With stunning visuals and in-depth commentary, 20 Years of Tomb Raider explores the ground-breaking, rich, and diverse history of this iconic gaming franchise. Author Meagan Marie, Senior Community Manager for Crystal Dynamics and lifelong fan of Lara Croft, used her incredible depth of knowlege about the franchise and its community to create this beautiful tome in celebration of Lara's 20 years of adventuring! We asked you to send us your questions about the book, the games, and Meagan's experience working on the project—and Meagan has answered!
Q: Which Tomb Raider game is your favorite? (Asked by George Konstantinou Grigorladis via Facebook)
Meagan Marie: That’s an incredibly difficult question to answer as I adore the entire franchise. I ultimately can’t choose just one!
For the Core Design classics, Tomb Raider II is by far my favorite. The combination of ancient tombs with more modern settings hit the right notes for me. Whether dodging deadly traps along the Great Wall of China, navigating the labyrinthine canals of Venice, or exploring the undersea wreck of the Maria Doria, every level was incredibly unique and atmospheric. True story—my brothers had me convinced for several years that the barracuda from the latter level lived in our local lakes. I didn’t go swimming for that entire period of time.
As for the Crystal Dynamics titles, Rise of the Tomb Raider takes the top spot. Seeing Lara evolve from untested and unsure to a more confident and capable young woman inspires me. Not to mention the vastness of the hubs in Rise made exploration such a treat—when discovering a tomb, crypt, cave, or other collectible, I felt like a true adventurer who had earned my reward.
Q: In the process of researching and writing this book, which Tomb Raider game or merchandise brought back the fondest memory? (Asked by Anthony Bryne via Facebook)
Meagan Marie: As a longtime Tomb Raider fan I was fairly confident in my franchise knowledge before I started writing. I was amazed by how much there was left to learn about Lady Lara, especially from her formative years and the fun country-specific promotions that I missed in my youth. I easily spent half of my time on the project conducting research, interviews, and digging up materials—everything from unpublished design documents to surfacing obscure merchandise. Since I’m also a collector, this was especially fun. One of my favorite finds was a rare brochure from the Tomb Raider ride at Paramount’s Kings Island theme park.
I also secured several issues of Mad Magazine with Lara on the cover to feature in the book, and I tracked down and purchased 40+ gaming magazines from the past 20 years. I used them to reflect on not just Tomb Raider’s impact, but the zeitgeist of gaming at that time. I also picked up and scanned a good number of old magazine advertisements. Receiving a batch of old and unpublished photographs from Core Design PR lead Susie Hamilton was like digging up treasure, too.
Q: What was the most interesting thing you discovered during your research? (Asked by Jessica Patrick via Facebook)
Meagan Marie: Talking to Core Design employees was a true treat as it was a bit like meeting my heroes. In particular, Jeremy Heath-Smith, Richard Morton, Heather Gibson, and Murti Schofield provided me with an abundance of insights and unpublished details about past titles. I also really enjoyed my chat with the movie set dresser, Sonja Klaus, as filmmaking isn’t a field I’ve dabbled in before. Discussing the line of thought that goes into each object on set, and the difficulty of sourcing accurate items, was fascinating.
Q: Have aspects of the community/fandom you encountered while writing this book surprised you more than you anticipated? (Asked by Bara Krossteig via Facebook)
Meagan Marie: The continued dedication of the level editing community was a wonderful surprise. The level editor has evolved so much in the past 15 years that it’s almost entirely new, and the works that fans create within it are astounding.
Q: Why do you think Lara inspires so many young people? (Asked by Άγγελος Ατζάρ via Facebook)
Meagan Marie: From a personal level, in my youth I was inspired by Lara’s cool and confident nature, no matter how perilous the situation before her. As an adult, I continue to find inspiration in Crystal Dynamics’ younger Lara, not just because of her continued thirst for adventure and intelligence, but because of her flaws and ability to push through adversity and accomplish incredible things. For many fellow fans, we see in Lara what we wish to discover within ourselves.
Q: What do you know about all the mystery around The Angel of Darkness? (Asked by @AdrianInusual via Twitter)
Meagan Marie: I’ve always enjoyed The Angel of Darkness, and after writing the book I know more than ever about Lara’s first PlayStation 2 adventure. Richard [Morton] and Murti [Schofield] were great resources for a section of the book called “The Games that Never Were.” Here I was able to dive deep into Core Design’s Anniversary Edition, the canceled games from The Angel of Darkness trilogy, and other fun concepts that never made it into production for various reasons. Hopefully fans enjoy these insights as much as I did.
