Thread: Ask Eric
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Old 12-01-09, 01:40   #192
Squamula's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: California
Posts: 31

trin 303: With respect to paying attention to forums, I can only speak for myself. I could only read a fraction of what was posted, and I did a lot of skimming, or cherry-picking topics that I was concerned about and not reading threads about things I knew were too late to affect or that I was set on what we were going to do. But I did read a lot, and Underworld would not look like it does today had I never read any forums. I looked other places, but the most traffic -- and opinions that I felt I could most effectively parse -- came from TRF. You all definitely can praise yourselves for toning down the white ledges...we were never going to leave them so bright, but we wouldn't have taken as hard a look and tested them so hard if not for forum traffic on the topic. You guys can't take credit for Alister's death, though...that one's all mine... But in terms of hearing something harsh, here's something. Often when a thread appears and people are shouting Consensus! we're only talking about 12 people. Even the GROZA groups and such are only a couple hundred people, and Tomb Raider games sell in the millions. We needed to kep this in mind, especially because TRF is a specialized audience, not a fair market cross section. Also, if you did an analysis you'd find that there are few consensus issues here anyway. Pony tail verses braid? There is no clear favorite.

Pietras: the Legend story did change throughout pre-production, including when Toby came on board, and me, too, since I was the Story Designer. Those locations you mention (forgive me for suppressing a smile) never existed. Much of the myth about cut levels were based on random pieces of concept art that some concept artist just tossed off one day that had no grounding in any story or design docs...just an artist's doodling. As for story changes, elements, and Lara's backstory, you can blame me as much as anybody. To be brutally honest, we didn't know anyone was as bonded to the original backstory as it turned out. That said, we probably would have made the changes anyway, and this is common. The Batman's backstory changes all the time, for instance. I'll talk more about the story stuff (Mommy!) and Toby later...

Aurelien52: Like I said when I was an employee, we were approached my Microsoft to do some exclusive downloads, it was a nice deal, and it happened. I don't know if it will ever expire to allow them to be downloaded on other platforms or available on disc.

Gladous: The ideas for Underworld came from all over for a long time. I'll say more when I talk more about story later. I can't really talk about ideas for DLC though because that's in the future.

(Phew...I'm kinda glad there's traffic about whether I'm really slows you all down a bit and I'm really outnumbered here...50 hands typing questions and only 2 typing answers...)

immortalis08: The camera feature was cut from the game because it turned out to be a can worms -- not just bugs that were really hard to fix, but also conceptual weird stuff that would have taken much too long to trap. And, if you didn't know this you might find it interesting, we were getting a lot of negative feedback on how the camera didn't contribute to gameplay and just sharing pictures was stoopid. My greatest challenge as a creative director was the fact that 80 people don't naturally agree on everything, and we need to march toward the ship date as if we do. I don't have a favorite level, but I have bits that grabbed my imagination more. Favorites of mine are Shiva and Kali, the Artic Sea Statues, the eitr pool at the bottom of Xibalba...places that had a big presence and weight of conceptual meaning. I liked the tipped ship, too. And yes, the name of Amanda's first ship is the "Megaera". I'll talk more about the trilogy later when I come back to story stuff. I can't say much about the DLC except to say that it did not hinder Underworld in any way.

Awestruck: All games have things cut out. it's generally because we hope for more than is ultimately possible, as game designers. Movies are the same. There was nothing unusual about the cuts in Tomb Raider games at Crystal...the usual reasons seen everywhere in the industry.

Moon-Safari: The decision to ship or hold a game is always a tough decision for any studio and publisher. The longer you hold it, the more it costs and the more you need to make to earn it back. Holding it longer makes it better, but better at a rate faster than the rate you are increasing its budget? There are cynical answers, but it is always, in all honesty, a hard question for any studio. It was discussed here, and the decision to ship in November was made higher than me. I supported it, though in hindsight I second-guess my feelings there. The line between pre-production and production is blurry. We spent 3 years on the project in total, and we had a typical-to-good experience with respect to making and missing deadlines. We didn't plan out the games in terms of story in advance, per se...I'll say more about story later. And I didn't make the DLC deal. I cut content from the game, and it later turned out to be possible to use in DLC, for which I was happy.

Blowy: You found the game a bit more uneven than I did with respect to puzzles...if you could be more specific I could help. But the tension between time constraints and creativity and scale are always there, in any studio or publisher, and it's always agonizing.

