Saturday, February 9, 2008


How about a name for this feisty lady?
Choosing a name for the soon-to-be cyber heroine was a huge responsibility. The name has to appeal to the public. A few names were produced one of which was Laura Cruz. This was then changed to Lara Cruz as the American fans couldn't pronounce Laura! "They couldn't get their head around it. Its the way they pronounce the 'aur'. It gives you a headache" says Jeremy. "I didn't like the fact that she was named Cruz because it didn't fit in with making her English" said Gard. Gard and Smith sat down and went through a phonebook to find the perfect surname for Lara. I think we all know which surname appealed to them... Croft became the surname of the heroine. It was quite similar to Cruz and had an English quality to it.
"She was made to be as quintessentially British as possible. Its generally held that unless you have an American hero you won't be able to sell a game in America. I thought that by deliberately reversing as many rules as possible, a female, strong but not tarty. A British not American lead character. and American not British villains, we'd make something that was unusual and fresh" said Gard.

Laura Cruz

The look of a heroin
The design process for Lara Croft was a very slow one. Several months of designing and re-designing still hadn't produced the Lara that we know today. "I wanted a character who was really spunky, a lot of attitude and very cool in their own right. I'm the type of person who can't live with characters or designs for very long if I don't feel confident with them. So she did change a few times. She went through three distinct designs before I settled on the last one. She went through a period of wearing slightly more military-looking clothes, but she looked too Nazi-like. For a while she looked like Neneh Cherry with baggy trousers and crop tops, but before long she found her hot pants and leotard and away we went".
An initial look for Lara was a very 'manga' style design. "If you look at the very early models of Lara she has a very big head. Her head is massively out of proportion to the rest of her body. Toby did this. He accentuated all her features. So the initial look was much more of a manga look. We toned that down because people's tastes change. Toby would have pushed that manga look all the way, but luckily the Playstation and our technology at the time couldn't do it."
Once Toby sketched Lara in her now trademark outfit he knew he'd found his star. "The very first drawing of her wearing the famous costume, that was it, I elaborated from there. There was really no sexuality in the game apart from the fact that she was quite well built, well put together. I think that all characters need to be visually appealing, whatever it is it has to be something that people will want to look at and find interesting."
As time went on Toby started to refine the look of the Manga Lara into the character we know today. Due to restrictions with technology at the time, Lara was not able to sport her ponytail in the game, instead her hair was cut short and tied at the back. This was fixed in the second game of the series "Tomb Raider 2 : The Dagger of Xian".

Original Lara concept

The perfect packaging...
So the game was made, nearly 3 years after the first proposal for the Tomb Raider series Gard and the rest of the Core Design team had taken bold steps and risked a lot. Composed music, designed levels, designed characters and a lot more. Now for the final task of making the game: The packaging and promotional work.

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