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Colin O’Malley on possible involvement in ‘Raider 9 May 14, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Crystal Dynamics, Future Games, Music.
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Colin O’Malley, the man behind the epic (!) orchestral score for Tomb Raider Underworld, isn’t quite sure if he’ll be working on Tomb Raider music for a second time. “I’m not sure if I’ll be involved in the next game or not,” the Emmy-nominated composer has told Fanboy. “I don’t think that decision has been made yet.”

There has been no official word on the development of Tomb Raider IX, but Eidos life president Ian Livingstone have somehow hinted that it’s at least gone past pre-production phase, saying that “there are some remarkable things we’re doing in the next Tomb Raider to make you say, ‘Oh Lara, I love you so much!'” While Lara’s ninth game may very well be underway, crafting the musical score for the game would only come once a playable build is in place.

In an earlier interview with Tomb Raider Forums, Legend composer Troels Folmann shared that before doing the score, “I read all the conceptual documents, story scripts and played the game.” Scoring a game would undoubtedly entail having to see the game in motion, and it would make sense if Crystal Dynamics has yet to make a decision on the music and the composer for the next ‘Raider outing.

In his official website, Colin O’Malley writes that scoring Underworld “was a bit of a departure for me, as the score involves a lot of non-traditional ambience and sound scapes.” A core element of the score, he shares, “is a choir I recorded with a small group of composers in Salt Lake City, Utah.” He adds that “the choir was heavily processed to create an ominous, watery sound that fit well within the ‘underworld’.”

As Team Lara stealthily works on certain “remarkable things,” we are left to just hope for the best of the franchise. Question is, do you think Colin O’Malley will achieve that best that Crystal D can offer? Think back, play back, listen back…to the wonders of the score of Tomb Raider Underworld, then have your say.

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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.

Lara Croft modeler teaches you how to create your own Lara model May 5, 2009

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Fan Pulse, Lara Croft, Underworld.
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Jonathan Rush, the man behind the character models for Tomb Raider Anniversary and the Wii version of Underworld, is set to give a workshop on “Modern Game Character Creation,” an eight-week course sponsored by CG Society.

The workshop will give you a hands-on experience creating and modeling your own character. Rush will guide you through the conceptual stage and the modeling stage itself covering various topics from hard surface modeling, detail-adding, creation of in-game mesh, adding textures, to adding the finishing touches to your own Lara Croft creation.

Registration’s until 21st May. Classes start on the 25th. Should be a good way to jump-start your career in the gaming biz. Just make this jump to CG Society for more details.

You can hop on to Jonathan Rush’s official website to view his own character creations, as featured in an earlier Fanboy post together with other unofficially released ‘Raider artworks.

The Top 5 Most Soothing Music of Neo-Tomb Raider December 19, 2008

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in 5 Things, Fan Pulse, Hollywood, Music, Underworld.
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While the bulk of Lara’s adventures have mostly taken her to dangerous and foreboding places, her tomb-raiding sprees are not without the occassional relaxing and meditative atmosphere of lush rainforests, snowy mountain tops, and bouldered ruins. It isn’t enough, however, that these places are such stunning sights to behold. What makes them distinctly calming (in an awe-inspiring way) is the music that comes with them, and that’s what this fanboy list will be treating you to: The Top 5 Most Soothing Music of Neo-Tomb Raider.

5. Croft Manor Theme – Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Composed by Troels Folmann): When your butler’s gone missing, leaving you a list of chores to do in your own mansion, you know there’s something wrong. But that doesn’t stop Lara from accomplishing Winston’s to-do list anyway, which meant running back and forth, up and down just to fix the drainage. Oh, but going about Croft Manor is far from being a chore, especially if the starry night sky is set to Troels Fomann’s theme for Lara’s not so humble abode.

It’s actually a modern take at the original four-note melody predominantly characterized by playful percussions. Although it’s a bit repetitive, the variation of soft and loud beats (starting from 2:04) makes you want to listen to the piece through its six-minute run.

4. Nepal Theme – Tomb Raider: Legend (Composed by Troels Folmann): When Lara was still holding hope that her mother might still be alive after her mysterious disappearance, she ventured atop the Nepalese mountains in search of the brooch her father had given her mother. This brooch was said to be the Ghalali key; the stone that puts the pieces of Excalibur back together. Getting the key back wasn’t the prize though, but the journey to get to it.

The vocals of the piece sets the mood for a lonely trek through thick snow, but at the same, it emits a sense of peace in being the lone wolf Lara is. Setting the vocals to the tribal beats in the background hints that the Nepalese terrain has long been uncharted, which makes raiding it all the more atmospheric.

3. Poseidon’s Theme – Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Composed by Troels Folmann): Anniversary‘s version of St. Francis Folly is arguably the level of the remake that is right up there with the original in terms of scope, atmosphere and level design. But what truly stands out as the real gem in Crystal Dynamic’s rendition of the famous vertical level is the puzzle room of Poseidon.

