In an frank and revealing interview with Eurogamer, the team behind the first Tomb Raider games have opened up about the highest highs and lowest lows of their development journey.
Talking openly about the trials and tribulations behind the creation of one of the most iconic video game characters of all time, members of UK-based studio Core Design -- shuttered by Eidos in 2006 -- spoke at length about the realities of working on a franchise that became a blockbuster almost overnight.
Looking back on the eight months they spent working on Tomb Raider 2, level designer Neal Boyd served up a sobering taste of "crunch" game development, recalling how staff would "sleep under the desk for an hour, and then wake up again and make a coffee."
"You'd splash yourself with water. When you work seven days a week, you don't even get a day off to do your washing. It is very hard," he added.
There was a deadline to meet, and a huge amount of work to do. Technically speaking, having frameworks already in place made developing the sequel an easier prospect, but this time around Core also had to deal with the burden of pressure -- from players and publisher alike.
In a quest to knock the sequel out of the park, Core worked around the clock. Late nights, early mornings. Whatever it took.
"I felt like I was working 24/7, and I did it for months," programmer Gavin Rummery reveals. "I thought of nothing else. I didn't sleep properly. God, it was horrible.
"My mum would phone up, and because I knew she'd want to chat for an hour, I wouldn't take the call. It was that level. I wasn't doing anything except work."
The pitfalls of Core's grueling dev cycle, then, are obvious. But what about the rewards? According to studio boss Jeremy Heath-Smith, the person responsible for hiring Lara Croft's creator, Toby Gard, it all seemed worth it when the game hit shelves.
"It was brutal and it was hard and horrible. But do you know something? As soon as that game came out, it was unbelievably rewarding," he explains.
"Not only did we write what I feel was the best of the Tomb Raider series of games, it sold a complete boatload, and everybody had an amazing Christmas. We took six weeks off. We didn't come back to work, and had tonnes of money to buy the family whatever they wanted."
To hear more about Tomb Raider's tumultuous road to stardom, check out Eurogamer's complete interview. It's well worth your time.