Hey Eidos! We want Tombs, not Tits (Metaphorical or literal)

Hey Eidos! We want Tombs, not Tits (Metaphorical or literal)

The one advantage of all this is that there's plenty of pictures of Lara losing grip.

This is treading dangerously close to console territory, but there’s been a bit of a controversy building up around Crystal Dynamics, developers of the excellent Tomb Raider Legends, Anniversary and Underworld. It all began when TR was shown to not have reached expected sales, falling $20 million short of a $180 million mark (which, personally, doesn’t seem like it’s that bad to me, but then I’m not within Eidos). As a result, 30 of Crystal Dynamic’s staff have been laid off, and, to quote Robert Brent, Chief Financial Officer at Eidos; “We need to look at everything, as we develop the next game. Look at how Batman changed successfully, from the rather sad character of the Michael Keaton era to the noir style of The Dark Knight.” Ignoring Brent’s utter lack of knowing what a good Batman film is, this seems to be utterly missing the point of the franchise, and catering to the negative stereotype it has tried to avoid for the last decade. Not to mention it’s all a bit confusing.

This is all exacerbated by Eric Lindstrom, the Creative Director on Underworld, one of the 30 who was laid off, who posted a large post on the Tomb Raider Forums detailing how the up coming DLC for the Xbox 360 was originally intended to be in the game on release, among other things such as cheats, alternate costumes and a cinematic viewer. I’d rather not dwell on all that, as it’s just a dead end. Instead, there are certain things that he mentions which just seem tragic to me.

Ignoring Angel of Darkness (shudder), the Tomb Raider series has been consistently excellent. I played Legend recently and thoroughly enjoyed it, even if the motorbike levels were a little… patchy. Underworld was a vast improvement on that formula, and the removal of both bosses and quick time events should be lauded to the high heaven. This is a game where the levels had always culminated in a rather frustrating boss battle, and here they were entirely removing them. The puzzles were grander, and the levels often breathtaking in their beauty. Tomb Raider has never really been about Lara, despite the popular opinion that it’s just soft core porn for geeks. Ignoring the plot elements, she’s usually not much more than a gauge to tell just how huge some of these temples/statues are.

So with that in mind, it’s both frustrating and tragic to hear:

I can tell you without doubt that the content of DLC was absolutely not held back from Underworld for the purpose of selling later down the road. I am one of only three people who knows this for sure because not only were there only three of us in the room at the time the decision was made, I was the one who made it. We had a production issue that was going to make us miss our ship date — which we could not do — and I needed to find a way to cut enough days from the schedule in a manner that would not rip a hole in the game that would take time to sew up. It was my idea to cut what was cut, and I did hope that it would one day be made available as a download mission, because there was great content already conceived and half completed, but on the day we made the cut, it was made purely for Underworld production reasons. Even if I was told on that day that we would never ever make a downloabable level, I still would have had to cut it. Anyone who says otherwise is speculating or heard someone else speculating, and is incorrect.

To me, this seems to be another symptom of the Christmas rush; they had to get it out before Christmas or risk reduced sales. Really, though, only the cream of the crop do really well at Christmas, because the market is saturated. Tomb Raider: Underworld was brilliant, but it wasn’t garnering the same attention as something like Fallout 3 or Far Cry 2 or even (perhaps more relevantly) Prince of Persia. As a result, it didn’t sell spectacularly, and a team that had produced a series of very strong games was laid off. Reading the rest of that thread there seem to be a multitude of things that would’ve been there had the game been given a few more months of development. I don’t doubt that, had the game been released today, or in the next week (where it’s only competition would have been Lord of the Rings: Conquest, which is laughable) it would have done far, far better.

So, even though I am fully aware this will go entirely unheeded, I implore developers to spread out the release of games. Yes, console gamers are goldfish with split second memories, but really, do you need to all clamour to be the Christmas no.1 that much? Why not build up solid sales over the year? Finally, I really hope those gone from Crystal Dynamic do well for themselves, because they’ve done some great work.

Another example of the stupid marketing by Eidos. We want Tombs, not tits.

4 thoughts on “Hey Eidos! We want Tombs, not Tits (Metaphorical or literal)

  1. I enjoyed Legend, and CD will always have a soft spot in my heart for their stellar LoK games. All this talk of Underworld not being up to scratch and layoffs and such has me rather saddened. I shall pick up Underworld as soon as I have some time.

  2. One day I intend to purchase this game, though when that day is…I don’t know. Always been a fan of the series, hope that we see more quality games featuring Lara.

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