CrazyMonkey: While I did take issue with some decisions made by management and the publisher, I have never worked at a game developer where this isn't the case. Companies are too big to do everything right all the time. The studio made mistakes, and I made mistakes. We're human. Can I blame the problems Underworld shipped with on Eidos? Yes, but I also blame myself.

Carbonek 0051: You said "Why were cheats made available through completing certain tasks not included in this game when it was included in the past 2?" I don't understand the question. We didn't include time trials because my research showed that very few people performed them in Legend and I didn't want to spend the programming and UI support needed to support such a marginal feature. I can't talk about story questions for the future, but I will say some things later when I come back to story issues. As for cut scenes, they were harder to make in Underworld because of next-gen issues, and so they had to be shorter, more concise and to the point, and yes this did make them seem less cool than Legend because we could take our time more then and make it more Underworld we had to focus more of the time on the information conveyed because we had fewer minutes at our disposal.

Pan: Is Natla dead? That's a future story question.

Laralover 07: Can't say anything about the DLC content coming up.

jeffery_van-oort: we didn't see how Amanda found Natla, but there are lots of things we didn't see. In stories there are always things you don't see depicted, but must infer or hear abuot second hand. Read Lara's journal for more info.

Larapink: Ah, so you're a Kurtis lover, yes? Can't say anything about what characters or plots will come in the future, but before yo uaccuse me of being secretive, it's because I don't know. Nothing is really decided until it's decided. I'll say more when I come back to story. But with respect to the cut scenes not being able to be replayed at the end, this one hurt me bad. This feature was always supposed to be in, but in the end it just couldn't happen, and here's why. All the cut scenes happen in-game, and the state of levels change. For instance, when you first found the maproom bridge in Thailand, there is a cut scene of Lara walking across it. But when you escape this room, you have moved the bridge. If you tried to replay the cut scene of her walking across this bridge, she'd be walking in midair! Sometimes cut scenes relied on things being as they start out, and sometimes as you the player configured them. The opening of Xibalba? That really happens, and the camera just shows it to you. To run it again would require a tone of specialty programming to run all these scripts to recreate these events that the player triggered manual in-game. The only feasible solution was to render out movies and put in a movie player, but there wasn't nearly enough room on the disc for this. We jammed everything onto the disc we could for the game itself and there was no room for movies. It was a sad day for me, but what else could we do?

Gladous: Can't talk about future stuff, I'm afraid...and I don't know about any movie deals, but I wasn't in that loop so it might be going on for all I know.

KIKO: Comparing Crystal's Lara with Core's Lara is tricky...I could ask you to compare Core's TR1 Lara with TR5 Lara with AoD's Lara. She's been expressed in many ways. I of course like Legend and Underworld best, but I am completely not objective about this.

Moon-Safari: The production issue that led to cutting some content were just garden variety production happen on most games. Delay was a question for higher ups that I answered earlier.

Love2Raid: About stuff in the trailer that wasn't in the game...can you give me examples? We did some special content for trailers, but I can be more specific if you can be. With dynamic weather, I got misquoted in the press a lot about this. I never said there would be dynamic weather. I said weather was an important part of our emotional canvass, but that it was always raingin in Mexico because it was a "down" part of the story arc (after Alister's death, though I couldn't reveal that). I answered about the photos earlier...

MyRaider4Life: About night in Thailand, same answer as above, and I'll talk more about story in geenral later...
TRBeth: Underworld certainly would have been a better game if we had more time, and htis is true of pretty much every game on the market. More than that, I've said above... If I could do one thing differently on Underworld, it's related to that, however. I would have built in a longer polish interval to account for next-gen polish challenges. This would have made it a smoother and more successful experience for everyone.

konichi-wa: the evolution of the naga you see in the concept art was a reflection of the belief that earlier drawings were too cartoon-like and didn't match the style of the rest of the game and environments, so they were made to look like we ultimately shipped.

Forum Quorum: Fan fiction has had no impact on the Tomb Raider stories at Crystal because, in all honesty, I have never read a single piece of fan fiction. I love that people are inspired to write them, but I have never read any.

Nenya awakens: I'll talk about story stuff more later (and in fact I'm going to stop saying that, so subsequent questions about this I'll just skip over for now...I'll get back to them though!)

More coming...


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