December 25, 2009

Tomb Raider Player Survey

I recently connected with a new friend, Izzie, a student at the Sorbonne in Paris, who's doing a research project for a media studies class. She asked some interesting questions about how players of both genders connect with the game. I hope you'll give her a hand with her investigation.

Izzie writes: I'm conducting a small research and analysis about Tomb Raider for a class about "Media environment and sub-cultures of screens" (we study anything which uses the screen as a support, from internet to video games and cinema). I've read many studies about players' perception of Lara Croft but none were satisfying, so I'd like to initiate a quick survey on my own.

My subject is: What attracted you to the game?
  1. Was Lara's feminine identity what appealed to you?
  2. Was it more the gameplay/adventure history which got you into playing it?
  3. About Lara's physical appearance: were you ever annoyed by it or was it never a concern?
Feel free to add any comment, but you can just reply by yes/no.

Could you please indicate your gender (it matters since the research is gender oriented)? The only condition is that participants must be American (sorry about this restriction, but my research concerns American cultural studies).

If you'd like to participate, either post your answers in a comment here, reply to Izzie's thread on the Video Game Forums (you can read my response there as well), or send me a message and I'll forward it to Izzie. Thanks for sharing!

The deadline for submissions is January 15th.

December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays from Tombraiders.net!

Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday season filled with many magical moments. Peace and love,


Christmastime Lara
Have a Very Crofty Christmas. Click for full-size image.
(Makes great desktop wallpaper.)

December 5, 2009

Underworld $7.49 Special on Steam

If you're a PC gamer and haven't already tried Tomb Raider: Underworld, this could be the offer that clinches the deal. Valve's Steam download service is offering Underworld at 75% off its already reduced price, but only until Monday. If you have a Steam account, just log on and check the latest Update News. Otherwise, visit the Steam site to join. Or, go right to the Underworld page for more details.

I can't think of a better way to to spend a snowy weekend than adventuring with Lara. If you already own the game, you may be interested to know that Steam also has a gift-giving option so you can share the Tomb Raider fun with a friend. :D

October 24, 2009

Tomb Raider: Legend & Anniversary Free On GameTap

As part of GameTap's 4th anniversary celebration, the PC game download service is offering a selection of games for free play this weekend (October 24-25), including Tomb Raider: Legend and Anniversary.

The free collection also features other 64-bit compatible Windows titles including Hitman: Contracts and Blood Money, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Project Snowblind.

 

October 15, 2009

Do 1 Thing to Help Homeless Teens

It snowed for the first time this fall today in Upstate New York. I bitched a bit as I scraped the slush off my car windows. Then it occurred to me how very lucky I am. I have a safe place to live and a loving family. I have warm clothes, my own computer and games to play. And I can't remember the last time I was truly hungry. Millions of kids are not so fortunate; they're homeless.

Andrew by Dan Dry
Andrew, 18, is homeless in Chicago.
Photo by Dan Dry courtesy of Do1Thing.org.

In America alone, where I live, there are currently an estimated 1.3 million homeless children and teenagers. Kids make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. homeless population. Some have parents who are also homeless, many are by themselves, and some have kids of their own. Some crash with friends, some stay in shelters, some live rough on the streets. All have hopes and dreams—just like you and me—but having to focus on day-to-day survival can make those dreams seem unattainable.

Whatever the circumstances, no kid should have to be homeless. But what can just one person do to make a difference? Well, recently I learned about an organization called Do1Thing. They're a group of photojournalists, writers and other creative people whose mission is to "put a face" on homeless youth. Their hope is that by doing one thing to raise awareness, they'll encourage others to do one thing to help.


After seeing some of the stories on their site—like that of Lulu, a homeless girl in Portland, Maine, whose mom died when she was 12 and who just found out she's pregnant; and Russell, a talented singer, who left his drug-addicted parents to try and make it on his own in Minneapolis and one day dreams of becoming a lawyer—I knew I had to help.

So for the rest of the year, I've decided to do one thing and give all profits from tombraiders.net to help homeless teenagers. The money will be shared equally among Do1Thing, Covenant House, Stand Up For Kids and my local support network, Family of Woodstock. I also plan to donate some time to help out where I can.

I'd like to encourage all of you to do one thing—whether it's contributing here, donating directly to one of these worthy causes, volunteering with a local organization, helping out a homeless or at-risk kid you know or have seen in your neighborhood, or just spreading the word, like I'm trying to do here.

If we all do just one thing, imagine what we could achieve.





Links:

October 11, 2009

Creating Your Own Classic Lara Croft Halloween Costume

Guest blogger Sara from laracroftcosplay.com returns with help building the perfect Lara Croft costume. 

Halloween is upon us once again, and you're wondering what you will get dressed as. Or maybe you already have an idea. But whatever it is, it can't be as cool as the Tomb Raider herself: Lara Croft!

You might think that getting the outfit together is difficult but I assure you, it's not....

This is your list for the standard classic Lara croft costume, which according to our statistics is the most cosplayed costume of hers:
  • Green sleeveless shirt: Go to thrift stores and eBay.com to find that shirt. If it has sleeves, it's OK. Just cut them off. If you don't know how, ask mommy or someone who can do it.
  • Brown backpack: This is a bit tricky if you want to be accurate. Most first-time cosplayers just use any old backpack and it's enough, but if you want to be accurate, you can do what I'm doing. I am using a cardboard box that's 12 x 16 x 5 inches and covering it with brown leather, and making the rest of the accessories like the clasps. But that's not really necessary if it's just for Halloween.
  • Black round glasses (optional): Can be found at many local stores. If not don't bother. It is not mandatory, as Lara doesn't wear them the entire game.
  • Black gloves: These are extremely easy to find, just look at this eBay link.
  • Brown short shorts: If you find shorts great! if they're pants, cut them and hem them. You might even find an old pair of pants you don't really need anymore that would be perfect!
  • Metallic grey guns: Every country has its own rules about guns, so if you can have Airsoft guns and it's alright with local law go to speedytoys.com (highly recommended by laracroftcosplay.com). If not, do what I did when used to live in England: I spray painted toy guns and that was enough to do the trick.
  • Classic belt and holsters: There is a very detailed tutorial on how to make all Tomb Raider holsters on laracroftcosplay.com in the "how to make" section.
  • Brown boots with red laces: Use your own if you have brown lace-up boots and get red laces. If you don't have any brown boots, be resourceful, try to borrow them, if no luck you can go to local thrift stores where they are very cheap.
  • Thick white socks: Just regular socks will be fine, but make sure they are long enough to show above the boots.
  • Clip-on braid (if your hair is short): eBay, local wig shop, practically can be found anywhere.
Rhona Mitra as Lara Croft

Get started with a reference photo—like the picture of Lara model Rhona Mitra above—and have fun!

