Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tomb Raider Origins, Tomb Raider - New Game Details

A bunch of new Tomb Raider details, which includes commentary from creative director Noah Hughes.  

- Last demo cut off as Lara picked up the gun she’d just used to take her first human life from the jungle floor
- Lara fights her way out of the burning island around her
- Militiamen fall over the next 10-15 minutes of the demo
- Lara makes it to safety, sneaking through the ruins and old wooden shacks up the mountainside
- While climbing to safety, she contacts her mentor Roth on her radio and tells him she had to kill some of them to get away
- Roth says: “That can’t have been easy.” Lara then says: “it’s scary how easy it was.”
- Players will find that Lara tries to talk militiamen down
- She shouts: “We don’t have to do this!” while hiding behind cover
- Once she reunites with Roth, Lara receives a climbing pick-axe
- Pick-axe can be used to scale textured rock
- These bits of equipment gate Tomb Raider’s island paradise, letting you return to places you’ve seen before and discover new parts of them
- Lara’s path isn’t totally linear
- Story is strictly directed
- First hub: night village of tall, ramshackle, abandoned wooden buildings leading up a mountain trail, rainstorm is in effect
- Not as imposing when you come back in the bright morning
- With the pick-axe, Lara heads off in the midst of a raging storm towards a radio tower barely visible at the top of the mountain, hoping to send out a distress signal
- First big action sequence occurs
- Lara makes her way into a kind of underground base at the foot of the tower
- Base is full of militia; Lara must shoot her way through
- Lara crouches naturally behind cover or presses herself against walls unobstructed by awkward button-based cover mechanics
- These adversaries are deeply, religiously involved with some ancient, blood-sacrificial island beliefs
- Lara heads to the game’s main island to search for the truth behind a Japanese legend, the Sun Queen Himiko
- Lara’s archaeological instincts and passion for discovery are drawn out by the island’s mysteries, its incongruous architecture, the artifacts and documents that she finds sequestered away in hidden tombs and chests
- Players will see found-footage flashes to what happened on the boat and the events leading up to the shipwreck
- Also camcorder footage showing Lara and her friends at ease with each other, excited about a coming adventure, arguing over what course to take 

Commentary from creative director Noah Hughes: “The central answer is that we try to make all of Lara’s actions feel motivated. We don’t want every kill to be the first kill. Lara does need to cross a line, but you see her struggle several times with staying across it. She even tries to talk down the enemy combatants, but they’re not having any of that. They make it very clear that it is a kill or be killed situation. Our hope is that we get to the pace of gameplay that feels appropriate, but it should feel like a motivated transition – if a bit accelerated.”

“It continues but takes a back seat to other transitions that Lara has to make. We try to challenge Lara emotionally in other ways, and as we get into later aspects of the game we challenge Lara’s core belief system. The challenges make her become who she will become one step at a time, and that’s not all about killing people. She doesn’t enjoy killing people. She doesn’t quickly go from not wanting to kill to wanting to kill; she goes from not wanting to kill to forced to kill. And she always struggles with that.”

“We always try to bring you back to a hub with a new piece of gear. You’ll be able to access nooks and crannies that you couldn’t get to before, but it also opens up whole new sections of the hub. Part of what’s important there is to feel that growth of character… the growth within the hub is a reflection of the power dynamic changing between Lara and the island.”

“Early on we really are telling a fairly traditional survival story, but we’re hinting at the mysteries of the island and Lara’s passion for understanding it. Ultimately over the course of the adventure that becomes less of a side-pursuit and more central to getting to the bottom of the island and escaping it.”

“In order to create the character richness and hopefully emotional experience, we really did want a strong narrative, but we didn’t want that to be at the expense of player-driven exploration. Each of the things you can do is about rewarding exploration, but also selling the sense of place and sense of character that’s being established.”

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