Thursday, 27 August 2020

While we tend to steer clear of the personal lives of the developers and actors who worked on the Tomb Raider franchise, Lara Croft actor, Camilla Luddington, made an incredible public announcement this week, welcoming the birth of her new baby boy, Lucas.

While the announcement was made on Camilla's Instagram, the couple also spoke publically and in-depth with People Magazine, covering topics such as her experiences of giving birth during a pandemic, how she handled the stress of her pregnancy, and of course, the fourth member of the family. Her brutally honest interview touches a lot on mental health, not only during her pregnancy but also in dealing with the constant threat of Covid-19. 

Source: Camilla Luddington's Instagram (via People)

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In her Instagram post, Camilla revealed the birth of her new baby, stating "after what felt like a year long third trimester... it finally happened!! Matt and I are SOOO happy to announce the birth of our sweet baby BOY Lucas, otherwise known as my little lion 🦁 (shoutout to Leo’s!)." The accompanying photo (above) shows the understandably-tired but overjoyed actor holding her newborn baby to her chest while in a hospital bed. While masks were worn throughout the labour, doctors allowed masks to be removed for a few photographs to commemorate the occasion.


Her pregnancy was announced back in early March, when Camilla posted on Instagram a photo of herself at Disney. In her caption, she wrote "we are beyond excited to add to our little family and give Hayden a sibling. And yes, I’ve been away a lot from social media the past few months because OMGGGG the exhaustion and OMGGGGGG the morning (read: alllllll day) sickness. Have I been [throwing up] mid filming at work? Yep! Oh the glamor of growing new humans. But in all seriousness, we feel so lucky and I can’t wait to bring you guys along for the remaining months of this baby #2 journey!!" While the occasional photo talking about her pregnancy was posted on social media since then, Camilla kept her pregnancy personal and away from media attention until Lucas' birth this week. 


Congratulations to Camilla and her partner, Matthew Alan on the birth of their second child! 


You can read her full interview with People Magazine, HERE

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Last night, Gaming Heads announced their next incredible Tomb Raider statue, this time focused on "Rise of the Tomb Raider"!

For the design, the company took inspiration from the game's cover artwork, showing Lara dressed in her snow-gear complete with beige trousers and heavy-duty red coat. For the Gaming Heads Exclusive Edition, Lara will also be equipped with a glowstick, woollen hat, and goggles as seen in the E3 2015 trailer. 

The statue is a 1:6 scale mode, measuring approximately 20" tall from bottom of the base to the top of her head, and will be 8" wide. (21" tall for the Exclusive Edition as her hand extends above her head as it holds the glowstick out). In their promotions, Gaming Heads also used five cans to showcase the hefty size of the design, especially as Lara is lifted up on a pillar-like snow-covered wall. The piece will also be heavy too, with an estimated weight of 5kg.

For this latest design, there are three variations of the statue; 1) an unpainted version (Collective Edition / $349.99 / limited to 50), 2) a version with two ice picks (Standard Edition / $399.99 / limited to 1000) and 3) a version with additional switchable glowstick and goggles, as seen in the game's promotion (Exclusive Edition / £429.99 / limited to 500). While no firm release date has been announced, the company is estimating its launch to be Q1 2021.

For more information, check out the Gaming Heads page, HERE



Saturday, 15 August 2020

While we're primarily a Tomb Raider-focused site, we're also excited about some of the things happening with Crystal Dynamics' current project, "Marvel's Avengers", especially as they push the accessibility within the title. And with a lot of discussions and early previews being posted about the studio's latest adventure, now seemed like a perfect time to return to one of my favourite (and fairly recent) announcements. 

A few weeks ago, Square Enix' SEW Accessibility Lead, Améliane Chiasson, spoke to Meagan Marie (Senior Community & Social Media Manager at Crystal Dynamics) and Mariah Robinson (Game Designer at Crystal Dynamics) about the studio's approach to accessibility, their brand new superhero, and how they will be implementing new features in the game to aid players.

First in-game screenshot of Cerise from "Marvel's Avengers".

.As the studio geared up to develop "Marvel's Avengers", there was already early internal interest in making their next game more accessible and to allow more Marvel fans and gamers to jump on board with friends. To help bring that goal to life, the studio worked with consultants and AbleGamers to achieve its APXP certification. New and more user-friendly gameplay and user interface options have also been explored, with Meagan citing the game's high contrast UI which will help players with low-vision, just one of the many modifications that players can make to the game. But inclusivity wasn't only a factor in the game's creation but in the game's marketing too. Developers were more vocal about inclusivity at events, leading to American Sign Language to be included for its presentation at E3 2019, and surely was set to continue at other events if not for Covid-19 cancellations. 

