Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a top down, cooperative twin stick shooter set in the Tomb Raider Universe. This was the first Tomb Raider entry to feature this new perspective and the first to attempt a multiplayer experience. The game was featured in Microsoft's Summer of Arcade promotion in 2010.


Studio: Crystal Dynamics
Role: UI Designer
Release: April 2010
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Tools: Proprietary Engine / XML

The initial concept for Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was that the game would detail a story from Lara's past, one that had gone untold until now. Lara's journal would be the thematic device used to help tell that story. Everything from the UI, to the website, to the marketing videos would use the old journal aesthetic to tie all of the designs together.

The game opens with an animation of the Lara Croft title burning into the cover of the journal, and all of the subsequent front end screens would appear as pages in that book. Much of the visual look of the UI focused on old paper, aged photographs and Aztec themed drawings to help ground the game in its Central American setting.

One of the challenges of the UI was that we designed the game to be played either in single player or co-op mode. This meant that many screens had two separate designs to accommodate one or two players.

The game HUD was designed as a static bar along the bottom of the screen as a nod to the arcade style games of the past. The aged paper design of the front end was found to be too distracting to be used in-game, so the HUD graphics were built out of elements from the environment. This new design let the HUD bar blend into the background more easily, while letting the important information, like health and ammo meters, stand out more noticeably.
With the addition of co-op and online gameplay, I spent a lot of time making sure that the general UX flow of the project made sense. We had some requirements from Microsoft as part of their Xbox Live specifications. Outside of that, I needed to account for the possibility of players dropping in and out of cooperative play, and how that would affect the various menu.
Many of the collectable items in LCGOL were never actually seen in-game, so they didn't have any corresponding 3D art that I could use to represent them in the inventory screens. Eventually I worked up a series of illustrations for all of the collectable relics, artifacts, and weapons in the game. Additionally I created a number of illustrations that were used as unlockable icons for various features of the game including Xbox Live Achievements and Playstation Network Trophies.