Lynch… Couple of Tomb Raiders under my belt, from Legend, Anniversary, Underworld.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, a couple of them under your belt.

KARL STEWART: It’s almost like… Over the last few months, did you ever see those guys on those Friday shows who start spinning plates? And they start with two plates, three plates, and they keep spinning them? And then they add 10, 15, 20? Then they go back to the first one to make sure it’s okay? We’re in that phase right now where there’s plates that started spinning six months ago, and they have to keep going. Like The Final Hours, and all of a sudden, now we’re looking at announcement spots and TV spots and screenshots gotta be captured. Before you know it you’ve just go 150 plates spinning. Now you’ve got a team of guys all trying to find out what the priorities are to get each one tone. That’s partly why Rich is coming on to the team. Sitting down and going through every single asset and looking at all of our programs and helping get to the bottom of what comes next and who starts what when somebody’s finishing stuff off. All the territories are clamoring for content right now. They’ll continue to all the way through launch. It’s a very important time in the campaign, because as we’ve seen, when the publishing side of our business finishes one game, they move over to the next game. We just shipped Sleeping Dogs, as everyone’s aware of. Great success to United Front Games and the Square Enix team. But as soon as that game landed on the shelf, the following morning all the phone calls were like, “Okay! All attention is on you now.” The last few weeks have been inundated with phone calls and e-mails and getting geared up for this next six-month run-up to launch. It’s really exciting. It’s actually the most exciting, but nerve-wracking, part of the entire campaign.

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s the thing. I think that some people don’t realize how many plates are spinning behind the scenes. We have to stagger releases and announcements, but there are obviously going to be a lot more partnerships and announcements and assets leading up to launch that have been in the background, in the oven, for quite some time. So I’m excited to share more of those, obviously, as we go…

KARL STEWART: Sure. We don’t want to spoil anything, but…

MEAGAN MARIE: What do you guys say? What’s the general mood? And this doesn’t even have to be just Tomb Raider. It can be different studios or franchises. What’s the general mood when you’re on this last stretch of the road? The last six months leading up to launch. Is it usually pretty stressful? Is it like you’re over the hardest part and now it’s just bug-fixing and polishing? What’s the general mood, usually?

KARL STEWART: I think it all depends on your release window. We’re fortunate enough that we have March 5, so… We kinda get to start thinking about when and when not to put assets out over the holiday season. We’re able to stay away from that noise that’s going on. But if you’re launching a game right in the middle of November, you’ve got all your trade shows happening at the time when you’re planning assets and you’re out there talking to retail. So there’s so much going on. Whereas we’re in the March window, so we’re talking to retail at the moment. We’re planning our assets. We have a little bit of a different schedule each game. So each one is different. There’s never a formula. I don’t just sit there and go, “Da-da, we’re launching on March 5, therefore there’s a formula I worked out all the way back.” We don’t. Because right now we’ve got brands and we’ve got yourself, Meagan. You guys are going to fly around the world soon, at a time when we should be sitting working our asses off. But we’ve got shows to support and I’m going off to have a second child…

RICH BRIGGS: Very inconsiderate of you.

KARL STEWART: Very inconsiderate!

MEAGAN MARIE: We’re lucky to have you here.

KARL STEWART: So there’s no formula. There’s absolutely no formula. I think every game is different. Really it all depends on when we analyze the data, which we’re doing a lot of right now… We can see games that are into their third and fourth iteration, they have such an installed base. They’re able to kick into a different type of campaign, putting out different varieties of assets, whereas we’re telling a re-imagining story. We’re telling a very different and unique story that takes time to build up an understanding of, over a series of months. I think every campaign is very different.

RICH BRIGGS: It’s very different. I would say that I think two of the constants are… At this stage, a lot of what you do becomes very consumer-facing. A lot of the work that you do is now open for public consumption. I think on the other side, the other constant is that now is when… I think you’re right, it is very stressful. But I think it’s also a very exciting time. There is the light at the end of the tunnel. Speaking from a dev side, you’re getting ready to show something that you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears in for the last X months or years. You’re ready to show that to the world, just about. So I think that excitement is really palpable in a studio. And then on the marketing side, again, even though every campaign is different, you’re still getting close to that big unveiling, where you’re going to have an advertising campaign. Your launch trailers are coming out. What are you doing on all these different fronts? It’s really going to be coming front and center. I think it’s a really exciting time, because you know that you’re just about there.

MEAGAN MARIE: Just about there. Here’s another really general question. I am looking for really broad answers, because we established that there is no one formula for a certain dev team. But how does the focus shift when you’re at that stage where you’re nearing launch? How does the focus shift for certain parts of the team? The dev team is obviously still heads-down. They’re still polishing, still fixing, still making sure the game is the best it can be. But what about QA or the art teams? I know that we’re going to have Brian, our art director… He’s going to be coming over to help us on our side, because he’s done… The art direction of the game was established a long time ago. He’s done on that front, for the most part. But how do those roles shift? Is it pretty organic, or do people have their rigid routines still?

RICH BRIGGS: I think it’s a mixture of both on the dev side. I think it’s great that we’re in a position where we do have the time before launch and the months to put in to the polish, because that’s what can really make or break a game. I’ve been on some projects that shall remain nameless, where alpha was separated from beta by two weeks, and beta was separated from final by one week, and final was separated from ship by six weeks. Literally just the manufacturing time frame. That means polish is nil. That’s not a situation you want to be in. So I think, right now, the dev team… They’ve got their heads down. They’re like, “How do we fix this?” Anything that’s a bug that’s been niggling at you… That’s where you’re getting down to those C bugs. The As and the Bs are taken care of, now you’re down in the C bugs, the polish bugs that really make consumers say, “Wow, this just feels right. That experience is great. QA is going to be ramping up, because they’ve gotta figure out how to crunch bugs. People are going to be transitioning over like you said. Brian coming over to help where he needs to be. I think there’s that mix of… Yeah, there are some tried and true, this is how people migrate, and there’s some organic… Okay, this is where I feel like I can fill a hole. Lemme jump in and lend a hand.

KARL STEWART: And there’s the lifecycle of a studio as well. We don’t just work on one project, and as soon as it’s done people start walking out the front door. People are slowly migrating on to the next thing. As we’ve mentioned in previous podcasts, and we’ve interviewed Scott Amos… We have an unannounced project we’re working on. Most of the guys will start ramping over that in a period of time. Start getting that up to speed. There’s a life cycle to the studio, where you’re always thinking about where that team is going next. Certain things like right now… Art is done. If somebody’s in there doing anything to art, there’s a problem. Therefore there’s an entire art team that’s available to go and support us and our needs. Some of that art team are also moved over and starting to help set up some of the early stages of the next game. There’s a constant life cycle that goes through inside the studio, which is pretty cool.

MEAGAN MARIE: Karl, this is one for you. I’ve had some people wondering, are we going to start to see more of some of the other development team members? Producers, or other people that have previously had their heads down so much that they were inaccessible. Are we going to see more of them as we get closer to launch?

KARL STEWART: Definitely. One of the focuses from the beginning of this campaign was that we’ve analyzed other games that we’ve worked on and we’ve found out where our weaknesses and our strengths are. Generally a weakness is that you start pulling the team away from what they’re supposed to be focused on. You’ve got countless dozens and dozens of people inside the studio all working on different teams, and you’ve got people like Noah who touch so many different departments. Taking him out of the studio for three or four days to go on a press tour is actually quite a big deal. It means that a lot of people sit there spinning plates waiting for questions to be answered. What we’ve tried to do throughout the campaign is utilize the team, i.e. myself, as much as possible out there, communicating. I’ve been there from the very beginning. There’s probably not a question I couldn’t answer, but… Rightly so, there’s a point in time where people will be very bored of listening to me over and over and over again. And as we start getting into this phase of the campaign, not only are we ramping down for development, because we’re coming into that home stretch, we start freeing up these people to be able to start coming out. Because we’ll be getting 10 times more requests. As we know now, we’re planning our next big PR drop, and we want to make sure that we maximize the amount of exposure as much as possible. As a result of that, we have to quadruple the amount of people who’ll be out there talking. You’ll start to hear from a lot of people, including Dan Bisson, who as people may remember stood up on stage there with Darrell and demo’d the game. Dan came in probably a little over a year ago or thereabouts from Montreal. He’s worked on a ton of games, from Assassin’s Creed to Rainbow Six. He’s working on one specific feature, which we’ll start talking about later on. He’s from back in the days on Assassin’s Creed. He’s brought a wealth of experience, and he’s the type of person I want to be out there now, talking and making sure that he communicates a lot of the features and a lot of the systems that we haven’t gotten under the hood on.

MEAGAN MARIE: Our messaging and all that is going to change in a bit as we progress. We’re going to start digging deeper. We still haven’t hit that fine line where we’re not going to spoil everything, because if we dig as deep as the fans want us to dig…

KARL STEWART: Yeah. I think there’s a…

MEAGAN MARIE: They say they want us to dig…

KARL STEWART: There’s the three sizes. One, it is a re-imagining, so as everybody knows, I’ve been talking about how we got to this point, and how we’re setting the foundation forever. I’m not going to go into the whole thing again. But then there’s the feature standpoint. There’s actually the game. What’s the game all about? How do I play it? What’s the uniques? People have started to see us talk a little bit about that, especially around Comic-Con, where we gave some people the opportunity to get their hands on the sticks. But then there’s the side of… How far or how much is too much? We get a lot of the fans and a lot of people asking us questions about… Really, do you want me to answer them? Do you want us to get into that phase where we’ll start to spoil stuff? The answer to that, to me, is no. So there’s a fine line. We’ve gone through that phase, everybody knows, 18-plus months of me talking about the same thing over and over again and expanding on it a little bit more each time. But the next drop that we get into later on this year, we’ll start to talk a lot more about the systems and about the features and really get under the hood of… Where’s the tombs and tomb raiding? Where’s the exploration? Where’s the combat? That’s important to us, that we communicate that. But it all had to be done at the right time. We know from playing the game over and over and writing the story and being so immersed in this world… We could not come out on day one and basically say, “Here’s Lara raiding her first tomb.” Because you wouldn’t understand who she is. You wouldn’t know her motivation. You wouldn’t know her personality. So it means that when we do show it to you for the first time, you’ll feel like… “Okay, that’s an iconic moment, and I’m going to remember that for a long time.” We’ve put a lot of backstory around who she is and what it means to her.

MEAGAN MARIE: Here’s another question. We actually have some very PR- and marketing-savvy fans, who are analyzing our campaign. [laughs] They have a question, moving forward. What’s the aim, moving forward and ramping up to launch, in terms of our PR campaign? A lot of them are like… This is Lara Croft! She’s not just an iconic video game character, she’s an iconic hero in the action space in movies, and it deserves to be a big blockbuster entertainment release, versus just a video game release. Do we have a sort of motivation moving forward, or standards?

KARL STEWART: There’s two ways we look at Tomb Raider. They’re rightly so, in the sense that… We’re releasing a game and we have a date on the calendar for that game to come out. That’s March 5. But at the end of the day, nothing finishes on March 5. The game is just out there for people to play. We will continue that campaign all the way through. As you know, we’ve got movie. We’ve got an announcement coming up with a comic book partner. We’ve got so many things going on that the franchise continues. So, therefore we have to make sure it’s well-paced. We don’t want to get to a point where we bring out loads of assets leading up to the end of the year and then we’ve got nothing to say. Everything is very well-paced all the way through. And of course, by the time the game launches, we want people to feel like, “Yes, it’s not just about the story of a young girl.” It’s setting an iconic character back on that path where people want to be a tomb raider. People want to be Lara Croft again.

MEAGAN MARIE: And hopefully there will be the attraction, not only from, like you said, the gaming space… It’ll expand beyond that.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. It is a franchise. It’s lived for 16 years. As much inside video games as it has outside, in many different iterations. A lot of the planning that we’ve been putting around Tomb Raider for the last 18-plus months is about not just setting the foundation for the game, but for the franchise as a whole. It’s about making sure we have those partnerships that, after the game comes out, there’s still content there for people to be able to get their hands on.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Alright. Now we’re going to get a little bit more specific. What is the final month of launch like for you guys? Are you sweating it? Are you on phone calls with global partners every day? What’s it like leading up to launch, that close, when you’re really that close to the finish line?

RICH BRIGGS: Well, I think at that point you are in high execution mode. Again, everything is very consumer-facing at that point. The dev team, by that time, is on a much-needed vacation somewhere, hopefully. Sipping a cool drink with an umbrella in it. I think on the marketing and PR side, and the community side, that is when you are trying to drive everyone to a fever pitch. That is when you want awareness to be highest. So it is the culmination of all the different campaigns that you’ve done. A marketing and a PR and a community plan is in many ways… It has phases to it. At that point, you are at the peak. And to Karl’s earlier point, yes, there’s going to be a life cycle management to it, where you’re sustaining the campaign post-launch. But at that moment, a month before, you want your awareness as high as you can. You want people checking out your trailers. You want people running into the store to pre-order. That is where all hands are on deck.

MEAGAN MARIE: Is there a point in time where all of the cards are on the table prior to launch, and you have to kind of just wait? Or is it until the last minute, even the last day, you are making those…

KARL STEWART: A lot of it’s handed over. We are, from a studio standpoint, creating everything and making sure that all the preparation is in place. Then we hand it to the territories. They’re the ones who will see it right up to launch day. There’s a point in time that if we’re still as busy as we are in October as we are in February, there’s problem. Because it means that we haven’t delivered everything.

MEAGAN MARIE: It needs to be dictated out at some point…

KARL STEWART: By the time we get to the middle and end of December, we’re talking eight-plus weeks away from launch, there should be a period of time where we’ve ticked all our boxes to say, “Right, review builds have gone out. We got all our interviews set up. We’ve got assets ready. TV spots.” We’ve gotta submit our TV spot for classification and review in December. We’re at a period where, the next two or three months, we’re going to be working on all of that. Our advertising campaign and print ads have to be done and out in December to be able to go into magazines in January. If we’re as busy in February as we have in December, we have a bigger issue. [laughs] Our focus should have shifted really to making sure that we’re just raising awareness and we’re sustaining… We’re monitoring and sustaining and trying to make sure there’s no issues, and if there are, we’re there and we’re available and ready to jump on them. But the October-November-December are really our biggest months. That’s where a lot of the work that we’ll be seeing for the following eight-plus weeks all gets done and delivered and checked.