Q: What’s your favorite outfit from the Tomb Raider games? (Asked by @Rhenyaa via Twitter)
Meagan Marie: I have a soft spot for Lara’s Sola wetsuit from Tomb Raider II, which was a replica from a real wetsuit company! I love it so much that I eventually found and tracked one of the original wetsuits for my personal collection, which was difficult since Sola doesn’t make them anymore.
Q: Big project! What’s the "midnight oil" that drove you to just keep moving to finish that last stretch to the top? (Asked by @ItsaRobin via Twitter)
Meagan Marie: The midnight oil was the fans. I was certainly driven by equal parts passion and terror, wanting to ensure I did right by them.
Q: Who were your childhood role models? (Asked by @Sulucorp via Twitter)
Meagan Marie: Lara Croft and Wonder Woman were, and continue to be, my role-models. I looked up to them as leaders in the entertainment I so eagerly consumed, especially in a time when women were under-represented. I plastered photos of them all over my walls growing up, rather than cutouts from pop magazines and celebrity culture.
Q: What first drew you to Lara Croft and Tomb Raider?
Meagan Marie: It was seeing myself reflected in gaming for the first time. I’d always been a gamer, since the furthest reaches of my memory, but the day that my dad brought home Tomb Raider everything changed. Lara and I had very little in common—her being an aristocrat archeologist from the United Kingdom with an affinity for firearms—but seeing a strong and capable woman in control of her own destiny, traveling the world alone, was enough to draw me to her. From there I was inspired to be more like her in ways both big and small.
Q: 20 Years of Tomb Raider is filled with massive amounts of information and visuals from throughout the franchise history. What was your biggest challenge in writing about a franchise with such a broad impact?
Meagan Marie: Funnily enough, the writing came fairly easily once all the elements were in place. It was instead the process of conducting research that was surprisingly difficult—tracking down contact information for original creative teams, scheduling a time to chat with them, preparing interview questions, conducting the interviews, transcribing the conversations, and so on that consumed a large amount of time before I could even start typing out final text. Additionally, some frequently quoted articles and pieces of Tomb Raider lore were very hard to track down in order to verify their accuracy. This is where fellow Tomb Raider collectors and my editing group were especialy helpful—digging through their magazine and interview archives to help me source quotes.
Q: Tomb Raider has one of the most long-standing and robust fan communities in gaming, which is featured prominently in the book. Why was it important to include the community in a history of the franchise such as this?
Meagan Marie: With a franchise as seasoned as Tomb Raider and with Lara’s cultural impact, the game and character belong to the fans. They keep her relevant and they support the franchise through thick and thin. For every fan inspired by the work Core Design, Crystal Dynamics, or our partners have done, they’ve given back tenfold through fanart, fan films, cosplay, custom levels, and more. I felt it was incredibly important to showcase how our craft inspired them, and how they in turn inspire us.
Q: Though this book covers Tomb Raider’s history, the franchise is still growing and evolving, becoming a favorite to a whole new generation of fans. What can fans expect from the next 20 Years of Tomb Raider?
Meagan Marie: I think it’s safe to say that Lara isn’t going anywhere. In the late ’90s, Tomb Raider had a handful of incredibly successful games on the market. Hollywood adaptations had just started filming, and Top Cow had picked up Lara for a monthly comic book series. In 2016, Tomb Raider (2013) has gone on to become the best-selling game in franchise history, Dark Horse has returned Lara to comic store shelves, and the Academy Award-winning Alicia Vikander is taking on the role of Lara in the upcoming Hollywood production. Combine that with the success of the Lara Croft brand with games such as Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, Lara Croft: Relic Run, and Lara Croft GO, and the franchise future looks brighter than ever.
Of course, this interview only scratches the surface of everything that Meagan Marie wrote and researched for this amazing Tomb Raider restrospective. Pick up 20 Years of Tomb Raider to see a history of the franchise that even Tomb Raider fans may have never seen before!
20 Years of Tomb Raider is available NOW:
- Highlighting previously unpublished images and assets.
- Packed full of information on the rich lore, iconic characters, epic fan community, and, of course, the games that started it all.
- Exclusive interviews from Core Design, Crystal Dynamics, official voice actors, composers, live actions models, comic artists, and more.
- An in-depth look at all the iconic games, with insights into unreleased titles.
- Covers the entirety of the Tomb Raider universe—games, comics, Hollywood movies, pop culture influences, and the community