One last note: If you're just starting to assemble your costume and plan on shopping on the web, be sure to check delivery times before ordering to make sure everything will arrive in time. Most sellers offer expedited shipping for Halloween, but it may cost extra.

Hopefully this was helpful to all of you aspiring tomb raider cosplayers. If you need more detailed help and tutorials—or if you want help making another Lara Croft outfit, like the new 'Survivor' version—you can go to laracroftcosplay.com or tombraidercosplay.net. Have a very Happy Halloween!

September 15, 2009

Tomb Raider Creator Toby Gard Leaves Crystal Dynamics

Toby GardYesterday Toby Gard announced on his web site and LinkedIn page that he has left the position he held for the past 8 months as a Lead Designer at Crystal Dynamics. Gard is now offering consulting services in game development.

Gard is widely considered the "father" of the Tomb Raider series, having conceived the original game concept and Lara Croft character. After a hiatus from the franchise between 1998 and 2004, during which he started his own company, Confounding Factor, and produced the Xbox game Galleon, he returned to Eidos as a creative consultant and designer on Tomb Raider: Legend and Anniversary and other games. He co-wrote the story (along with former Crystal Dynamics Creative Director Eric Lindstrom) and directed the cinematics for Tomb Raider: Underworld, which was nominated for several industry awards.


Early Lara concept art
Gard's confidentiality agreement with Crystal Dynamics precludes him from revealing any details about his departure—or the exact nature of the work he had been doing before he left the company—though it is generally speculated that the "unannounced project" he had been working on is in fact the next Tomb Raider. It's unclear what this development means for the series.

UPDATE 9/15 4:50 p.m. EDT: I was able to get in touch with Toby about this shortly after posting the article above. I asked what he would ideally like to do next, now that he's a free agent. His reply:

"You are right to say that my confidentiality agreement stops me discussing the move, but I can say it was an amicable split. I am interested to see if it is possible to work freelance in the games industry. I know concept artists and musicians manage ok, but designers? I'll just have to see."

Having been a freelancer myself for many years, I have to say it has its ups and downs, but I certainly wish him luck. :)


Unused concept art for TR Underworld

Original Lara Croft pic courtesy of tombraideranniversary.com. Underworld concepts courtesy of Toby.

September 14, 2009

Speedrunner Profiles

I interviewed eight players for my Tomb Raider speedrunning article and received a huge amount of useful information—much more than I could include in one short article. So here are brief blurbs about everyone who helped me, including advice for beginners. (Text in italics is mine. Responses to "Why do you speedrun?" and "Advice to new speedrunners" are the runners' own words.)

Name: AjAX

Country: Canada

Co-founder (with Ewil) of Tomb Runner. YouTube channel: youtube.com/ajaxrunner

Why do you speedrun? The wow factor it gives you, the precision, finding shortcuts, doing some HARD shortcut, beating your own time, it's a competition. By that I mean, a competition for yourself first to see how far you can go. You can think of it as Training. The more you do the better you get! Same about speedruns.

Other games: Prey, Soldier of Fortune, Cold Fear, Quake, Doom 3.

Advice to new speedrunners: As Larson said: "Practice makes perfect!"

AjAX holds several speed records for TR2 and Chronicles, though lately he's been focusing on a Prey speedrun. He currently holds the record for that game and is redoing his 2008 run to make it even better. This video shows his 4:09 run through Trajan's Markets in Tomb Raider: Chronicles. He has since shaved another 9 seconds off that time. The video of the 4:00 run can be found on Tomb Runner. He says this is his all-time favorite run and notes that it includes a glitch he discovered, which can only be done in this level.



Name: Ewil

Country: Czech Republic

Co-founder (with AjAX) and webmaster of Tomb Runner. YouTube channel: youtube.com/EwilCZ

Why do you speedrun? It's a different way to play the game. It's a really nice feeling when you discover a new shortcut or a trick, but it can be also very annoying attempting one level over and over again just to get a one second better time. It's also a challenge and sometimes even a competition. And it's a really good time killer, believe me.

Other games: Postal 2, Driver, Serious Sam.

Advice to new speedrunners: Be patient.

Ewil holds many speed records, including Unfinished Business and most levels in the Last Revelation and Angel of Darkness. This video shows his 4:59 run of Cleopatra's Palaces, incorporating creative use of the trigger bug, which he developed.



Name: jarekhanzelka

Country: Czech Republic

YouTube channel: youtube.com/jarekhanzelka

Why do you speedrun? The challenge it brings—and those extremely positive reactions if the run is good.

Other games: Not yet.

Advice to new speedrunners: Patience! Don't give up just because it takes plenty of tries before you manage anything. Speedrunning is sort of an art, so it has to be practiced for pretty long time before you become good at it. Keep that in mind.

Jarek holds several records, including his continuous glitched run of TR Underworld in 24:51 (detailed on Speed Demos Archive). His 3:23 Out of Time level run is shown below, and you can track his progress on an airwalk-glitch Legend speedrun on his YouTube channel.



Name: MMAN

Country: U.K.

YouTube channel: youtube.com/MMAN2

Why do you speedrun? It lets me push my skills on the games, along with the game itself, as well as adding a lot of replay value.

Other games: Mirror's Edge.

Advice to new speedrunners: Find out as much about the game as you can, since otherwise you could easily be working from outdated information and techniques.

MMAN is considered by many to be the founding father of Tomb Raider speedrunning. His glitchless TR3 run still holds the record at 2:28:20 (detailed on SDA), and he has been included in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition. The video below shows one of his favorite runs, the TR1 Caves level in 2:41 using no glitches.



Name: RadxxRyan

Country: U.S.A.

YouTube channel: youtube.com/radxxryan

Why do you speedrun? I like the challenge of it. I do get frustrated on a hard level, but when I finally get a solid run, it's a good feeling.

Other games: Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country.

Advice to new speedrunners: Watch lots of other speedrunning videos, visit or join the Tomb Runner forums, check out Stella's walkthrough website, then just practice a lot and have lots of patience and have fun with it.

RadxxRyan holds a number of records for glitched runs of the classic Tomb Raiders, all of which were made on the PlayStation. Below is his 4:44 all-secrets run through the Living Quarters level in TR2.



Name: rr_carroll

Country: U.S.A.

Webmaster of Tomb Raider Tourist. YouTube channel: youtube.com/rrcarroll252

Why do you speedrun? I don't speedrun myself, I think of myself as part of the pit crew. To get an idea of the problems of actual runners, I do run small sections and make videos. I love the sense of discovery during the research. As a matter of fact, I'm evangelistic about it. I frequently try to inveigle people at tombraiderforums into being competitors/ colleagues (it would be redundant at Tombrunner).