MEAGAN MARIE: So it’s a great time to have a baby and go away for 25 days.

KARL STEWART: Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: Because I’m going away for 25 days… [laughs]

KARL STEWART: And that’s why we say that there’s no formula. It all depends on when you release. We’re releasing in March, and unfortunately you’ve got Russia… They’re asking me to be in Singapore and Australia in December. It really is just timing.

MEAGAN MARIE: Ramping up.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. If you were shipping the first of November, then pretty much the day you should be getting everything ready is when you’re supposed to be at PAX and you’re supposed to be at Comic-Con and you’re supposed to be at Gamescom and all the rest of them. There’s never a great time, is there?

MEAGAN MARIE: I get the impression that making games keeps you busy. It seems to be a fair assumption.

RICH BRIGGS: It does, it does.

MEAGAN MARIE: So how about the day of launch? What’s it been like for you guys in the past? The day. Do you just sit? Do you just watch feeds? Do you try to sequester yourself away?

KARL STEWART: Day of launch… I tell you, when I ship out… All my friends got together and it was… See if I can remember the date. August 18, 2009, I think was the date we shipped the game? The night before, they rented out a portion of a restaurant and I turned up. They said, “Turn up at 7:30.” They’d been there since 7:00, and they were all in this portion of this restaurant with Batman masks on, drinking and having beers. Some of them were fully dressed up as Batman. So they had a Batman mask. I proceeded to have a few drinks, and then we went to the midnight opening, all dressed as Batman. It was at a local store, and it was just one of those cool things, to think that… “I just spent the last couple of years working on this, and now the culmination is, I’m standing at midnight outside a store…”

MEAGAN MARIE: Dressed as Batman.

KARL STEWART: And the GameStop manager, who I still see every now and then, he sort of remembers that we all turned up. We weren’t drunk, we were just all very happy. We were excited to be there. And he shouted out to everybody in the store that I was in the store. I ended up spending the next half an hour signing different things. That was a really cool time, because you feel like… This is it.

MEAGAN MARIE: You’re holding it, you’re holding all the work.

KARL STEWART: 300-plus people queued up outside the store, and all of our posters were in the window and our game’s in the store. They’re trying to hold people back and give them their tickets out early. That’s a great way to end a campaign, to step back and look at it and think, “I was a part of this.” As are the couple of hundred people who worked on it, but you were an integral part making this happen. That’s a pretty cool thing.

RICH BRIGGS: I think my answer changes based on what part of my career I experienced that in. To Karl’s point, on the dev side… At that point you are just basking in the moment, right? You still may be doing interviews. You may still be answering questions that are coming up from the community side. I don’t think anyone truly is ever just sitting back and doing nothing.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m just going to go in a cabin in the woods somewhere…

RICH BRIGGS: Yeah. But I think on the dev side, that day of launch, it really is just about reveling in the glory. It’s that culmination of something you’ve been working on for a year and a half, two years. Whatever the time frame may be. But then on the marketing side… I think you can still be pretty busy, because you can be saying… “What’s going on with this trailer? Is everything going where it’s supposed to be?” Tracking dashboards. Everyone on the executive side is going to be saying, “What’s our day one numbers look like? How many views are we getting on YouTube right now?”

KARL STEWART: “Why are they beating us, they’re not coming out until three months after?”

RICH BRIGGS: It really is interesting to see that ebb and flow of… Some departments are able to take that breather, and then other departments are still running and gunning. It’s great, because that, to me, that’s where the organization comes into play. That’s where you have a well-oiled machine that can support everyone at different times. Then, when the marketing guys are going crazy, it’s been my experience that the dev team is stepping up and saying, “What do you need? How can we help? Can we get you this other screenshot? Can we get you this other interview? Now we’ve got time. How do we help you with the launch?”

KARL STEWART: We’re in that phase now. We’ve got Brian, as you mentioned. Brian’s going to finish doing what he’s got to do on Tomb Raider, and he’s now over helping in support and working with us, to make sure that we get our assets done. It’s great, because it means that… Having Brian Horton means that we manage to keep that consistency that he’s built up in the game across all of our assets. It’s a time when Noah soon will be hitting the road with us, and there you get the creative director, he can only do so much on the game, and then he’s done. Same with Dan.

MEAGAN MARIE: There’s gotta be a point where you’re like, “Don’t mess with it anymore! It has to be finished!”

KARL STEWART: Generally it’s hard, because as soon as… Well, people have seen that we’ve been on the road for so long now, but as soon as they’re free, we start making use of their time. And just when they thought, “It’s done! No more things I can do in the game!” all of a sudden somebody says, “Hey, by the way, you’re heading off to Russia next week.” Or in Brian’s case off to London for Eurogamer. And they’re like, “D’oh! Just when I thought I was finished!”

RICH BRIGGS: They pull me back in.

MEAGAN MARIE: Being honest, I am so excited and also completely terrified for launch.

KARL STEWART: Trust me, so am I. [laughing]

MEAGAN MARIE: I am so excited, but at the same time I also realize that as a community manager, which is so forward-facing, it’s probably going to be the busiest day of my entire career here at Crystal.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, think of it from your perspective.

MEAGAN MARIE: My job is going to be the hardest after launch.

KARL STEWART: Exactly. Day one is going to be one of your busiest days, because you’re now going to get everybody who’s played the game listening to this…

MEAGAN MARIE: Our community will hopefully have expanded a hundred-fold.

RICH BRIGGS: You just won’t be able to keep up with the outpouring of congratulations and I-love-this-game e-mails that you get. That’s what I’m predicting, at least.

KARL STEWART: And people will not be tweeting abuse at me, but saying, “Thank you for not spoiling it! I actually really enjoyed it!”

MEAGAN MARIE: “I’m glad you didn’t give away this part!” So, alright. I’m very much looking forward to it. I expect a lot of… I was going to say pizza, but maybe we should settle on something healthier than pizza come launch week. I expect a lot of food catered in, so we can just stay and work and put our heads down at our desk and enjoy the road leading up to launch. Alright. Any final thoughts?

KARL STEWART: Ah… No? Just checked my phone again, making sure I haven’t had a text message or a phone call telling me that my baby’s being born. No, it’s good.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. We hope you guys are just as excited as we are about the final six months. So! Thanks for listening!

KARL STEWART: Thank you very much.

RICH BRIGGS: Thanks!

[musical interlude]

Segment 2: Take Five

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, Take Five. I am excited for this.

KARL STEWART: Dun dun dunnnn!

MEAGAN MARIE: I actually have quite a few more than Take Five, so we’ll see how many we can get through.

KARL STEWART: Looks like Take Ten.

MEAGAN MARIE: It actually does look like that. Okay, so here’s a really important one, and I’ve been really noncommittal about it online. When is the next Final Hours coming out @CrystalDKarl?

KARL STEWART: Go hit Karl up and ask him… So I reviewed cut number three last night, late. Gave my feedback, and we’re currently working on getting it locked in. So I would say… When’s this podcast coming out? In a week?

MEAGAN MARIE: Probably Friday.

KARL STEWART: Probably Friday, so… Give it probably two weeks or thereabouts? You’ll see it out. We’re very excited, because it was recorded down at Nerd Machine in San Diego at Comic-Con. And although I look at it now and I kinda feel like, “Oh, Comic-Con feels like it was so long ago,” for the amount of people that weren’t at Comic-Con, it’s actually really cool to see people playing our game and see how many people turned up. Just the world that happened around that week we were down there. Yeah, it’s exciting. Very exciting. Noah’s in it, and Rhianna, and a couple of others… Zach does a great job.

MEAGAN MARIE: Camilla…

KARL STEWART: A bit of Camilla in there. And John Stafford, all the people who were on the panel. So yeah, it’s very exciting times.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Speaking of Camilla and Rhianna, people say they want to speak to them more. Are we going to be highlighting them any time soon? Are we going to be throwing them in front of some cameras or asking them some questions?

KARL STEWART: We are. It’s obviously got to be the right time. We did some interviews with Camilla down at Comic-Con, when we had already just put the first Final Hours out. That was a great opportunity. But Camilla is a busy person as well. We have to make sure that we book her time accordingly. She’s currently busy, as everybody knows at this stage, working away on Gray’s Anatomy. We also have her in the studio every now and then recording some more bits and pieces for us as pickup. Probably the easiest way to do it is that over the next couple of weeks we’ll have Rhianna, because obviously the Final Hours is coming out. We’ll have some exposure from Rhianna. She’s going to do some interviews for us. I would love to try and find a way to be able to get her to chat to the community. Maybe you can find some unique way, Meagan, of doing a realtime Q&A. Which would be cool. And then, really, we’ll start looking at the big opportunities to be able to, obviously, get Camilla to get out there and talk about another part of the game that we’re actually talking about. She spoke very well about what we’ve been showing for the last 18 months in her time in front of the camera, but obviously she’s been a part of every single step of the way, bringing Lara to life on screen, so… When we get into this next phase later in the year, where we start talking about tombs and exploration and combat, it’ll be great to get Camilla out there in front of press again. I know everybody’s chomping at the bit to talk to her, and I get a lot of requests to chat to Camilla, so we’ll see. We just have to work around her schedule and make sure that it fits inside of our PR timelines. Let’s just say you’ll hear a lot from them between now and the end of the campaign.

MEAGAN MARIE: In that final six months that we just got done talking about.

KARL STEWART: Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, so here’s a question kind of related to Camilla, but it expands upon that. Is all of the V/O final at this point? I know we’ve had a little bit of some people commenting specifically on the Russian V/O and how some parts may be slightly off. Is there anything you can expand upon on that?

KARL STEWART: All I can say is that it’s never done until we really have to submit it. As Noah talks a little bit about in the next Final Hours… You get the game to a place where you play it, you review it, and then you realize that as you’re playing the entire experience from start to finish, some of the lines don’t make sense or some of the stories have loose endings. You want to tighten them up. There’s constant iterations all the way through the process. I know even right now, as far as we are into development, we still get John Stafford, Noah, and Rhianna dipping in there and tweaking new areas and looking at V/O. We have a session on next week, I believe, where the guys are back down there again recording. There’s obviously areas that, if they do get picked up, we’re very keen to make sure that we straighten them out. I know one of the comments has been about the Russian accent. I know for the Russian version, we’re looking at localizing it. We’re in the process now of seeing whether it’s going to be full Russian, or whether it’s going to be subtitles. Needless to say, if it’s full Russian, then obviously that line will be pronounced and spoken with the right dialect that it should be. But for now, we’re in that heavy-duty polish stage. What that means to us is that we’re going in and looking at every single aspect of the game and making sure that it makes sense. Obviously if it’s a big thing, so much can get done. At this stage there aren’t very many big things. We’ve already crossed all those hurdles. We’re now into the tweaking, but… It’s a great stage to be in, but… It’s polish time.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think you answered that well. Thank you. Here’s another one that has been fairly common, based off of the footage that we’ve shown off at Comic-Con and then Gamescom. Fans are wondering if there’s going to be a sense of fear in platforming. They noticed that you couldn’t fall off of ledges sometimes. You’d have to jump off of them, or you couldn’t fall off of a tree trunk. Is that something that’s indicative of the final game? Was that just for the demo?

KARL STEWART: No, that was… Partially that’s for the demo and the beginning of the game. Trust me, there’s a lot of verticality in the game, and there are going to be situations where you’re going to be on the edge of your seat making jumps. There’s leaps of faith, and if you miss you fall to your death. At the beginning of the game it’s about setting the story up, and obviously about making sure that we immerse the player. There are certain things that… You don’t want to be 10 minutes into the game and all of a sudden you take a left turn on a log and fall off because you were like, “D’oh!” Dying that quickly. But obviously it’s a fine balance. You don’t want to hold the player’s hand too much through every single scenario. So therefore, when you get further into the game, you will come across some hair-raising moments that… As I said, you’ll be at the edge of your seat and you’ll have to really think about it. Without spoiling them…

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright. We have a very prolific Tomb Raider fan artist asking… Will there be artbooks and concept sketches and so on? I know we get a ton of interest about seeing that iterative background stuff. In the forum Q&A you answered that we are proud of the work and the process that we did, and so we’ll definitely have behind-the-scenes stuff, but… I think they’re wondering about a tangible artbook.

KARL STEWART: We will. We’ve actually had a big kickoff meeting with our partner on that last week, who we’ll be working with. Brady Games. Brian, when he moves over, which I think he actually has yesterday or today, to our department… Brian’s going to be taking that as one of his core projects and seeing it from start to finish, because Brian is, as you know, the art director. He was a part of every single asset from the beginning. So Brian will be leading the charge and I’ll be reviewing and jumping in to give my two cents on it, but I’m a big fan of artbooks. I really am. So we’ll be doing that.

MEAGAN MARIE: You can never own enough artbooks.

KARL STEWART: Exactly. I’ve got so many. And in the next couple weeks, we’ll also be announcing where you can get an exclusive version of the artbook as a pre-order incentive as well. So watch this space.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Another question that I hear fairly commonly. Will you be able to turn off help icons and such, and will you make an achievement for not using survival instinct?

KARL STEWART: Um… I need to check all the achievements. I’m not sure whether or not I’ve got that in. I think it’s actually built in to the story. At some point you do need to check to be able to understand where to go and what to do. I don’t know whether there’s an achievement there. I think it’d be pretty hard to play the entire game without hitting it at least once.

MEAGAN MARIE: Even if just by accident.

KARL STEWART: Even if just by accident and button-mashing. And then for help icons… They only come up for a very short period of time. Again, I need to check, but I don’t recall… I’ve never wanted to turn them off, so I don’t recall seeing a button that allows me to turn them off. If there isn’t, I don’t think at this stage it would go in.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, well, I will let you go so you can get back to your cell phone.

Thank you very much. Holding it in my hand right now. Thank you. Bye-bye.

Segment 3: Outro

MEAGAN MARIE: Thank you guys for listening. Hope you enjoyed the podcast. Even though I’m going to be traveling out and about over the next month -- I’ll be stopping in Eurogamer before going to Igromir in Russia and ending at New York Comic-Con – I’m going to try to do some pretty cool interviews over the next few weeks. So! I will do my best to maybe get Rhianna on. I know that you guys are interested in talking to her, and we can maybe do a community Q&A. Hopefully you’ll have that to look forward to. Until next time.