In the interview, the developers also revealed a brand new NPC inhuman superhero created by the team, called Cerise, and their promise to expand on her story, "we tell the story of characters finding their way through hardship, tragedy, transformation, and searching for self-identification. In the end, it's a story about people," describes Robinson.

The motion capture team on "Marvel's Avengers" with Cherry Thompson providing the mo-cap for Cerise.
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To bring the character to life, Cherry Thompson worked with Crystal Dynamics to create a set of motions for Cerise. Speaking about her involvement with the project, Marie commented, "in terms of representation, Cherry Thompson was a huge resource here as well. Representing disability in entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all solution, as evidenced by their really fantastic and informative talk 'You Can Take an Arrow to the Knee and still be an Adventurer'. Our goal is to normalize representation within our game world by reflecting the diversity of the real world. We have scenes in the game like A-Day which is essentially a comic book convention - having representation in a crowd of people who are all there sharing a passion for Super Heroes is important to us. Cherry even did some baseline motion capture for us in their wheelchair, to help idle movements feel more organic. A true first for Crystal!"

We're really excited to see Cerise join the team, and to hear about just some of the ways that Crystal Dynamics is making their next game more accessible to fans. The interview was posted in full on the Square Enix website and is definitely worth checking out: https://square-enix-games.com/en_GB/news/accessibility-marvels-avengers.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Ahead of her and @meneer_pastoor's birthday tomorrow (and @m_hardwick's birthday today!), the lovely Stella Lune from Stella's Tomb Raider Walkthroughs is organising a community-wide livetweet of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) today!

To get started, all you need to do is set up or rent the movie and get past the opening credits. Starting at exactly 3pm BST/UK time (2pm GMT) today, everyone taking part will hit play to start their synchronised watchings. (Although updates may be posted along the way, as Stella did for Cradle of Life, just to make sure that everyone is keeping up.) 

You can join in with your own thoughts and follow what others had to say using the hashtag, #TombRaiderMovieParty.

A ten-minute intermission is scheduled one hour into the movie at 4pm BST/UK time as Lara dives off the side of a waterfall. 

(For UK fans, you can visit BBC iPlayer if you don't already own the movie.) 

For more information, check out Stella's post HERE!

Monday, 22 June 2020

Mark your calendar for tomorrow (24th June) as we will get an in-depth look at Crystal Dynamics' new title, Marvel's Avengers at the studio's first "WAR TABLE" livestream. The broadcast will be live on the Square Enix website HERE, from 10am PT / 6pm BST / 5pm GMT / 8pm EEST, and we look forward to seeing you there!

While Crystal Dynamics and Marvel have been fairly secretive about what fans will be seeing, we have been told that there will be new trailers, co-operative gameplay, story missions and more shown during the event, as we near the title's launch date on September 4th. 
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Crystal Dynamics switched to remote working, continuing to work hard on the "Avengers" project from their homes. Earlier this month, they posted a new trailer discussing how the pandemic has changed their approach to game development and concluding in a tease for the "WAR TABLE" livestream. 

In the trailer, there are multiple narrators introducing what happened following the worldwide shift; "Overnight the world changed for everyone. We're working from home setups, kits, everything we need. But these new challenges have fuelled our passion for the mission. Our mission to fulfill our passion for you. To finish what we started. To reassemble the Avengers. We are reminded everyday how important it is to connect. Because whatever the mission, we can accomplish it together. Together we are smarter, resilient, detirmined, mighty, brave, unstoppable. Because we are stronger together."

We're excited to learn more about Crystal Dynamics's "Avengers" title during tomorrow! Make sure to join us at 10am PT, HERE!

Sunday, 21 June 2020

It hasn't been that long since we first heard news of Crystal Northwest, a studio expansion for Crystal Dynamics based in Bellevue, Washington. But recently, another studio expansion was publically announced, this time supporting the developers at Eidos-Montréal, the developers behind "Shadow of the Tomb Raider".

The new company is called Eidos-Sherbrooke, and it will be tasked to support research and development at Eidos-Montréal by "exploring, testing and applying new technologies to create the video games of tomorrow". Aspects of their research will look at cloud computing, real-time geo-morphing, voxel-based ray tracing, and multi-node game engines. "These technologies in a video game context will allow creating infinitely customizable, highly realistic and real-time environments, in addition to testing high-performance simulations for several users simultaneously. "
In a press release posted on the official Square Enix website, David Anfossi, Head of Studio at Eidos-Montreal explains the importance of the new studio. "More than two years ago, real reflection began on the new vision for Eidos-Montréal, and the creation of this new regional chapter is closely linked to it. We wanted to continue our controlled growth and keep people and technology at the heart of this vision. The opening of this new expert studio will provide tools for content developers to enrich the experience and immersion of players. The proximity to Montréal, renowned universities and the quality of life found in Sherbrooke are criteria that contributed to the final choice. "

The studio will be virtually operational this autumn with a starting team of twenty employees, who will be moving into their official premises at the start of next year. A five year plan has already been put into place which sees the studio increase their employee number to 100 developers as they continue to draw in international talent and veteran game developers. 