It's like prowling through an old castle, looking for secret passages. Occasionally something amazing happens, and I get to enjoy that OMIGOD! LOOKIT THAT!! feeling. Then I want to share/brag.

Watching a good speedrun is like good poetry. There's flowing smoothness, elegance and downright amazement. It's intellectually and artistically satisfying.

Other games: No. Maybe someday, but TR discoveries just keep on coming!

Advice to new speedrunners: I feel like I'm advising young samurai: go out and wander. Use your skills. Train yourself.

More specifically: there are two aspects to speedrunning, movement skills and path-finding skills. Both require practice. Look at speedruns and check lists of movement commands and tricks. Practice the moves until you become familiar with the details and nuances of using them. But even before you finish that, start going through games and try to find new shortcuts, as well as speedrun. You develop your skills mostly by doing.

Don't get disappointed that you're not close to record times, pay more attention to improving. Reward yourself for a new personal best or rediscovering old shortcuts.

rr_carroll has discovered several useful bugs and helped refine many others. Examples are too numerous to list here, but a visit to his Tomb Raider Tourist site or YouTube channel is like unearthing one priceless artifact after another. This video shows examples of the dive bug, which was discovered by Aurimas and perfected by rr.



Name: Soul

Country: Austria

YouTube channel: youtube.com/nightwish1603

Why do you speedrun? I think it's a very special way of enjoying a level and giving honor to the builder. I would never run a level I didn't like...I love finding a completely new route, glitches, shortcuts and try to finish the level as fast as possible.

Other games: Nope. I think there's no other game I know with so many (easy) glitches. In the old games there is the corner bug and the bananajump, in TRA/TRL there's the airwalk, in TRU there's the weird behaviour of the grapple and so on. TR is a fantastic series. Maybe some TR's haven't been tested properly, but that's what I love about it.

Advice to new speedrunners: Hmmm. It's hard to say. I guess if you really want to start speedrunning try out every trick mentioned in Area 51 (on Tomb Runners) and learn how to use it. Then you can start choosing a level and finding your unique route. After that watch the video of the existing run (if there is one) and compare both routes. If you are lucky you found a new shortcut and your route is faster, if not then see which shortcuts you might have missed.

Soul mostly runs custom levels, so he's set a number of records in a smaller field. His run through Dark Death's Royal Bengal Tigers level (below) shows he's clearly mastered the essentials of speedrunning. He also holds the current records for the Gallows Tree level in TR Chronicles (00:32) and the Beneath the Ashes expansion for Underworld (04:27).



Name: xRikux89

Country: Finland

YouTube channel: youtube.com/xRikux89

Why do you speedrun? Tell me so I can die! I honestly don't know. The predominant emotion always seems to be frustration. I've started to take more interest in just discovering tricks and shortcuts instead.

Other games: You could say it began from playing as a kid. Every weekend would be spent playing Mega Man V over and over until I got bored of it...which I didn't! I could eventually beat the game in about an hour. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing back then. I tried speedrunning Crash Bandicoot once, but my game seems to always freeze in Castle Machinery if I try to complete it in one sitting. That, and I don't have any means of recording from a TV.

Advice to new speedrunners: A long continuous run of a full game isn't the best idea for a first project. Start out small, and just work on basic technique. Also keep in mind, that the current records and routes are by no means absolute. Explore even the craziest of ideas!

Riku is famous even outside of the speedrunning community for his discovery of the airwalk glitch in Legend and Anniversary. He has also found a few major shortcuts in Underworld and other games. When asked to choose a favorite video to include here, he went with sentiment over speed. He admits to "screwing up" near the end of his 5:56 glitchless, all-secrets run of the Jungle level in TR3 (below), but he's proud of the overall run, which was one of his first.

The Process Behind Making a Speedrun

In part of our interview for my Tomb Raider speedrunning article, Ewil, webmaster of Tomb Runner, described his methods. I imagine each player finds his or her own ways of achieving faster runs, but this is a great set of guidelines if you're just getting started. He points out that these steps would work for virtually any game, not just Tomb Raider.

1) Find the game you want to speedrun. It should be one of your favourites. Don't pick a game that is somewhat moderate, it will bore you even more during speedrunning, although some games tend to be much more fun when trying to beat as fast as possible instead of normal playthrough.

You should also know the game well, preferably beaten it several times, once on hardest difficulty with all collectables or secrets if there are any. And of course, you should be good at it or at least think so. :)

2) Search for any existing speedrun. This is crucial. You should check out Google for any speedrun made and of course Speed Demos Archive website or other speedrunning websites (Tomb Runner, High Speed Halo, Compet-N etc.). There is nothing worse than doing a speedrun, then finding a faster run that someone put on YouTube.

3) Research ways to beat the game as fast as possible. Well, a speedrun without shortcut or tricks isn't really a speedrun, so search well for engine glitches, path shortcuts and other small tricks that make things go faster. First thing to start with it is character/vehicle movement. Try to find the fastest way of movement. I recommend to watch speedruns of other games for inspiration, but definitely start with running, strafing, jumping or combined. Remember this: There is no game without a shortcut or a trick. (Here I don't count arcades, flash, logic, etc. I mean REAL games.)

[For Tomb Raider, you can find lots of useful information in the "Area 51" section of the Tomb Runner site. –Stella]

4) Strategy/planning. You should make a practice run before you start the real thing. Search for possible shortcuts, what items you are gonna need and what you can skip. This is also a time when you choose difficulty. It should be the hardest one, but that depends on your skill, patience and if it's even possible when speedrunning. Some games become easier, like Deus Ex, some become harder or next to impossible, like Far Cry.

5) Recording. Now you should figure out a way to record your run. This is easy for PC games; just use Fraps. It's harder on the consoles. You need to use a VHS or DVD player, then grab it on PC and encode it with any encoding software like VirtualDub or Avidemux.

6) Running. It looks easier than it is in reality, but real speedruns take hours and hundreds of attempts to make them look that good. If you make any bigger mistakes or even forget a route, that should be an automatic restart, but it's preferred to have better time with a mistake then a slower time without a mistake. Just don't give up after 20 failed attempts, good speedruns take a lot of patience. And always make sure you are recording. :)

Lara books through the Jungles of India.

Tomb Raider Speedrunning

Before there were Tomb Raider time trials, before there were unlockable cheat codes and achievements, there were speedrunners. Not content to sit back and raid tombs at a leisurely pace, these hardcore players race through levels employing skill, dexterity and clever planning in order to finish as quickly as possible. They maintain leaderboards with the fastest times for each level, as well as for each full game, and they're constantly spurring each other on to new records.

Tomb Raiders weren't the first speedrunners—the hobby has existed practically as long as video games—but since the original Tomb Raider came out, with its statistics screens showing how long the player took to complete each level, TR players have been vying for the fastest times.