[Musical outro]

TranceTrouble
25th Sep 2012, 12:27
thanks D going to listen to it right away :)

dark7angel
25th Sep 2012, 12:44
A Comic Book!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D SWEET!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been wishing for Lara to return to comics for a long time!!!!

It would be great if it was back with The Cow (Top Cow) :D

Shaikh
20th Oct 2012, 13:09
Haven't listen the final 10 minutes of Podcast #12 before. Now while I was listening it yesterday, I found out that my question was asked to Camilla. :D Double joy for me this month. :D

Thanks Meagan. :flowers:

dark7angel
24th Oct 2012, 18:29
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 15 is already on iTunes (link (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-crystal-habit./id447844486))

Info:

This episode is dedicated exclusively to chatting with Tomb Raider lead writer Rhianna Pratchett. Rhianna talks about her history with the franchise, the immense task of reimagining an iconic character, and answers questions from the community! Hosted by Meagan Marie.

Shaikh
24th Oct 2012, 18:34
Ah came to post here. :p

Let me know how many of my questions Meagan picked up for this Q&A session with Rhianna Pratchett. :D

pidipidi39
24th Oct 2012, 18:36
did meagan pick the question from the Q&A thread here in the forum or are they different questions? ;)

Driber
24th Oct 2012, 18:40
^ The forum Q&A (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?t=129281) is still going. 2 days left!!

Shaikh
24th Oct 2012, 19:02
did meagan pick the question from the Q&A thread here in the forum or are they different questions? ;)
Its from this thread (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?t=129247). :)

dark7angel
24th Oct 2012, 20:50
Here's the transcript of the latest Podcast - THE CRYSTAL HABIT PODCAST: EPISODE 15 (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/34248703306/new-podcast-is-up-and-running-i-think-you-guys)

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 15


[Musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: Hello everyone, thank you for tuning in. As always this is your host, Meagan Marie. We’re up to episode number 15 of the Crystal Habit podcast, and this time the entire episode is dedicated to chatting with Tomb Raider lead writer Rhianna Pratchett. I apologize in advance for the audio quality, as phone interviews are always a little bit tinny-sounding. So without further ado, we’ll jump right into the interview. It tops off at over 60 minutes. Enjoy!

[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: Rhianna Pratchett

MEAGAN MARIE: Thanks for tuning in, everyone. As promised, I am here with TR lead writer Rhianna Pratchett, and I’m armed with pressing questions from you guys, the community. Thanks for being on the show. Does it feel good to get out and start talking about Tomb Raider after a long time?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Oh, yeah, definitely. I’ve been raring to go for a long time now. It’s great to be able to get out there and talk about things and engage with the fans.

MEAGAN MARIE: We have a wonderful, passionate group of fans, and getting to the heart of their questions, having people like you and Camilla on, is really exciting for them. So thank you for being here and for answering their questions. I’m conscious of the time difference on this call, so we’ll get started. I figure the beginning is a great place to start. How long have you been gaming? Are there any definitive games that have shaped your childhood and made you realize you wanted to be a part of the games industry?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Well, I started gaming when I was about six. I started quite young. My dad was very into tech and electronics and computers. I remember him bringing home… I think was a ZX-81. He had a game called Mazogs on it. It was a sort of 2D… I guess we call them dungeon crawlers now, but we had no such word back in those days. It was a little pixelated man in a pixelated maze with pixelated spiders after him. I remember I was very frightened initially when I saw this game, but once I realized that you got a little pixelated sword to kill the pixelated spiders, I fell in love. At that moment… That’s where it all started I think. I used to get my dad’s hand-me-down machines and I’d play games on those. Amstrads and such, moving up to PC. I was a PC gamer originally, and I got into consoles a bit later. I particularly liked adventure games. I used to play adventure games with the little girl that lived next door. We would do things like… We tried a lot of the Leisure Suit Larry games, when we were about 14, trying to guess the “Are you 18?” questions that they used to have at the start of Leisure Suit Larry games. Which were usually about the American political process, which is really quite a good way of doing it. We also used to play Conquest of Camelot. Space Quest. King’s Quest. We played a lot of adventure games together. She would make me play any bit she deemed scary, like if a wolf appeared on screen… [laughs] Which was usually made up of about six pixels. That was a lot of fun. I used to play games with my dad. I used to draw the maps for him, so he’d drive and I’d navigate. That was a lot of fun. I was always playing games with people. It was a social experience for me. I got into adventure games, and then I got into strategy games a lot. My dad taught me to play chess. I think that carried through. I was a big fan of things like the Command & Conquer games. Dune II. Even the original Dune game, which is a sort of turn-based semi-RTS, semi-adventure game. Then I was very into the Diablo games. As I think I said on the Nerd Machine panel, I almost lost a boyfriend to Diablo II. My playing Diablo II, not him. I should have gone with Diablo and ditched the boyfriend… Diablo made a big impression. The cutscenes in particular made a big impression. They’re usually ones that I talk about when it comes to ways of using a cutscene well, as a sort of reward mechanic. You spend hours slashing away through demon hordes, and then you’ve got this really lovely cutscene. You get a chance to breathe. It was well-written and well-put-together. That really captivated me at the time. That was the first time I remember really thinking about a game’s story to any strong degree, although I really enjoyed the stories in things like Conquest of Camelot and adventure games. This was the first time it had actually seemed cinematic. Then I got into playing the Wing Commander games. That was when we used to have Mark Hamill in them. I loved those as well. So I’ve had a quite varied gaming history. I’ve pretty much played everything aside from sports games.

MEAGAN MARIE: So how did you then transition and get your start in the industry?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I studied journalism. When I was in my last year at university I managed to get a bit of work for a women’s magazine called Mink. I started writing, I think, about comic book characters. They knew I was into games, and they decided to cover games reviews, which was fairly unprecedented for a women’s magazine at the time. So they came to me. I started reviewing games for them. It only lasted about four issues before they went through a redesign and it all became about lipstick and boys, but it was enough to get my foot in the door of the industry. I started getting games sent through and getting more work. I wrote for a magazine called TC Gear. I then got a job as the editor of systems and then moving up to section editor on a game magazine called PC Zone. I stayed there for a couple of years doing the whole face of games journalism. I wrote for the Guardian. I went freelance again and did all sorts of stuff for the Times and various other places. Around the time I went freelance, which was about 11 years ago now, I was asked if I would be a story editor for a hardcore role-playing game called Beyond Divinity. It was a game that… It was a sequel. I had supported the previous game while I was in the press. The developers remembered me. They were looking for a native English speaker who understood their games, so they came to me. It was very fortuitous. So I worked with them. When I finished I thought, “Hey, there’s work here.” I didn’t even think about games writing as a career, because it wasn’t talked about that much then. People were obviously doing it, but it just wasn’t really known about in the same way as we know about programmers or designers or artists. So I started hitting up the contacts that I’d made as a journalist. I’d say, “Hey, I’m doing some scriptwriting now and character work. Do let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.” A few of them came back to me and said, “Yeah, absolutely.” I started getting little bits of work, anything from level dialogue to mission design, and moving up to bigger projects like Heavenly Sword, like the Overlord series. Mirror’s Edge. Viking. Risen. And now Tomb Raider. I very much grew my career step by step, which I think has really helped me gain a good perspective about all areas of narrative in games. I’ve worked at every stage.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, absolutely. As someone who’s worked on both sides of the industry, I get this a lot also… Which side do you find more demanding or more rewarding? Are you happy working on this side of the industry as opposed to being a critic?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Definitely. I think this side is both more demanding and more rewarding. That’s usually the way it works, really. I don’t know that I could ever go back to being a games journalist again. Maybe because, weirdly, the pay is much worse than it was when I started out. It seems to have gone down. I really enjoyed working in print media, and there are so few magazines around now, which is very sad. I really enjoyed my time there. It was very important. It gave me a good skill set for looking at games and being able to break them down. That’s helped me as a game writer. I do enjoy this side of the industry. Although it’s really weird reading reviews of games I work on. I really just want to go and hibernate for a few weeks when the reviews come out. I don’t want to read them, because I know what it’s like being a journalist and I know what it’s like being a developer… It all bubbles to the surface. I’m sitting there with my arms crossed going, “Oh, I can tell that they only played the first two levels” or something like that and getting outraged about it. It’s been an interesting transition, but a really valuable one I think.

MEAGAN MARIE: Do you feel like your skills translated fairly well? As a games journalist, you’re reporting factually and then you have your editorialized pieces, but now you’re creating fiction. Was that something that you felt came naturally to you, or was it an adjustment?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: It seemed to come quite naturally. I’d done a bit of that growing up. I wrote short stories and things like that. I sort of rebelled against being a writer during my teen years… For semi-obvious reasons, I guess. I leaned towards journalism because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, and journalism is great for that because you get various opportunities. I went through a whole phase of wanting to be an actress, wanting to be a mermaid… I sort of settled on journalist. I got eased into creative writing. Since then… I do a lot of stuff outside of games as well. I write comics and I work on screenplays and TV shows. Short stories. Pretty much everything apart from novels, which I’m leaving to Pratchett senior.

MEAGAN MARIE: Speaking specifically to Tomb Raider, what’s your history with the Tomb Raider franchise? I know you’ve been quoted as having a “love-hate” relationship with the series and the characters. Would you care to elaborate on that?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: It’s an interesting one. My first ever industry event was actually a Tomb Raider III launch party. My dad was known as a Tomb Raider fan at the time, and he got invited and took me along. That was my first foray into the games industry. I played the first game and I loved that one. I played a bit of the second. I can’t remember if I actually ended up playing any of the third. But after that… I was sort of aware of Tomb Raider. I played the odd demo. But I never really got into them again as strongly as I did at the start. I’m not entirely sure why that is. I was a bit worried at first that maybe Crystal would see that as a disadvantage, but actually they saw that as a good thing, because it meant that I came to the franchise with fresh eyes. I wasn’t necessarily beholden to everything that had come before, which matched the attitude of the whole team on the project.

MEAGAN MARIE: When were you first approached to work on Tomb Raider, then?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: It was about two and a half years ago. I was already working for another Square Enix/Eidos title. I was contacted through the internal mail system. I’m not even sure whether I knew there was a Tomb Raider reboot in the works. I think maybe I did? I can’t remember. I did a test. I had an interview. I wrote some of the demo scenes, some of the early scenes with Lara and Roth, which seem to have been shown now. Crystal was very much looking for someone who could capture Lara’s voice. I seemed to be able to do something they liked, and so they wanted me as their writer. It feels like a very long time ago…

MEAGAN MARIE: No doubt. What were your initial thoughts, then, when you were approached about writing for the franchise? Considering that it’s such a beloved franchise and it was such a new direction…

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I’m very much someone who embraces challenge, someone who will go towards things that scare them a little bit. I’m always looking for that next challenge and what I can help change and develop and put my stamp on. I thought this was a great opportunity to go and reboot, revamp, revitalize, however you want to put it, a character that I’d sort of fallen out of love with. Now you get a chance to make her what you would have liked her to have been. Those opportunities rarely happen. Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, I think.

MEAGAN MARIE: This is something that I know the fans would love a deeper explanation on. As lead writer, which parts of the narrative are you specifically involved with? You work very closely with Noah Hughes, who’s our creative director, and then John Stafford, who’s our narrative designer. Can you describe the relationship between the three of you?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Absolutely. I largely handle the cinematic sequences in the game. I work on the core storyline and all the scenes that are mocapped and a lot of the radio dialogue as well. What we call the core narrative, which forms a lot of the heavy narrative lifting in the game. John, who I think has been on the project about a year… Between a year and a year and a half. John is responsible for the level dialogue that happens during the game. I wrote a little bit of that to start with, for our demos, and then John came on board and he handled that. He also does a lot of the AI dialogue as well and Lara’s dialogue as she’s progressing through the game. All three of us would feed back on each other’s work. I would look at what John was doing, he would look at what I was doing. We formed a kind of narrative triangle. We’d discuss problems. If a scene needed to be changed, how we would do it. But largely it was me doing the writing, but with direction and feedback from Noah and John. It works the same way for the level dialogue, what John was responsible for. John has also done a lot of the secondary narrative in the game, a lot of the letters and the documents that you find. I know he had a lot of fun with those.

MEAGAN MARIE: What other members of the team have you worked closely with? What’s the traditional collaboration method? Obviously you’re out in the U.K., so do you usually communicate through e-mail or conference calls? How often do you make it to the studio and so on?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I’ve probably been out to the studio about four times now, for various lengths of time. There were usually a lot of conference calls, lots of e-mails. Messenger. Technology has made the world a much smaller place. It’s far easier to be in contact as long as these feedback loops are in play. Mainly it was John and Noah. I worked with, initially, Tim Longo, who I think was the original experience director. He was there at the start. I worked with him. But mainly it’s been Noah and then John. I’ve had a little bit to do with other members of the team. Ron and Brian and Darrell. He gave his feedback. We talked about a lot of things during the course of the games.

MEAGAN MARIE: How do you start working on a project that’s so large? Do you just dive in? Is there a professional process or a motto that you follow? Or is it just an organic evolution?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: It really changes depending on the project and when you’ve been brought on board. There’s never one answer when it comes to games writing, because your job can vary considerably depending on if you’re brought on board a year into the development or three months before the end. So there’s no one way of doing it. The situation is like having a box of narrative parts handed to you. It’s a bit like being Doctor Frankenstein. You get a box of parts and this will include things like… There may be a story arc. There may be some characters. There may be some visuals. There may be some themes. There may be a lot of stuff in place. There may be not much stuff in place. You never know what you’re going to find in the box. I don’t want to go with the Forrest Gump analogy; I prefer the narrative body parts… But it’s like that. They hand you this box of body parts and you have to examine what’s there, what isn’t there, how you stitch it all up and make it into a living, breathing story again. It all depends on what’s in that box. That can depend on a lot of factors. It can depend on how important narrative is in the game. For example, an action-adventure game would have less narrative in it than, say, a hardcore role-playing game. The action-adventure would probably have more narrative than a strategy game. It really depends on the genre for the project, when you’re brought on board, the attitude of the team towards narrative, how important it is in the game…

MEAGAN MARIE: I think that’s really interesting, because some people have a perception that you just start from ground zero and they say, “Create a story.” But there’s a lot of pieces already in place, and then you’re brought on to help make sure that narrative makes sense and that it’s fleshed out properly. And it is a very collaborative and iterative process, so it’s interesting to hear it explained that way.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Yeah. It is very weird. There’s no real blank page in games writing. You rarely start with a blank page. There’s always something there. It might get shaken up. It might get completely changed. But you’re always working within the limits there, whether it’s a limit of time or budget or gameplay or level design. There are always limits that you have to learn to work with. That can be a little bit disarming for writers, especially if they come from other media and they’re used to being there at the very start. They’re not necessarily used to working with this box of body parts. There is a real difference to writing for games compared to other entertainment media.

