Crystal Dynamics is gearing up for the launch of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition to the Playstation 4 and Xbox but Executive Producer Scot Amos was able to make some time to answer questions from Examiner about bringing the Lara Croft reboot to next-gen consoles prior to the game's release on Jan. 28.
Examiner: You've discussed how Lara will be upgraded from a visual standpoint, but let’s talk about how the world will feel more alive than what we saw on past generation systems? What's been most important about improving Lara's presence on screen?
Amos: A key focus for Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was on our visual storytelling. We wanted the world to feel alive – to always be moving even if you stop and look around. We have a complex physical world simulation on trees, foliage, cloth, weather, lighting and effects, and all textures have been increased or recreated at 4x resolution. We also added up to 15 times more particles in some areas, and interactive foliage that bends and springs back as Lara runs through it. Finally, our gameplay is at native 1080p, which gives outstanding visual fidelity. This visual storytelling connects Lara more directly into the environment and enhances the overall realism.
With creating Tomb Raider for PS4 and Xbox One, what were some of the biggest differences the team noticed in working on these new systems versus the 360 and PS3? What has the team learned about these new consoles thus far?
The last generation of hardware had different sized hard drives, different disk delivery mediums, and multiple add-on expansion pieces. With the next-gen hardware, we knew what the specs were as well as all of the included equipment from the beginning, which made our goals much clearer. The new machines are an easier architecture to understand and have magnitudes more horsepower. There are always challenges when working with a new piece of hardware, but it’s exciting to use the new technology to push the graphics and the immersion further than we ever could before.
How have the experiences you've had working on Definitive Edition, set the team up for better development efficiency in the future? Quicker development cycles? Better utilizing studio resources and personnel?
Working on this project was a great way to become familiar with the new hardware, so it will absolutely serve us moving forward. We’re always pushing ourselves to get the most out of the hardware, so this was our first step in that process.
How difficult or easy is it when you are working on a project that has multiple studios involved with it? Does it ever feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, or is the vision of what this game should be, clear enough for everyone to understand?
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was a labor of love. Having three teams working on the project and maintaining what makes Tomb Raider special certainly required coordination and communication. Teamwork was critical. Having all three teams pulling together towards the same goal let us maximize the development time we had and deliver the vision of Tomb Raider that we started with.
With the gameplay not being changed, how much more did that open up the development team to work on other aspects of the game? The visuals seem like they will really benefit most from these improvements or are there other areas that will benefit more?
Lara is presented in unprecedented high definition detail, with an all-new model and TressFX technology to deliver realistic hair simulation. In addition, our materials, shaders and lighting have been reworked to create dynamic sweat, mud, and blood effects. We’ve included all of the released DLC content, the prequel comic book, and the full art book all with the package.
We’ve also added functionality to take advantage of the new platforms. On PS4 the light bar on the controller glows and flickers when Lara has her torch out, and lights when Lara fires her gun. If you have a microphone, voice commands are accepted, and the speaker and touch pad on the controller are both used. On Xbox One, we have Kinect enabled voice commands to go to different menus and switch ammo types. You can also lean during some in-game fixed scenes, and use gesture control to manipulate relics.
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