Gard is widely considered the "father" of the Tomb Raider series, having conceived the original game concept and Lara Croft character. After a hiatus from the franchise between 1998 and 2004, during which he started his own company, Confounding Factor, and produced the Xbox game Galleon, he returned to Eidos as a creative consultant and designer on Tomb Raider: Legend and Anniversary and other games. He co-wrote the story (along with former Crystal Dynamics Creative Director Eric Lindstrom) and directed the cinematics for Tomb Raider: Underworld, which was nominated for several industry awards.
Early Lara concept art
Gard's confidentiality agreement with Crystal Dynamics precludes him from revealing any details about his departure—or the exact nature of the work he had been doing before he left the company—though it is generally speculated that the "unannounced project" he had been working on is in fact the next Tomb Raider. It's unclear what this development means for the series.
UPDATE 9/15 4:50 p.m. EDT: I was able to get in touch with Toby about this shortly after posting the article above. I asked what he would ideally like to do next, now that he's a free agent. His reply:
"You are right to say that my confidentiality agreement stops me discussing the move, but I can say it was an amicable split. I am interested to see if it is possible to work freelance in the games industry. I know concept artists and musicians manage ok, but designers? I'll just have to see."
Having been a freelancer myself for many years, I have to say it has its ups and downs, but I certainly wish him luck. :)
|Unused concept art for TR Underworld|
Original Lara Croft pic courtesy of tombraideranniversary.com. Underworld concepts courtesy of Toby.