August 31, 2014

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Showcased at Gamescom and PAX Prime

Developer Crystal Dynamics showed off the upcoming Guardian of Light sequel Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris at Gamescom in Cologne earlier this month and PAX Prime in Seattle this week. Visitors got a little hands-on time with the demo, and the developers talked up the game's exciting new features, including two-to-four-player co-op with puzzles that scale up or down depending on the number of players.

This action-packed trailer premiered at Gamescom.


In this interview, also at Gamescom, Temple of Osiris Producer Robert Siwiak talks with Connected Digital World about the game's plot and new features like the Season Pass, which is basically a pre-purchase for all future DLC, including new tombs, weapons, amulets, rings, and costume packs.

Other highlights include the return of both swimming as a game mechanic and Keely Hawes (Legend-Underworld) as the voice of Lara.


And finally, here's a taste of the demo from the floor at PAX Prime. Thanks to IGN for this 4-player co-op footage.


For more info about the game, check out these past blog posts and the Temple of Osiris page on tombraiders.net.

August 13, 2014

Rise of the Tomb Raider Petition Nets 10,000 Signatures in 24 Hours

Yesterday I posted a petition on Change.org urging the Tomb Raider developers to reconsider their exclusive agreement with Microsoft. More than 10,000 fans have signed on so far!

Earlier today at Gamescom Microsoft's Phil Spencer confirmed that the controversial exclusivity deal for Rise of the Tomb Raider "has a duration," though he declined to say how long the timed exclusive will last. Spencer also announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be released on Xbox 360, which also bodes well for a possible future PS3 release.

I don't know whether our small effort made a difference in the timing of this announcement, but I'm sure it didn't hurt. Our efforts were mentioned in an article on the PC Gamer website, "Why Rise of the Tomb Raider's exclusivity deal is a prehistoric relic," and the petition gained a lot of traction on social media. Thanks again to everyone who supported us. Please continue to sign and spread the word, and perhaps the developers will think twice before signing future exclusives.

Rise of the Tomb Raider petition

August 12, 2014

Rise of the Tomb Raider Fan Petition for Multi-Platform Release

Earlier today at Gamescom, Crystal Dynamics announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider  will be released exclusively on Xbox One. A follow-up post on the Official Tomb Raider Blog attempted to explain this decision to the fans, but has left many of us feeling angry, baffled, and betrayed. So far it is unclear whether this is a temporary, timed exclusive. The official announcement does not address that point.

I encourage fans to send feedback to Crystal Dynamics by commenting on their blog post and other official social media. Those of us who favor a cross-platform release have started a petition to that end. Please follow this link and sign if you agree: Rise of the Tomb Raider Petition.

As of this writing, we have collected more than 5,000 signatures in less than 12 hours. We realize that our request will not change whatever legal agreements Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have made with Microsoft, but our hope is that showing clear support for broader release will encourage the developers to reconsider such exclusive arrangements going forward.

Rise of the Tomb Raider petition

August 9, 2014

Meet Saber-Scorpion and Win a Custom LEGO Minifigure

If, like me, you're a fan of both Tomb Raider and LEGO, you may already know today's special guest. Justin Stebbins, a.k.a. Saber-Scorpion, is an artist, writer, and maker specializing in LEGO creations. His work includes the fabulous Lara Croft minifigures shown here, as well as hundreds of other custom figures and decals, plus several original web comics and novels.

Check out our Q&A below. Be sure to read through to the end for a chance to win a custom LEGO minifigure from Saber-Scorpion's lair!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Lara Croft Shark Escape - click to enlarge

Hi, Justin. Thanks so much for agreeing to talk to the Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones fans. Could you please give us a brief introduction for readers who aren't familiar with your work?

Hi! I'm Saber-Scorpion, also known occasionally as Justin Stebbins. I live in Virginia, USA, and enjoy building LEGO, writing, and drawing. I post my creations on my website, saber-scorpion.com. With a hyphen.

How did you first get into LEGO toys and, I assume somewhat later, LEGO customizations? And what were some of your first customization projects?

