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Dev Blog: The Making of Endurance Mode

William Kerslake, Senior Designer on Rise of the Tomb Raider

[Our developer blogs lift the curtain on the creation of Lara’s first great tomb raiding expedition. Rise of the Tomb Raider is available now on Xbox One and Xbox 360, and launches January 28 for PC. Pre-order now at BuyROTTR.com]

In planning the DLC for Rise of the Tomb Raider, we wanted to focus on the different aspects that draw people to Lara and her journey. Players come to Tomb Raider for a number of reasons; some players enjoy the combat and puzzle solving, others enjoy the story and Lara’s struggles to find her place in the world, and some love the survival gameplay. With each DLC we are focusing on a specific style of play and trying to offer a new experience outside of the core game. 

In Endurance Mode our focus was on the survival aspects of the rebooted Tomb Raider series. We started with the concepts introduced in the Survival difficulty mode, lighting fires and requiring Lara to use bandages to heal, and combined it with new technology to make the ultimate Tomb Raider survival experience.

Lara needs food badly! - Taking Survival to the Next Level

The first step in building Endurance was adding food and heat as resources. We constantly wanted players to face choices of how to use resources. Wood can be used to make arrows to hunt or protect from hostile wildlife, but is also crucial to building fires and keeping warm. Wolves and bears provide a lot of food, but are extremely dangerous and use up precious ammo. 

These trades continue throughout the mode. Sprinting slows how fast Lara loses heat, but increases the rate that she gets hungry. Caves are warmer than the outside air but lack food to eat. Some artifacts are hidden behind freezing water. Weapon parts and cloth are frequently found in buildings and camps, but come guarded by enemies. Cloth can bandage Lara’s wounds, but is also a key component in lighting the rescue signal fire.

Feeling Lost

You can’t feel truly lost and alone in the woods, unless you can actually get lost. This meant we couldn’t have a single fixed map that players could memorize over time. Our solution for this was to build a procedural world generator. Every time you play Endurance Mode, the level is constructed around you out of a series of tiled hex pieces, creating a large area of forest.

Even within each forest tile positions of resources, enemies, animals and landmarks all change and adjust with each play through so that no two runs are the same.

Deadly Environments and Hidden Treasures

There are a number of games, particularly in the indie space, that offer variations on the survival concept. For Endurance Mode, we wanted something that felt uniquely Tomb Raider. What better than raiding lots of deadly tombs for artifacts?

As with the forest, each tomb changes the location and number of both the artifacts and traps so that the layout cannot be memorized. Traps have tells, however, so observant players can learn to spot and avoid them. Artifacts give the mode another chance to challenge players with a choice: Do you have the resources to risk going into one more tomb, or do you quit while you are ahead and call for rescue? 

Each day that you survive in Endurance the enemies get tougher, the nights get colder, the resources get scarcer. The final escape also gets more dangerous the longer you stay out in the forest.

Sharing Your Experiences

With a mode focused on exploration, every player’s experience will be unique. The Timeline gave us the ability to track what players discovered and how they survived in the woods. It has been great to view the timelines of friend’s runs on the leaderboards and get a sense of how their best adventures played out.
In the short time since release, we have seen the community really take to the mode. 

A few of you in particular are showing off some insane survival skills.
Top scoring Endurance run at the time of this article is Xbox User helloimlam, surviving 64 days and gathering 183 artifacts. 

How long have you survived? 

Latest Pew study: 71 one percent of adult Internet users belong to Facebook

Nearly three-quarters of Internet users in the United States are on some form of social media, and nearly half hang out on several social networks:

  • More young adults and African Americans are using Instagram. According to the study, 37 percent of Instagram users are ages 18 to 29, percent (up from 28 percent in 2012) and 34 percent are African American (up from 23 percent in 2012).
  •  53 percent of Twitter users are also on Instagram, and 53 percent of Instagram users are also on Twitter.
  • Women are four times as likely as men to be Pinterest users, but overall, only 23 percent of Pinterest users visit the site daily.
  •  LinkedIn is the only social network in which users ages 50 to 64 are more active than users ages 18 to 29, Pew found. What’s more, LinkedIn usage is especially high among people with a college degree or higher, and among those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more. 

(via We ‘like’ looking at Facebook, Pew study suggests - NBC News.com)