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Next Tomb Raider set for release in 2010? June 25, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Future Games.
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Thanks to the diligent sleuthing of Gtkilla of Tomb Raider Forums, we might have a possible release window for the ninth major ‘Raider installment in the Lara Croft series of games.

Following the hype surrounding Toby Gard’s re-appointment as Lead Designer at Crystal Dynamics, Laraverse has yet again uncovered a possible clue pointing to the inevitable Tomb Raider 9. Chris Conway, Senior Programmer at Crystal D, has listed “a Tomb Raider game scheduled for release in 2010 or later” under his professional experience in his Plaxo profile.

We actually prefer the “later” bit, but at least a 2010 release breaks Lara Croft’s string of yearly outings. Give the girl a break.

Thanks, TRC!


Toby Gard gets Lead Designer title for unnanounced Crystal Dynamics game June 18, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Future Games.
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Toby Gard, original creator of Lara Croft back in the ’90s, is now Lead Designer at Crystal Dynamics for an “unnanounced project”, his LinkedIn profile details. Let’s do a quick recap, shall we?

Tomb Raider Fanboy’s May sleuthing pointed us to Underworld senior environmental artist Caleb Strauss also listing an unannounced project he’s working on at Crystal D. And just yesterday, Team Lara posted a job opening for the next Senior Art Director for their next triple A outing. Need we scratch our heads?

Thanks to amiro1989 for the heads up over at Tomb Raider Forums.

Game Developer scores exclusive Tomb Raider Underworld postmortem June 17, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Underworld.
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Tomb Raider Underworld is Game Developer’s June-July game cover for 2009. The US-based gaming trade publication goes in-depth with Crystal Dynamics on the challenges and the successes of the Redwood-based studio developing the game.

Eric Lindstrom, former Creative Director at Crystal Dynamics, opens up about the earliest decisions about the Tomb Raider sequel and why and how they changed it later on. “Tomb Raider: Underworld was originally planned as an ‘easy’ sequel to the previous game in the series, using the same toolchain — but it never quite works out that way. Eric Lindstrom describes the process, highlighting instances in which the team wasn’t able to avoid known problems.”

You can hop on to the official Game Developer site to get yourself a copy in print or digital format.


Wanted at Tomb Raider dev house: Senior Art Director for AAA title June 16, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Future Games.
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Following last week’s layoffs at Crystal Dynamics, the team is now looking for a new Senior Art Director for “one of the most prestigious AAA franchises in the industry” who will “continue the long tradition of visually stunning and award winning titles from Crystal Dynamics.”

It’s no secret Crystal D is officially the new Tomb Raider team as anointed by Eidos. All signs point to another Tomb Raider game in development. Definitely more on this as it develops, which it will…eventually. Meanwhile, you can hop on to Future Games for a round-up of everything you need to know on the next ‘Raider title.

[Gamasutra via TRC]

Tomb Raider dev house faces another workforce cut June 10, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Eidos.
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Following last January’s workforce cut at the Tomb Raider dev house, Crystal D yet again faces another round of “resource-focusing”. This time, 25 employees are being laid off. Eidos cites the company’s “continued drive to focus resources at the studio” — as they did last January — as the reason for the layoffs.

“We can confirm that Crystal Dynamics has made a reduction of approximately 25 people at the San Francisco studio. This decision is a reflection of the continued drive to focus resources at the studio. We would like to thank all of the employees affected by this difficult decision for their hard work during their time at Crystal and we wish them all the best in the future.”

Let’s see then just how focused the next Tomb Raider game will be.


World, meet Crystal Core Game Studios May 13, 2009

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Crystal Core is an independent UK-based game studio. Newly-formed and working on their first title, Degeneration Theory: Cataclysm, Crystal Core is a “small team of talented individuals work collectively to build videogames for the masses.” Being an independent studio, they say, “allows us to create anything that we feel gamers of today will enjoy.”

Well, we’d undoubtedly enjoy a certain game that would live up to the team’s name… Should be one to pull off a Hannah Montana — getting the best of both worlds, that is. Oh, and you’ve got to admit, the mash-up does make sense.

Hop on to their official site for more info. Not much there yet, but it’s a start.

