Ian Livingstone is a legend in the video game industry. Commonly referred to as ‘the father of Lara Croft’, Livingstone was recently appointed Life President of Eidos following its acquisition by Square Enix. Livingstone has worked actively with the British government to make gaming a more socially acceptable form of entertainment, and he has also been awarded an Order of the British Empire for his service to the industry.
A few of us journalists had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with Livingstone, who is in Mumbai to attend the Golden Cursor Animation Awards. This is a busy time for Eidos, with high-profile titles on the way, a few in development, and many more rumoured or unannounced. We’ve covered everything from Askham Asylum and Hitman, to Deus Ex and Tomb Raider, to Thief and Championship Manager, and lots more. Read on.
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How does the recent deal with Square Enix affect Eidos – how it operates and future releases?
It’s a great deal for us in many ways. Eidos will remain an independent subsidiary under Square Enix and the Eidos name will not disappear. So for us as a company, it means that our future is secure with backing from a great balance sheet and a great management team at Square Enix. At the same time, we’re independent, so they’re not just looking to take our IP back to Japan. They’re looking for our expertise in creating and developing IP. So our studios like Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, IO Interactive, Beautiful Game Studios; that’s the talent they’re looking for. But they don’t want to influence that in a particular way. They want to make us even better. So for the company of Eidos, it’s great news for the brand and for the people.
You’ve recently been appointed Life President at Eidos. So what does this new role entail for you?
Well, again, it’s sending a positive message to the employees of Eidos that I remain as figurehead, and it’s business as usual.
Arkham Asylum is probably your biggest game of the year. Eidos has been saying it’s the closest to perfection they’ve come and that it’s one of the best games Eidos has ever made. So it came as a surprise when it was announced that the game was delayed. Can you give us a reason for that?
Everyone is so excited about Arkham Asylum. We’re expecting review scores in the 90s and clearly when you have an amazing game like Arkham Asylum, you want to maximise its potential. So we think it’s worthwhile going that slightly extra distance to make it the game it has to be. We’re immensely proud of what we’ve created so far. I’m sure you’ve seen the screenshots and gameplay; it’s an extraordinary achievement. Having an incredible property like Batman, having the comic book writer involved with the story, and the development expertise of Rock Steady, who’ve done an incredible job, we’ve got to 100 per cent realise that dream that we have and not disappoint at the last minute. So we’re going that extra mile to make sure it’s going to be the game we think it’s going to be.
We’re delaying it for the right reasons and no one is going to be disappointed because we’ve put in an enormous effort into it. For example, there was one person working on nothing but the cape for two years, so there are over 700 animations and sound clips attached to the cape alone. That’s why it looks so beautifully realisitic.
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So do we have a new date for the release of Arkham Asylum?
We haven’t announced a new date. I can tell you it’s this year, but we haven’t given a date.
Many comparisons have been drawn between Uncharted and Tomb Raider and also between Nathan Drake and Lara Croft. What are your views on this comparison?
I think it’s not quite correct to compare Drake’s Fortune and Tomb Raider. Sure, they’re single player character-based action games, but Uncharted is all based on one island and it’s focused around combat, whereas Tomb Raider is not focused on combat; it’s about puzzles, exploration, and discovery, and it goes to a lot more regions than one island. I think Uncharted, for me, is more like Gears of War than Tomb Raider. It’s a great game, but I think Tomb Raider is a different league, and an equally, if not better, game than Uncharted to my mind.
Next page: Hitman, Thief, Deus Ex