Caves in 1:35
RadxxRyan currently holds the record for a
glitched run of the Caves in TR1.
Click to watch the video.

Early tomb racers would post savegame files and screenshots of their stats on message boards. But if nobody's watching, it's easy enough to cheat using a flight patch or by Photoshopping the clock readout. Today true speedrunners back up their claims with gameplay videos detailing their achievements. You can find these on YouTube and dedicated sites like Tomb Runner and Speed Demos Archive.

Speedrunners spend hours practicing until Lara's movements become second nature. They look for shortcuts and spots where glitches can be used to skip entire areas or at least get through more quickly.

They are quick to point out the distinction between exploiting bugs in the game engine (good) and cheating (bad). Cheating—such as using a flight patch, position editor, savegame editor or cheat codes—is strictly forbidden. Glitches are accepted—even encouraged—though of course competitions for glitched and glitchless runs are kept separate.

Finnish speedrunner xRikux89 put it this way: "People don't always know to appreciate how time-consuming finding these tricks can be. These runs also need to be re-done more frequently, because the biggest new discoveries are usually glitches. One of the most common arguments, 'They make the game too easy!', is also plain wrong and misinformed. Incorporating glitch shortcuts often makes a run harder."

Most of the players who are active in the Tomb Raider speedrunning community today prefer the classic Core Design games to the Crystal Dynamics titles. The blocky graphics and odd glitches that may seem dated today actually make the older games a speedrunners' paradise. TRs 1-5 are rife with exploitable glitches—from well-known specimens like the "corner bug" to relatively new discoveries like the "dive bug"—and the levels are generally less linear, enabling players to find previously undiscovered shortcuts.*

Tomb Raider corner bug
The corner bug shown here in TR2.
Click for more info.

A few players are tackling the new games. For example, the current record holder for Underworld is Czech raider jarekhanzelka, who used an amazing glitch (discovered by another player, Tl2ophy) to skip the entire Mediterranean, Thailand and Croft Manor levels, resulting in a complete game speed run in less than 25 minutes! (He also used some nifty shortcuts in other Underworld levels. I especially admire his Out of Time run. I couldn't do that in a million years!)


jarekhanzelka's Underworld speedrun employs a massive shortcut,
found by Tl2ophy, to skip about half of the game.

You might expect participants in such a competitive hobby to be secretive and arrogant. Not so at all. Speedrunners compete against each other, but they also support and encourage each other. All the runners I've encountered were quick to praise their colleagues, and their videos and web sites give extensive credit for other players' discoveries.

rr_carroll runs the Tomb Raider Tourist site and is considered by many to be a one-man pit crew for the Tomb Runners. He applauds their camaraderie: "If someone announces his intention to run a level or a game, people start right in with suggestions for improving the run. Of course this has an egotistical aspect ('Use my trick!'), but it's also like we're a team trying to see how fast this can be run. This sense of teamwork is pretty heartwarming."

This article barely scratches the surface of this exciting hobby. If you'd like to learn more, just follow the links below. And if you're thinking about trying speedrunning yourself, check out Tomb Runner webmaster Ewil's article "The Process Behind Making a Speedrun" and the Speedrunner Profiles compiled from my interviews with a few of the most active TR speedrunners.

Links:
  • "The Process Behind Making a Speedrun" - by Tomb Runner webmaster Ewil.
  • "Speedrunner Profiles" - Why they do it, how they do it, awesome speedrun videos and more. (Basically a bunch of great stuff that didn't fit in the main article above.)
  • Speed Demos Archive - Hosts speed runs for hundreds of games, including Tomb Raider
  • Tomb Runner - About 2½ years ago Ewil and AjAX founded this dedicated site for Tomb Raider speedrunners. The "Area 51" section includes many helpful tips on faster movement, timesaving glitches, etc.
  • Tomb Raider Tourist - rr_carroll's site focuses on useful bugs in the Tomb Raider series.
  • Tomb Raider Bugs - Hungarian site (also in English) devoted to useful bugs.
  • Fraps - Software for recording PC gameplay.
  • Wikipedia - Speedrunning article includes a brief history of the hobby, including the now-legendary Quake Done Quick (entire game in just over 12 minutes).
*The discovery of corner bug is generally credited to Jason McAllister, who no longer seems to be active in the TR community (unless he's going by another name these days). Aurimas discovered the dive bug in TR2, and rr_carroll refined it for use in the other classic games.

Corner bug animated gif courtesy of Jeff Reid.

September 9, 2009

Tomb Raider Papercraft

Can't get enough of your favorite video game? Bored waiting for the next one to come out? Guest blogger ninjatoes introduces Tomb Raider papercraft. This pastime requires patience and dexterity—qualities most gamers have plenty of—but it's lots of fun and can yield stunning results. For tips on getting started, read on....

Hi everybody! Stella has asked me to write a little bit about my hobby, so I guess I'll tell you what it is first: Tomb Raider papercraft.

"Tomb Raider" is the game you love playing so much, and "papercraft" is where you print a page of parts (preferably on some thicker paper), cut them out and fold them, and then glue them together to make your very own 3D model of your favourite game/anime/movie character/whatever.

And I really mean "whatever", because you can really make just about anything out of paper:


You can really make anything (or anyone) out paper.
(Click thumbnails for larger images.)

At first, I only built other people's models that I found on the internet, but later I also started making my own. Nothing fancy though: I didn't have the skills or tools then that most papercraft designers had, and I just drew the parts by hand, testing and adjusting them each time until they would fit the way I imagined.


Handmade papercraft models.

Later on, I discovered a tool called Pepakura Designer, which lets you import a digital 3D model and unfold it into a 2D template that you can print and cut out and build!

You can imagine the suddenly endless possibilities I saw...! ;o)


Tomb Raider 2 snowmobile templates
made with Pepakura Designer.

Nowadays papercraft has become pretty popular online, with many people creating their own papercraft models and even more people building them. I think most people know me because of my Zelda models: my young Link model still seems to be many people's favourite, because he really looks like he jumped straight from the game onto your desk!

Because it's so popular, maybe that's why many people think it was the first one I made using the computer, but that's not really true. The first model I made using Pepakura Designer was actually the Venetian motorboat from Tomb Raider 2!


That's right, folks, the boat was first!

As far as Tomb Raider goes, I still love the classic trilogy, especially the blocky style that made up Lara's world. With some work, it makes excellent papercraft material. Whenever I make a papercraft model from one of those older games, I always try to retain the polygonal/blocky look in the paper model by making sharp, crisp folds along the edges, to make it look like it comes right out of the game!


Instructions for the blocky T-Rex head from Lara's
treasure room!

In the next-gen games though, Lara's 3D model got much more complex and "realistic". Being the papercrafting Tomb Raider that I am, I wanted to see if I could also recreate the new, curvier Lara.