Team Lara lists “Unnanounced Project”; Buzz Monkey readies for “next smash success” May 13, 2009

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Caleb Strauss, senior environmental artist of Tomb Raider Underworld, has listed an “Unnanounced Project” he’s working on under Crystal Dynamics in his May ’09 professional resume. His involvement in the mysterious project, as his description puts it, includes “pre-production development, 3D world environment modeling, documentation, contribution to art pipeline and workflow, and mentoring.” Strauss worked on the “modeling, blending, collaberative polish work for materials and lighting on underground Chapel and hallways” for Beneath the Ashes chapter of Underworld. He also did the “blending, polish modeling, and final lighting for Father’s Secret Study” for the same TRU add-pack.

It’s no secret that whatever unnanounced project Crystal Dynamics is working on is bound to be Tomb Raider; that is, following the mandate given by Eidos to the Redwood-based team to solely focus on the franchise. But, could this “Unnanounced Project” be really? What else could it be?

Meanwhile, Buzz Monkey, known for the Wii and PS2 ports of Underworld and their contribution to the PS3 and 360 versions of the game, has also listed a “Top Secret Game” on their official website, touting it as their “next smash success.” While Buzz Monkey did work on the last three ‘Raider installments, there’s no saying for sure if this top secret game is indeed the inevitable Tomb Raider IX, as the company “offers full game development, co-development, ports, and consulting to both publishers and fellow developers” — not only to Crystal Dynamics.

On another side of the web, TRU technical artist David Suroviec seems happy about what “they” have done so far on “a project.” This new project has allowed Suroviec “to start working from a nearly clean slate,” as his work on Underworld, he’s admitted, wasn’t as flawless as he had wanted it to be, especially since it was his “first job ever.” Suroviec still works at Crystal Dynamics as a technical artist as his profile description puts it. In February, he wrote a rather teasing insight on his current project, which could very well be Tomb Raider IX: “My co-workers and I have accomplished so much so far and I am excited for what we have in mind down the road.”

Even Robert Moreno — former junior material artist at CD — has heard of the excitement in the Tomb Raider dev house. Moreno, according to his site, worked on “materials and textures of Croft Manor’s main hall” and “modeled and textured the clean and destroyed versions of Croft Manor’s exterior for cinematics” for Underworld. The TRU artist has spoken to Tomb Raider Fanboy, and while he was unfortunately one of the 30 CD employees laid off last January, he shares he still hears from his friends from the team and “they say the next Tomb Raider looks very promising.”

Well, will it be SO promising it will make us say “Oh Lara, I love you so much”? THAT, we’ll have to wait and see.

Definitely more on the game as things develop, which they will, eventually.

Laraverse round-up: Tomb Raider dev house is 43rd world’s most successful game studio May 12, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Eidos, Future Games, Lara Croft, Underworld.
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The 2009 edition of book series Develop 100 has ranked the Tomb Raider dev house as the 43rd most bankable game studio of the world, beating the likes of Bandai Namco, Bioware, Bungie, Rare, and, yes, Square Enix. Published by Develop, Develop 100 ranks the world’s most successful game studios based on a variety of criteria, including critical success or review scores, industry standing, and sales data of their respective games.

Tomb Raider Underworld, the most recent title developed by Crystal Dynamics, only sold an estimated 1.5 million units as of January 2009 — a sales count, despite surpassing the million mark, deemed disappointing by Eidos for Lara Croft’s eighth outing. This was followed by 30 Crystal Dynamics employees being laid off “to eliminate redundancy and give the studio tighter focus moving forward” and a directive for a Lara Croft make-over for the next game. Underworld has since reached 2.6 million units sold, ranking the game sixth lowest-selling  of all nine major outings of the franchise.

The game, however, has received generally respectable reviews, garnering 75 out of a possible hundred on Metacritic, which has led Eidos to give Crystal Dynamics directive to solely focus on the Tomb Raider franchise. Ian Livingstone, Eidos life president, has hinted that Crystal Dynamics is already hard at work on the ninth entry to the series, saying that “remarkable things” being added to the game will make you say “Oh Lara, I love you so much!”

In February, a Crystal Dynamics representative said that “it’s too soon to say anything about the next game,” and while Lara’s next game does seem to still be tightly under wraps, Eric Lindstrom, former creative director at the Redwood-based team, hinted in November 2008 that there have been talks of adding a multiplayer feature to the next game.

