Tomb Raider 2 had its fair share of memorable moments; who could forget zooming through Venice on a speedboat, roaming around in the snow-laden foothills of Tibet or the game's final boss encounter, which saw Lara face off against a ruddy great dragon? Still, for many players, the highlight of Lara's second adventure was spending time at the iconic archaeologist's abode, Croft Manor.
As fans will no doubt recall, while running around the massive house and gardens, you were followed by Lara's loyal butler Winston, who carried around a tray of tea in case she needed a hot beverage at a moment's notice. Looking back, it's hard to imagine Croft Manor without hearing his rattly tea tray or seeing him shuffle slowly towards you wherever you went, but according to lead programmer Gavin Rummery, Lara very nearly didn't have a butler at all.
In an interview featured in this month's Retro Gamer, Rummery says, "Winston was a very last-minute addition to the game." He explains that animator Jocelyn Charmet came up with the idea of including a butler after he'd already completed his work on the game. "Joss was French, and to him this is what upper-class Brits would have," he says. "I was originally sceptical that Lara was the kind of girl to want a butler, but we hit on the excuse that he'd come with the house."
From Charmet's idea being put forward to Winston, being in the game took "about three days," according to Rummery, "because he doesn't do much". While that is true, Winston did provide a lot of laughs when players discovered he would follow them into Lara's walk-in freezer, and if you were speedy enough, you could run past him and close the door, locking the poor old man inside. While it's unlikely that any Tomb Raider 2 player didn't give Winston some chillout time, the developer didn't intentionally include this mean trick.
"I don't know who first thought to lock him in the freezer, but I wasn't really aware it was a thing till the game released and people started to do it to stop Winston following them around," Rummery explains. "Heather [Gibson, level designer] had just added the walk-in freezer as part of trying to add interesting things to Lara's house - it hadn't been intended for it to be used in that way at all!"
The full interview features in Retro Gamer #145, now available in stores and via Magazines Direct.