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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.

Livingstone affirms possibility of next Tomb Raider movie; Other game-to-film Eidos titles confirmed May 9, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Eidos, Hollywood, Tomb Raider 3 (Film).
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Ian Livingstone is quite proud of Eidos games going mainstream through their respective Hollywood adaptations. “Hollywood initially created its own characters; then they looked to books and comic books for stories and characters, and now they’re looking at games, because they see the rise in the popularity of these video game characters.”

There have been two Tomb Raider films and a Hitman movie, and now it’s Kane & Lynch that’s getting the silverscreen treatment, which will star no less than Bruce Willis, according to Livingstone. The Eidos life pres has also affirmed that there’s “possibly another Tomb Raider movie” alongside an animated TV series based on IO Interactive title Mini Ninjas.

Eidos titles going Hollywood — who didn’t see that coming? Definitely more on the films as new details come in.

[Gaming Indians]

Tomb Raider music to be featured in Video Games Live Singapore April 30, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Music.
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Now on its fourth year running, the top worldwide concert series will continue to bring orchestrated video game music around the globe — this year, in Singapore. Music from Tomb Raider will once again be featured in the upcoming concert event (VGL London segment of it YouTubified here), to be played by the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of the National University of Singapore.

The concert will be held on 19th June at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. You can hop on to the official site of Video Games Live for more details.

Square bar-graphs Lara’s rise and fall (and rise) — in million units sold April 23, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Eidos, Lara Croft, Square Enix, Underworld.
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It’s one of those instances, really, when a picture — or in this case, a bar graph (an embiggable one) — says a thousands words, so sufficiently so that an appearance from Captain Obvious would already be an unwelcome distraction.

But that’s on the Tomb-Raider-rise-and-fall front.

Now that Tomb Raider among other Eidos franchises are technically under Square Enix following the recently concluded acquisition talks, the Japanese publisher is tracking their key franchises’ lifetime sales, yielding a sigh-inducing reminder of how big Lara was…back in the day. Here’s a jump to Square Enix’s full (PDF) report on the acquisition deal.

Uncharted 2 Creative Director: “I was on the Crystal Dynamics team” February 7, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Underworld.
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Amy Hennig, creative director for Uncharted: Among Thieves, sequel to the critically-acclaimed Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, has more than a few things to say about Lara’s latest adventure, and the team behind it.

Hennig previously worked on the Legacy of Kain series under Crystal Dynamics as director and writer. Before Eidos made the developer shift for Tomb Raider from Core to Crystal, Hennig had already transferred to Naughty Dog to work on Nathan Drake’s first outing on the PS3. Hennig says, however, that her “friends are on that team (CD),” mentioning her previous involvements in the games industry.

Asked about what she thinks of Underworld, she says “Crystal has done an amazing job of really resurrecting that franchise and really returning to the roots of what made it such a beloved experience.” Hennig also appears to have a good grasp of what makes a Tomb Raider game, saying that “their strength is about the puzzling and kind of the mystery of it, and having these big puzzles to solve.”

On the comparisons between Uncharted and Tomb Raider, a subject a Crystal Dynamics rep has given word on last week, Hennig has this to say:

To be honest, I hate the comparisons between the two games, I mean I guess they’re natural, but I kind of don’t get it in the sense that really our game is much more of a fast-paced sort of shooter. […]

There’s a charm to the pace of their (CD) games that I think people love, which is moving through this mysterious space and sort of unraveling the mysteries inside. There’s something about our pace that people love, which is the fact that you’re just on this ride, and you’re just barreling along like you’re in a summer blockbuster. And they’re totally different experiences and don’t have to really compete with each other.

Case closed? You bet.

[G4TV]

Crystal Dynamics: “It’s too soon to say anything about the next game” February 6, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Future Games.
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It was in November last year when we first heard of the possibility of multiplayer for the ninth Tomb Raider game. Fast-forward to February ’09, asked if Crystal Dynamics has finally decided to go through with the feature, a CD rep only had this to say:

Multiplayer is always considered for each game, difficult as it is, and I imagine it always will be, but it’s too soon to say anything about the next game.