MEAGAN MARIE: So, looking at that box of body parts… Was there a specific aspect of the game you found particularly difficult to flesh out? A certain scenario or character or a string of dialogue? And how do you overcome obstacles? Without spoiling anything, obviously… I don’t know if you can honestly answer that with what we’ve revealed so far.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I think it was trying to make sure that players, particularly the testers, understood what was going on. Especially with our backstory and how that comes through in the game. We spent quite a lot of time trying to juggle how we told that backstory and revealed it to players and made sure that they were getting it along the way. That’s always a challenge, how much information you give to players, given that the nature of playing a game is so different from the nature of watching a film. You don’t know if a player has just sat down and is banging right through the game, or if they’re playing a little bit and going away for a week and coming back after forgetting everything. You don’t know if they’re skipping cutscenes or whatever. It’s a real challenge to try and give the players enough information so they get it, but not too much so it feels like you’re constantly repeating yourself. That was a challenge. Telling our backstory and getting players to understand that and making that clear. Lara’s motivations as well. That took a lot, because that’s very iterative. You have to listen to player feedback and tester feedback and just keep iterating accordingly until it’s all coming together. One of the interesting things about games writing is that you have such a large feedback loop. If you’re working on level design, you can build something, drop it in the game, and bang, it’s there. You can see if it’s working. With games writing, you have to write it, then you have to cast it, then you have to record it, then you drop that into the game… There might be animation. The loop from writing it to getting it in the game and fully animated and fully voiced is a long time. There’s a lot of those steps in between, which can look a bit ugly and sound bad, but you have to trust that they’ll all fall into place eventually.

MEAGAN MARIE: This is a pretty pointed question that I know a lot of people wonder about. Some writers say that you need to be a woman to know a female character, or whatever in regards to other attributes of humanity… You’ve stated before that you tried to write Lara first as a strong human character, and her gender is a secondary consideration. What’s your thinking behind that approach to writing Lara?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I just find it more interesting looking at the things that make us human, the things that unite us, regardless of gender. I think they can in some ways be more powerful. Also, I think people focus on a lot on Lara’s gender. People focus a lot on my gender. Sometimes I like to put that aside and just look at what is the human story here. I think that’s something everyone can relate to. I don’t want to feel that… If I was telling a story about being female, that might exclude certain players. It’s much better, I think, to look at the human story. Lara is a great female character and I’ve had the privilege of working with other strong female action characters as well, in Mirror’s Edge and Heavenly Sword. So I’ve done it a lot. But I always give my female characters as much dedication as I give my male characters. You have to, really. But it’s that human story that I was really interested in.

MEAGAN MARIE: I do feel like that comes across. It’s wonderful seeing people… I get to be on the show floor a lot, on the ground level seeing people playing the game, and I really do feel like we’ve achieved a level of people identifying with Lara, which is such a great thing to see.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Yeah. I was really hoping for that. That’s very exciting to hear.

MEAGAN MARIE: It is a very fresh take, I think. Similarly, being British, it must help you infuse the correct level of cultural awareness into the character. In what ways did you bring out her cultural identity?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: There are some that have been lost to the rigors of game development. For example, she talks about Jaffa Cakes at one point. That was re-written for other reasons, I have to say, it wasn’t an anti-Jaffa Cake backlash or something. Jaffa Cakes are a very famous kind of half biscuit, half cake in the U.K. There was a slogan like, “They really put the Great in Great Britain – Jaffa Cakes!” They’re always asked for by Brits living in America. They always want me to bring them Jaffa Cakes. Certainly in her language she’s quite British, without being too colloquial and slangy. I had to make sure that she didn’t get overly British, which I think can be a problem. I had to check over John’s level dialogue and make sure it was all falling under Lara’s Britishness. I think when you’re British it’s often hard to break down what makes British British. But you know how to write it. It’s not always easy to communicate that to someone else. You have to look over things and say, “No, we don’t say things that way, we say it this way round.” It’s the same for American dialogue. I think British writers are a little more used to American dialogue because we get so many TV shows from America, whereas American writers are probably not quite as used to the way Brits speak. Being British certainly helps there. But yeah, it’s really hard to identify what makes her particularly British, because I think in British terms anyway. It’s probably easier for an American to say, “Oh, she’s being very British there.”

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s interesting, because I have heard particularly… Someone appreciated your reference to climbing Snowdon. That was one thing stood out. It really helped her feel grounded in that particular culture. I thought that was a cool little comment to get.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Yeah. There’s been a couple of little references like that. Some of them have got lost, like Jaffa Cakes, sadly. But I’ve gotten in some little things like that.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m definitely interested in this perspective, specifically from you. Lara has always been considered an extraordinary person. So what do you feel are her defining traits, both the classic Lara and the current Lara? What do you think has been maintained through this transition that still makes Lara Croft Lara Croft?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I know that some people have felt that we’re breaking down Lara in this game. That we’re taking a strong character and sort of breaking her down through the events that happen. But that’s really not the case. What we’re doing is taking her back to a time when she didn’t have the answers to everything. She didn’t have the guns and the gadgets to deal with every situation. She was seeing everything with fresh eyes and she didn’t know she was capable of doing these things. So she’s on that mission of self-discovery. All those traits that she strengthens throughout the game are in her, absolutely in her, but they’ve not been brought out in such a way. That was really interesting from a writer’s perspective, to be able to do that. We haven’t really taken away from her. We’ve just wound her back. Everything is still there. It’s still embryonic within her. She’s discovering it at the same time as the players are. That’s delightful, when you can get players and player characters discovering everything for the first time. That’s a real sweet spot. That’s been very important. Particularly where her bravery comes in, that was something I wanted to look at. The fact that we do see her being scared and sobbing at certain points and turning to Roth for help… Yeah, she does seem a little bit helpless. Not necessarily what you want to do with a strong female character. But… That’s important. You see her grow. You see her actually having to face up to things. She’s utterly scared, but she realizes that she’s going to have to get herself out of this. That realization is powerful. I think it was a little bit shocking to players, to see Lara being scared. You rarely see characters being scared, especially when they’re usually seen as so strong and capable. I think that was a bit of a shock for people. But we’re playing a long game with Lara. When you see Lara scared and asking Roth for help, that’s very early on in the game. You see her basically having to pick herself up and say, “Okay, I have to do this one step at a time. If I get knocked down, I’ll get back up again.” It’s that character evolution and discovery of things inside herself… And discovering the magic in the world. Not necessarily supernatural magic, but her love of tombs and her geekiness about archaeology, that comes out as well. It’s not all doom and gloom. She gets excitable and almost bubbly… That kind of geeky archaeology student really comes out in certain places. That was a lot of fun to do.

MEAGAN MARIE: Those are some of my personal favorite parts in the game. We’ve shown a little clip of it now, when Lara discovers and enters her first tomb. I think that was a real moment for me, which registered as this being Lara Croft. It very much resonated for me as a long-time fan. I totally agree with that, seeing her sort of geekiness for archaeology come out is really rewarding.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: It’s like seeing Indy get his hat for the first time in Last Crusade.

MEAGAN MARIE: Exactly. I think I need to move on to some community questions, otherwise I could keep talking to you with all these general questions forever. We’ll move on to a couple of questions from the Eidos forums. AdobeArtist asks… You dropped some tidbits about Lara’s backstory in a recent interview, and the fans absolutely loved it. AdobeArtists asks, “I understand why there’s no mansion and why Lara doesn’t have access to state-of-the-art utilities while on the island. But going by what the article says, why does she choose not to tap into her inheritance? Does this mean that Lara has completely forsaken her aristocratic heritage in this reboot?” We obviously don’t want to go and explain everything in too much detail, but I know… People are curious as to whether Lara is still an aristocrat, if she’s still posh.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: The word “aristocrat” doesn’t really exist as much in England as it used to. Certainly not when Lara first came out… I think people sort of mistake “aristocrat” with “royalty” and things like that. It’s not really used in that way anymore. So for example, we wouldn’t necessarily say that every lord is an aristocrat. I wouldn’t say that Lord Alan Sugar considers himself an aristocrat. My father is knight, he’s a Sir, but I don’t know if he considers himself an aristocrat. So Lara definitely comes from money. Her father is titled. At the start of the game her parents are missing. They’ve been missing for a number of years. That side of things is not touched in the game. Her parents don’t appear. So she technically has access to that money, but she doesn’t want to touch it for a number of reasons. For one, she very much wants to stand on her own two feet. She’s very… I don’t know about stubborn, but she wants to make her own way in the world on her own terms. She puts herself through university. She works several jobs in order to do so, one of which she mentions in the game. She talks about a late shift at the Nine Bells. She doesn’t use her family’s money to do that. She does it herself. Also, because her parents are missing, she doesn’t want to touch that money, because it would sort of be tantamount to admitting that they’re really gone, that they’re not going to come back. We explore this a bit more in the promotional comics. She actually ties up that wealth in trusts and all kinds of things so she can’t touch it, even if she wanted to, at this particular moment in the game. That’s not to say she won’t change her mind about it. But where she is now, we didn’t want that to be a factor. I wanted her to feel about it differently. I wanted her to feel something that I think modern audiences would accept a little bit more than the sort of throwing-money-all-over-the-place, gadgets-up-the-yin-yang, fancy this, fancy that… I think that’s hard to relate to, and a little bit crass in this day and age. She might get there one day, but this is how Lara feels at 21.

MEAGAN MARIE: Adobe Artist also has another very interesting question that I thought might resonate with you. He says, “Here’s one to ask an Egyptologist…” Because you did study a bit of Egyptology, correct?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I did, yes.

MEAGAN MARIE: So he says, “The burial traditions of the pharaohs were that they would have their most prized worldly possessions placed in the tomb with them, so they’d have it in the afterlife. What possessions would you take with you that you couldn’t do without in your afterlife?”

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Oh, gosh. Probably some cats, but I’m thinking they’re probably there already, if it’s the Egyptian afterlife. You probably can’t move for all the cats there… Probably my laptop? Can you get an internet connection in the afterlife? Is there wi-fi in the afterlife? That’s a question that has never been answered.

MEAGAN MARIE: I sure hope so.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Yeah. Something to write on would be great, because I type so much. My handwriting is awful. It’d have to be some kind of laptop, that would definitely be great. Earl Grey tea. I’m very British like that. Jaffa Cakes would be good.

MEAGAN MARIE: We’re going to need to get some of these. I need to try them next time I’m in London.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: They’re great. I think you can get them in certain sorts of British shops over there, but yeah, they’re amazing. If I see you before the end of this project, I’ll bring you some Jaffa Cakes. So Jaffa Cakes, cats, internet connection, wi-fi, that would all be good. It’s a hard one.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think that covers it. That’s funny, because my first reaction was also my cat. It’s kind of a mean thing to say, but again…

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Well, I’m assuming I’m going to outlive my cat. They’ll already be in little canopic jars. They can come with me. It would be nice to bring my boyfriend as well, but I’m not going to insist he come if he has to be sacrificed on a funeral pyre in the event I go before him… If he’s already gone again, he could have his own jar. Tropical fish? Oh, I’m getting quite into this question now. I could probably come up with pages…

MEAGAN MARIE: We have another question from the Eidos forums. Trance Trouble asks, “I assume you watched the actresses do the voice recording for the characters in terms of motion capture. Did you have any say in terms of last-minute changes to the script when you noticed something wouldn’t suit the actors?” Essentially he’s wondering, did the script or any scenarios change to accommodate what the voice actors brought to the table? Specifically with Camilla, maybe. Did any of that change based on how she delivered the performance?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Not that much. We always did practice before there was a motion capture shoot, so it’s more likely that things would change because when the actor read it, it didn’t sound quite as it did on paper, and so it needed a little bit of a tweak, or maybe it sounded awkward and so it would get tweaked because of that. But it was largely quite small stuff. The bigger tweaks came if there was something in the gameplay that was changed, or if the level design was changed. We always paid attention to the performance and we’d always get feedback on that. There would always be little things that came out through the direction of it. But there weren’t too many changes. It was just little things here and there. It was the gameplay and the level design that really wrought bigger changes, rather than the actors themselves.

MEAGAN MARIE: Dark Angel asks, “Will you also write the new Tomb Raider comics?” We can’t talk too much about this, but you did confirm a little bit about the comics.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Yeah, that was in a press release about it, so I’m allowed to officially say that. I’ve written… I don’t know if I’m allowed to say how many? But I have written a promotional comic. These take place prior to the Endurance expedition. They explore some of what happened in the few weeks running up to it. That was really enjoyable to do, actually. I got to explore a lot of the characters’ backstories, and I got to work a lot with the character Whitman, who is one of my favorites. That was a lot of fun to do. I think it will really help players understand the characters a bit better, where they’ve come from and their attitudes towards Lara and their relationship with her.

MEAGAN MARIE: Dark Angel also asks, “Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, or Lara?”

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: That’s really difficult. Lara’s my baby now… I don’t know. I love them all for different reasons. I grew up on Alien and the Terminator. I once went to a fancy dress party dressed as an amalgamation of Ripley from Alien 1, 2, and 4. I had combat pants and vest on and a makeshift flamethrower, and then a small ginger toy cat on my shoulder. I think a U.S.S. Sulaco hat. I sharpened and pointed my fingernails and painted them brown and had an 8 on my shoulder. Lots of people thought I was meant to be Lara Croft…

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s amazing how often you find somebody who has holsters and…

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Yeah. It’s true. It really started with Ripley, though. It started with Ripley for me. That’s one of my first loves.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think that’s a fair answer.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: It’s very difficult to choose.

MEAGAN MARIE: Shaikh asks… He’s a big fan of your Mirror’s Edge work, by the way. He had like four questions tying your work with Faith to Lara. He says, “Faith has to save her sister, and in Tomb Raider, Lara Croft has to save Sam. Are there any other similarities you feel like those two characters have?”

