we spoke with Crystal Dynamics' global brand director Karl Stewart, about the studio's new three team structure: the "pillar" team was hard at work on the new Tomb Raider reboot, one of the highlights of this year's E3; the experimental team was working on smaller games under the "Lara Croft" banner; and the brand team, which looks after the lucrative Tomb Raider brand and, ostensibly, oversees projects like the upcoming movie.
At that time, Stewart told us, "The experimental team is basically just looking at the IP going forward and how we can take Lara to new and exciting places." The first and, as it turns out likely the last, place they took her was last year's Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, an excellent isometric downloadable co-op game. So is Crystal Dynamics still looking to take Lara to new and exciting places? Outside of the reboot, it sounds like the answer to that question is in the negative.
"We're not making a second one," Stewart told me.
"Not yet, or just not?" I asked.
"Oh no, we're not making a second Lara. For us, that Lara Croft was, in a way, it was sort of the furthest possible extension of that iteration of Lara. Once we finished Guardian of Light, obviously we knew we were making this version of Tomb Raider," Stewart told us, referring to the reboot they were showing off during our interview.
Stewart was clear that the game performed well financially. "In business terms, it was very successful," he told me. What was less successful was the implementation of its online co-op feature. "In terms of issues, the one issue that plagued us all the way through, which looking back we would've changed our minds to do other things, was definitely the online," Stewart lamented. "I wish if we had the ability and had the information, we could've been a bit more transparent."
While the studio isn't pursuing the experimental Lara Croft series, it does recognize it as a successful "creative side endeavor" for the studio. In fact, Stewart told us that Daniel Neuberger, game director on Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, is now the game director of the new Tomb Raider.
[Update 6/12 6:20pm: Stewart reached out to Joystiq to say clarify that CrystalD isn't "'Currently' working on a new version of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light in the near future" and to note that he "didn't use the word 'Never.'" He adds, "We don't currently have plans on the table, but it was an exciting project and you just never know." We've asked Stewart to clarify whether or not the "experimental team" is still in operation in the above-mentioned three group structure.]