Multiplayer? Next game? We’re trying to be excited here — especially with news of reboots and makeovers and takeovers everywhere — but Lara’s gone through far too much, we don’t know if we’ll ever even have her back, at all.

[Gamezine UK]

Megan Fox is “not involved in the movie at all” January 29, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Hollywood, Tomb Raider 3 (Film).
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This one’s a late pick-up, but it does deserve its own entry. Sci-Fi site io9 has apparently contacted Megan’s camp about the rumors circulating that she might be the next Lara Croft on the big screen. Megan’s spokesperson only had this to say: “She’s not involved in the movie at all.”

We’d like to add “yet” at the end of that sentence. Unless there’s massive fan revolt, there’s nothing to stop Warner Bros. to pursue Fox if they wanted to.

Third-person Mirror’s Edge: Tomb Raider of the future? January 28, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Future Games.
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The PC version of 2008 EA title Mirror’s Edge — famous for its innovative first-person parkour game mechanic — apparently has a cheat to have you play the entire game in third person. Have a look below.

What’s Mirror’s Edge doing in a Tomb Raider blog, you ask.

Well, it’s this. Sans the crappy animation of Faith in third-person (which wasn’t the focal point of the game anyway), her acrobatic skills are almost identical to those of Lara’s in her more recent games, Legend, Anniversary, and Underworld. Although the sample video really doesn’t show quality animations, the string of acrobatic moves performed by Faith does look like an infinitely more agile display of classic Raider acrobatics.

Picture this: The 2:49-long video set instead in long-lost ruins of an ancient civilization, towering moss-covered structures, lit only by the setting sun — with better, more graceful animations, of course — and an updated Lara in place of Faith. What we retain? The awesomely big leaps, the sense of expert maneuvering, and the palpable feeling of isolation.

Just a thought for the day, really. Is third-person Mirror’s Edge the Tomb Raider of the future? Yay or nay?

Warner Bros. to “reimagine the origins of Lara Croft” for future film, Terminator producer attached January 28, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Eidos, Hollywood, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider 3 (Film).
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Here’s something to rejoice–or lament–about.

Following rumors of Megan Fox as the next Lara Croft and Rhona Mitra turning down any more Lara Croft roles, The Hollywood Reporter is saying that Warner Bros. IS indeed bringing back Lara to the big screen.

Executive producer of upcoming film Terminator Salvation Dan Lin is attached as the new Raider film’s producer. Lin has also been involved in films such as 10,000 B.C. (studio executive) and the The Aviator (producer). Other names attached to the project are Ian Livingstone of Eidos (executive producer), Stephen Gilchrist (co-producer), and Matt Reilly (Warner Bros. supervisor).

WB’s additional purchase of 10 million shares in Eidos last December has earned them the rights to the next Tomb Raider film. Paramount Picture’s contract had apparently expired before then.

A new directive for the movie might be a little controversial though, as WB is setting to “revamp the character,” “re-imagine Lara’s origins, her love interest and the main villain.”

With no director and Lara Croft actress attached as of yet, the third Raider movie seems still far off the horizon. But you have here a raise of hand for any form of big Hollywood Tomb Raider production. Let’s just hope it’s done right.

More on this as it develops, if it does. Which it will. (Hopefully.)

Rhona Mitra says “No” to being Lara Croft again January 24, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Hollywood, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider 3 (Film).
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Whether it be for a major motion picture or just another modelling gig for the ninth Tomb Raider game, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans star Rhona Mitra is telling Media Blvd that she “might have gotten the best of it (portraying Lara Croft)” already. Rhona seems reminiscent and quite proud of her Lara Croft experience, however, as she recounts how the “giggle” of playing a pixelated character turned into a “catastrophic success”.

On still being recognized as Lara Croft, Rhona shares that “the profile that went with that somehow got muddied with mine, and people got confused as to whether I was her or not. There was really an association with that that’s still running.”

Now that Rhona’s out of the picture, we’ve no choice but to keep an eye on Transformers vixen Megan Fox, earlier rumored to be the next Lara Croft on the big screen. We’re still holding hope for a third Raider film, you know.

You can jump to the full interview here.