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: They both have a lot of history with each other. I’d say that Faith and Kate have much more of a strained history together than Lara and Sam do. Lara and Sam both went to university together, so Lara studied archaeology and Sam studied cinematography. As you’ll see in the comic and also in the game, Sam comes from a very rich family as well, but unlike Lara, she really makes the most of it. She’s much more of a socialite and a party girl. She really cares about Lara. She does admire Lara’s integrity, and even though that’s not how she chooses to live her own life, she respects Lara for doing that. But Sam, at the same time, is very passionate about film. She’s a documentarian. So she has her geeky loves as well. That’s a lot of fun, again. That’s sort of explored in the comics. So she’s been through university with Lara, and she was always the one trying to get Lara away from her books and into the pubs and clubs and stuff. She’s kept Lara actually having a social life as well as hitting the books. There’s a strong friendship between them, a lot of love between them. With Faith and Kate, where they start almost on opposite sides… Again, the Mirror’s Edge comics were used to explore why that relationship turned out the way it did. I’d say definitely hit the promotional Tomb Raider comics if you want to find out more about Lara and Sam and all the other characters. There are a few similarities between them, but not that many.

MEAGAN MARIE: We have a couple of questions from Facebook, too. Kyle Coopersmith asks, “What non-Tomb Raider games have influenced the story for this game?” But you can open that one larger, too, as far as what sorts of stories in general inspired you when writing this new version of Lara.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: One of the things I remembered when I came on board was the movie The Descent. That was a big influence for Crystal. I thought that was great. There was this big American developer referencing a fairly small indie cult movie. I thought that was great. I’m a big fan of Neil Marshall’s work, and a big fan of The Descent in particular. That was definitely one. Lost was an influence, to a degree. I’d say those two in particular. Especially for some of the visuals for Lara.

MEAGAN MARIE: We have another Facebook question from Isaac Cabrera. This was a bit of a complex one. He says, “How difficult is it to write a strong narrative for such an iconic character who, in the past, is known for controversy due to the complexity of female empowerment while also being a sex icon? How do you keep the balance between what you personally want to put into the character…? Was there a time when you ever had to cut any sort of lines or a story direction because you felt that it went one way or the other too far?”

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: No, I don’t think so. Both Crystal and myself have a quite good idea of what we wanted to do with Lara, and we really jelled with how we want to develop her character along the way. Because I work so closely with Noah and John, we really knew what each other was thinking about and where to go her. We were constantly feeding back. We were quite sensitive to how we were portraying her. I spoke earlier about how there is a risk inherent with showing a character that has previously been very strong and capable back in a time where she wasn’t so strong and capable. Or she was, but she just didn’t realize it yet. As I said before, we’re playing the long game with her. That’s very early on, and you’ll see her develop and access that strength within herself. She’ll fight on through the game. I think that was a very interesting thing to do. It’s always a balancing act, but you have to take choices as a creator. You know that you’re not going to satisfy everyone all the time, but you have to make a choice and stick with that creative vision.

MEAGAN MARIE: We have another question from Tumblr. Violet Story asks, “I wanted to ask for any advice for writers want to break in to video games.” That’s a big question…

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: For a start, play video games. I know that seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many writers come up and ask me about writing for games, and they’ve never played a game. Learn the medium. That’s one of the most important things. Play as many games as you can. Obviously, being a journalist, that meant I actually had to do it and was thankfully being paid to do it. But you really need to understand the medium. Read books on design as well. Look at how games are put together and how writing can fit in to them. There are many more books out there about games writing. There are lots of great ones that the IGDA writers special interest group has actually put together. Stories from the trenches about different aspects of game writing, about localization, about working on new IPs, about working with voice actors. They’re all really good for getting an idea of what you’ll be expected to do within games. Other than that, it’s about networking. It’s about going to events and conferences and talking to people. Going to talks given by writers. Just meeting people and networking and finding out what people are looking for and putting together samples. If you have no experience, then make it up. Look at a game that you really like and craft a scene for it that wasn’t actually in the game, but you can imagine might have been. Look at bark dialogue. Do a cutscene sample. Do a level design sample. Again, these books are very good for breaking down the different elements of narrative and allowing you to get an idea of how they’re put together. You don’t necessarily have to have experience and samples that have been published to put together a good sample. Most game developers require you to do some kind of written test as part of the writer audition.

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s usually my first piece of advice. I get a lot of questions about breaking into games journalism, and I just say, “Start writing.” There is nothing stopping you from writing your own blog or covering events. Other than networking, just starting to write and craft and find your own voice is so important. It’s awesome to hear that reinforced. Now we have a handful more questions. These ones are from Twitter. PokeWarrior asks, “Were there any characters in your original story that were cut, and did you miss seeing them go?”

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Without spoiling things… There were certain characters that have had certain things done to them during the game that weren’t originally envisaged, I guess? But I don’t think any were cut from the original conception. There were certain things that changed with the characters’ development process.

MEAGAN MARIE: Dina Innovch asks, “Is it hard to write a realistic story for a character that’s formerly been a bit of a caricature?”

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Kind of yes and no. We were coming to this game looking at rebooting things, keeping what we liked about the character and building in new things, or drawing out aspects of that character that we thought had been maybe lost or diluted over the years that we really wanted to focus on. It was almost, in some ways, like starting a new character, or at least it was that approach. But when you’re working with a game character, you’re always working within limits anyway. It can be the limits of budget or gameplay mechanics or level design. Working with limits of pre-existing backstory or bits and pieces along the way… It’s just more limits to work with. You get used to doing that. There was definitely enough space to work… Or Crystal gave me enough space to work with and make this character feel…the same, but different, I guess?

MEAGAN MARIE: The final question from the community is from Lara’s Generation. They ask, “Did you focus on keeping the storyline realistic?” I interpret that as… Can you speak to the balance of realistic and fantastical elements in the narrative? You obviously want to ground the character, but then to some degree, she’s perhaps tougher than a normal human, even though she is human. How do you balance the believability with the suspension of disbelief?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I think gamers always go into a game with the suspension of disbelief. Thankfully, that’s sort of inherent in the way we play games. Throughout the game, Lara actually suffers. You see the cuts and bruises. It’s more realistic from that point of view. But going back to the way she reacts to things, particularly situations like the first kill… It’s much more realistic and human. We wanted to show that her actions fed back into her character. In any other entertainment medium, action equals character, but so often in games you get this schizophrenic situation where a character is one thing in cutscenes and then goes on to perform mass genocide during the levels. That never feeds back into the character. It’s like it never happened. We wanted to bring that back into Lara and think about what it means to take a human life. Actually show her doing it and reacting badly to it and dealing with that throughout the game as well. She is not comfortable having to do that. She does wrestle with that throughout the game. So the internal journey she goes through is every bit as challenging as the external journey she’s going through.

MEAGAN MARIE: So you’re grounding the character, even though she’s in these extraordinary situations. She’s reacting in a believable, human way.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Yeah. That was very important for what we wanted to do with this reboot of Lara’s character.

MEAGAN MARIE: Right. So we’re going to end on one final question from me. If you had to choose one takeaway for fans to have from this upcoming game, what would it be? Essentially, what do you hope resonates most with players about the new Tomb Raider and the new Lara?

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: I think it is about creating this more humanized, realistic Lara. As well as having her react in a human way to bad things, she also reacts in a human way to good things. She gets over-excited and bubbly and geeky about things. That love of archaeology still comes through. It’s about making her relatable, but still interesting. Not dull. We’re taking players on a journey with Lara. We’re taking them through the origins of her character and how that develops. That’s a very powerful experience, or I hope it’s going to be a very powerful experience. We’ve certainly been getting a lot of good feedback about it. I think that’s probably a takeaway.

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s a funny thing. I have to keep reminding myself to talk about the gameplay and how the gameplay turned to be incredibly fun and challenging. The game is an awesome experience, but I agree. I feel like Lara herself resonates above and beyond. That’s such an exciting thing, to have such an extraordinary character. So thank you for fleshing her out with us.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: Well, I hope so. I think the gameplay and Lara’s character as she appears in cutscenes… There’s a sort of synergy there. It feels like a whole character. She doesn’t feel schizophrenic. She’s the same character in gameplay as she is in the cutscenes. The bravery and tenacity and resourcefulness she shows in gameplay, she also shows in cutscenes. The gameplay feeds into the story. Gameplay equals action equals character. We’re using everything to tell the story. Everything to reinforce her character.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes. And I, having recently played through the entire game again… I feel like that was done very exceptionally. I cannot wait for it to come out. So I managed to get you here for an entire hour. Thank you so much for talking with us. I think this podcast is going to go over extremely well. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT: You’re very welcome. I’m going to go have a big cup of tea now and be terribly British.

[hard cut]

MEAGAN MARIE: And that concludes our show for this month. I hope you guys enjoyed the added level of insight that Rhianna provided. We’ll try to do more behind-the-scenes interviews in the coming months as we reveal even more talent working on the game. ‘Til next time!

[musical outro]

Driber
24th Oct 2012, 21:23
Direct MP3 download link, to put it on your phone/mp3 player/etc: http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_15.mp3

Also uploaded to YT for easy online viewing, as usual:

6UJY2vfv6VQ

(still takes a few minutes to process)

hiropon056
24th Oct 2012, 21:46
Ha! This movie... I knew it! I knew it and it fit's so much and I love it!!! :D

d1n0_xD
24th Oct 2012, 22:27
I love Jaffa Cakes too :D

Shaikh
25th Oct 2012, 05:21
Here's the transcript of the latest Podcast - THE CRYSTAL HABIT PODCAST: EPISODE 15 (http://officialtombraiderblog.tumblr.com/post/34248703306/new-podcast-is-up-and-running-i-think-you-guys)

The description on the Tumblr says:

Show Notes: The Tomb Raider team hit a major milestone in September – six months until launch. To mark the occasion, Meagan chats with Karl Stewart and Crystal Dynamics newcomer Rich Briggs about what it’s like during the final stretch of taking a AAA title to retail. Hosted by Meagan Marie.

But is wrong. It has to be:

This episode is dedicated exclusively to chatting with Tomb Raider lead writer Rhianna Pratchett. Rhianna talks about her history with the franchise, the immense task of reimagining an iconic character, and answers questions from the community! Hosted by Meagan Marie.

;)

dark7angel
25th Oct 2012, 21:45
I really cannot wait for these promotional comics!!!!

I think it's really cool how we'll get some backstory through them and get to know the characters better!!!

MeaganMarie
30th Oct 2012, 20:45
The description on the Tumblr says:


But is wrong. It has to be:


;)

I've fixed it! Thanks for pointing it out! :)

Shaikh
7th Nov 2012, 18:02
I've fixed it! Thanks for pointing it out! :)
Welcome, my pleasure. :D

But bigger thanks to you for mentioning my name on the podcast for the 3rd time. http://banglagamer.com/customsmiles/yahoo.gifAnd last two times my name pronunciation was perfect. Thanks. :D :worship:

Driber
26th Nov 2012, 17:33
Here you have it as first, folks - Podcast #16!

http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_16.mp3

Coming to YT and the official blog shortly :)

t3DsFc_bzcY

(still processing - available soon!)

larafan25
26th Nov 2012, 17:37
woah! D:

OMG. I have to do a chore RIGHT now, then I'm listening! Thanks :D

Driber
26th Nov 2012, 17:55
Who's the blonde on the left of your sig, Blondie Girl?

hiropon056
26th Nov 2012, 18:09
A lot of cool information in that podcast :D

And about that different look/belt-topic on the cover... I guess we already can get a glimpse of it on that pouch?

jdjnbl_wekh.jpg

Just noticed this a while ago^^

and... geocaching... :(

Driber
26th Nov 2012, 18:14
Available on YT now :)

t3DsFc_bzcY


Well, it's the not-so-flawless Lindsay Lohan, a decayed Hollywood actress.

Lindsay?! Yikes :eek:

That's a damn shame :(

larafan25
26th Nov 2012, 18:20
She's looking pretty fine in interview for Liz and Dick though (Lindsay is).

_______________________

I NEED to see some of these images they're talking about in this podcast, oh my!

dark7angel
26th Nov 2012, 18:22
And as usual here is the full transcription of the new podcast:

Transcription
The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 16


[Musical interlude]

MEAGAN MARIE: Hey there! This is Meagan Marie, and I recently realized that I start every podcast off almost exactly the same. So that was my slight attempt at bit of variety. We have a really exciting podcast for you today. I’m going to chat with both Karl Stewart and Brian Horton, who’s our art director on Tomb Raider, about the recently revealed Tomb Raider box art. We’re going to dive into the process of creating and collaborating on this imagery that’ll be seen worldwide come launch day. After that we’re going to jump into an extended Take Five session with Karl Stewart. I know many of you have some pressing questions about the details of our collector’s editions or pre-order incentives now that we’re starting to roll those features out. So! We’re going to give Take Five a bit more time and attention today. Thank you for tuning in to the Crystal Habit podcast, episode 16. Hope you enjoy!

[Musical interlude]

Segment 1: Karl Stewart & Brian Horton

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright everyone, thank you for listening. As I promised, I have Karl and Brian here. We’re going to talk about something that I find personally fascinating, which is designing the cover of Tomb Raider. It’s a huge, momentous thing.

KARL STEWART: Dun-dun-diinnnn!

MEAGAN MARIE: It was a really time-consuming process. It was something you guys were working on for a long time. So, first, thank you for joining me.

BRIAN HORTON: Sure, it’s great to be here.

KARL STEWART: It’s good to be back on a podcast. Feels like it’s been a while. When was the last time I did one?

BRIAN HORTON: It has been a while.

MEAGAN MARIE: You were off having a baby the last time, or rather your wife was.

KARL STEWART: I did. I’m back to my fighting weight now.

MEAGAN MARIE: You’ve got your pre-baby shape…

BRIAN HORTON: Yeah, now that your empathy weight is over.

MEAGAN MARIE: All right. Well, we’ll start with you, Karl. From a very broad standpoint, what makes a compelling cover when it comes to video games? What are the things that need to jump off the shelves?

KARL STEWART: In the case of Tomb Raider, much like some of the other games I’ve worked on, it has to tell a story. It has to bring the context of what you’re selling to life. You have to look at it and kinda go, “I get it. I understand that. It’s emotionally driven. I want to play it.” That’s the key thing. We want you to look at a box and go, “I wanna play that game!”

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes.

