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.

Welcome to My New Blog

Hi, everyone, and welcome to my new blog. I've started it as an adjunct to my walkthrough site as a place to report on the latest Tomb Raider news and to present a variety of articles and opinion pieces about the Tomb Raider series, Lara Croft and related topics. Since we're in a slow period between games, there isn't a lot of news. So, for now at least, I'll focus on where the series is headed and fun things to do when not raiding tombs.

A number of visitors to my site have asked me to create an "About Stella" page. I'd prefer to write more about the games and less about me, but you guys keep asking, so I'm finally giving in. There's a short profile in the sidebar that tells a little bit about me. I will add a more extensive bio soon, along with a little info about how I got into Tomb Raider in the first place. (Has it been 12 years already?!) So stay tuned for that.

Although I'll be doing most of the writing, I don't want this space to be just about me. I'd love it if you would participate too. I have asked several guest bloggers to write articles on the topics that interest them. To kick things off, George Maciver, webmaster of Skribblerz.com, will be discussing the Tomb Raider Level Editor, and Sara from Tombraidercosplay.com will share info on her pet hobby: dressing up as Lara Croft. More guest bloggers will follow.

I also plan to include regular poll questions so you can vote on issues that are important to you, and I invite you to comment on my posts. Let me know what you're thinking. Ask questions. Tell me what you'd like to see here.

Right, let's go adventuring.... ;)

Tomb Raider Legend wallpaper - click for full-size image