Interview with Laras Dream, Creator of
Laras Dream (Tiernan Watson) unveiled in early April what he intend to be a modern day Tomb Raider Level Editor substitute for Unity 3D.
URaider will be a full-blown Tomb Raider game framework for Unity 3D that will have everything you'd expect from a pre-2013 Tomb Raider game: movement, climbing, swimming, inventory, doors, switches, etc... allowing you to create your own Tomb Raider custom levels easily.
In exclusivity for Core-Design.com he kindly accepted to answer our questions.
INTERVIEW - 12 April 2018:
Hi Laras Dream (Tiernan Watson), thank you very much for accepting this interview and taking the time to reply to these questions.
Glad to accept!
How did you become a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise?
I was about 4 years old, and we had just moved house. During unpacking, I found a PC disc with "Tomb Raider III" pictured on it. After inserting it into my beige Windows 98 machine, I discovered it was a demo disc from a magazine and it contained the Tomb Raider III demo. After that, I was hooked. Lara Croft became my childhood superhero!
How and when did you have the idea to create your own Tomb Raider game framework, equivalent to a modern Tomb Raider Level Editor in Unity 3D?
Well, over the summer of 2017, I had been experimenting with Lara Croft in Unity, and after creating a climbing system, I discovered that I took very well to Unity. I was also aware of the various projects going on, mostly with UE4, and I thought it would be great to unify (see what I did there *wink*) all these talented individuals with one framework. I think that could lead to better quality games, but it would mean we would have one tried and tested framework that could be modified to suit your specific needs. I decided to carry this out around October 2017.
I would just like to point out, that it is loosely equivalent to TRLE. URaider will use the Unity editor, and you will be able to set your settings, such as gravity, run speed, jump velocity, whether Lara uses ledge targetting, etc... but it is still the Unity editor.
Here is an example of a few player settings, which will be more extensive by release.
What made you choose Unity 3D over Unreal Engine 4? Is it hard to learn how to use it?
I have worked with both Unity and Unreal Engine. However, Unity seemed like the clear choice for this project. Firstly, Unity's animation re-targetting system is excellent. In fact, I found it very tedious to retarget animations in UE4, whereas in Unity it is basically as simple as having the animation type set to "Humanoid", and voila, it works on other humanoid models.
Secondly, C# is an easier language to learn. If you know Java, you basically know C#. UE4 uses C++ for gameplay programming and, especially for beginners, this is a harder language to learn. You have to worry about things like pointers and garbage collection (memory leaks). C# automatically cleans up garbage. Programming gameplay should be easier.
Finally, I do not think the people using this framework will be looking for cutting-edge graphics. Even if they are, Unity is very capable and if you work with it right, you can produce some beautiful effects.
How will work URaider? For a newcomer will it include everything to create a simple level easily such as basic movements, characters, items, and some textures for example? Will URaider include some quick tutorials?
URaider will come with a base Lara model and a set-up animator. This means you will basically be able to jump right in and start creating levels. Bear in mind though, if you wish to create anything beyond the basic keys and switches, like some extravagant puzzle, you will have to program that yourself - but it will be a lot easier than also programming everything else URaider provides.
Any models and textures provided will be from the test level. My speciality is programming. However, if anyone wishes to create a demo "Tomb Raider" level for the framework, then, by all means, contact me. (*) This would be very beneficial.
I will definitely provide documentation on the various classes contained within URaider and how to get started with them. Due to time constraints though, I will probably have to leave an actual level tutorial, like that of the TRLE manual to someone else.
As of today, how far are you in the development of URaider? Is the release still planned for Summer 2018?
It is difficult to make estimations. I should be using a progress tracker with a list of features! Haha. However, I am confident about the summer release. The reason I can't give a month or day is that I am a university student and during the summer I will be taking part in a placement between Microsoft and my university.
Will URaider have a beta test stage?
Most definitely, and when it is ready for it I will make a post for people to sign up.
Do you plan to release additional packs (like extra animations, characters etc...) to be used in URaider in the future?
I would very much like other people to be able to do these kind of things. I would love to create some sort of community like we have with trsearch.org, where people could post models, animations, etc...
This is a good opportunity to point out to any programmers reading that URaider uses a state machine for Lara. For example, there is a Locomotion state for standard moving, then when you draw pistols the variable that references the current state is updated to reference an instance of the Combat class. This should allow you to make your own states if you are advanced enough!
I noticed you were looking for an animator to help you to develop your project. (*) Do you need additional help for anything else?
As I mentioned in one of the previous questions, if someone would like to make a test level it would be very helpful in the testing phase.
If anyone has any serious suggestions for how they could help also, I like to think I am friendly and approachable!
Previously you were working on Realm of Fallen Angels, a continuation of Tomb Raider The Angel of Darkness in Unreal Engine 4, are you still working on it?
I would like to make an apology to the fan community for that. When I started ROFA, I was fifteen or so, and at such an age one can be quite an idealist. Creating a game on that scale is a huge undertaking, and at the same time, I wanted to excel in school and get into the best university I could.
Unfortunately, all the modelling and animation would have made it an unrealistic undertaking, while URaider is not. Even when you have a team, the problem is that people have different commitments and are awake at different times. They are not faced with the risk of being fired if they lose interest or stop working on the project.
My current goal is building a solid portfolio to get an internship at one of the big games companies. I love URaider and it is mostly fan service, but even it forms part of my portfolio and I simply don't have the time to work on ROFA. I would very much like to see some talented artists in the TR community come together and bring it to life with URaider! Seriously though, because the mechanics of URaider will be beyond what AOD had! *smile*
(*) You can contact Laras Dream on TombRaiderForums (direct link to his profile).
KEEP AN EYE ON THIS PROJECT:
URaider will have its own dedicated page in Community soon. In the meantime you can keep an eye on his thread on TombRaiderForums and take part to the discussion if you wish.
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