Building Your Own Tomb Raider Game

Tomb Raider Vault Forums Level Editor Building Your Own Tomb Raider Game

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    Okay, you’ve finished your practice levels and are familiar enough with the software to want to attempt your own Tomb Raider game in the hopes of submitting it for others to play.

    There are many, many levels out there, a lot of which have been created by experienced and talented people. However, don’t be intimidated; everyone’s creative process is unique, and yours can be just as playable. 🙂

    Where do you begin?

    First of all, where will your level be set? Will it involve lots of ancient-style locations, such as Egypt? Or do you want a more modern setting? Or both? If ‘both’, how will Lara get from one location to the other in a believable manner? Will she need different outfits as she moves from level to level?

    Think of the objective of the game; how will it end? Where will it end? How difficult will it be for Lara to end the game? How many levels will the game have for Lara to reach that end?

    Then think of the storyline – how will it begin, and how will it progress? You may find it useful to draft a storyline before you begin. You can probably find storyline suggestions online, but do try and think of something relatively unique.

    Level building and gameplay

    Levels are obviously made up of rooms of all kinds of shapes and sizes. If you want a very large area, try stacking smaller rooms instead of having one, very large room which may affect game performance.

    Your levels shouldn’t be so small they don’t present much of a challenge, or so large that the player becomes frustrated trying to reach the end of each one.

    Think of the atmosphere you are trying to generate for each area; is it day or night? Inside or outside? What kind of lighting will you need, and will it be appropriate, or look out of place?

    Tomb Raider is well-known for it’s puzzles and traps, but add too many, or make them too difficult, and your player may give up trying to solve them. The same goes for enemies – too many hard-to-kill baddies will be very frustrating.

    Think of architecture and object placement. If your level is set in Greece, you may not want to add Egyptian items! However, you can add different kinds of items if your area is a museum, for example. 🙂 Just remember to add the objects that are appropriate, don’t add too many just because you can!

    Do you really need to use a lot of WAD files in your levels, or can you just add items to your main WAD? Find some texture packs that will go well with your level, don’t mix too many at once or your level may appear disjointed.

    You also need to think of the audio you want to use. Does your ambient background track match the kind of level your are building? Maybe you could subtly change tracks as you move through your level, and from room to room.

    Build suspense, not by adding loads of enemies, traps and puzzles, but by room and background audio atmosphere. Perhaps you can hear enemies, but can’t see them, yet?

    Shadows are great for hiding objects, but if you have a lot of dark areas in your game, and not enough flares, a player may just give up. Use shadows wisely, but do use them!

    Think about what attracts you to the Tomb Raider games you’ve always loved to play. How can you incorporate that kind of playability and atmosphere into your own levels?

    Don’t hide objects or areas that make them almost impossible to find or access. As long as your player knows what they are supposed to be doing, where they should be going, and what they are looking for, it can add to the game playability and enjoyability. I once saw a level that had ‘hidden’ pushable blocks and other items – they didn’t stand out as different and were too well hidden, and made the level very frustrating. The same goes for secrets – give your players a half-decent chance to find them.

    Also think about the things that annoy you when playing a game; they would possibly annoy other people, so be careful. Clever is good, but showing off by making a puzzle or trap ‘too’ clever or difficult is not for everyone!

    Make sure your player finds enough items, such as ammo and medipacks, but don’t flood your game with them. And make sure they will eventually find the weapons they will need for the ammo they are picking up.

    Try not to make your players backtrack too much through the level. They want to move forward and visit different areas, they don’t want to have to go right back to the beginning to find something they may need!

    What is very important is that you test your levels and level jumps thoroughly to iron out any bugs and change anything you feel you could improve. Don’t be in a hurry to finish, be patient, and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to test your game/level and give you their honest opinions.

    If you have any more hints and tips, please reply to this post. 🙂

    Please do not contact me for game help, that's what our forums are for. 😎 

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