Developers' Diary #2
Writing the story and choosing the game locations for Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness.
- Jeremy Smith (19 Jun, 2003)
Settling on the story for the new Tomb Raider game was actually one of the less difficult parts to making the game. We had decided some time well before designing it fully where the new game would be set and the story line. In fact, the original locations for this game we cut in half nearly two years ago, as the game was heading for 70+ hours of game play and probably another 12 months of development. What was interesting is that we were actually able to take out the middle section of the game and it still flowed as if it was never there.
The reasons for using Paris and Prague was due to how these two locations fitted into the overall story we had planned. Paris is steeped in history and because the story is based on finding 5 paintings, where better than the capital of art.
Prague fell nicely in line for us, as this city is only now really becoming known around the world and it portrays a very "cool" image with a twist of unknown, which is exactly the kind of atmosphere we needed for the levels in the game.
As was said in our earlier article, we really want the player to understand the story in this game and to do that the decision had to be made whether to use FMV or cut scenes. Both have their advantages, FMV looks awesome, but is not true in game, whereas cut scenes have more flexibility as to how it can be used, but is much more difficult to stream into the game. We actually settled on 20% FMV, 80% cut scene. We know by using cut scenes we would have more flexibility in how the story is portrayed. We have ended up with over 30 minutes of in game cut scenes, which has taken a team of animators nearly 12 months to implement. Then the task of voice actors and music had to be dealt with. Again, we decided that we would go full out and we hired the London Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the best orchestras in Europe. By using the best, it definitely lifts the end result. The approach of writing the music for the game in the same way as writing a score for a movie has really opened our eyes on how the two industries are coming closer together in certain areas.
Whether the movie business has such a big influence on our industry as many would think is a hotly debated subject for us. We drew very little comparison from movies, instead television was a far greater influence. As we knew from the start that we are going to be doing a trilogy, where better to look than TV. These guys have been writing series for years and making millions of viewers tune in week after week. The one series that I think brought this home to us the most was the X Files. The cool thing with the X Files is does it ever really end week on week? This is exactly the kind of feeling we want to get into our game.