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Tomb Raider

Level Editor

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Introduction Introduction | News/Updates News/Updates | History | Discussion | Room Editor
Unofficial Level Editors | Levels | Utilities | Lara Croft 3D Models | Other

Note: with the release of Tomb Raider: Chronicles (and Room Editor), this site is essentially obsolete. However, level editors for all Tomb Raider games would still be nice.

Note: this section is for posterity. The poll no longer works.

Tomb Raider Level Editor Poll
Do you want a Tomb Raider level editor?
Yes   No   

Final Results (as of April 26, 2001 Internet Archive Wayback Machine

Tomb Raider Sanctuary's Tomb Raider 3 Level Editor Poll Results Internet Archive Wayback Machine

If you want Tomb Raider's level editor, Room Editor, released, email Core/Eidos and request them to release it! Or email them individually:

Hopefully if enough people request it they will release it, so get emailing!

Petitions: I'm not the only one who wants Room Editor released. Email these people to be added to their Room Editor release petitions, or email them individually: David Byard and Derek Oswald.

Introduction Introduction

Why have games like Doom (circa early 1990s), Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Star Wars: Jedi Knight, Unreal, Sin, Half-Life, and Thief been so popular? Besides having probably the most advanced graphics for their time, all have level editors and most are multiplayer. Now, granted, most of these games are first-person shooters (Thief broke out of the boring, bland, mindless shooting mold), but just because Tomb Raider (TR) also, unfortunately, contains shooting (and killing), I still think it's mainly an adventure game.

Tomb Raider was kind of innovative (it was one of the first 3D games to have third-person perspective) when it first came out (circa 1996), but compared to other 3D games, not as much innovation has been in TR 2-5 that other games haven't already done. And despite all of TR's borrowing from other games, it could still use improvement). But, of course, the key difference between the above games and TR is that they all have level editors! Read more discussion about why TR should have a publically-released level editor. It's time TR graduate up to the big leagues and mature along with the rest of the game design industry.

For those who may not know, Eidos Interactive is not the creator of Tomb Raider—they just publish, distribute, and exploit—er milk—er market it. Core Design Limited is was (now it's Crystal Dynamics) the real company behind Tomb Raider.

Around October 21, 1998, Core threatened legal action against Chris, who ran tombraider.net Internet Archive Wayback Machine who was helping create a Tomb Raider level editor. Can you believe that crap? How pathetic, Core... Start paying attention to what the consumers/customers/fans/gamers/players/users want. They made you and can break you just as easily. When will you realize fans are working to make Tomb Raider even more popular?! Think about it...you already alienated people in the newsgroup who stated they were not buying Tomb Raider 3 when it came out.

With 3D action-adventure games like Duke Nukem Forever (finally released after 15 years!), Drakan (which is multiplayer and has a level editor), the Thief series, Prince of Persia 3D, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Heavy Metal: FAKK², etc, these have provided serious competition for Tomb Raider.

Keeping "control" over Tomb Raider (as Core/Eidos have claimed to be one of the main reasons for not releasing the level editor) won't be too important when other games outperform Tomb Raider in sales and popularity/preference. Look at the success of other companies that think towards replayability and extendability of their games, allowing players to customize and create custom levels and full modifications (through SDKs, etc), building up an intense community of players devoted to keeping their games alive long after they've been released (just look at Doom and Quake's history, for example), and not just about milking something for all it's worth! Don't be stupid and lose your entire market, Core/Eidos. Duh. And companies wonder why people pirate their products...

Had Core/Eidos released the level editor initially, it would've shown Tomb Raider is about the user and not about greedy corps interested only in making money, and it probably wouldn't've made other games with level editing and multiplayer cababilities as popular as they are today--at the very least, TR could've been one of the first 3D games with level-editing capabilities. But...you snooze, you lose, Core/Eidos...just release the level editor and quit being putzes about it. There's still time for you to act like you actually care about us fans...

If you're sick of how Core/Eidos (Corpse/Eidiots) have been acting lame over the years, email them! Tomb Raider Room Editor NOW!

If you'd like to show your support of TR's level editor (Room Editor)'s release even more, put this image on your website and link back to this page. Hopefully if enough people, especially big/popular TR and gaming sites, do this, hopefully Core/Eidos will wake up and realize enough people want a level editor badly enough and actually release it! The code for this image and link to here is:

<a href=http://tnlc.com/eep/tr/editor.html><img src=http://tnlc.com/eep/tr/trrenow!.gif border=0 width=135 height=101 alt="Tomb Raider Room Editor NOW!"></a>

And, Core/Eidos, don't even bother with a lawsuit because I'll deny everything, and you won't get my postal address like you suckered Chris into giving you...


I originally played Tomb Raider on the Sony Playstation in 1996 when it first came out. I was very impressed with the immersion factor, detail, and overall fun of playing in a 3D virtual reality-type environment. But I didn't really know any better, not having had much exposure to 3D games. Later, I messed around with America Online's Virtual Places, and Microsoft V-Chat, and before Tomb Raider I even tried Superscape's 3D VRML (virtual reality modelling language) program (Visualiser) but none of these really measured up to the immersion, speed, and versatility of Tomb Raider.

In 1997, I found Active Worlds (AW), which allowed me to create 3D environments, but they're very limited in what can be done with them. In essence, AW has some of the "level" (world) editing ability, but Tomb Raider and other 3D action, action-adventure, and even action-RPG games have the immersion, playability, and interactivity AW lacks.

