Crystal Dynamics has been pushing up against the creative boundaries of its business for a few years now. After the commercial failure of 2008’s Tomb Raider: Underworld, the company battened down to try some new things while still working with the character and world that is its profitable core today. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a genius slice of co-operative dungeon crawling. The new Tomb Raider reboot, meanwhile, is an attempt to infuse the classic series with a stronger action and narrative focus, a creative rejiggering that has earned the company no small amount of unwanted attention. Come the next round of consoles though, Crystal Dynamics will cook up a brand new series.
As reported by Eurogamer, executive producer Scott Amos said during a recent studio podcast that now is the time for Crystal Dynamics to start developing a new series as the transition to Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 will create an audience receptive to new intellectual properties. “We have all these great IPs, now is a great time, looking at what’s coming in the future, what’s coming up in the console space, what’s going to be happening next… Let’s start now, with a blank page,” said Amos.
Even if it’s a brand new intellectual property though, Amos feels that it needs to be rooted in something that existing players will find familiar and appealing. “Problem is, if you go too far away from what people are familiar with, one of the phrases we use is ‘fresh and familiar.’ Where something is similar enough that, oh, I understand that, I’ve seen something like that. Immediately people can get brought into it and say, I kind of expect a certain type of experience. And then you put a couple of really unique twists on top.”
It’s a sound strategy. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is technically a whole new IP separated from the Tomb Raider series. Players were easily drawn in by the familiarity of the character and knew from her presence that exploration and shooting would be part of the package. It would be nice to see Crystal Dynamics make something wholly original though. The studio hasn’t developed a wholly original IP since 2003’s Whiplash.
Amos said that Crystal Dynamics’ latest hire, God of War II director Cory Barlog, is working on another game for Crystal Dynamics that isn’t a new IP. Soul Reaver might be the series Barlog is working on, as rumors in March suggested that Crystal Dynamics is anxious to bring Raziel out of retirement.