I've been playing with LEGO for pretty much as long as I can remember. My first LEGO toy was a yellow helicopter from a Froot Loops cereal box when I was five years old. My collection has been growing ever since then. My first attempt at LEGO customization was when my brother and I tried to start building Star Wars ships. This was before LEGO even made bricks in the color grey! We were thrilled when LEGO released the first official Star Wars sets some time later. With grey bricks. The first creation I posted online was an A-Wing Starfighter around 1999. In 2002, I posted my first custom models and minifigs inspired by a videogame, Metal Gear Solid. The minifig customization community was very small then, and I had never seen anyone make videogame LEGO creations before. My Halo creations in particular were extremely popular, and helped spark a flood of videogame-based creations in the LEGO fan community. Or at least, my ego likes to think they did.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Tank - click to enlarge

If you played with LEGO when you were a kid, did you follow the building instructions or go freestyle?

I have a policy of always following the instructions first. I learned a lot of new building techniques that way. And sometimes I would keep the models built and modify them. But few sets lasted for more than a week before they got "assimilated" into my color-sorted bins, to be made into something else later. Over the years my room pretty much filled up with LEGO.

LEGO Friends line: Fun for girls (and boys who like pink) or the devil's workshop? ;)

That line sparked some controversy when it was released, a lot of which struck me as unfounded. Say what you will about how they're marketed, they're not bad sets! They're not simplified from the "boys" sets, and the parts are completely interchangeable, making them a good source for unusual colors you can't find elsewhere. Some LEGO builders have shown their support for the line by building spaceships and tanks out of Friends sets, piloted by Friends figures wearing helmets and guns from other lines. Boys will be boys!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Most Saber-Scorpion minifigs are available in traditional yellow or flesh tones, which vary from character to character - click to enlarge

Based on the minifigures you design, I assume you're a big fan of videogames, science fiction and fantasy adventures. What are your favorite series or genres and why?

Absolutely. I've always been a sci-fi and fantasy geek. I grew up mainly with Star Wars, both the movies and the classic LucasArts videogames. I also love Lord of the Rings. My favorite videogames are RPG's, especially ones by Obsidian Entertainment and Bioware (and related companies that are no longer with us, like Black Isle and Troika). I'm a huge fanboy of those companies and their games, like Baldur's Gate, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout, Mass Effect, and the rest.

[Black Isle fangirl squee from Stella!]

Do you play the LEGO videogames? If so, which are your favorites and why?

I love the LEGO videogames. When I was a kid I played the early ones, so it's tempting to call LEGO Island (1997) my all-time favorite. But the movie-based games by Traveler's Tales are awesome too—they're ironically some of the best videogames you can find based on the movies they portray. I think the Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings games are my favorites. LEGO and Indy are just a fun match (Johnny Thunder, anyone?), and the Indy game added a lot of fun new features to the formula. I mostly loved LotR because of the big open world map of Middle Earth. I still need to try the LEGO Movie game—I hear the environments are entirely made out of bricks in that one, which is a great change.

What game, show, movie, etc., would you most like to see made into an official LEGO game and/or playsets?

My dream combo has already come true with the LEGO Lord of the Rings line. I was very upset to find out we might not get a third wave of LotR sets. We didn't even get a minifig of the Witch-King! I can't think of anything I wanted to see as much as LotR, but some sets based on a videogame series would be great. We can't let all the game licenses fall to the dread enemy, MegaBloks. (Disclaimer: I don't actually hate MegaBloks.)

It probably goes without saying, but my dream game would be LEGO Tomb Raider. Guess we'll have to wait and see about that.

You've also created several original universes, Wulfgard, Nova Refuge and G4M3: Shattered Reality, for which you not only have LEGO figures but comics and full-length novels as well. What inspired those creations and do you have other new worlds up your sleeve?

LEGO actually had a lot to do with the birth of those universes. While I've always enjoyed drawing and writing stories too, LEGO was a major outlet for my creativity as a kid, and some of the basic ideas for those universes came from the LEGO worlds I built when playing with my brother and sister. I can't say anything about new worlds in the works, since I'm currently putting all my effort into the fantasy universe, Wulfgard. My sister and I are working on the first Wulfgard books and comics together and plan to start a fundraiser soon (possibly through Kickstarter) to help pay for printing them. If anyone is interested in helping us out, keep an eye on wulfgard.net for updates!

