"The physics were ultra-simple and a complete cheat, but it did the job.”
- Gavin Rummery recalls one small but satisfying addition to Tomb Raider II: Lara Croft’s ponytail physics
PC Gamer has republished a 2016 article from the magazine Retro Gamer that tracks the development of the iconic Tomb Raider series all the way from the first game in 1996 to the series’ more recent reboot.
The article itself collects stories from the development of each game that will no doubt be of interest to game developers, including looks at how the team overcame technical limitations of the time and how their own creative fatigue manifested in-game as time went on.
For example, one early tale explains how the team struggled at first to create 3D environments that Lara Croft could interact with. As Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II programmer Gavin Rummery recalls, he was unsure if it was even possible to do what the studio wanted to do at the time because it honestly hadn’t been done before.
"What appeared the greatest challenge was how on earth we would create the actual environments and get Lara to interact with them. Heather [Stevens, graphic artist and designer] was attempting to build them directly in 3D Studio which could only edit in wireframe mode, but neither Paul [Douglas, programmer] or I had a clue how we could get a character to interact with freeform environments given the processing constraints of the day,” explains Rummery. "The breakthrough was the decision to build everything on a grid.”
"To me, this was the point Tomb Raider became feasible and everything seemed to fall into place. Toby was able to define Lara's moves, Paul could get the control working, and I was able to build a level editor that Neal [Boyd, artist] and Heather could use to build and test the environments far [quicker] than would've been possible using 3D Studio.”
The full article shares stories like this from across the series’ whole lifetime, including both the chunks of time where developer Core Design was churning out a game a year and later on when Crystal Dynamics took the reins.