Next-gen, more curvaceous Lara.

Ignoring most of the fold lines, Legend Lara is made up mostly out of cylinders, which is probably the easiest papercraft shape there is. With a much more curvy look that I later used on many of my newer models, she looks pretty good, but she is a bit lonely amongst the other more blocky looking models.


Next-gen Lara seems a bit lonely...

I guess I'll have to make another "curvy" Tomb Raider model soon.... ;o)

Well, I think I'll leave it at that for now. I could go on for ages, but I don't think Stella would appreciate me taking over her weblog completely.

I hope you get inspired by the pictures. Sometimes people feel intimidated by the many pieces that can make up a papercraft model. Cutting out and shaping all those parts before glueing them together often is a lot of work.


Who wouldn't want a 90's style videogame
T-Rex on his desk?

Most people find (sometimes to their own surprise) that they have a much longer attention span than they thought possible when it comes to recreating their favourite heroes in paper form though, so should you want to try it out some time, here are some links to get you started:
Have fun building, and raid on!

greetz ninjatoes

Lara Competes in Gamespot's "All-Time Greatest Video Game Hero" Contest

Who's the greatest of them all? This month Gamespot is asking players to vote for their favorite video game heroes. Our heroine gave PaRappa the Rapper the royal smackdown in round one. (90% of voters preferred Lara!) Now it's on to round two, where the competition is a bit tougher. As of this writing, Lara is beating Jedi Knight Kyle Katarn about 2:1, but she still needs players' support to make it to the final round.

Next week she'll face off against über-plumber Mario, and it looks like every vote will count. Check the current standings here and follow the link below to cast your vote.

Post a comment here if you like. Do you think Lara can make it to the finals? Who will she face? My guess is Lara vs. Samus Aran in the semi-finals and Lara vs. either Link or Solid Snake for the win.

UPDATE 9/24/09: Sadly our girl was trounced by that swarthy plumber in round three. Better luck next year. :(

August 14, 2009

Classic Tomb Raider for PS3 and PSP

Good news, PlayStation 3 and PSP gamers! The original Tomb Raider is now available for download as part of the "PSone Classics" collection in the PlayStation Store. The $9.99 price tag is a little steep for a 12-year-old game, but I think it's well the investment. There are 15 full-size levels packed with puzzles to solve and enemies to put down. As far as I know, the game is not in the U.K. store yet, but hopefully it will be soon.

And of course, you know where to go if you need more info or a walkthrough. ;)

UPDATE 8/29/09: Tomb Raider 2 has just been added to the line of downloadable PSOne Classics for PS3 and PSP—and for only $5.99 this time. Looks like a sign of more good things to come.

UPDATE 9/17/09: Sure enough, here comes Tomb Raider 3, also for $5.99. Now that's a bargain.

UPDATE 10/15/09: And Tomb Raider 4 (The Last Revelation) also $5.99.

UPDATE 1/12/11: At last, Tomb Raider 5 (Chronicles) has been added to the list but so far only in Europe. Vote/comment here on the official PlayStation Blog if you'd like to see this title come to the North American PSN as well.

August 12, 2009

Beyond Player Tailoring: A Tomb Raider as Unique as You Are

I considered titling this post "Big Brother is Watching You...Game" but that seemed a bit too sensational. It also trivializes the achievements of the IT geniuses whose work I want to tell you about. These researchers are using Tomb Raider: Underworld to study exactly how gamers play in order to improve the gaming experience.

Anders Drachen, Alessandro Canossa and Georgios Yannakakis of the IT University of Copenhagen will be presenting their paper, "Player Modeling using Self-Organization in Tomb Raider: Underworld" at the 2009 IEEE Symposium on Computation Intelligence and Games in Milan next month.

They investigated the gaming behavior of more than 1300 players who completed Underworld in November 2008. According to the paper,

"Data was collected via the EIDOS Metrics Suite (a game metrics logging system utilized by EIDOS). The data collection process is completely unobtrusive since data was gathered directly from the game engines of subjects playing TRU in their natural habitat (via the Xbox Live! web service) rather than in a laboratory [setting]."

Vast amounts of data were collected ("1 million recorded gameplay sessions of TRU which will form the basis for future research," according to the paper), but for this particular study, the researchers whittled that down to 1365 Underworld players' data in three particular areas:
  • Number of in-game deaths and their causes (enemies, environment, falling)
  • Time taken to complete the game
  • How and when each player accessed the help-on-demand (HOD) feature
The paper details the methods used to crunch the numbers. Most of that sailed right over my head. (Hey, I was an English major.) But by analyzing all this information, the researchers were able to sort the players into four major clusters or types:

Veterans – Players who complete the game very quickly; who die very few times and whose deaths are mostly caused by the environment (traps, fire, drowning); and whose HOD requests vary from low to average.

Solvers – Players who take their time; who die quite often, mainly due to falling; and who rarely use HOD. According to the study, "Players of this cluster…are adept at solving the puzzles of TRU. Their long completion times, low number of deaths by enemies or environment effects indicate a slow-moving, careful style of play."

Pacifists – Players who die primarily in combat, whose completion times are below average, and who rarely use HOD. According to the researchers, pacifists form the largest group.

Runners – Players who die quite often, mainly by opponents and the environment, but who complete the game very quickly. Runners' reliance on HOD varies across the spectrum.

So what does this information tell us about game design and gameplay? According to the Danish researchers, "…the existence of four clusters of behavior, even in a fairly linear and restricted game like TRU, shows that players utilize the…space and flexibility offered by the design of the game, rather than simply using one specific strategy to get through the game." So basically the numbers confirm what we already knew intuitively: different types of gamers use different methods to get Lara from A to B.

In the past, smaller-scale player-modeling studies have been used to design more realistic AI for non-player characters (NPCs or "bots") in sports games and shooters, as well as creating interactive stories that change based on player interaction.

So how will game designers use this information to build a better Tomb Raider? I guess we'll have to wait and see, but these researchers envision on-the-fly player tailoring in which "information about the different player types can be used during play to dynamically alter in-game controllable parameters (e.g., help on demand accessibility, difficulty of jumps) to adjust to the needs and skills of the player type identified in real-time and ensure variation in gameplay."

Can't make a jump? Next time, Lara can go a little farther. Can't defeat that boss? Next time its health bar is a little shorter and its attacks do a little less damage. Spending too long on that puzzle? Suddenly the camera pans to show that elusive switch.

Now that would be cool indeed, though I suppose it could eventually put walkthrough writers like me out of a job.