In addition to the many lines of customized minifigures, decals and accessories, I notice you also take commissions. What are some of the coolest or most unusual requests you've had? Have you ever had to turn down a commission for any reason?

One of my biggest commission jobs (which also might count as one of the strangest) was creating decals based on several US Presidents for the book Assassination!by Brendan Powell Smith. It's one of those big illustrated "coffee table" type books, which describes and depicts historical Presidential assassination attempts in detail...using the medium of LEGO. It might sound bizarre, but he does a very good job of it! And yes, I've had to turn down a few commissions. Let's just say that I understand "Rule 34 of the Internet," but I didn't want to be the one to fulfill it with little plastic minifigures....

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Several Saber-Scorpion creations, including Abraham Lincoln, appear in the book Assassination!: The Brick Chronicle of Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US Presidents - click to enlarge

Tomb Raider fans want to know...do you prefer the classic games, Legend-Underworld, or the reboot and why?

I like both the classic games and Legend-Underworld. I grew up with the classics, and saw Legend as a sort of reboot when it came out, taking the series back to its fun adventuring roots. Legend was one of my favorite games at the time, and that's when I made most of my custom LEGO Lara figures. I have to admit, I still haven't played the reboot yet. When I saw the trailers, it just didn't look like Tomb Raider to me. But I've heard some good things about it, so I'll give it a try eventually.

Who would win in a fight: Lara Croft, Indiana Jones, or Nathan Drake?

My sister will probably kill me if I don't say Nathan Drake; she's a positively enormous Uncharted fan. (She made most of the LEGO Uncharted minifigs on my site.) But it's hard not to say Lara Croft, who can afford an arsenal of weapons and train all day in her huge mansion training course. Poor Nate and Indy are just outgunned in that regard!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Tomb Raider 2013 - click to enlarge

Do you have any tips for players who want to do their own LEGO customizations?

Buy stuff from my site! ...Okay, barring that, here are some tips for customizing minifigs: I recommend designing stickers on the computer and printing them on label or decal paper, which is what I do. There are a lot of minifig decal templates online, but I prefer to take my own measurements. Be sure to design your images at 300 ppi resolution or higher, or else use a vector art program like I do. Fiskars micro-tip scissorsare the best things you can possibly use for cutting out those tiny decals. The best place for buying the individual LEGO parts you need is a site called Bricklink, though it takes a bit of learning to find what you're looking for. If you need to paint a piece, I recommend Testors enamel paint. At least, that's what I've always used. Hope that helps get you started!

Where can fans go if they have questions for you?

I've got a Contact Me page. Basically you can email me through the site or contact me on my website forums. I've also got a Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr, deviantArt, and some other things, which I try to check fairly regularly.

Thanks again! I really appreciate your taking the time to talk to us. :)

Thanks for having me! I appreciate it!

Win a Saber-Scorpion Custom Minifigure
Use the contest app below to enter our custom minifigure give-away. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, August 16, at 11:59 p.m. EDT (3:59 a.m. GMT Sunday). One lucky winner will be chosen and notified on Sunday the 17th. The winner can choose any of Saber-Scorpion's custom minifigures (valued up to $20). We'll cover the shipping, but if you live outside the USA, you will be responsible for any customs/duty/import fees.

If you have any questions about the give-away or problems with the entry form, please contact Stella. For questions about the minifigures, contact Justin.


P.S. It's fine to modify the tweets you send out, as long as they include a link to this blog post. Thanks and good luck! :D

August 8, 2014

Team Tomb Raider Community Extra Life Charity Marathon FAQ

The following was originally posted in 2014 and last updated January 7, 2017.

Since announcing that Team Tomb Raider Community will be participating in Extra Life again this year, I've been fielding a lot of questions from both gamers and potential donors. So I've put together this Q&A. If you're wondering about something that isn't covered below, please feel free to contact me.

Extra Life 2014


GENERAL INFORMATION

What is Extra Life?

Extra Life is a videogame marathon to raise money for charity, specifically for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. It's like a walk-a-thon or fun run, but instead of actually breaking a sweat, participants recruit sponsors and then play videogames for 24 hours.

When is Extra Life?

