Eurogamer: Perks! Do I spy an RPG undercurrent?
Karl Stewart: Ah, that's our secret we're going to show around E3. We do have a couple of facets... From our perspective, in order to build a game that's a minimum of six hours in single-player or co-op, there has to be more than just running... Nice elements where players can sit and have some fun, take their time. With critical and non-critical paths we're able to boost the time of the game from six hours straight play to seven-and-half to eight hours, taking into account all of the hardened puzzles.
We believe that, in terms of the arcade space, we're trying to raise the bar of what it means to spend 10 pounds or 1200 Microsoft Points on nowadays.
Eurogamer: That's the price you're aiming at?
Karl Stewart: Yeah, it's what we're aiming at. Obviously we're dictated to somewhat by the first parties and their pricing models. Right now we've suggested to them that we want to come in line with all of the rest of the big hitters that have come out over the last year or so.
Eurogamer: Co-op is a big step for Tomb Raider. Now you've made it, will we see it again further down the line - perhaps in a pillar release?
Karl Stewart: I don't know. It's new, it's different and we're getting a lot of great feedback. Ultimately I want to hear from Tomb Raider fans and gamers when they play it and whether or not they think it is right. Right now it's fun. We have people who are die-hard Tomb Raider fans coming into test and we sit them next to another fan and within five minutes the two of them are laughing and joking and having fun and talking to one another.
We've never seen that before in our games. I'll leave it to the fans, I'll leave it to the gamers to tell us what they think.
Eurogamer: Talking of reception: how dire would that need to be to prevent a sequel? Presumably with the engine in place a sequel would be a cinch.
Karl Stewart: It would be easy. It is our engine and we are well-equipped to pick-up and do another one. But we're not about pumping out another game for the sake of it. The experience has got to be right. We'll know at the time what to do - our fans are very vocal.
Eurogamer: Is Guardian of Light, with its fancy visuals and mega IP, trying to blow other downloadable competition out of the water?
Karl Stewart: Every developer when they start making a game aims high and to be the best. We're no different. We've had a leg-up with our existing technology, but it's about how we take that into this space with its limits on how much consumers are allowed to download. We truly believe that right now we have a great game on our hands, and the first-parties are excited. This is a cool space to be in and hopefully we'll be one of those big hitters. And the space has come on, even since last year.
Eurogamer: Let's say Guardian of Light flies and sells hundreds of thousands, maybe millions: what happens then?
Karl Stewart: Yeah, of course we have contingency plans. The development time on these games is obviously a lot shorter than a full retail title. The guys who are working on the game have tons of ideas of where they could take it. We'll see. I'll be absolutely delighted if we could sell a couple of hundred thousand or, if it's a million, that would be great!
Eurogamer: And the game is coming to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 this summer - simultaneously?
Karl Stewart: Again, the plans are at the moment to have a sim-ship. But we won't know until post-E3, unfortunately. We'll have the game in submission in about two weeks so it will be complete. It'll be about a month and then it will be up to Microsoft and Sony as to when they want us [the game] to come out.
Summer is the biggest time for arcade gaming and they have their timelines. For PC we pick the date, but obviously we want to make sure we get as close to sim-ship as possible.
Eurogamer: So that's a late summer release, most likely?
Karl Stewart: We've been ahead of the curve, we've said, "Look, we want to get the game finished and in the can and let the first-parties tell us when they recommend we should come out." We don't want to be pushed into a space purely because the game is late or wasn't finished in time.
They've given us the recommendation that July and August are the two biggest windows for arcade gaming, so we're going to have the game finished long before that and then let them help us pick a window.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light will be released this summer on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.