Links:

August 3, 2009

21st Century Gamer Mom

My 16-year-old son finally convinced me to join Xbox LIVE… naturally only after I had unlocked more than 1100 points of Tomb Raider: Underworld achievements on his profile. ;) 

My computer has been in the repair shop for the last few days, so I've been replaying Underworld and the bonus levels, Beneath the Ashes and Lara's Shadow. I freely admit that I suck at Xbox—still can't manage that "Right of Passage" achievement—but what fun!

I've got Mirror's Edge waiting in the wings and Legend for the 360 on order, and I could use a little encouragement. So if any of you would like to add me as a friend on Xbox LIVE, that would be great. My gamertag is stellalune. I don't play any online games—at least not yet—but I'd love to hear your Xbox tips and game recommendations for a new player with some PC skills.

July 26, 2009

Tomb Raider: Re\Visioned the Animated Series

After reading my profile, several online acquaintances mentioned how much they also love cartoons and anime. Never one to brush aside such synchronicity, I thought I'd take a quick look back at Re\Visioned: Tomb Raider, one of my favorite places where games and anime intersect.


Lara Re-visioned by
Æon Flux artist
Peter Chung
This animated series premiered on GameTap.com in 2007 just after Anniversary came out. I hadn't watched it since then, but I remembered how much fun these little, 6-minute shorts are. Each segment is done in a different style—from serious to comical, from anime to Cartoon Network—by such talented artists and writers as Peter Chung (right) and Women In Refrigerators creator Gail Simone. Minnie Driver, one of my favorite actors, does the voice of Lara and really gives Keeley Hawes a run for her money.

When I tried to re-watch them this week, I found that the GameTap Tomb Raider micro-site is no longer online. Fortunately the cartoons are alive and well on YouTube.


My favorite episode is #8, Pre-Teen Raider, which shows that Lara clearly had the makings of a great adventurer even at age 12. I also enjoyed #6-7, Angel Spit, a more traditional adventure in which Lara discovers another tomb that should probably have remained buried. I'd be interested to know which ones you like.

July 18, 2009

Lara's Wimbledon

Although Lara Croft's early years are the subject of some controversy, most fans agree that our heroine was born and raised in Wimbledon, London, grew up on her family's estate in nearby Surrey and attended Wimbledon High School.[*]

Guest blogger Sim Comfort, also a Wimbledon resident, has been kind enough to share his Wimbledon photo album, which includes snaps of Lara's old school, the hospital where she was born and places she might have spent time, as well as the head office of Tomb Raider's publisher, Eidos Interactive. He also provides an interesting short history of the area.


Wimbledon Library -
click for larger image

Wimbledon, until recently, was a part of the county of Surrey and has strong links with the sea. Wimbledon is on the Portsmouth Road, which leads to the main port for the Royal Navy. This road also provides easy access to central London, Westminster, Parliament and the Admiralty, which are only seven miles away. Wimbledon remains a wonderful country retreat with easy access to the centre of London.


Parkside Hospital, where Lara was born.

Wimbledon comprises three main areas. The town centre with its commercial headquarters and rail links via Wimbledon Station. Up Wimbledon Hill to Wimbledon Village, which was an old coaching stop for the trip to London or Portsmouth. From Wimbledon Village, one may still ride on horseback to Richmond and Hampton Court.


The Dog & Fox, favourite
amongst Wimbledon HS students.

Henry Dundas, who was the Secretary of War and Wilberforce, the great anti-slavery advocate both lived on Wimbledon Common. Also Sir William Congreve who developed rockets which were tested on Wimbledon Common and became part of American history through a verse in the national anthem, 'Through the rockets red glare, our flag was still there'. William Pitt, the younger, was Prime Minister and after many a long debate in Parliament, would ride his horse to Wimbledon to stay with either Wilberforce or Dundas, and take in the country air.


During the late 18th century, another important resident was Earl Spencer, who was First Lord of the Admiralty. Spencer lived in Wimbledon Park, which he had landscaped by Capability Brown in 1765 and who also created Wimbledon Park Lake. Within the original grounds of Wimbledon Park now reside the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the Wimbledon Park Golf Club, The Wimbledon Club and the public park. For more information please visit www.wphg.demon.co.uk.


Sim Comfort and his wife, Mary, publish quality books on British naval history, particularly the age of Fighting Sail (1793 - 1815). They are also world travellers. You can find information on their books and see photos of their Egyptian adventure on the Sim Comfort Associates web site.

* NOTE: Both versions of Lara Croft's biography list her birthplace as Wimbledon. The original bio has her attending the Wimbledon High School for Girls between the ages of 11 and 16, while the revised version says she roamed the globe with her father and received private tutoring. In any case, it's no stretch of the imagination to assume that Lara would be familiar with the Wimbledon area.

July 12, 2009

Tomb Raider 9: Revamped Origin Story?

The rumor mill is in overdrive today as a story broken by Four Player Co-op reveals possible details of the next Tomb Raider game. 

Let me start off by saying that none of this has been confirmed by official sources, so please don't take any of it as gospel truth. That said, here's what happened: 

Fish, one of the staffers at Four Player Co-op, got an email around 2 a.m. yesterday with rough images of what looked like concept art from a new Tomb Raider game. Apparently the acquaintance who sent the email had taken part in a consumer survey about a future Tomb Raider game. The survey was supposed to be confidential, but he snapped some pics of his computer monitor with a digital camera anyway and sent them to Fish.

Fish posted the pictures on fourplayercoop.com along with a hastily written blurb. Then he sent out a Twitter alert about the piece and went to bed. He didn't even realize he'd landed a major scoop until the next morning when the Four-Player crew noticed they were being credited for breaking the story on major gaming news sites like joystiq.com and kotaku.com. [Edit: This according to Four Player's Bullshot! podcast.]

Eidos's lawyers weren't far behind, though. Four Player Co-op soon received a cease-and-desist letter and opted to take the leaked info down or risk a lawsuit.

I won't risk invoking the wrath of the suits by including the photos here, but a quick Google search for "leaked Tomb Raider photos" should turn them up. As for the potential new content, I'll take a chance and post the proposed backstory and game features.

Again, none of this is official, but it certainly raises some interesting possibilities. Discuss. :D

When a sudden storm destroys her research vessel, a young and inexperienced Lara Croft finds herself stranded on a mysterious and remote island hidden of the shores of Japan. Despite several signs of various inhabitants the island is oddly deserted, and an uneasy feeling settles in as strange sounds emerge from the shadows. With only her determination, inner strength, and resourcefulness to help her, Lara must overcome the challenges of a harsh and unforgiving journey that will take her across a vast island wilderness and deep into the claustrophobic and menacing underground tombs from the island's past. As she struggles to prevail through brutal combat encounters and treacherous exploration, Lara will be pushed to her limits and forced to adapt to her situation in order to survive and escape from the lethal predators that stalk her every move.