KARL STEWART: I’ve worked on a few where… Pony Friends, for instance. I don’t know whether, after doing that cover, I was as happy with people saying, “I want to play that game.” But for us, Tomb Raider… It’s important that we created something which depicted a moment in time, of the game, that we had built the campaign up to at that point, the narrative up to that point. As everybody’s aware, we’ve been very strict in how we’ve introduced you to Lara. We’ve shown how she’s growing within the world, how she’s becoming stronger. Now we’re at a point where the cover depicts a character that is about to embark on one of the best adventures ever. You couldn’t look back and go, “Okay, well, the image of her as a tourniquet on the beach, with the climbing axe, holding the bandage…” To us, yes, it’s a great image, and it’s one of the most iconic images of the entire campaign, but looking at that image, it didn’t communicate a strong female lead in the way which the cover that we have right now does. It really is…taking the player and taking the viewer on a journey. The box should be that last piece of the puzzle, to make you feel like this is the world you want to be in.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m interested in diving a little deeper… From your past experience working on games, either of you, are there specific things that resonate stronger with consumers, like eye contact, faces versus body shots, and so on? Is there anything you guys have noticed that stands out?

BRIAN HORTON: I think it’s a little less scientific. What we found is… We knew it when we saw it. That kind of thing. We went through a lot of iteration. It’s not just a matter of, you have this idea… Everything Karl said is correct. No matter what our cover was, it had to have those ingredients. It had to exist in this moment of time. It had to have an emotional element. But when it comes to how you realize that, there’s a thousand answers that could have done that. What we had to do is find the right combination of ingredients that were going to be both familiar to the people that were paying attention, but also brought something new. That was our goal. What are those ingredients that bring something new? But as far as a formula, saying “This is what always works on a cover,” I think that range is… I know some of my favorite covers don’t have any characters on the front. It could be very simple. Like the Half-Life 2 box. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s a rad cover.” But that’s a different take. What we knew we had, one of the strengths of this franchise, is that Lara is the strength of this franchise. We have invested a lot in her. For us, we felt like Lara needed to be on the cover, but how we presented her, and the way we presented her… One of the things we chose to do, which we’ve done in the past, is we didn’t have her make direct eye contact. That was something we made a conscious decision about. But she has a very specific expression. She has an intent in her look and her pose. Those are the ingredients we knew we wanted to have. No matter what, she had to have a certain… You had to imagine there was something going on inside, that she was contemplating what she was going through and what she was about to do.

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s interesting, because retailers used the temporary black box with the Tomb Raider logo on it in their placeholder pages for a long time. For a while some people thought that our box art was just the Tomb Raider logo.

KARL STEWART: We’ve got to give you a bit more detail than that.

MEAGAN MARIE: That really would have been a missed opportunity. You’re right. Lara is what people identify with…

KARL STEWART: To add to Brian, every game is different and every story you tell is different. The iconography of the franchise is very different. I’ve worked on… My remit right now is 36 games that I’ve worked on, every single front of box on every single one of them from a publishing capacity. I can tell you that each one is different in the way it’s treated and the way it’s executed on. An example of that is, we were doing Age of Conan. We sat down with the artists and we brought in an agency down in LA. We worked on this image for probably about four months. If anybody saw the image, it’s the one where Conan’s charging towards you with a sword in his hand and he’s got all his people behind him. To us, that was an MMO world that we were creating. But then I had an epiphany one night. I thought, “You know what? This isn’t iconic. This is just a scene. This isn’t conveying.” He may be looking at you, but there’s too much going on. It’s a beautiful render. It would do great on a cover, but you know what? When I think Conan, I think “sword.” It’s all about him and his weapon. We completely, within two weeks, shifted our entire roll across to putting a sword on the front of it. That was it. That was all that had to go there. That was the depiction. Whereas when I did Batman, it was like, “What else are you going to put on the cover?” It has to be Batman.

MEAGAN MARIE: Batman should be present.

KARL STEWART: It has to be Batman standing there going, “I am this big-ass dude and I’m going to kick everybody’s ass.” That’s the thing. There’s tons of games, whether it be Reservoir Dogs, whether it be racing car games that we worked on… Each one is different. Each one has to be treated with respect to the story and the iconography and the story you want to tell, the position you want to put it in against its competitors as well.

BRIAN HORTON: The last thing I’ll say on that… There is something that is common to the best covers, and they are iconic in some way. Karl used that word. An icon could be a logo, but it could also be a figure. Something that’s bold…

MEAGAN MARIE: Easily identifiable.

BRIAN HORTON: Easily identifiable, yeah. Something at a glance. If it’s too busy, it tends not to be a great cover. Those are the things that we had to balance when we were doing the art.

KARL STEWART: I think ours… When we were working on it, we went through many… Like 50 or 60 different images. Then, when you get down to the final image that you like, it goes through a hundred iterations. Every single time, what was amazing… It was not like, “Is the fabric this detailed? Is the water this perfect?” It was, “Is she conveying the right emotion in her face? Is she standing with the right pose? Is she holding her arm in the right way that we want to convey that story with, that she’s about to embark on a journey?” To us, the iconography in the image is not just about the pose that she’s in. It’s about the situation. We want players to look at that and say, “I want to understand what she’s gone through. I want to be a part of that journey.” The iconography can be a symbol of a sword, a static image, but it’s equally as iconic when you look at it and you feel an emotion. Something stands out at you. That’s why, throughout the entire game, that’s one of the things we’ve tried to focus on. Making sure that when you play the game, when you put the controller down… It’s an iconic game because it delivers on something which you may feel you’ve never seen before or experienced before. That’s the character growth and the arc of Lara Croft, in a way in which… I’m at a point now where the game is done. We’ve played it so many times. I’m so excited for people to play it. We’ve had some journalists in, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but it really does deliver on some emotions which will just… It’ll make people so happy. I think the image conveys that. When people play the game, they’ll look at the cover and say, “That works hand in hand. It really does.”

MEAGAN MARIE: So the tourniquet image wasn’t quite right. Did you try it out? Did you go through a process of putting it on the front of a box…?

KARL STEWART: In the early stages of saying, “Okay, we’ve got this image we have to create…” Despite what some people may think, it’s not as easy as going, “That’s a cool-looking image. There you go. Put it on the front of the box.” We went through lots of focus testing. Both internally, externally… We went through the fact that you had to go through a process of… We look at things from a micro level. We’re a part of this game every single day. What we think is right generally is, because it’s our game. We know what we’re doing. But there are certain things that we just feel like… It’s too important a decision to make without going outside the studio and asking those questions. So for us, we created a range of images. Some close and personal, more visceral in the world, more about exploration, dynamic movement… We had a full portfolio of images. We took them out and did some focus testing with them in a couple different territories. We asked people what they liked about them. The ones, originally, that we would have said, “That’s great! Look at her with the climbing axe doing this…” People came back and said, “No, I want to know more about her. Look at how intense that situation she’s in…” The tourniquet did an element of that, but what it showed in focus testing was… “I feel like I’ve seen it too many times. I feel like that’s something that’s become an image which is iconic for Tomb Raider, but it’s not iconic for the story that you’re trying to tell right now.” After all that focus testing, we came back and sat down. Brian, myself, Darrell, Brenoch, and the team. We started to look at other executions. Taking the learnings from the focus testing. Because there are no clear winners. There’s only interpretation. There’s only people saying, “I like that, but I don’t like the arm, I don’t like that.” We have to take all that and try to jumble it all up and come up with the answer, in a way. Once you’ve done that focus testing, then you try to say, “Okay, we’ve gotten guidance. We know the basic areas we have to be in. We’re achieving our pillars. Now we take it internal.” Once it’s internal, then it goes through the filters of… We’ve had that feedback, but now it’s our game and we’re trying to portray our vision.

BRIAN HORTON: I would say, on the tourniquet image… It did resonate. It did test well. But a lot of it is because people understood it and they recognized it. The thing that we knew is… There had to be an evolution, too, just as we’ve been evolving the story. That moment in time was not as appropriate for what we wanted to say as what we ended up with. The other thing is, we had an image that we thought was really strong of her back. Just looking at her as she’s preparing for something, preparing for combat. Climbing axe in one hand, bow in the other…

MEAGAN MARIE: Slightly more aggressive…

BRIAN HORTON: Yeah, more aggressive-looking. What we found is that people didn’t… They couldn’t relate to it. Once again it came back to the emotion. It was the right action, but not the right emotion. All those things were super informative. We would be remiss not to have done the focus tests. I’m really happy we did. But to Karl’s point, we didn’t get one image out of that focus test that was like, “That’s the one. Let’s do that.” We got, “Well, these are the ones we kinda like,” and we made our own gut decisions. That was a combination of all of us. Darrell, Karl, myself, and Bren. We’re sitting around, like, “Okay, this is what we think we need to do.” That final step you take has to be an internal one. You say, “Alright, this is what our gut says.” That’s what we went with.

MEAGAN MARIE: I know we don’t have it in front of us right now, but I have to imagine -- especially for Brian -- it’s burned into the back of your mind. Can you break down some of the features? It’s amazing, if you go on a forum. Some of the fans have broken down every aspect and said, “This is what they’re trying to convey here and here.” It’s interesting. Could you speak to some of the elements that you incorporated? The items on Lara, the look, the pose? What was the motivation with those?

BRIAN HORTON: What was pretty exciting is, once we had a sketch done… Bren had done an amazing rendition sketch.

MEAGAN MARIE: Just in case somebody doesn’t know who Bren is, do you want to introduce him?

BRIAN HORTON: Bren, Brenoch Adams, is our principal concept artist on the project. I’ve worked with him from the very beginning. He was instrumental in helping design Lara and the look of the world. He’s been my right-hand guy on this project. I owe a lot of the success of the art direction to the collaboration with him. Bren’s the guy. When Bren had done the sketch, which we had all collaborated on the goals for, we intentionally had to manipulate some stuff that we had in our source material from the agency. One of those things was, we knew that we had to have the bow. It’s something that we decided early on. This was going to be our iconic new weapon. The bow was in there. We had the climbing axe on her, strapped to her side. We had the pistol in there as well. As far as a weaponry loadout, we wanted to have that combination of those things. Those are the things we knew were important. But what’s more important than her loadout was the overall pose and attitude. That had to be correct. We wanted something that was stoic, but it wasn’t stiff. There’s still a little break in her gait. She’s not completely straight up and down, like classic Lara Croft with the arms out. She’s got the one arm clutching the wound. That’s another thing that sort of… It looks and feels like the tourniquet. When you look at that, it has the same feel as the tourniquet image. But if you look at it, she’s not grimacing in pain. She’s steeled. She’s ready.

MEAGAN MARIE: At this point in time she’s evolved…

BRIAN HORTON: At this point, this is a wound. She’s human. But she’s already looking ahead. She’s already planning. “Alright, I’m gonna take on whatever is in front of me. This is nothing compared to what I have to deal with.” All those ingredients together, and then the context of the cave and the shipwrecked beach… Those are all ingredients that metaphorically tie to the island itself, a representation of the island, but also the mental state that she’s in. There’s a light out there, but she’s surrounded by this darkness. That was all very conscious stuff. It’s subliminal, and it is a depiction of a person in a cave with a shipwrecked beach… But it also has that feeling of oppressiveness around her. Yet there’s that one light behind her. She’s the darker figure against the light. All those ingredients, to me, speak to that story. That emotion. Karl, do you have anything to add to that?

KARL STEWART: No, exactly what he said. [laughter]

MEAGAN MARIE: Everybody’s felt like it is very poignant and impactful, most certainly. I personally love it, and I know the fans do.

KARL STEWART: What’s great is it’s been weeks. To listen to you talk like that, it was…

MEAGAN MARIE: You could tell. There was very much a vision.

KARL STEWART: I remember those morning meetings where we were getting super detailed. We like to get really uber-anal, as they say, on this…

BRIAN HORTON: Besides all that metaphor and all of that detail, it had to work just as an iconic image, too.

MEAGAN MARIE: So much is balanced.

BRIAN HORTON: Even though that emotion is first, second, a very close second, has to be that pop and read. Do you get it? Can you get it at a glance? Does it feel like Tomb Raider?

MEAGAN MARIE: That’s interesting, because one of my next questions was… This is incredibly different from any past Tomb Raider covers.

BRIAN HORTON: Right.

MEAGAN MARIE: Was that intentional?

BRIAN HORTON: Yes.

KARL STEWART: Yes, definitely. It was intentional, but it was also making sure that we kept the signature elements that we’d begun to tell this tale, this story on. You can look at a girl standing there holding her arm, but when you start to add in the ships in the background, the thematic of the entire scene and lighting, and then the bow and the climbing axe, it becomes a signature. It becomes everything that we’ve learned about this girl up until now. We always hoped that we’d get to a point in time where an image… You’d look at it and go, “That’s Lara Croft. That’s Tomb Raider.” I believe we’ve done it in this one. If we had put that image out on the very first day, people would have said…

BRIAN HORTON: Who is this?

KARL STEWART: Who are you trying to be? I feel like this has been a culmination of the last two years, getting to this point now where people look at it and convincingly think, “That is Lara Croft and I want to play that journey.”

MEAGAN MARIE: Brian, we’re getting specific on the cover. Some astute fans have noticed minor differences [laughter] between the cover image and Lara’s in-game outfit. Specifically with the necklace, her belt being a little thicker. Can you speak at all to those?

BRIAN HORTON: Yes I can. Let me give you a little context for this. When we decided to do this cover, there was a lot of discussion about how we’d do the final treatment. One thing was, we’ve been using Visual Works for our renders. We did want to include Visual Works, but we also took a step that we haven’t done in any of our previous campaign images. We actually incorporated photography. We hired a model. We wanted there to be that extra layer of reality to this image. So when we had an opportunity to, we worked with an amazing studio… By the way, we haven’t even talked about them. Ignition has been an amazing partner in this. They are the house that put this cover together with us. That agency does a lot of fantastic photography for films. They worked on the Batman campaign. They’re just amazing. I flew down there a couple of times for a couple of shoots.

MEAGAN MARIE: Yes, I remember you prepping for those…

BRIAN HORTON: Yeah. We didn’t quite capture it in the first shoot. We had to do a second shoot. But what was great about that is, we were really trying to make sure that the details were as accurate as we could get them in photography. We didn’t have an official costume. We had to sort of make an amalgamation of one. That’s why you’re seeing some inconsistencies, like for instance on the necklace and on the belt. Now, what I’m happy to report is that once we got the Visual Works render back, which was originally only supposed to be the head and the hair, they gave us a full body render. I was able to get some ingredients from the Visual Works model and I’ve got them composited in. You’ll see a slightly different version in the final render. The belt is closer to our original belt. But the necklace is not. That’s just some clarification. A little bit of a tease for those that are looking for it…

MEAGAN MARIE: Really paying attention.

