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Into the Tombs to find Lara

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Do you remember why we fell in love with Tomb Raider? It wasn't just the huge immersive worlds we could lose ourselves in, it was also because the levels were playable. Even noobs playing Tomb Raider for the first time could play them and enjoy them. The most difficult task in the entire original Tomb Raider game was the timed flamed pillars sequence in Palace Midas and that's easy! The levels flowed beautifully and kept you moving. Tomb Raider was about an immersive experience, being lost in tombs and temples, exploring to find your way through. The gameplay was perfect, with an excellent balance of exploration, easy challenges, easy puzzles and fights you could win using pistols.


The gameplay was so good, the whole world fell in love with Lara Croft, and with the release of Tomb Raider 2 Lara was a sensation, a gaming phenomenon. With levels such as The Opera House, The Wreck of the Maria Doria, and the Barkhang Monastery, it was no wonder. You could stroll through the timed runs in 2 or 3 attempts, and the traps were always fair and easy to negotiate.


Tomb Raider 3 was another game built around huge levels you could lose yourself in for days. There was nothing difficult about the Jungle, Nevada, The Pacific, London or Antarctica, it was all about exploration and that delicious feeling of being alone and lost in huge levels.


After Tomb Raider 3 we were all on the edge of our seats waiting for the next game. When The Last Revelation arrived I must have watched the original title flyby a dozen times before starting the game. It was all still there, huge levels to explore and we fell in love all over again. The Tomb of Seth, Karnak, The Sacred Lake, Semerkhet, Coastal Ruins, Catacombs, Temple of Poseidon, The Lost Library, Cleopatra's Palaces, and the Pyramids continued the Tomb Raider magic of immersive gameplay, wandering around lost for hours in huge levels with easy gameplay.


Core Design then gave us the Tomb Raider Level Editor as a gift to keep Lara's memory alive, and the love continued. Well, for a while.

For some reason, since the release of the Level Editor, Tomb Raider has changed through the years. Instead of millions of fans all over the world enjoying being lost in huge immersive easy levels, we have level builders spending months and even years of their lives making ridiculously difficult games for a half dozen people who like ridiculously hard levels and rate them highly at review sites. As no one else can finish them, those are the only reviews the builders read, so they naturally assume that ridiculously hard levels are what people enjoy so they increase the difficulty to keep 'everyone' happy. The thing is, no one is happy other than the half a dozen people who actually finished their game and reviewed it.

The only way genuine Raiders can play them now is to cheat by using DOZY and following walkthroughs. And here's the strange thing - these DOZY players give ridiculously hard levels high marks, encouraging more stupidly hard levels to be made that they can't play. Tomb Raider never was about breaking fingers, controllers and keyboards with ridiculously silly hard tasks. Tomb Raider was about exploration and adventure, it was about immersion and atmosphere, it was about being lost in huge levels and using your wits and intelligence to solve them.

So, we have level builders spending months and even years of their lives making difficult adventures for perhaps a dozen people who enjoy hard levels. Meanwhile, real Raiders lose interest and leave the community because they can't play these stupidly hard levels. Those who do hang around have to use DOZY and follow walkthroughs because the games are unplayable without them. New players never come to the community because they can't play these stupid games, so the TR community is growing old and will soon be dead unless things change. Perhaps if builders understood that hundreds and even thousands of players have binned their games because they couldn't play them, didn't finish them and, therefore, didn't review them, things would change.

All levels, all of them, without exception, should be playable by anyone, without cheating, including new players who have never played Tomb Raider before. A tiny minority with loud mouths won't like it, but that's nothing new. Let's get back to Tomb Raider shall we? You DOZY players, will you please stop giving high marks to levels you can't even play? Yes, that includes you Phil, you're one of the biggest culprits. If you want Tomb Raider back, only give high marks to levels you can actually play and finish without cheating.  If you can't finish a game without cheating because it's too hard and tedious and so ridiculously challenging it's impossible to play, the gameplay is only worth 0 so mark the gameplay rating accordingly. Only give high gameplay ratings to games everyone can play and finish without cheating and things will change for the better.

Obviously, the tiny minority will complain because no one is building levels for them any longer, but really, you builders, do you want high ratings from the half dozen people who play your games or would you prefer thousands of people to be playing and finishing your games? Yes, I know, they use tired cliches, such as 'without challenge there is boredom', but the truth is, too much challenge and you builders are spending all your time building games for half a dozen people because they give you high ratings at review sites. Do you really want to build levels that only half a dozen people can play and enjoy while thousands of players drag your game to the recycle bin and dump it? If you would prefer thousands of people to enjoy your work, then make the gameplay easy like the original Tomb Raider games so they can play them.

To encourage Raiders back to Tomb Raider, make easier games and use DOZY killers in your levels. Here's how:

1. Don't use Uzies in the game anywhere.

2. Somewhere at the end of each level place a PARAMETER trigger for the UZI Item with the CONDITION: Inventory. Present <#> inventory_item selected.

3. On top of that trigger place an ACTION trigger for Lara. In the Parameter field select Enemy. Kill <#> object in (E) way. In the Extra field, select Default death animation (only for creatures, removing vitality).

If players use DOZY, they will have the uzies in their inventory and will die when Lara hits these triggers. If they want to play your game, they will have to go back to the start of the level and replay without using DOZY. Let's build games for Raiders with gameplay that will encourage new players to the scene before Lara dies and rots in some forgotten tomb, killed by the reviews and ratings of the loud mouthed few.



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