  • Hunt or be hunted - Evade outsmart, track and kill the mysterious enemies that hunt you as prey.
  • Survival Action - Brutally attack and defend as you fight to survive through visceral one-on-one melee combat.
  • Strategic Weapons - Gain an advantage in combat by finding an array of different melee and ranged weapons including a variety of guns and the hunter's ultimate weapon, the bow.
  • Creative Survival - React and adapt to the island by using only that which you can salvage from the environment like climbing axes, rope, and machetes that can be used to unlock new traversal and combat gameplay options.
  • Free Movement - Scramble up a vertical cliff wall, sprint and leap across a huge chasm, steer mid-air to land a misdirected jump. There is no one right way to traverse, survive, and explore the harsh environment of the island.
  • One Cohesive World - The diverse multi-region island is an open playground alive with creatures, weather and natural events.
  • Origin Story - This new Tomb Raider concept reboots the franchise by exploring the origins of Lara Croft's transformation into a hardened adventurer as you unravel the story behind the island's mysterious past.

Available for: $59.99 PlayStation 3, Xbox 360.  $39.99 PC.  Expected age rating: ESRB M for Mature.

July 10, 2009

YouTube Channel Update: Underworld Relic Videos


I know it's about 8 months too late, but I have finally gotten around to finishing and uploading the Underworld relic walkthrough videos. Yay! 

Many of you have requested complete video walkthroughs, but that project is just too time consuming for me to undertake. Besides, there are already plenty of good video walks out there. Still, I hope these will be helpful to anyone who's just started the game or who missed any relics the first time through.

I plan to gradually add videos for the gold rewards in Legend, the relics in Anniversary and who knows what after that. It'll probably take me another 8 months to finish Legend again. If only there were 12 extra hours in the day just to play. ;)

July 6, 2009

Does Lara Need (Yet Another) Makeover?

Recently two of my friends were interviewed for an article on whether or not Lara Croft should be recreated yet again for the next Tomb Raider game. ["Does Lara Need a Makeover?" Greenpixels.com] Both Katie Fleming and Ash Kaprielov are among the players who miss the tough, no-nonsense adventurer from the earlier games. Others either aren't familiar with the original character or prefer the more emotional character in the newer games. Still others like the dangerous, hard-edged Lara from the unfinished Angel of Darkness trilogy.



The next Lara Croft may turn out to be none of the above. Eidos has been hinting that they plan to give Lara a "female-friendly makeover" for Tomb Raider 9. [Times Online, 1/10/09] I'm not sure exactly what that means. Maybe it's just marketing jargon for "smaller boobs" or perhaps it means a bigger wardrobe and less combat. (For some reason developers seem to think female gamers only enjoy The Sims and Barbie Fashion Show. Please.)

I find it ironic that in the article cited above Eidos CFO Robert Brent likened Lara's evolution to Batman's. The Times quotes Brent as saying, "Look at how Batman changed successfully, from the rather sad character of the Michael Keaton era to the noir style of The Dark Knight." Maybe Brent is not familiar with the early Batman comics of the '30s and '40s or Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns. Rather than reinventing the character, the Dark Knight movie goes back to his roots. So perhaps unintentionally Brent is saying that the original Lara should be resurrected.

Personally, I'm not all that hung up on Lara's appearance or the details of her biography. While I certainly enjoy the classic games and respect the players who are loyal to the original Lara, I also loved the Legend-Underworld storyline. As long as future plots are interesting and Lara remains strong, resourceful, independent and adventurous, I don't mind if she evolves a bit.

The cosmetic aspects—Lara's bra size, wardrobe, hairdo, etc.—are much less important to me than how the games play. I'll write more later about why it's a bad idea to dumb down the level design and gameplay, but this post is about Lara.

So what do you think? Do you prefer "classic" Lara, "new" Lara, something in between or something totally different? What is your ideal heroine like, and what do you want to see in Tomb Raider 9?


1998 pin-up Lara - Click for full-size image. Promotional art
for Tomb Raider 3  ©Core Design/Eidos Interactive



2009 pin-up Lara by Nicobass - Click for full-size image.
Visit Nicobass on DeviantArt
.

Related Links:

July 4, 2009

Beginnings

Tomb Raider 1
Tomb Raider 1 in
trapezoidal box.
Wow! The initial response to this blog has been great. Thanks to everyone who has stopped in, posted comments and emailed about it.

Many of you had questions about when the next Tomb Raider game is coming out, what it will be about, and so forth, for which (alas!) I have no answers yet. The next most frequent request was for more info about me. That sounds like the most boring possible topic for a blog post. But, since I'm more than happy to talk about the games, how about we compromise? I'll tell how I got into Tomb Raider if you guys will too.


Me & my hubby
I've been playing TR since early 1997. My husband got a copy of the original Tomb Raider computer game from a friend who'd just finished playing it. I wasn't much into video games at that point, so I didn't really pay attention until he got stuck. It was the timed run across the fire pillars in the Palace Midas level. He just couldn't do it. After trying for what seemed like hours, cursing like a sailor and pounding on the keyboard, he finally got so frustrated that he gave up and literally chucked the game in the garbage. I pulled it out and decided to give it a try.

I wasn't about to start with the hardest part so I went back to the beginning. I floundered around in the training level for a while. Fortunately I'm a good typist, so it didn't take long before I was off and running. And the rest, as they say, is history.


An early iteration of the site
(c. Nov. 2003). Click for
larger screenshot. For more
nostalgia, visit the
Web Archives.
Soon after that I started hanging out on various Tomb Raider message boards and newsgroups, asking and answering questions, but I didn't write my first walkthrough until late 1997 when TR2 came out. After that I went back and wrote the walk for TR1—with a nice strategy for the fire pillar run, if I do say so myself. Over the years I've played and written about every Tomb Raider I could get my hands on, and I hope to keep on playing as long as they keep making the games. I love it, and I love getting to know other players and fans through the web site.

When I started there weren't many other walkthroughs out there. I was lucky to find a niche early on. Since then, a bunch of other good writers have come along and started doing their thing. Some have come and gone. Some stuck around. I say the more the merrier. That way players can find just the kind of help they need—short and to the point, rambling and detailed (like mine), and now even video walkthroughs.

As a gamer, I guess I'm a late bloomer. I had been a fan of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons since I was in high school (back in the early '80s), but except for Sim City and a couple of simple puzzle games, Tomb Raider was the first computer game I played. I've expanded my repertoire a bit since then, but Tomb Raider is still my favorite.

So how did you discover Lara and her adventures? Please click 'comments' below and let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

June 28, 2009

New Lara Croft Banners: Pick Your Favorites!

Lara's Rival by Will Turner and Ramiel - click for full-size imageI'm very pleased to unveil three new "Stella's Tomb Raider Site" title banners featuring comic book-style Lara in action. This brings the total to 12 banners, all drawn by the brilliant artist Ramiel, whose work appears on tombraiders.net courtesy of Atlantis Studios.

