August 28, 2010

Third Guardian of Light Podcast and Name-That-Sound Competition

This week Community Manager Keir Edmonds interviews three of the developers at Crystal Dynamics who worked on Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light: Creative Director Daniel Neuburger, Lead Designer Jeff Wajcs and Audio Engineer Alex Wilmer. The guys answer players' questions about the game's concept and level design, touching on such diverse topics as:

  • Building a game that inspires players to really communicate and cooperate.
  • The often painful process of playtesting and tweaking.
  • Influences and inspirations, from museums and archeological sites to classic games like the original Tomb Raider and co-op classic ToeJam and Earl.
  • Welcoming both old and new fans by building in multiple difficulty levels—including some fiendishly challenging downloadable content on the way.
  • The actual tool set used to build LCGOL levels.

Daniel Neuburger

Jeff Wajcs

Alex Wilmer

To accompany the audio, Jeff shared a few sketches he made while designing some of the game's puzzles. I've set some spoiler text in white to avoid giving away puzzle solutions to those who haven't played the game yet. If you want to read them, just select the text with your mouse to highlight it.

Jeff: These were for the Fiery Depths. The diagram in the top left players may recognize as the spinning "bbq" platforms. I had to write down all of their orientations to wrap my mind around the design. The rest of the page became the second challenge tomb in that level. The original idea was to include a bit more logic and one way jumps and such, but I quickly decided to strip it down. The end result was much cleaner. You can also see an armadillo on the page. I was famous on the team for tagging armadillos on white boards all over the place. Sheep, too. Rogers' cube is full of them.

Jeff: This is from Toxic Swamp. We had to make a few passes at this level before we shipped. These sketches were for the third gate crypt, [spoilers] where one uses the grenade launcher to destroy the gears and unlock the gate. You can see the gear/gate structure at the top of the bottom four sketches. What I was trying to do was find an interesting way of bouncing the grenade to the gears. The grid at the top represents an array of columns that come out of the ground. The idea was, with the columns up in certain combinations, the player could ricochet a grenade through and hit a gear. That didn't end up working, and it took a bit more thinking before I arrived at the time trial idea that shipped. You can also see more arrow shooter faces here.

Jeff: More Toxic swamp. The eggs at the top are not too terribly rendered! I struggled a lot with the final moment of the level. Neub said this during the podcast that I like to start with the "big idea" and figure out the details later, and the "powder keg island" is a prime example. [spoilers] I knew from the beginning I wanted the player avoiding a lot of eggs exploding at once, but I struggled mightily with the actual execution. Here, again, I started by finding a space that felt good. I liked having a two tiered island with the temple in the middle. That sketch is dead center. At the top of the page, you see a little of my fascination with typography and handwriting. The word of the day was apparently Rico, the name we have for another level designer.

Jeff: This was the early concept work for the second challenge tomb in Temple of Light. The little faces are the arrow shooters. (They used to have faces before they were barrels.) The circles on a mount are the impact switches. You can also pick out pressure plates, pull switches, and rolling balls. The small square tiles are the flipping platform. I said this in the podcast, when designing a puzzle I like to start with the space and go from there.

Download Podcast (62 MB mp3 file)
To download right-click and select 'Save Target/Link as'.

After listening to the podcast and playing the game, be sure to stop by the Eidos Forums and enter Alex and Daniel's Name-That-Sound competition.

Thanks to the guys for sharing their thoughts with us fans, and once again to Keir for making it all happen. And, in closing, the word of the day is Aaaaaeeeeuuuuhhhh! (Heard at 1:00:48 in the podcast.)

1 comment:

  1. lol that's cool. i'd like to be the first to play it when it comes out.