Players are already collecting donations. The marathon officially starts November 4, 2017, at 8 a.m. local time and goes for 24 hours. Players may choose to game on a different date or split their gaming over several days if that's more convenient.

INFORMATION FOR DONORS

Is Extra Life a legitimate charity?

Extra Life is not a charity in itself, but all of the money raised during the event goes to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a registered charity that helps fund 170 children's hospitals across the United States and Canada. For more info, visit ChildrensMiracleNetworkHospitals.org. Since 2008, Extra Life players have raised more than 8 million dollars!

Who are Team Tomb Raider Community?

We are a group of Tomb Raider fans who have formed a team in order to make our Extra Life fund-raising efforts more fun for ourselves and our supporters. This is our fourth year playing for Extra Life. Since 2012, we've raised more than $15,000 for the cause. We're hoping to blast through our $3,000 goal for 2017.

During the marathon, November 5-6, we will be hosting a team livestream as well as several individual players' livestreams, in which we'll play Tomb Raider and other games for your enjoyment. Many players have already started collecting donations and hosting Extra Life events.

How do I make a donation?

It's easy and secure. Go to the Team Tomb Raider Community page on the Extra Life site, click on the "Roster" link, then on the team member you'd like to sponsor. Once you're on the team member's page, click the "Support Me" button, and follow the instructions. To donate offline with cash, check, or money order, contact me or one of the other team members.

Where does the money go?

Most Extra Life players choose to support their local Children's Miracle Network Hospital, which is then shown on their fundrasing page. 100% of your donation goes directly to that hospital.

If you live outside North America and want your donation to go to international efforts, be sure to choose a player who is playing for Boston Children's Hospital; Sick Kids Foundation in Toronto, Canada; or Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC, all of which serve patients worldwide. These players have the CMN Hospitals 'balloon' logo on their fund-raising page, as I do here.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donors will receive an IRS-compliant tax receipt. Canadian donors will receive a tax receipt by mail from their local hospital foundation. If you live outside the U.S./Canada, you'll need to follow up with your country's tax authority regarding international charitable donations.

For more information, check out this FAQ for players and supporters on the Extra Life site.



INFORMATION FOR PLAYERS

Does it cost anything to sign up?

No. Extra Life is free. To sign up, visit the Team Tomb Raider Community page and click "Join Our Team."

What if I live outside North America?

Extra Life is open to participants worldwide. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals are located in North America, but several serve patients from all over the world. When you sign up for Extra Life, choose one of the hospitals marked "INTL" at the bottom of the list of choices to support the international efforts at these outstanding hospitals:

  • INTL - SickKids (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  • INTL - Boston Children's Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • INTL - Children's National Medical Center (Washington, DC)

What do I need to do once I've signed up?

Once you've registered for Extra Life, joined the team, and chosen the hospital you plan to play for, you should set up your fund-raising page. Sign in on the Extra Life page and click "Dashboard" at the top left. From there you can view and edit your fund-raising page, check your donations, connect your Extra Life page with your social media, etc.

When you signed up, you should have set a fund-raising goal (usually $100), now it's time to get the money! Extra Life has a great page of tips for soliciting donations. If you can meet your goal before or during marathon weekend, that's great, but Extra Life continues through December 31 if you need more time.

How do I collect donations?

The quickest and easiest way is to send people a link to your Extra Life fund-raising page and have them make a secure online donation there.

What if people don't want to donate online?

Not a problem. You can enter cash, check, or money order donations on the Extra Life site and send them in later using this form.

What if nobody wants to donate? :(

Don't give up! There are lots of creative ways to solicit donations. Megan from Team Extra Life has some fund-raising suggestions that may spark your creativity.

Is there swag involved?

If you upgrade to Platinum registration by donating $15 to Extra Life, you will then be eligible for prizes once you reach various fund-raising thresholds: $200 nets an Extra Life T-shirt, $500 a silver medal, and $1,000 a gold medal.

There are also unlockable Achievement Badges for both individuals and teams. These are available to Regular and Platinum players.

The Extra Life organizers, sponsors, and Team Tomb Raider Community will be giving away prizes during marathon weekend. So if you participate (or tune in) you may win something then.

