CORE DESIGN STILL
VERY MUCH IN THE LOOP
Copyright 2004 www.tombraiderchronicles.com
[ March 5th 2004 ]
CEO Mike McGarvey has confirmed that Core Design
Ltd - a wholly owned subsidiary of Eidos plc -
is still very much part of Eidos' long term plans
during a conference call earlier this week, scoffing
at speculation the creators of cyber heroine Lara
Croft would downgrade operations now future development
of the best-selling Tomb Raider franchise had
been transferred to U.S. based Crystal Dynamics.
been evaluating the studio in terms of looking
at what direction we're going to take the studio
in now that Tomb Raider has moved and we've changed
the management within the studio," said McGarvey.
"We're very pleased to say that we've now got
a team of 40 people at Core Design focusing on
a new idea that's in the pre-production stage
right now. We're very pleased with the progress.
We've gone back and redesigned some of the technology,
infused some new management and feel like there
is a very strong opportunity at that studio now."
McGarvey, you'll remember, outlined a difficult
future for small developers with only one or two
teams during an interview with the Financial Times
in January. "A studio of about 150 people, split
into three teams, is about the ideal size," McGarvey
commented, "and it's hard to see how it makes
sense for the cottage industry types. They may
have more of a future in post-production [than]
as a service-based business."
Design has been through the mill. In January the
studio hit back at former co-founders Jeremy and
Adrian Heath-Smith over claims made in a Sunday
newspaper the company was floundering with only
a handful of remaining staff trying to prop up
future projects. Acting General Manager of Core,
Andy Norman, told press and gaming media representatives
the studio was still very much part of Eidos'
long term plans following comments made by Heath-Smith
that 37 of 36 former employees abandoned ship
to join CiRCLE Studio, the new development company
helmed by Jeremy and Adrian Heath-Smith.
between Eidos, Core Design and Jeremy Heath-Smith
reached critical mass in June 2003 when publisher
Eidos announced all future development of the
Tomb Raider video-game franchise had been awarded
to Crystal Dynamics following a string of delays
with the sixth Tomb Raider video-game - Lara Croft
Tomb Raider The Angel Of Darkness - and the final
product falling short of expectations. There's
still division on who exactly was to blame for
a product clearly not finished being rushed onto
the shelves. Some factions are steadfast in their
criticism of Eidos and their pursuit to satisfy
their shareholders prior to their end of fiscal
year announcement. Sony reportedly applied additional
pressure by green-flagging the NTSC (U.S.) version
while their European counterpart held up the release
of the PAL version, demanding Core Design remedy
problems with the control system.
Pictures then compounded the injury further by
blaming Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness
for the poor performance of the second of three
planned Tomb Raider motion pictures - Lara Croft
Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life - at the U.S.
box office, where the Angelina Jolie-helmed picture
garnered no higher than forth. The proverbial
shit then hit the fan so fast it flew off the
table, and Eidos needed a fall-guy. Core Design
felt the full force of blame with Eidos awarding
the franchise to their Crystal Dynamics studio
- also a subsidiary of Eidos plc. As part of the
shake-up, Eidos also announced Jeremy Heath-Smith
was stepping down as Director of Eidos and Managing
Director of Core Design.
August 2003, Jeremy Heath-Smith and brother Adrian
incorporated CiRCLE Studio as a British limited
company, inviting numerous programmers, designers
and mappers - all former employees of Core Design
- to join their new venture, and announced the
new studio would be developing two brand new prototypes
expected to debut 2005. CiRCLE Studio then confirmed
the company would use leading RenderWare technology
in order to optimize the team's efficiency in
the delivery of the new titles and enable them
to focus on the creative elements within the games
that will differentiate them within the market.
at Core Design continues to beat stoically without
reprieve, according to Andy Norman: "Core Design
are [sic] working closely with marketing and all
other publisher stakeholders to ensure that we
are developing games that people will want to
play. It's been my pleasure to be acting general
manager of Core Design pretty much since the split
with previous management took place. A full time
appointment will be announced in due course."
CiRCLE Studio is also making headway with their
prototype video-games, neither to feature a leading
lady as the main protagonist. Eidos has recently
announced a 30% increase in revenue and continues
to dominate the British video-game market confirming
a forth incarnation of the best-selling Hitman
shooter and a fifth installment of their soccer
sim Championship Manager 5, now under the aegis
of A Beautiful Game Studio.