Talking to Susie (1999)
- The Croft Times -
On April 17th, 1999,Susie Hamilton, Core's PR Manager, and Nell McAndrews, the well known Lara model, were at the Multimédia XXI show in Lisbon, Portugal, to receive the awards for "Best Action Game 1998" and "Game of the Year 1998", both for Tomb Raider III.
I couldn't miss the chance to talk to Susie personally (ok, and to see Nell...) so, with the help from the Mega Score magazine, who organised the event, I went to the show to meet them.
While most of the crowd's attention was focused on Nell, I spent a lot of time talking to Susie Hamilton. Susie is a very nice person, and answered the best she could to my massive amount of questions!
Since I didn't conduct a formal interview, what follows is a more or less a faithful transcription of our conversation.
How do you feel getting an award that is voted on by the gamers, when many of the specialised press were rather hard on Tomb Raider III?
Very happy. It goes to prove that there really are a lot of fans who enjoyed Lara's last adventure. Some of the press were hard on the game so that is why we're keeping a low profile and not talking about what we're doing right now, we want Lara's next adventure to be a real surprise!
And what are you working on right now?
I can't say much... but I can tell you that we're working on two really exciting next-generation games for next year.
But you are working on Tomb Raider IV?
Well yes... The public expects a new Tomb Raider every year by Christmas.
Can you tell me something about it?
Not yet, we'll present it in September at the ECTS.
Will you make some sort of announcement at E3?
Yes - at E3 we will officially announce the fourth Tomb Raider game and maybe the release date too...
Speaking of next-generation, are you considering doing a next-generation Tomb Raider for the PlayStation 2?
There's nothing confirmed yet. As I've told you we're working on two next-generation games right now - these are for release next year. We're also working on a new Dreamcast title for this year.
You still have to do one more Tomb Raider game for the PlayStation according to your deal with Sony...
Yes - there'll be one more Tomb Raider game for the PlayStation.
And after that you'll do Tomb Raider V for the PlayStation 2? (smile)
Are you considering doing another deal with Sony for the PlayStation 2?
Maybe, but I can't confirm it.
Are the PlayStation sales better than the PC?
I don't have the exact number, but it's about 65% PC to 35% PSX.
How well did Tomb Raider III sell?
About six million copies world-wide.
That many?! How about the other two?
Around four - five million each.
Sixteen million overall, that's fantastic!
Yes it is! Particularly when a game is considered a hit if it sells more than 200.000 copies...
You never expected such a huge success...
No we didn't, we're still amazed by it!
How do you explain it?
I don't know! Lara is such an appealing character... and those games really capture the imagination...
Did you wanted to use a female character from the beginning?
Yes, it was Toby's (that's Toby Gard, the original Lara designer) idea. The other members of the team were not sure about it, but since the first prototypes were made everyone who saw them went wow! So she stayed!
Aren't you afraid that some other character might come and steal Lara's fame?
Yes, but Lara's such a unique character that I don't believe it will be easy to create another character with the same appeal.
She's becoming a household name all over the world, not just for gamers, but for everyone else. What are your plans for her?
There are many plans... Confirmed is the new Lucozade campaign, we're also going to sponsor a GT racing car, there will be Lara imagery all over the car!
That I have to see! Anything else?
A new Lara © range featuring many new items and a much wider choice. There's also a new German magazine about Lara - we may translate this for UK and French markets. Nothing more confirmed just yet...
How about novels? Are you considering doing any?
Not really, we don't want to give much away about Lara's character or her past... she's a bit of a dark horse so we want her to remain a little mysterious.
Did you see the new French comic?
Yes, it's great!
Which one do you prefer, the French Dark Æons or the American Witchblade/Tomb Raider?
So do I... Any plans for an English edition?
Not just yet.
On the latest Witchblade/Tomb Raider comic, it's mentioned that Lara's father is dead and that Lara's butler is called Jeeves...
That is wrong, we never said that Lara's father was dead. And the butler's name is Winston! I don't know why people started to call him Jeeves...
Probably because of Alex's Jeeves site...
Probably. When I saw that site, I went "Oh my God, a site about Lara's Butler"!
Eheh! So we shouldn't consider that as "official" information?
Speaking of official information... On what year was Lara born after all?
1968. But that's not really important, Lara has no age!
It should be just February 14th then!
How about the movie? Shouldn't it be released this summer?...
Yes, but it is late... The probable release date is now the summer of 2000.
I know you're not going to tell me, but ... Is there anything decided? Actress, director, script writer...
Nothing yet. Really!
But there are some new rumours about a director and a scriptwriter...
Not confirmed just yet - I will let you know as soon as we have some definite news.
What is your candidate for the role of Lara?
I don't know... It's hard to imagine someone as Lara.
But you must have a favourite...
Not really... It should be British and unknown, but I can't imagine anyone.
Why not doing a CGI movie then? It would have a lot of supporters...
That would be our choice, but it takes too much time. Our deal with Paramount is for a live action movie, and doesn't allow us to do anything else animated or otherwise with Lara.
The contract with Paramount is for one movie only, right?
Yes, just one.
So there could be a CGI movie after that...
Sometime ago there was also a rumour about a animated TV series...
The deal with Paramount doesn't allow us to do that also.
How do you see the future of Tomb Raider and Lara Croft?
It's hard to say... We'll keep doing Tomb Raider games as long as we feel people want them.
Have you ever considered doing some other kind of game with Lara? Like an adventure game perhaps?
Maybe, we don't have definitive plans for that.
Do you expect to be a Tomb Raider game in, say, 10 years?
Hopefully! Maybe in a different form and with a different title, but with Lara in it.
You're keeping Lara then...
Are you going to change something in Tomb Raider in the near future?
Yes - but I can't tell you what! I think we'd like to recreate the atmosphere of the first game...
Seems like you're a fan of the first.
Yes, it's still my favourite!
Mine too... but there are things I like on the other two. You'll keep the T-Rex right!? They are a kind of trademark...
The fans would never forgive us if we didn't! (smile)
Will we see more interaction?
There will be more interaction with the story...
That's great! That was one of the main criticisms that the fans made about Tomb Raider.
As you see we listen to the fans...
How about multiplayer?
No, no, no... Tomb Raider is a single player game.
That's fine by me! How about the music?
Well, Nathan McCree left Core about two months ago, so we'll have a new artist doing the music for Tomb Raider IV.
That's a pity. Nathan had a lot of fans.
The new artist, Peter Connelly, is also very good...
Great! Anything else you can tell me?
I've said too much already!
Still no plans to release a level editor?
We don't have the time or the staff available to make a version suitable for the public. Also the editor is one of our secrets...!
And the Golden Mask, when can we expect it?
The first level will be released on the net next Friday 23. We also plan to release the second level in May/June. We expect to release the full version to the stores, probably on the first week of June.
Will there be anything else in the box? Besides Tomb Raider II and the extra levels, of course...
Maybe, but I can't tell because it might not happen. We'll also have something special that you might do on The Croft Times...
I'm feeling sorry for poor Nell, standing there for hours, taking photographs...
Oh, she's very professional. She never complains and always keeps her smile.
She seems very nice...
Yes, she is. She's not like some models that start acting like stars after a while...
The previous model, Rhona Mitra, recorded a music album...
We didn't like it... It took too long and was nothing like we'd expected. It was in the beginning, and we made some mistakes...
I've heard that Nell's makeup artist takes about two hours to do her makeup...
Yes, it's a hard job. We use several different artists. And it takes only two minutes to come off!
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