Extra Life Swag


Do I have to stream my gaming during the marathon?

No! Not at all. Some players enjoy streaming their gameplay on Twitch, YouTube, etc., and this can help get more donations, but it's not mandatory. Many participants play offline, on their own or with friends. Some play PC or console games, others play tabletop games, or log time on their tablets or mobiles. Whatever you want to do is great.

Do I have to join Extra Life to play on the Team Tomb Raider Community livestream?

No! We understand that it isn't possible for everyone to do the fund-raising. If you want to help by playing on the livestream and asking for donations on other players' behalf, that's wonderful too. We need all the help we can get! If you want to do this, don't sign up for Extra Life, just contact me directly and I'll save you a slot on the team's livestream schedule.

I still have questions that weren't answered here.

For more information, check out the Extra Life Player FAQ and feel free to contact me.


One of 2015's Extra Life promo videos. In 2017, game day is November 4.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Gold Edition to Include DLC and Swag

Square Enix has revealed details about Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Gold Edition, a special boxed set, priced at $34.99, which comes with a game download code, Lara figurine, art book, map poster, and a Season Pass good for all future DLC. Windows PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions have been confirmed for North America, but only PC and PS4 so far in Europe. The standard edition ($19.99) will be available as a download on all three platforms. Check with your local retailer for details or order the Gold Edition physical items separately from Amazon or the Square Enix Store.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Gold Edition
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Gold Edition - click to enlarge

The Season Pass will also be available for purchase separately and includes two upcoming DLC packs, "Icy Death" and "Twisted Gears," comprising two new tombs, six new costumes, plus various rings, gems, and weapons. The Season Pass does not include the other pre-order DLC packs shown below.


DEUS EX 'ULTIMATE AUGMENTATION' PACK

Available on: Amazon.com (North America) | Retailer TBA (Europe)

Includes: Exclusive Deus Ex themed skins, including Adam Jensen's signature combat rifle and the Augment ring, which reduces the cost of treasure chests by 10%.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Deus Ex DLC
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Deus Ex DLC - click to enlarge


HITMAN 'ASSASSINATE YOUR ENEMIES' PACK

Available on: Steam and other participating digital retailers

Includes: Exclusive Hitman themed skins including the iconic Silverballers and The Agent ring, which gives your character increased weapon damage and more powerful bombs.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Hitman DLC
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Hitman DLC - click to enlarge


LARA CROFT LEGEND PACK

Available on: GameStop (North America) | Retailer TBA (Europe)

Includes: Nostalgic Tomb Raider: Legend skins including a golden pistol and The Legend ring, which gives your character health regeneration powers and a more powerful torch.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Lara Croft Legend DLC
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Legend DLC - click to enlarge


Check out these articles on IGN, Gamasutra, and the official Tomb Raider Blog for details.

UPDATE 8/9/14: Added updated Xbox One information and details on the pre-order DLC packs.

UPDATE 10/11/14: The Gold Edition Physical Goods (figurine, art book, and map) are available separately through the Square Enix Store. According to sources at Crystal Dynamics, this package does not include the Season Pass. That is an error in the product description which will be corrected soon. The full Gold Edition (priced at about $35) includes the game, season pass, and physical goods.

UPDATE 11/8/14: Crystal Dynamics has clarified the contents of the "Season Pass." Rather than including all future downloadable content, as I originally posted, the Season Pass guarantees all announced year-one DLC. It does not include any unannounced DLC and/or pre-order incentives.

UPDATE 12/5/14: In this video, Crystal announced that the Deus Ex, Hitman, and Legend pre-order DLC packs shown above will become available for purchase in January 2015.

August 7, 2014

Andy Sandham Interview - Part 2

Last week I posted a link to Ash's interview with Andy Sandham, formerly of Core Design. This week, he followed up with questions from the fan community. Read part 2 of the interview on Ash's Tumblr blog, along with other cool stuff from the Core Design archives.

Andy Sandham was part of the development team on Tomb Raiders 2-5
Tomb Raider Archives - Collecting all the classic Top Cow Comics
Tomb Raider Archives 4-volume set collects 50 issues of the best-selling Top Cow comic. Order from TFAW, Amazon, or Amazon UK.