WORKING WITH HARLEY
Copyright 2008 www.tombraiderchronicles.com
[ June 13th 2008 ]
White-Wiedow, Lead Designer for Crystal Dynamics,
continues a brand new series focusing on a behind-the-scenes
look at developing Tomb
Raider Underworld. Harley has been instrumental
in the rejuvenation of the Tomb Raider franchise,
and below are her words on her daily activities.
Note: Ordinarily, at this point in a project,
my life would be all Tomb Raider all the time,
but I'm eight months pregnant, so these days my
main interests are food and making sure the team
is as well prepared for my impending maternity
leave as possible.
AM: I wake up, feed the animals, get ready for
work, and then fill my purse with food and waddle
out the door. First breakfast: two toaster waffles
(surprisingly healthy when you look at the ingredients)
with a drizzle of honey.
pick up my carpool buddy (a character animator
on our cinematic team) at her house and we chat
on the way. The baby kicks quite a bit. Traffic
is pretty good, so we're at work before nine.
Breakfast: Bowl of cheerios and milk, plus a second
glass of milk eaten while checking my email. Nothing
is on fire, so all I need to do is reply to a
few requests for information before I can get
down to my goal for the day; working with the
combat group to polish our first melee encounter
game won't run for me off the bat this morning,
so while the computer is building the code fix
for the problem, I'll go in and work on the final
pass for the enemy collision as the art for this
section is pretty much done. The combat designers
stop by to discuss some trickier implementation
demands with Player Tailoring. We make a plan
and then I'm attracted to the meowing of Eric
Lindstrom (our Creative Director)'s cat.
a sucker for animals and in my condition I'm pretty
much helpless around a meowing kitten - my hormones
demand that I try to do something. I haven't seen
her in almost a week, and she's huge - and hungry.
She's eating solid (ish) food now - he's feeding
her a mixture of baby food, cat food, and cat
formula out of a spoon and she's covered in the
stuff. He goes to a meeting and I pet her for
a while until she gets sleepy, then put her in
her box and get back to enemy collision.
am - Steve Goodale, the lead systems designer,
stops by for our daily check in. He's focusing
on Lara's movement and platforming these days,
and he's got things well in hand, so after a short
discussion off he goes to get some of the things
I want to see more of in game. I field some level
design questions, often referring the question
to Steve McManus, who will be acting as our main
Level Design contact during my maternity leave.
- It's time for first lunch - enchiladas - while
Eric and I go over some of the combat notes that
he's collected in the past month or so. Midway
into this discussion, his kitten wakes up and
demands some play time. This leads to the cognitive
dissonance of talking about the mechanisms of
killing panthers while Eric keeps a black kitten
smaller than my hand from hurting herself on the
floor of my cubicle.
lunch I discover something's wrong with my collision
- there's a large swath of it that's refusing
to allow enemies to path correctly in this unit.
I'm puzzling over that when the line starts to
form again, and what with this discussion and
that (how should we implement fire damage etc.)
soon 3 pm and time for second lunch. Second lunch
is leftover Greek salad from last night, and I'm
curious to see if it will make the baby kick like
it did then. Sure enough, as I do my afternoon
rounds, the baby is kicking up a storm.
- Snack time! I grab a nectarine from the "Fruit
Port" (an empty office our producers keep stocked
with fruit) and a big handful of pecans and munch
them while I check email again and set up some
time with the combat guys to go over the changes
I'd like to see in the setup and tuning of the
encounter I just built collision for.
done, so is my day; I leave at 5 for my pre-natal
Yoga class and get home just in time for... first