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.


  1. I definitely second that about "there were not enough TR games". I remember back in the day, when I finished a TR and spent the rest of the year counting the days until the next one. One would agree with me, a great deal of this virtual tomb-raiding experience lies in that feeling of exploration and discovery of the first run-through. Exploring every nook and cranny, figuring out the puzzles - that's what TR is all about, and once you've beaten it already, it's not the same thing.

  2. I wish the newer games had more levels, like the old ones. Anniversary and Underworld blew me away with the scope and design of the levels. I gasped aloud when I saw St. Francis' Folley's tower room and the Thor statues underwater in the first Artic Sea level. But I need more levels!