Cold Darkness Awakened and Live Team QA

Source: Rise of the Tomb Raider - Achievement Art for "Give a Man a Fire"

I'm thrilled to say that the third major piece of DLC for Rise of the Tomb Raider is now available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC players. In it, Lara travels to an old Soviet facility to rescue captive Remnant villagers and put an end to something Trinity should have left buried. The full description can be found below.

Decommissioned during the Cold War, a dormant weapons research base has been breached, unleashing a mysterious affliction into the Siberian wilderness that transforms men into blood-thirsty, mindless killers. Lara must overcome increasingly dangerous waves of these infected adversaries while scavenging their equipment and crafting additional gear on the fly, in kill or be killed survival-combat. Fight for your life against new enemies and complete new challenges, while discovering a way to stop or perhaps even reverse this impending catastrophe.

I've been working on Rise of the Tomb Raider since it was in alpha, so it's exciting to see our final DLC for the season pass get released. I also wanted to take a moment to share a little information on what it's like to be a member of QA at Crystal Dynamics. Currently, Crystal Dynamics places all of our internal QA staff with the different teams to help test out systems and features as they're added in development. These "embedded" testers are responsible for coming up with test plans, debugging issues, and providing information and feedback to the designers and programmers so that they can resolve all issues and put out an amazing product. A lot of us have studied or are studying some aspect of game development; animation, art, audio, design, programming, or production. Aside from my work on the core campaign, I was placed with the Live team who was in charge of making all the modes outside the campaign. Some of these shipped day one - Chapter Replay (Elite), Score Attack, and Remnant Resistance - while others were DLC and part of the season pass - Endurance, Baba Yaga, and Cold Darkness. The team also implemented the card system and Twitch integration (did you know there are hashbombs now?).

That one time I was an MVP on Melonie Mac's Twitch chat (also check 1:23:40)

On the Live team I helped come up with the speed run times, score multiplier combos, pitched ideas for cards, and play-tested all the modes to help ensure the team nailed the right balance of challenge and fun. I often tried to set the high score on the internal leaderboards and might have been a little competitive about it...

I'm now ranked 152... I might need to go regain my #1 spot.

While the QA team provides an integral role in helping ship a high quality game, we don't always get to tinker around with the tools and create content directly. So when we started working on Cold Darkness and I got the go ahead to do design work I was thrilled. I used Crystal's custom engine to create content that players would not only see and interact with, but was core to the Cold Darkness mode itself. When Lara opens up a strongbox and receives upgrades for her gear; that was me. I made sure that when a player uses the "Cluck, Cluck" card to equip a chicken bow, the weapon pickup object supports that. Even better, I had the senior members of the Live team providing valuable mentorship for my first foray into design work for a shipping title. One of the great thing about working with the team at Crystal, they're always there to help each other out.

A test level I made to test the objects and challenges for Cold Darkness

If you're a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise I highly encourage you to check out the work the Live team has done for the DLC. Endurance offers a survival based exploration mode where you scavenge resources and collect as many artifacts as possible before the hostility of the Soviet wilderness kills you. Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch offers new story content where Lara investigates the mysteries of the fabled Baba Yaga and her chicken house. Cold Darkness Awakened is a completely new, replayable mode that offers platforming, puzzles, and plenty of combat. All three - plus four outfit and weapon packs - are available with the season pass (Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 10, and Steam).

Also posted on the Tomb Raider Blog.