Atlantis is a professional art studio dedicated to developing high-quality science fiction, fantasy, and action-adventure comics and graphic novels, specialty illustrations and storyboards for film producers and video game developers. Tomb Raider fans are probably most familiar with their Tales of Lara Croft comic art fanzine. To see more of Ramiel's work, visit Atlantis Studios or subscribe to the Tales of Lara Croft at PlanetLara.com. A special issue featuring "Lara's Rival," with original story by Will Turner and illustrations by Ramiel, is now available in PDF format.

The trio of new banners show Lara putting a boot to a Viking thrall....

Our heroine closing in on a precious treasure, while a four-legged predator closes in on her....

...and Lara wielding Thor's Hammer, Mjolnir against an ancient foe.

(Please click thumbnails for full-size images.)

I love them all, but my favorite is still one of the first banners I commissioned: the one showing Lara in her PVC catsuit fighting the laser-wielding robot. How about you? Check out all 12 banners here and then vote for your favorites in the poll below. (You may choose more than one if you like.)

Or post a comment. Which do you like? Do you prefer comic book style or more realistic artwork? Any ideas for future banners?

June 27, 2009

Living in Lara's World: The Tomb Raider Level Editor

The Tomb Raider Level Editor is a program that allows users to create their own Tomb Raider games. It is included on a separate CD with the PC and Macintosh versions of Tomb Raider: Chronicles (TR5) and can also be downloaded for free. In this article guest blogger George Maciver, webmaster of Skribblerz.com, tells how his love affair with the program started.


George Maciver. Click
photo for full bio.
There were never enough Tomb Raider games to play. Ever since I'd wandered through the caves of the original game and stumbled into the Lost Valley and met the T. rex, I couldn't get enough tombs and temples to explore. That's why the Tomb Raider Level Editor was such an unforgettable discovery for me. It was like finding treasure! In time, being able to build my own Tomb Raider games became more immersive than actually playing them.

The Level Editor is an experience that will never leave you. However, it can be a lonely and frustrating time as well as an exhilarating and thrilling one. The Level Editor reaches into your soul and can change your life. Sometimes you enjoy that experience and sometimes you don't, but just like any worthwhile relationship, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.

Caves - Tomb Raider 1
Caves - Tomb Raider 1

Learning the Editor doesn't happen overnight. It is best accomplished by first taking the time to study the official manual and build the tutorial level following the instructions in that manual. There is a long learning curve, and the Level Editor isn't a toy-it's a professional piece of software that was used to build The Last Revelation!-but with practice any dedicated player can master it. The manual will teach you the technical know-how to make it all work. The real joy of bringing Lara's world to life is something that comes from within you, from your heart and your imagination.

Imprisoned Spirits NG
The Imprisoned Spirits NG - For more info and screenshots,
visit Skribblerz.com

I think perhaps the first time I felt I'd reached into the Tomb Raider world with sufficient depth that I began to believe I was starting to master the Editor was with the release of The Imprisoned Spirits NG. Of course, by that time I'd built over fifty custom Tomb Raider levels so it wasn't surprising I was beginning to feel at home with the Editor. Expect to start with simple projects and build your skills gradually until you too are creating complex levels and even complete games.

There is nothing quite like living in Lara's world, and being able to make adventures for her is quite an adventure in itself. So plunge into Lara's world from the inside and experience a whole new depth to your raiding!

Jungle Ruins NG
Jungle Ruins NG - For more info and screenshots,
visit Skribblerz.com


Tomb Raider Level Editor Links:
  • Stella's Level Editor page - Very basic introduction, editor/manual downloads and links
  • Skribblerz.com - George's site. Includes playable levels by many different designers, tools and tutorials, forum, plus lots more.
  • Lara's Levelbase - Levels, tools, knowledgebase, newsletter, custom level walkthroughs, forum, and more.
  • TRLE.net - Reviews, creator interviews and bios, forum, and a level listing/search covering dozens of files.
  • Official Eidos Level Editor Forum - FAQs, tools, numerous tutorials, links, etc. Be sure to start with the sticky topics at the top of the list.

Releasing Your Inner Lara: Tomb Raider Cosplay

An introduction to the world of Tomb Raider cosplay by guest blogger Sara, webmaster of laracroftcosplay.com.

Hi, I'm Sara from laracroftcosplay.com and I'm here to talk to you about the cosplay side of Tomb Raider games. For those of you who don't know, cosplay is a combination of two words: costume and play. It originated in Japan and means to dress up as a character from games, anime, movies and more.

I myself am a cosplayer and run a website about Tomb Raider cosplay, where we have a huge gallery of people who have dedicated time and effort to creating their outfits. I started the site because I wanted to celebrate their hard work and encourage new cosplayers to explore the hobby. We also offer cosplay resources, such as character and costume lists, how-to articles for creating costumes and props, and links to other cosplay and merchandise sites.

Tomb Raider cosplayer collage - click for full-size image
Just a few of the 100+ Tomb Raider cosplayers featured at laracroftcosplay.com. Click to view full-size image.

So I hear you ask why do I cosplay Lara? Well...Lara is a strong, sexy, intelligent, determined, witty and brave individual. She has qualities about her that so far I have not seen in any fictional or non-fictional characters. She's also educated, classy and well read. That in my eyes almost makes the perfect woman, and who wouldn't want to feel like their hero once in a while?

Lara has changed me as a person, which some might say is a bit crazy because she's not a real person, but it's the spirit of adventure, and strength of will and character that Lara stands for that inspires me, and so I honor her by dressing in her clothes.






I've also had countless cosplayers tell me that they were shy and had low self-esteem and little confidence, but somehow when getting into the Lara outfit they felt amazing and beautiful.

From this hobby, sprung a tightly knit community, in which we discuss and evaluate each other's work. We have become close friends and like to support each other too.

Tomb Raider cosplay isn't only for Lara look-alikes—or even just for girls. Players can have fun dressing as any character from the games or movies—male or female, friend or foe. So if you miss playing dress-up like you did when you were a kid, or you just want to try walking in Lara's boots for a while, why not give Tomb Raider cosplay a try?

I would like to say thank you so much to Stella for giving me the opportunity to introduce the world of Lara Croft cosplay to you.


Tomb Raider cosplayers (left to right): Ivan as Kurtis Trent, Jeanna as Amanda Evert and Jonathan as James Rutland. Photos courtesy of laracroftcosplay.com.
Tomb Raider Archives - Collecting all the classic Top Cow Comics
Tomb Raider Archives 4-volume set collects 50 issues of the best-selling Top Cow comic. Order from TFAW, Amazon, or Amazon UK.