BRIAN HORTON: You’ll see a slightly different variation on the belt. That did a couple of things for us. One, it got it closer to the model, and two, it gave her a bit of a better proportionality. It made the torso to leg ratio look a little better. Those are the reasons we made that decision after the first release of the image, to say, “Alright, what can we do to plus this up a little bit?”

MEAGAN MARIE: So that’ll be changed on the physical, the printed version on the shelf…

BRIAN HORTON: On the final printed version, you’re going to see it. Now, this is just for… This will be for those listening to the podcast. That’s the first time we’ve announced that.

MEAGAN MARIE: Well, I know that they very much appreciate us going into the behind-the-scenes, because we don’t speak to that much. I’m not sure that anybody knew that photography was an element in it.

BRIAN HORTON: Yeah. What’s great about the photography is that it gives you that extra level of nuance that’s really hard to get in a CG model. Even goosebumps and stuff like that.

MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, did you make her freezing? Did you spray water on her? Speak to the shoot…

BRIAN HORTON: Okay. So the shoot was fun. We had an amazing model. I am going to be bad because I can’t remember her name right now. But she’s a really talented model. She went through two full days of being soaked to the bone. We’d keep spraying her with water. And we’re talking about minute pose changes. Millimeters make a huge difference in these full-body shots. I have thousands and thousands of pictures, and we had to scrub through them, both Ignition and us, and say, “Which ones are the right ingredients?” What we ended up doing is, it wasn’t even one photo. It was an amalgamation of a couple of different ones. “We like the legs from here, the upper body from here…” We were able to Frankenstein together… I’m talking about minor stuff. Very much in the same position, just small little changes to make sure that we can get the right ingredients and really capture the essence of what was in Bren’s original sketch.

MEAGAN MARIE: So it went from sketch internally, to photographing with Ignition down in LA, and then you composited the photos. What did Visual Works do on top of that? They render the head directly on top of it and composite it? What was the next step?

BRIAN HORTON: One small thing. It started with an Ignition idea that we modified and did a sketch over. Ignition had done some proof-of-concept kind of stuff. Then we did Bren’s sketch, and then we did the shoot. Once we had the shoot and the pose locked from a photograph, we sent that over to Visual Works. They matched that pose and the lighting. In fact, Ignition sent us detailed lighting information. The temperature and position of all the lights and stuff. So Visual Works could simulate that in their environment. They did an awesome render. Then I worked with Ignition to composite some of that to get the final look that you see on the cover. It was pretty cool.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think that some people just assume there’s some really talented guys like you and Bren, and you just worked a weekend and came up with an awesome image. It’s very interesting how many steps are involved.

BRIAN HORTON: It takes a village.

MEAGAN MARIE: What do you think the time frame was, working on this? The meat of it. I know you guys had to have been considering it as far back as you’ve been working on creative, but the core time frame for executions…

BRIAN HORTON: Four months.

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s not a fast process.

KARL STEWART: That’s four months, but then there’s also the months before where you’re constantly thinking about it and getting ideas together. But after we actually started, start to finish, four months.

MEAGAN MARIE: Karl, one more question for you. This is kind of a side note, but I’m interested. Because we’re an international brand, a global brand, are there any considerations you guys had to make in terms of this image being appropriate for all audiences, for all territories?

KARL STEWART: We have to consider it and we have to be very careful that we don’t upset people. But at the same time, we are developing a story and a narrative which we have to stay true to. The smaller little things are… The blood couldn’t be too red, because in certain territories they don’t like bright red blood. But to be honest, the image has been adopted worldwide very well. There haven’t been any issues at all. Obviously if you’re doing any image, you have to consider different territories and different nationalities and how people will take in the image and what it says to them. What it says in America might not be the same thing it’ll say in the Middle East. Our games are going to be sold all over the world, so we have to be careful about how we present an image. There is consideration put in, but I think we were lucky enough to say that when we nailed this one, it did everything it needed to do. There were minor tweaks that had to be made, but not very many.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. Any final thoughts, gentlemen?

KARL STEWART: Ah… Only that I am very bloody happy with what Brian and the team managed to create. [laughs] We’ve been working on this as a team for years now. Absolutely years. To see it start to come together – not just in the game, but also in our materials as we’re presenting them… We try and keep the highest quality in everything that we do. People can see every single asset we put out is very well-thought-out and planned. This image really does everything and more that we want it to do. If you had told me three years ago that this would be the image, I would have said, “Yes, lock it in there and then.” But it’s a journey you have to go on. I’m very proud that we got through it.

BRIAN HORTON: All I would say is, as I was saying… It isn’t the work of any one person to make a cover like this. It is a bunch of talented people, including even consumer feedback. All this stuff is important to make a great cover. I’m very happy to hear the response. We’re pleased that we actually can hang it on a really great game. If, at the end of this, we had a great series of images and it wasn’t hanging on something that we believed in, it would ring a little hollow. The same care and attention we put into this image, the team puts into our game. It all comes down to the team. If it wasn’t for what that team is able to do, we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing today.

MEAGAN MARIE: I think that’s a good note to end on. Thank you so much for joining me. Karl, you have to stick around so I can grill you for Take Five, or maybe ten today. But thank you, Brian. Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend and your upcoming travels to show off Tomb Raider. That’s exciting. Alright! Thank you guys.

KARL STEWART: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

BRIAN HORTON: Cheers, guys. ‘Bye.

[musical interlude]

Segment 2: Take Five

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, Karl, thank you for sticking around. We have a lot of questions this time, because we just made a lot of large international announcements. [laughter] So it turns out people have questions.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, I know. I’ve been getting no sleep getting them all together.

MEAGAN MARIE: And because you have a new baby.

KARL STEWART: Yeah, that too.

MEAGAN MARIE: Dangerous combination. Triple-A game and two-year-old child.

KARL STEWART: Very dangerous combination. I am running on fumes right now.

MEAGAN MARIE: And coffee.

KARL STEWART: I go to sleep at 3:30, I wake up at seven and go to the office.

MEAGAN MARIE: You can sleep after lunch. Maybe?

KARL STEWART: You can sleep when you’re dead.

MEAGAN MARIE: [laughs] Okay, let’s get started, because we do have a lot. This one is probably the most important question, one that we’ve been… We really wanted to find the right venue to address it, because it is an issue, especially in North America, that some PC gamers are concerned with. Why did North America opt not to offer a physical PC edition of Tomb Raider, in favor of digital download?

KARL STEWART: There’s two things to cover off here, which will be great. This is a great venue to be able to talk to this. We are responsible, as a studio, for developing the game and making sure that we position it correctly as a franchise. We’ve spent a long time doing that. But once the game is developed, we have publishing departments all around the world. We have Square Enix LA, Square Enix America. We have Square Enix Europe, which has an export department catering from Russia to China to you-name-it. Then we have Square Enix Japan, who look after those territories. When we develop the game, we then ask those territories to help define the best way to be able to position that game in the market. I work very closely with all of the teams around the world, myself and the teams here, the brand team. We have daily calls with serious amounts of follow-ups, hence I’m up until 3:30 most mornings doing conference calls at midnight from my office at home. But those teams are tasked with coming back to us with the decisions that have to be made about the best way to put our game out and how to sell it. In the case of the PC side, we looked at it from a European and a US perspective. In Europe, the game is still very much widely a retail PC SKU. It holds up very strongly in sales. You have to have it. It’s part of the DNA. Whereas what we’ve found in North America is that PC sales have slowly but surely started to move into the digital space. There is a fine line between producing a boxed copy at a certain quantity before it actually starts eating into its own costs. You think, “Is it worth producing?” There’s distribution costs. There’s production costs. There’s all these things coming into play that… You have to make a decision as a business. I believe the decision was right. The decision to turn it into a digital PC version and distribute it that way means it’s accessible to more people. Like I said, it’s a tough decision to make, because we’ve always done a PC version of the game, but we believe that this is the right decision, and it’s one that… I have to support my teams around the world in whatever they decide they want to do.

MEAGAN MARIE: Following up on that question, a quick little side note. Will North America be the only territory not to have a physical PC edition? We’ve only announced the editions in North America and Europe so far, correct? Are we still establishing other territories?

KARL STEWART: No, I think it’s safe to say that… North America – and when we say North America, just so we’re clear on the responsibilities, North America is Canada, the rest of North America, and also South America.

MEAGAN MARIE: So South America will also be doing digital downloads.

KARL STEWART: Exactly. That covers the remit of their responsibility. Then, in Europe, there’s the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and then the export markets and so on. They’re making the decision that they want to create a boxed PC version, which is great. They’ll also have a version on Steam. I have no doubt that it’ll also be on some other digital outlets as well, to make the game as successful as possible. The difference is, in North America they felt that it was a SKU that they didn’t need to put out that way, because the digital version… They want to put the weight behind that. In Europe they want to do a boxed copy. So throughout Europe you will see boxed copies popping up all over the place. The final list… To be perfectly honest, it’s not because I know anything different, but I’m not going to go quoting different territories, because from an export standpoint it wouldn’t be fair to start blurting out different countries the game is going to be sold in. I need to see the final, final list in front of me.

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s a long process. It takes a long time to deal with retailers…

KARL STEWART: Yeah, it’s a long process. There’s also 70-something different versions. It’s absolutely crazy. What we will do -- and I can say we promise that – is in the very near future, we will give Meagan the information to post on the forums so you can get a full and concise list of every single territory.

MEAGAN MARIE: Put together one thread we can keep updating.

KARL STEWART: Exactly.

MEAGAN MARIE: We’ll try to make it easier on you guys.

KARL STEWART: It wouldn’t be right for me to just sit here and start blurting out territories and SKUs and who and who not. They’re decisions that are, again… As I say, I trust my sales team to be able to pull all that together. Once we have it locked, we will publish it.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Okay. Speaking of Steam, this is something that’s very exciting. We get a lot of questions about it. Will Steam utilize Steamworks?

KARL STEWART: Yes, there’s a plan to use Steamworks. We’re going to make an announcement pretty soon on exactly to what extent, but yes, it will. We love the idea of cloud-based saves. If I play it at home on my laptop, when I come into work I want to be able to continue it. I want to have all of the benefits that offers. More on that soon, but yes, it will incorporate Steamworks.

MEAGAN MARIE: How about PC system requirements? I know that’s something that a lot of… People want to know because they want to pre-order. They’re deciding, “Should I get it for my 360? Is my PC strong enough?”

KARL STEWART: Of course. What I’d say about PC requirements… I’m sure everybody has heard this a million times before from other developers as well. You build the games in tandem, but you will allow yourself some more time on the PC SKU, purely because there’s a smaller submission timeline for it to go to master. What we mean by that is, there’s a period of time when we have to lock off our console versions. We have to submit them to either Microsoft or Sony, and they have to review the game. Then there’s a back-and-forth. Generally that takes anywhere from six to eight weeks, all’s said and done. Could be shorter, could be longer. We can put the PC version up on Steam 72 hours in advance. Or any digital versions for that matter. If there’s something that needs to be patched, we can patch it as often as need be. Hopefully you never have to do that, but as we all know, on day one there’s normally just a nice little update to fix some little tweaks. With the PC version… You’re kind of afforded a little bit more time, and as a result of that, what we try and do is make sure that we lock down the goals and the core elements in our console version, and then we come back to the PC and say, “Okay, here we’ve afforded ourselves this much time. Let’s up-rez all the textures. Let’s get framerate running smoother. Let’s do lighting a little bit more detailed, because we have ourselves some time.” That all comes back to specs. We need to make sure that the game is running optimally first before we turn around and say, “Here’s the CPU you need. Here’s the graphics card you need.” We are working very closely with our partners at AMD to make sure that some of those questions are being answered sooner rather than later. We want to make sure that people can go out and not only pre-order the game, but also pre-order their new graphics card from AMD that we’re working with them on, to be able to make sure our game’s optimized for it. I love all that stuff as much as the next person, but I want to make sure that it’s right.

MEAGAN MARIE: We just want to wait until the information is as accurate as possible.

KARL STEWART: Exactly. There’s a lot of information. When you look at all those lines of system reqs, it’s like, “Oh my God…”

MEAGAN MARIE: It really is overwhelming. But we’re working on it, most certainly. This is another one that we got because we do have such a global fandom. They’re very aware of what goes on in other territories. Why are there differences between the North American and European collector’s editions? The digital versus physical, CD drive versus patches… Is this another thing that’s just up to what territories feel their consumers will like most?

KARL STEWART: Yeah… So I’ve worked on the North American publishing side for quite a number of years. I will say, there has never been a collector’s edition that I’ve worked on that has been identical. It’s for many reasons. It’s down to the amount of units being produced, the cost of shipping, and the cost of creation, all the way down to consumer likes and dislikes… Generally a lithograph that works in one territory might not work in another. A free giveaway in one might not work in the other. What I try and do from a brand standpoint is make sure we lock down some of the key things. With this collector’s edition, I was very sure on… One, I’ve been working with Play Arts Kai for a number of months -- probably 18 months in total – to create this new Lara Croft statue. I always had it that that was going to be in the collector’s edition. Irrespective of where you bought it and who you bought it from, that was in the collector’s edition. The second element is the survival tin. I always had this story in my head where… When I did Batman I created the Batman case. It looked like the Batarang and you opened it up. With Conan I created this huge book that was almost the book of Conan. You opened it up and there was this one page that told you the poem, and when you opened that everything was under it. To me it’s about telling a story. Once you have the story told on the outer shell and the core elements of the core item defined inside of it, then you can get into the specifics. For me, my goals are the survival tin, because I wanted to try and have everything in this tin that people can keep. This hinged tin that feels like it’s washed up on a beach after the shipwreck, and what would have been in it is maybe the items that they would have… Bits of food, some water packs, a first aid kit. To me, that was a cool thing… I thought, “Let’s house it all inside of that.” So that was a global thing. Then there was the Play Arts Kai statue. Apart from that, then… And the game.

MEAGAN MARIE: Rather important.

