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Gard: Time was right to leave Tomb Raider

Tue 15 Sep 2009 6:15pm GMT / 2:15pm EDT / 11:15am PDT
Development

But Lara Croft co-creator would "absolutely" like to return to triple-A development sometime in the future

Tomb Raider co-creator Toby Gard has told GamesIndustry.biz that it was the right time for him to leave Crystal Dynamics and the character he originally designed behind.

Gard left the Eidos studio earlier this month to set up his own consultancy business, but also admitted that he'd "definitely, absolutely" like to work once again with a big team and lead a triple-A development project some time in the future.

"It's always difficult doing that but you can get stuck doing the same thing over and over," said Gard, when asked if it was difficult walking away from his work on the iconic videogame character.

"The only real way that I can really effect Lara Croft is to be in charge of a project. More and more as I was working at Crystal, especially on Underworld where I was just doing cinematic work, the reality is the control of the characters is in the hands of the creative directors and the publisher.

"I think it's just something you have to learn to realise that there's no one person really in charge of what goes on with a character and they have a life of their own in the hands of the team."

Although he still has the passion to work on a traditional videogame blockbuster, Gard doesn't yet see the opportunity, as his ambitions outweigh the reality of his resources.

"I guess the tough thing for me is that when I think about the types of games I like to play and the games I like to make they tend to be the rather expansive ones rather than the smaller ones," he said.

"So although I'm developing in my brain the project I'd like, I don't actually have a team at the moment to create it."

With clients already on board, Gard hopes for the time being to carve a niche in the consultancy business, noting that publishers are keen to successfully implement a Hollywood business model of using experts and outsourcing to handle peaks and troughs in game development.

"The way I see it is there's a lot of companies scaling up and down so much, letting everybody go at the end of projects, and then having their core teams do pre-production and all this kind of stuff and it's not really working out the way it should be," he said.

"It seems like the industry wants to move to a more Hollywood model by bringing in experts for shorter periods of time and then leveraging their outsourcing, but also building small teams for projects.

"But they haven't actually fully embraced that yet and I'm just wondering whether or not there's a way people will actually start doing that. The industry is still very stuck in its ways of building their internal teams. It seems like I've got a good opportunity to try, for companies to use experts at critical points during development," offered Gard.

Discussing the fate of the independent developer, Gard said he's encouraged by new platforms and business models that have helped smaller teams breathe new life back into creating successful games.

"[PSN and XBLA] and the iPhone have created a fantastic little marketplace for the small developers again. It's good because everyone went out of business in the Noughties, so it's great that there's something out there for the small guys as well," said Gard.

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