In 2004 I tried Second Life and it "blew away" AW but did not have much impact on 3D games due to its bad vehicle physics and small server ("simulation") size.

I've played Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Half-Life, and many other first-person shooters (FPS) but they are all mainly based around combat, shooting, and killing. Although Tomb Raider has killing, I enjoy it more for the adventure/exploration aspect. Any game can be a mindless shooter but it takes good level design and a non-destructive, creative, intelligent design to make a game adventurous, fun to explore, and really feel immerssed in. I feel Tomb Raider is the best potential environment for level editing (Unreal, while being yet another shooter, has its UnrealEd level editor which has been used to create many other games) and really would like a level editor to create my own adventurous, explorative, non-killing-based levels.

The Quest For A Tomb Raider Level Editor
(or, hacking Tomb Raider)

I believe I first heard about Anthony Sims in the newsgroup who commented on working on a model/texture extractor, but after questioning him about it, I found out the extractors only existed as source code. Not being a programmer, the source code was basically useless to me. But I did find his Tomb Raider PHD Format - Details (named at the time) page, which mentioned Splat's Tomb Raider 1 level (PHD) specs, and where I found TrlEd, the first Tomb Raider level editor I heard about, so there was hope yet. Unfortunately, TrlEd was discontinued a couple weeks after I discovered it. I also found "TrlEd - Juan & Speed's Web Page", which had a screenshot, interview with Splat, and more info about TrlEd.

Frustrated at TrlEd's discontinuation and Anthony's non-working, uncompiled extractor source code, I wanted to at least extract the sounds, so after searching for a Tomb Raider sound effect extractor all over the Net (and not finding one), I finally tried to figure out how to get the sounds myself. I figured it out after reading about how other sound extractors worked and finding out where Tomb Raider 2 got its sounds from, and eventually persuaded a programmer to write a simple program to extract them more easily. Xtract Tomb Raider 2 WAVs was the result. It even gets Tomb Raider 1 sounds with a little work. But I wanted the textures too, so I tried hard to persuade Anthony to just create the programs to do what his source code couldn't, but he wouldn't. I even tried compiling it myself using Borland Turbo C++, but it wouldn't compile and I can't stand programming. Splat wouldn't provide extractors either so I was basically stuck.

Throughout this time and during the months that passed, I searched for more info about Room Editor. I posted messages to the newsgroup with all I knew about it and unnofficial TR level editors and info about their development, asking if anyone would consider working on a level editor. I got flamed a lot because of my hard-edged approach, but I didn't care. I really felt (and feel) that a level editor would increase Tomb Raider's popularity that much more.

Then, a month or so later, Theresa emailed me about creating a Tomb Raider level editor page. I had been thinking about doing one a few days prior to her email but decided not to since she wanted to, so I replied with everything I knew about Tomb Raider level editors and she created the page. Also, Anthony had mentioned progress with his extractor, which could extract Lara's model and textures from Tomb Raider 2 levels. He was also trying to extract the textures and working on an OpenGL model viewer. It seemed my efforts were paying off!

After that, within a few weeks or so, Stefan Schneider (Jack!'s programmer) emailed me. Finally! I could get the textures, and not just from Tomb Raider 2 but Tomb Raider 1, Unfinished Business, and even the demos! In the continuing weeks, FastByte's Tomb Raider Editor Project came into being and his Map Viewer program was available. And after the Mac release of Tomb Raider 2 a couple weeks later, G3 Power's MacMyLaraUp was mentioned in the newsgroup.

Then, just a week or so ago, Chris emailed me about his legal problems with Core. Theresa didn't want to host the level editor page on her site because of what happened to Chris, so I offered to host it instead, and here it is (in a greatly modified form). Splat made available his TrlEd source code on his site, too. There may just be hope for a Tomb Raider level editor yet!

My continuing Tomb Raider "history" can be followed in the news/updates.


Forums & Bulletin/Message Boards


  • Level Editors: Point & Counter-Point: Loren Petrich adds an editorial of his own in response to Sarah Crisman's editorial on level editors. I've also added some comments.
  • Tomb Raider Sanctuary's 10/23/98 News: good points
  • "A letter from a Tomb Raider Fan"
  • poll comments
  • emailed comments
  • Tomb-Raider.com - News - No Tomb Raider level editor (news article deleted by webmaster; website down as of 12/29/99): "It's now official, we won't ever see a level editor for Tomb Raider. Buddy Love [whoever he is] asked Nick Davis [whoever he is] at Eidos and he replied: 'Nope'. The same goes for any level editor specs. The level editor screenshots you have probably seen are real, but that's probably the most we'll see of the TR Level Editor. Unless someone develops an unofficial one of course... "

    I'm still waiting for a reply from Joe C (tomb-raider.com webmaster) as to the validity of this information, as there is no other evidence of Eidos saying no; I've only heard from Core. (Update: doesn't matter anyway now that Room Editor has been released!)


  • The Vagrant's Quake TR levels using Qoole Internet Archive Wayback Machine
  • Tomb Raider: Lambda Edition: Half-Life mod
  • Tomb Raider Xtra: Retexturing the original TR

    Email me if you are doing Half-Life, Unreal, Quake, or other game Tomb Raider conversions/mods.

    We're not the only ones reverse engineering games without level editors!

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