This was substantiated by Crystal Dynamics’ March ’09 job openings, which included an Online Programmer, whose job is to collaborate with “designers, artists, and other programmers” — as the job description puts it — “to develop and iterate on an online functionality including areas like multiplayer, user content sharing, community features, game metrics, etc.” While there is no solid indicator of what Ian Livingstone exactly means by “remarkable things,” perhaps a safe bet would be the added functionality of multiplayer in the Laraverse.

As E3 2009 closes in, we are still left guessing if Lara will even be making an appearance at the expo. Of Eidos’ portfolio, only Deus Ex 3 has so far been confirmed to be shown at the event. While fans of Tomb Raider are no doubt enthused at the prospect of a ninth Lara game, Crystal Dynamics would do well to focus on the more essential part of making a game — its development, rather than its advertisement.

Stay tuned to Tomb Raider Fanboy for all the latest and newest and Lara Croft and Tomb Raider.

Eidos is coming to E3; Is Lara, too? May 4, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Eidos, Future Games.
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Eidos is getting booth #2422 for this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. So what are we expecting from the UK, Square Enix-owned publisher?

First, we’re counting on Deus Ex 3 from Eidos Montreal to make an appearance. In an interview with Gameblog France, developers Stéphane d’Astous and Andre Vu confirmed that the sequel to Invisible War will indeed be shown at this year’s E3. Of course we did salivate at that bit of news.

We’re also expecting the “second project” of the same team, which is rumored to be Thief 4, to make an E3 showing. The official unveiling of this mysterious project will be on 11th May, and what better way to generate fan buzz about a newly-announced game other than the expo?

Hitman 5, we’re predicting, will also be announced at the event. The last Hitman title from dev team IO Interactive was Blood Money, which was released in 2006. It’s now 2009. Yeah.

Rocksteady‘s delayed Batman title, Arkham Asylum, is also bound to make an appearnce at E3. Eidos has yet to announce a new release date for Batman’s asylum excursion, but they did say that the release window is “the end of summer 2009.” A demo of the game at the Eidos booth would definitely do well for the anticipated title, and we’re expecting no less of the Batman exhibit. It’s been around for quite a while already.

Lara Croft, as much as we want to see her in June, won’t be making it this year. To be clear, nothing’s for sure, but considering the disappointing sales of Underworld and the subsequent plans for a Lara make-over, the Croft team (Crystal D, specifically), we bet, must be taking their time getting everything right for a re-revitalization of the series. And we’re all just going to have to wait patiently.

Stay tuned to Fanboy for more Eidos at E3 news. You never know, she might just make a suprise appearance after all.

Business as usual: Eidos and Square Enix gearing up for new game reveals; Ninth ‘Raider set for E3? May 3, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Eidos, Future Games, Square Enix.
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It’s business as usual for the acquired and the acquirer. Eidos and Square Enix are teasing the gaming community about their respective game reveals.

Eidos Montreal, Eidos’ (and by extension, Square Enix’s) dev team for the upcoming Deus Ex threequel, while presumably hard at work on their follow-up to Deus Ex: Invisible War, has put up a teaser image for their “second project,” which will be officially unveiled on 11th May. Early speculation puts it that it might be the fourth entry to the Thief series, and while we are excited about the prospect of it, we wouldn’t want to put ourselves prey to failed expectations. For all we know, it might be new IP.

Square Enix on the other hand has made a teaser site for its own yet-to-be-announced game. A John F. Kennedy quote is set against a backdrop of a futuristic cityscape (pictured above) that seems to be under attack: “The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” Deep.

While Eidos and Square Enix has yet to announce their presence at the June 2-4 E3 2009 event (early list of participants here), we’re counting on both unnamed games to make an appearance at the expo. Would be a good venue to generate buzz.

As for a possible Tomb Raider IX announcement at E3, we really wouldn’t expect anything from Lara for at least another six months. Crystal Dynamics did say in February that “it’s too soon to say anything about the next game.” But now that they’re mandated to solely focus on the Croft series, we’re expecting them to at least be 10% into the development of the the ninth ‘Raider title.

Fanboy will be sure to keep an eye on E3 for any Croft sightings, nevertheless. Stay tuned! Meanwhile, you can hop on to our Twitter page to get all the latest on Lara Croft and Tomb Raider.