KARL STEWART: That’s the main thing. And then after that we just left it up to the territories. I had many calls back and forth where we looked at costs and timings and production schedules and if we wanted to do X item, how long it would take… Then Ops gets involved. From an Ops standpoint we had to have everything delivered to a certain place at a certain time. And then also… We’re so close to the game. I need to be able to let the marketing teams around the world also give their input and have something to be a part of. It’s a team effort, as Brian had mentioned in one of our previous chats about the cover. Everybody should be able to come back and say, “Hey, you know what? This is the territory I live and work in. This feels right for us.” The difference is only because there’s many different moving parts. It’s a decision that gets made as a team, as to what is the best thing. I’m sure I want to get the European one because I love the idea of the dry bag. This survival dry bag is a cool little thing. It just didn’t work out to be in the North American ones for a couple of different reasons. We’re not doing it over here.

MEAGAN MARIE: But we have these cool little patches to sew on to stuff.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. There’s patches, and the lithograph, and they got the soundtrack, which we’re going to be announcing… When does this go out, Meagan?

MEAGAN MARIE: Probably Friday. Not yet. Not quite yet.

KARL STEWART: Doh. I can’t get into it, who the person is. I was going to give it up. World exclusive.

MEAGAN MARIE: Nope, nope.

KARL STEWART: But yeah, they have the soundtrack by [beep][beep]. We’ll see. I’m very happy with where we are with the collector’s edition. But we didn’t try and change them for any other reason than the ones that I just said.

MEAGAN MARIE: It was not a trivial decision.

KARL STEWART: It wasn’t trivial, yeah.

MEAGAN MARIE: All right. Next question. Speaking to pre-order bonuses, collector’s editions, and so on… Some people are starting to get worried, because they don’t see the collector’s editions or pre-order bonuses for their specific territory. Should they fret?

KARL STEWART: No. Don’t fret at all. I have many calls with the teams around the world about where we are in the stages of announcing different things. What I will say is that… In an organization as big as Square Enix and with as many retailers and territories as we do cater to around the world, it takes a little bit of time for things to be able to get locked and get communicated and get distributed. For instance, in North America and the UK and Germany and France, it’s very easy to turn around and say, “Right, let’s lock in this offer.” We talk to the retailers. But when we start looking at territories further afield, we have distribution partners. They only have specific windows to get into retailers. Sometimes it’s a little bit slower getting stuff up on a website than it is doing it here when we’re in control of it. So what I will say is, do not fret. The export team and the teams around the world are working hard, tirelessly…

MEAGAN MARIE: Tirelessly!

KARL STEWART: We have the guys in here 24/7 working on various different assets. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of stuff being created.

MEAGAN MARIE: A lot of localized images.

KARL STEWART: We’ve built our website to allow you to be able to dip in and find out where these territories are. For instance, in probably the next week or so, I believe we turn on a tab which basically says “Rest Of World.” When you click on that, it’ll bring up all the flags of all the countries around the world. When you click on your flag, it’ll bring up a list of all your retailers and it’ll give you a link straight back to their website.

MEAGAN MARIE: So we’re working on it, most certainly.

KARL STEWART: It’s quite an undertaking.

MEAGAN MARIE: It is, it is. An exciting process, though. So another question for pre-orders. A couple of people have wondered, “If I order a version that has a character skin, will Lara wear it the whole game, or can I choose when she’s going to wear it?”

KARL STEWART: You can choose when you want to wear it. You can go into a menu and swap it out at any time.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. I think people have already started to identify with Lara’s new outfit, and so they’re like, “I want to see the new one! But I want her to be able to wear the old one too!”

KARL STEWART: Yeah, you can swap them out. We’ve built it into the menu where you’ll be able to…

MEAGAN MARIE: Pop in, pop out.

KARL STEWART: I think depending on where you buy it, what combination you do, you’ll have the menu built where you can have several outfits. You can just change them as you play through the game.

MEAGAN MARIE: Very cool. I’m excited about that one. So now we’re out of the territory of pre-orders and all that. We’re getting into some of the regular questions. This has been a busy month. We have a couple of people wondering, will we ever show off the different comparison shots, screenshots, for PC versus PlayStation 3 versus 360. Is that something we would do?

KARL STEWART: Yeah, that’s something we have on the calendar for the New Year. You always do that. What I will say is, we don’t go out of our way to put three screenshots together and go, “Here are the differences.” I don’t think that’s fair on anybody, because PC guys get to have the highest-res textures. They have unlimited memory in a way. There’s differences to every one. We’ll leave it to you to draw the comparisons. Don’t expect us to put out a gallery of…

MEAGAN MARIE: Spot the difference…

KARL STEWART: “Here’s the three of them! Spot the difference!” That’s not going to happen.

MEAGAN MARIE: But it is something that we’ll…

KARL STEWART: It is something that we’ll do. The same screenshots, of course, will be released for all three platforms, because we are trying to present the game to those three audiences, to make sure that they make a fair decision on which platform they want to buy for.

MEAGAN MARIE: Great. Someone else asks, can you play the game from beginning to end without using the RPG system? I don’t know why they would not want to use it. It’s awesome.

KARL STEWART: Let me see. Yeah, you know what? There’s probably one or two things that you get close to having to do. But I don’t know why you’d want to do that…

MEAGAN MARIE: So if you wanted to just plow through the story, skip finding all the salvage, skip doing bonus things for XP… You can.

KARL STEWART: You can.

MEAGAN MARIE: But there’s so many cool things to unlock in the game.

KARL STEWART: For instance, you’ve got to go into your base camp to unlock your climbing axe. Otherwise you can’t get beyond the Condors to get further in. There’s things that you gotta do. But then…

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s up to you how involved you want to go.

KARL STEWART: Yeah. Let’s just say, if somebody did that, they would be scratching the surface of an awesome experience. That rich tapestry that we’ve built inside of Tomb Raider… Did I just use the analogy of a rich tapestry?

MEAGAN MARIE: You did.

KARL STEWART: ******* hell. That world that we’ve built inside of Tomb Raider is about Lara’s character arc. So in order to see that really come to life and see how she’s gotten stronger and more equipped to deal with her environment and the people around her, you want to go in. We’re going to be showing off, soon… There’s a melee piece where… The awesome thing is, she’s able to upgrade to dirty tricks. It’s one of the upgrades. When she gets close to somebody and she knocks them down, she picks up the closest rock and she smacks them across the head. To see that happen, you’re like, “AAAAUGH!”

MEAGAN MARIE: I love the one where she ducks down and throws dirt in people’s eyes. That’s such a scrappy, fun move.

KARL STEWART: That’s the thing that brings a character to life. So I wouldn’t imagine anybody would ever play the game start to finish without doing any of it. If they did, hopefully it’s on a second playthrough to see what it’s like, and they didn’t just fracture the experience by trying to do that for the sake of it.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. We’re almost there. Will there be some type of weather system in the game, or will it be unique to each sequence? Do we have persistent weather, or daytime and so on?

KARL STEWART: It’s a blend, to be honest. Here’s where we are. When you come in to an area, such as the night hub, for instance, where we meet Roth, for the first time, it’s raining and it’s nighttime. When you leave that space and you move on to, let’s say, the World War II area, and you get to a base camp and you think, “I have a piece of gear, I want to go back and unlock some things,” if it’s daytime where you are there, when you use your base camp to fast travel back to the Roth area, which was called the night hub, it will now be daytime. It’s persistent in the sense that you’ll be able to move around the world, and whatever you’re in, you’ll be in when you fast travel. It’s not dynamic in the sense that it’ll turn from day to night in front of your eyes. That’s not going to happen. But as you move around the world, because we’re trying to tell this story of the days and the week after Lara crash-lands on the island… The story is tailored to be driven around the thematic of the situation she’s in and the nighttime or daytime, whatever it may be. As you use fast travel, you will land back in that space at the same time and day state as you had last.

MEAGAN MARIE: It’s really unique to see, because it gives you a chance to re-explore areas with different moods in that environment. It’s really nice. I enjoy it.

KARL STEWART: I love it. And to be honest, we can’t say too much in this, but… Journalists who have been playing the game so far have seen sections where they’ve come in, they’ve done something, they’ve defended themselves from the scavengers, and they’ve moved on. Then they’ve come back in and gone, “Holy crap, they’re back in here, but they haven’t just spawned in here. They’re actually working. They’re doing things.”

MEAGAN MARIE: They’re doing something different. They have a new goal.

KARL STEWART: It feels like a living, breathing world. They’re having conversations with each other about… Based on what they’ve heard about you further on in the story. It feels like these spaces are alive. That’s a very important thing to us.

MEAGAN MARIE: Final question. This is another tough one. Is the geocaching partnership still happening?

KARL STEWART: So… We had been working on an idea for quite a while, and due to time constraints, we decided not to go ahead with that particular geocache opportunity. We started looking at the idea we had originally and… Things evolve. A mechanic that may have worked two years ago may not be a mechanic that works now. So we have a subset of that which we’re going to be announcing in the very near future, that we’ve been working on with our team down in LA. I look forward to talking to you more about that when we’ve made the announcement, but at this time, we are actually not going to be working directly with geocaching. The situation and the mechanics just didn’t work out in the way in which we felt we needed to be able to deliver the experience to the fans.

MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. Karl! Thank you. Do you know how many questions that was?

KARL STEWART: Ten?

MEAGAN MARIE: Twelve.

KARL STEWART: Oh, dear. That’s not Take Five.

MEAGAN MARIE: Thank you. You have made my life so much easier by answering these. So I very much appreciate it. Now, we’re going to go have turkey dinner at the studio.

KARL STEWART: Yes! We’re supposed to be upstairs right now, carving turkey for the team.

MEAGAN MARIE: I’m going to save, I’m going to close GarageBand -- because that’s what I use -- and I’m going to go eat some turkey.

KARL STEWART: Excellent. Thank you very much, all!

MEAGAN MARIE: Thank you everyone.

KARL STEWART: Happy Thanksgiving, even though you’ll hear this the day after. And for you guys outside of America, forget I said that.

MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, bye-bye.

KARL STEWART: Thanks. ‘Bye.

[brief break]

MEAGAN MARIE: And that is it for this episode of the Crystal Habit podcast. For those of you in the United States, I hope you enjoy your long Thanksgiving weekend, and for the rest of you worldwide, enjoy your regularly scheduled programming. ‘Til next time.

[musical outro]

Driber
26th Nov 2012, 18:27
She's looking pretty fine in interview for Liz and Dick though (Lindsay is).

Got a link? :)

larafan25
26th Nov 2012, 18:52
Got a link? :)

Here's one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYyVZ4Gwv1Q

edit: YES!

I'm totally taking my jacket on and off during my first playthrough! AHH!

edit: OH

MY

GAWD.

Did Karl just say "Kong Doors"?

Like those giant wooden gate thingies? D:

edit: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH we can kill with rocks, omg, like in the descent demo, she knocks a guy over, then with the upgrade she'd grab the nearest rock and smash him over the head! D:

uggg best podcast ever. The weather...ugg yeah!

OMG The scavengers

ahhh

ah

Driber
26th Nov 2012, 21:43
Here's one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYyVZ4Gwv1Q

Hmm, yes, she looks a bit better than in the pic of Blondie Girl's sig and it's nice that she went back to ginger/red hair. But still botox everywhere x_x

tillymander
1st Dec 2012, 12:35
Do you find out new stuff tomb raider-related? i havent listened to a single podcast but i might do if you find out stuff about the game, ?

Driber
1st Dec 2012, 13:29
"habitat" - lol :D

Yeah, there is lots of info on the game in the podcasts. I recommend checking them out if you're not worried about spoilers :)

d1n0_xD
1st Dec 2012, 13:42
Wow, the info about unlocking some of those "up close and personal" moves is awesome :D And I like the fact the scavengers are "alive", they don't just spawn in, they react, nice! :D

Driber
18th Jan 2013, 19:47
New podcast incoming ;)

Relight-TRHQ
18th Jan 2013, 19:49
New podcast incoming ;)
You couldn't wait until it was released? :) You just had to tease! ;)

Driber
18th Jan 2013, 19:51
What can I say...I like to tease :p :D

Edit: here ya go, guys - hot off the press!

http://driber.net/os/tr9/crystal_habit_podcast_episode_17.mp3

----

YT version, for easy online listening:

KoM1a1O4Ds4

(still processing - available in a few minutes!)

pidipidi39
18th Jan 2013, 20:05
Thanky you sir :D

larafan25
18th Jan 2013, 20:24
AH Watching!

pidipidi39
18th Jan 2013, 20:27
AH Watching!
*Listening :whistle:

larafan25
18th Jan 2013, 20:33
^Yeah that, IT'S WORKING now @ :D

edit: JUST as I have to pee! D:

pidipidi39
18th Jan 2013, 20:36
edit: JUST as I have to pee! D:
Well, you deserve it for having a creepy signature like the one you have :p

tillymander
18th Jan 2013, 20:43
how do i find the text to this podcast? cant be bothered to listen i like to scan the words. :) thanks.

dark7angel
18th Jan 2013, 20:45
how do i find the text to this podcast? cant be bothered to listen i like to scan the words. :) thanks.

Meagan usually posts it on the official blog but it isn't there yet... :)

larafan25
18th Jan 2013, 21:19
OKAY poop. Just reminded me of what I thought of last night while sleeping.

I REALIZED last night that they did change the story, even though I thought they didn't.

And I think Kublai kan is going to be the second mystery, if not the DLC because there was a Lost Fleet map mentioned as DLC a long time ago.

OMG Lawl. Cuts off when Max is asking if it's completely finished and polished!

just*raidin*tomb
18th Jan 2013, 21:58
Oh man the weapons disappearing was literally the only nitpicky detail that really bugged me. Oh well. .__.

I mean I understand if you're switching weapons...machine gun/shotgun--->bow and arrow, but completely disappearing? ._____.
I know its not a big deal, but its just a small detail that takes me out of it for a second is all. It's quite noticeable.
Poops. I honestly think it would be better to have it clip through walls a bit as opposed to disappearing and reappearing every other scene. It clips into the cliff a bit when she's climbing and it isn't really that noticeable at all.

I mean they might as well have kept the invisible arrows. :p

larafan25
18th Jan 2013, 23:14
I'd rather they disappear than have close camera showing them go through objects, and I knew EVERYJUAN would crap themselves about that.

I don't see why they dn't just add a backpack and put the stuff in there.

THOUGH. What I do disagree with is not having everything on her body at once, as I like the look of a character all-geared up.

oldboy2003
19th Jan 2013, 03:57
Yay max asked my disappearing bow question! :D