As for why Sherbrooke was selected as the location, Julien Bouvrais, CTO of Eidos-Montreal and head of Studio for Eidos-Sherbrooke, expands on why the location was selected, "Sherbrooke is an innovative city in our image! It offers all the opportunities to develop professionally and personally, while taking advantage of the technological potential of the city. With the universities of Sherbrooke and Bishop’s offering cutting-edge programs in computer science and programming, the region seems to us a great place for continuing to develop our fields of expertise. "

Recruitment has begun, with a number of new job positions posted on their website. You can find the full listing, HERE!

Monday, 8 June 2020

Today we're taking a little of a departure from our usual posts for something a little more serious. For the past week, I've been wondering about whether to write about this topic for the site, but ultimately it comes down to this; our passion is for communities and for diversity and inclusivity, and there cannot be a place for racism here, whether it's our small section of the internet, or in our wider communities. 

The media's focus has been on the protests across America, but it's an issue deeply rooted in many countries, my home country and city too. London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world and our police aren't quite as armed as in America, but there's still profiling going on, and racism still runs strongly through our politics. Through social media, I've seen many of you speak up as you show your solidarity with the campaigns. There shouldn't be protests, not because it's not a valid topic but because this shouldn't be up for discussion. Racism has no place in 2020. 

One of the campaigns to raise money for the movement. (See Below!)

Tips On Protesting.

If you're attending protests in person, please be safe. There are lots of tips online for how to look after yourself while at a protest; US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's office posted a list of things to bring and leave behind while campaigning and @jessfromonline has created an extensive list of additional tips (thank you to @CMDonovann for sharing the list!). With countries only just recovering from the recent Coronavirus pandemic, make sure to also wear a mask and try to social distance if you can, it's a small thing but it will help keep other protesters at least a little bit safer. 

Campaigning online. 

Not everyone can protest in person but there is still a lot that you can do online to help, such as donating to organisations tackling racial injustices and supporting petitions. There's a brilliant carrd with an incredible amount of information about this, including details for those who would like to contribute but can't afford to. You can also find so much more information at sites such as at blacklivesmatter.com and ally.wiki (thank you to @TRHorizons for the links!)

There are also a number of petitions online at change.org that collect signatures to try and enforce change. Sometimes with petitions, it can feel like you're shouting into the void, but pressure on organisations can matter; in London, we've recently seen returns to previously closed cases due to an international spotlight. Your contribution can make a difference. You can find a list of campaigns at ally.wiki.

Gaming & Protests Meet.

Itch.io. There are also a number of ongoing projects in the gaming community in support of the movement. One campaign has been organised by gaming publishing platform, Itch.io, which is giving away hundreds of games for donations in support of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund. The collection was created earlier this week with the initial goal of raising one million dollars. For a minimum donation of £5, players would have access to the entire game collection of 740+ works (with more due to join!) created by over 560 developers and worth $3,400. The bundle has since raised twice their initial goal, with the donation still climbing. You can view the bundle, HERE

Square Enix. On June 2nd, Square Enix publically supported the movement on Twitter; "Everyone at Square Enix's officecs and studios across the globe stands with our Black community in the fight against racism, prejudice and hate." Their pledge goes beyond the tweet revealing, "we are pledging £250,000 and will match employee donations to support the Black Lives Matter organization and other charities, in the effort to help combat racial injustice and positively affect the world." A follow up tweet shared a number of websites to find more information about the campaign including blacklivesmatter.com, showingupforracialjustice.org, antiracismcenter.com, eji.org, and colorlines.com.

Cameron Suey's Signed Tomb Raider Poster. Cameron Suey is a Narrative Designer working with Crystal Dynamics. You have seen his work in titles such as "Lara Croft and the Temple of Orisis" and "Shadow Of The Tomb Raider" alongside many others. To support the protests and cause, Cameron has set up a special charity auction on Ebay to raise money for Black Lives Matter. He is auctioning off his signed developer-exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider poster signed by the team and with the option of it being personalised to the winning bidder. You can view the auction, HERE