Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)

Descending into the depths of a Norse-themed underworld.

Release: November, 2008
Role: Studio Director
Platforms: XB360, PS3, WII, DS, PC

As fearless adventurer Lara Croft explore exotic locations around the world, each designed with an incredible attention to detail resulting in breathtaking high-definition visual fidelity that creates a truly believable world and delivers a new level of challenge and choice.

Production Notes:

In 2005, Eidos entrusted Crystal Dynamics with the opportunity to take on development of the Tomb Raider series. We quickly ramped up internal capacity and workflows to achieve a slate of three multi-sku Tomb Raider products to be released in three consecutive years.

This is an unusually difficult thing to achieve under normal circumstances, but we had the added complexity of facing a major platform transition mid cycle. A year prior, I was hired as Studio Director to oversee all development activities and to lead development for the upcoming slate.

Accomplishing this would require the complete overhaul of the studio’s technology, art, design and production workflows, the consolidation of our studio’s three game engines, the doubling of the size of our internal staff (to 180) and the establishment of several internal and external support departments and teams.

Thanks to the incredible work of Crystal’s dev teams, we not only delivered to meet the consecutive release schedule but we did so without compromising our studio’s standards for quality. Tomb Raider: Legend was released in 2006 selling 1.5+m units worldwide (PS2, XBOX, PC, PSP, NDS), Tomb Raider: Anniversary in 2007 selling over 2m units (XB360, PS2, PSP, Wii, PC), and Tomb Raider: Underworld in 2008 selling 2.5m+ units (PS3, XB360, PC, Wii, PS2, NDS) which collectively generated over $250m in revenue for Eidos.

Creative Director Eric Lindstrom and Lead Animator Primo Navidad share insights about Tomb Raider: Underworld in this rare Development Diary.

In addition, we successfully productized our internal technologies and tools which were subsequently used to support the newly formed Eidos Montreal studio in their development of Deus Ex.

Prior to leaving in 2009, I was invited to supervise the overhaul of our parent company’s Global Product Review process used for evaluating progress across all studios and projects in development. This was massively challenging as there were over 10 full-scale projects in development at the time, and key stakeholders and decision makers were spread across four countries.

Praise:

  • “…Underworld hits the target dead center, delivering the perfect mix of isolation and discovery with larger dramatic encounters”, GameInformer (88/100)
  • “An incredibly enjoyable experience and a real return to captivating tomb raiding on a grand scale.”, IGN UK (85/100)
  • “Underworld is that rare game that manages to provide a real adventure to go along with its action.”, Edge Magazine (8/10)
  • “One of the finest adventure games you’re likely to find on the 360.”, X360 Magazine UK (80/100)
  • “Lara’s latest (and best in years) adventure.”, AtomicGamer (87/100)
  • “A visually stunning, epic adventure that continues Crystal Dynamics’ excellent run.” VideoGamer (80/100)
  • Awards:

    British Academy Award – Best Action Adventure Game (Nomination)
    Writer’s Guild of America – Best Game Narrative (Nomination)

    Links:

    Tomb Raider – Official Website
    Tomb Raider: Underworld – Steam Store Page
    Crystal Dynamics Studio Page



    Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)

    A celebration of Lara Croft.

    Release: June, 2007
    Role: Studio Director
    Platforms: XB360, PS3, WII, PC

    Tomb Raider: Anniversary retraces Lara Croft’s original genre-defining adventure — globe-trotting 3rd person action-adventure in pursuit of the legendary Scion artifact. Using an enhanced ‘Tomb Raider: Legend’ game engine, the graphics, technology and physics bring Lara’s adventure and pursuit of a mystical artifact known only as the Scion right up to today’s technology standards and offers gamers a completely new gameplay experience. Re-imagined, Anniversary delivers a dynamic fluidly and fast Lara Croft, massive environments of stunning visuals, intense combat and game pacing, and an enhanced and clarified original story.

    Production Notes:

    In 2006, Crystal Dynamics embarked on an ambitious project to develop a modern remake of the original Tomb Raider, called Tomb Raider: Anniversary.

    In order to meet the goal of annual release schedule for the series, the team rose to the challenge to develop and release the game with a one year development schedule. The game was slated for development across five platforms and thus required the studio to establish partnerships with external developers to support the development. Tomb Raider: Anniversary was released on schedule in 2007 simultaneously on PC, PS2, PSP, XB360, Wii.

    Links:
    Official Website
    Steam Store Page



    Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)

    The Return of a Legend.

    Release: April, 2006
    Role: Studio Director
    Platforms: Windows, Playstation 3, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, XBOX, PSP, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, GameCube

    The gaming world’s most intrepid adventurer makes her triumphant return in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend. Follow Lara down a path of discovery as she travels the globe to remote, exotic locales in search of one of history’s greatest artifacts that unleash unwelcome figures from Lara’s mysterious past. With guns blazing, Lara must use her athletic ability and intellectual wits to explore vast, treacherous tombs, riddled with challenging puzzles and deadly traps. Experience the beginning of the new Legend in the most adrenaline-fueled Tomb Raider adventure ever.

    Production Notes:

    In 2005, I took responsibility for leading development at Crystal Dynamics as Studio Director as we took over responsibility for the Tomb Raider series. The studio leveraged years of action-adventure experience making games like Legacy of Kain and Soul Reaver to revitalize and reboot Tomb Raider.

    Tomb Raider: Legend was released simultaneously on PS2, PC, PSP, Game Cube, GBA, NDS and XBOX in 2006 to favorable reviews and earned a British Academy Award for Original Sountrack.

    Rare behind-the-scenes footage of Tomb Raider: Legend.

    Awards:

  • British Academy Award: Best Soundtrack
  • Links:
    Steam Store Page