Characterized by an abundant use of chimes, Poseidon’s Theme gives a sense of awe at the sight of the azure puzzle room. The rendition of the Tomb Raider melody at 00:31 that overpowers the background is the main source of relaxation, together with the whispering choir the accompanies it.

2. Underwater Caverns – Tomb Raider: Underworld (Composed by Colin O’Malley): One would think that Lara was on a tropical vacation rather than a dark quest into ancient underworlds at the sight of coastal Thailand. Hell, she has a yacht with her. Winston’s tea tray-serving abilities could have seriously done a good job at making it the perfect getaway.

In contrast to the Nepalese mountains of Legend, this piece indulges Lara in the wonders of (current-gen) nature, as if to say, “Skinny-dip now, raid later”. Set to the stunning water graphics of Underworld and the massive stone structures and lush fauna, Underwater Caverns sets the mood for a leisurely pacing of Southeast Asian tomb-raiding. And hear the ethereal vocals at the 1:12 mark? Should’ve been there right from the very beginning.

1. Arrival in China – Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (Composed by Alan Silvestri): That’s right. The movies — not the games — get the top spot. You must be scratching your head trying to remember the scene where the music plays; much less, what the entire film is all about. Well, here’s a refresher: Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Alan Silvestri himself, this piece heralds Lara’s arrival in a rural area in China where she meets an old acquaintance for help. This time, she’s in pursuit of an orb that tells the exact location of the mythical Pandora’s box. Remember now?

Chinese influence is noticeably reflected in the musical arrangement and the instrumentation. The original four-note melody can be loosely heard at the 00:40 mark and becomes more readily recognizable at 1:08 (despite missing a note). Although there’s arguably a hint of sadness to the composition, the idyllic location shown in the film makes the piece more about indulging in transient tranquility. For after all, Lara really doesn’t have the luxury of time to trade in her pistols for meditative silence.

So there you have it: The Top 5 Most Soothing Music of Neo-Tomb Raider. Be sure to have ’em on your own personalized playlist, so the next time you feel the urge to throw your mouse/controller because of Underworld’s camera, chilling is just a Play button away. In the meantime, here’s a bonus video of Alan Silvestri conducting the London Symphony Orchestra for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Just so you know the amount of work put into scoring Lara Croft films, and games.

Eidos releases first patch for Tomb Raider Underworld December 16, 2008

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Eidos, Underworld.
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The first patch for the PC version of Tomb Raider Underworld is now available for download over at Tomb Raider Chronicles. Issues addressed aren’t anything game-changing, although small fixes here and there certainly don’t go unappreciated. A list of the problems addressed can be found at Tomb Raider Forums.

No mention of patches for the console versions of the game.

We’re hoping the next patch (if any) will fix the camera during gameplay. Underworld could certainly use the fix.

Underworld ranks 17 in EDGE’s Top 30 Games of 2008 December 16, 2008

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in Underworld.
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Yes, bagging 17th is reason for celebration. Topping the likes of Fallout 3, Mirror’s Edge and Prince of Persia (the latter two surprisingly excluded from the list), one just can’t help but feel reassured that the franchise’s staying power is set in stone even after more than a decade in the industry. EDGE puts it this way:

From an execution standpoint, Crystal Dynamics has saved the once flagging Tomb Raider franchise with apparent confidence, gathering up all of the strengths established early in the franchise’s life and updating them for modern gamers. Lara Croft’s latest action adventure is one filled with eye-popping moments and a style fit for Tomb Raider.

The UK-based magazine has been notorious for giving popular and generally well-received games such as Mirror’s Edge and Prince of Persia less favorable scores of 5 (out of 10) while giving Tomb Raider Underworld an 8 – a score that has done quite the job of erasing doubts about Lara Croft from the general gaming community.

In at top 5 are Braid, Gears of War 2, Fable II, Grand Theft Auto IV, and LittleBigPlanet (in ascending order). Here’s a jump to the full list.

Vote for next Lara Croft outfit DLC [Update] December 16, 2008

Posted by tombraiderfanboy in 360 DLC, Fan Pulse, Lara Croft, Underworld.
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The top designs are in. Festival Arcadia’s Virtually Fashionable event for Tomb Raider Underworld held on November 8 put the spotlight on 10 designer outfits for Lara Croft, of which two were hand-picked by Eidos as finalists for a faithful recreation of the design in Underworld. A voting thread is up on Tomb Raider Forums if you want to vote. The winning design will be made available as a DLC at a yet unspecified time. Presumably, it will come bundled with Beneath the Ashes, which will be hitting Xbox Live pretty soon.

Update: Eidos Community manager Keir Edmonds has just announced that the Travis Taddeo design (pictured right; black outfit) won the community voting. So that’s what you’ll be getting as DLC.