Tomb Raider Level Editor

Notes on Downloading, Converting,
and Playing Custom Levels on a Macintosh

Last updated 3 June 2008

Introduction

Playing on Intel Macs (added 3 June 2008)

Cross-Platform Compatibility | Before Downloading

The 'Missing Sound Effects' Problem

How to fix a small number of Missing Samples

Download File Types

Files Contained in a Download | TRwest

Using MP3 audio files on a Mac

OS X - Carbon Player or Classic Player?

Miscellaneous Problems | Cheats | Extra Conversion Notes

LevelManager (Shareware Custom Level Installer)

My Favourite Levels

Custom Levels for play in other Versions of Tomb Raider

These notes are for your personal use only!
They are not to be published in any form, or posted on a website, without my permission.

 


Introduction

This page contains notes about downloading, converting, and playing custom levels on a Macintosh. This is not intended to be a detailed instruction manual, but simply some observations from my extensive experiences - I have successfully prepared over 1,700 individual levels ready for play! I have very little experience with designing levels (I spend too much time downloading them...) so I'm not able to provide help with design problems. Nor can I provide help with gameplay of custom levels - you should check the forums or email the author of the level for help.

Important! You require the full install of the TR Editor to play custom levels - this is included on a second disk with the TR Chronicles release.

For links to some Mac designed levels, some interesting sites to download levels, and other related sites, go to my Level Editor info page.

Note: Due to bandwidth restraints I am unable to post any custom levels. However I am posting a simple listing on my Level Editor page with links to Mac designed levels so let me know if you'd like to be included (no screenshots or levels please!).

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Playing on Intel Macs (added 3 June 2008)

The Mac TRLE release includes both a classic and Carbon Level Player. Generally speaking, as the Carbon game runs well in the PPC Mac OS X, players should find it runs well in Rosetta on an Intel Mac and it shouldn't tax system resources.

However there is one aspect that might cause problems, and that is how to convert levels posted as WADs rather than game-ready TR4 files. As the TRLE package only includes a classic version of the 'Tom2PC' level converter, MacIntel users may find that they are unable to convert a set of WADs to the game-ready TR4 file unless they have access to a PPC Mac running OS X Tiger or earlier.

There may be a solution to this for some MacIntel players. SheepShaver is an emulator designed to run classic Mac OS software on computers running a variety of systems, including the Intel Mac OS X. SheepShaver is not a gaming solution, and may never be, but there is reason to believe that it might be able to run classic Mac software like the 'Tom2PC' level converter which is a simple data compiler.

I have posted a short entry in the MacRaider blog about this, with links to some relevant sites for more information. This is not for the fainthearted so may not be suitable for everyone, but it's worth at least checking out!

As an aside, SheepShaver can also be used to emulate the classic Mac OS on PPC Macs, thus opening a window for those people who have found that Leopard's lack of a classic environment has closed off their access to classic software. Again, this is not a general gaming solution, but in certain situations such as the use of the 'Tom2PC' level converter it could prove very useful.

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Cross-Platform Compatibility

With a few exceptions, Mac and PC designed levels are generally interchangeable on both platforms - this not only means that Mac gamers can convert and/or play most PC-designed levels, but the same applies to PC gamers using Mac levels! However, if you want PC gamers to play your levels, you'll need to post them as Zip archives so PC users can unstuff them... Use the ReadMe's included with the PC downloads as a guide to how your level should be posted, and the information you need to include, and note that a custom load screen must be in BMP (Bitmap) format for use with the PC game.

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Before Downloading

Eidos Updaters
If you intend to download and convert custom levels, it is essential that you first download the Eidos Revised and New Wads, and the Angkor Wads. They are available from the Eidos Interactive Download page. The reason for this is that the revised wads have some changes that are necessary for some downloads to convert correctly, and some extra sets of wads were posted after the release of the Level Editor disk. There are several downloads, and I recommend that you hang onto the updaters for possible future re-use if you accidentally overwrite the updated wads! Included in these downloads are the updated Script.txt and English.txt files, with which you create the new Script.dat, English.dat, and Strings.H using the 'ScriptEdit' utility. Also included is the new Sounds.txt file, which needs to be run through the 'WadSFX' utility to create new level-specific sound wads (.sam and .sfx). If you convert a level and the log window lists a few audio files that cannot be found, you may need to update the sound wads for that level! Once this is done, run the conversion again. Note, however, that missing sound effects can also be caused by another issue, and this is mentioned in the next paragraph!

Decompression Software Preferences
It is also important that before downloading you set your Mac unzipping/decompression software preferences (Stuffit Expander etc.) to include Line Feeds when decompressing PC text files. See the next entry on this page for more details. Symptoms of an incorrectly set Line Feed preference can include the loss of all sound effects in the converted, game-ready file (gunshots, footsteps etc.), or the inability to run a TRwest script in Virtual PC. Note that if you unzip your downloads in Virtual PC this shouldn't be a problem as the Line Feeds will be retained.

Backups
It can be quite easy to overwrite files when you install or convert a level! It is a good idea to backup at least the updated Eidos wads and Script files (Script.dat, English.dat, Strings.H) mentioned above - you could always re-run these updaters if you still have them, but a backup's easier! However, those wads which aren't altered by the Eidos updaters can be reclaimed from your original CD, so a backup isn't as important for them. The same applies to the original Data files (TR4 or PAK), Audio files, and Samples, which are also available from the CD. And when getting a level ready for conversion or play, be sure that you move any files which may be overwritten! More on this in the 'Files Included in a Download' section below.

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The 'Missing Sound Effects' (sfx) Problem

The Symptoms
- No in-game sound effects in the converted xxx.tr4 level (when the download contained a set of wads rather than just an xxx.tom).
- The TRwest (TR Wad Editing Studio - a PC utility) script file xxx.tws not working in VirtualPC.

The Cause
The cause of this problem is nothing to do with the Editor package, the downloads, VirtualPC, or TRwest. The exception is where only a few of the in-game sound effects are missing, in which case it is likely to be a design problem or a bug with the level.

When all the sfx are missing, it is actually due to a default setting in the software used to unpack the Zip downloads on a Mac. Stuffit Expander, and maybe other similar utilities, defaults to converting PC text files contained in the Zip to Mac format. This means that it removes the line feeds found in PC text documents - on a Mac they appear as small squares, like checkboxes, at the start of lines. These are part of the PC's way of making a new line, and are redundant on a Mac, but are required in certain trle files for them to be used correctly by the Mac converter.

Stuffit Expander removes them by default, but not only from files with a .txt extension - it actually looks at the contents of the files and makes an arbitrary decision to remove the line feeds if the file even resembles a text file! The two major files it is damaging as a result are the xxx.sam wad, and the xxx.tws TRwest script file.

- If you use a damaged xxx.sam wad during conversion, the Mac converter gives a long list of error messages that the xxx.wav sound effects weren't found. The game level otherwise is OK, but is mostly silent (no footsteps, gunshots, switch sounds etc.)
- If you use a damaged xxx.tws script file in TRwest on a PC or in VirtualPC, you get the error message that something was missing at line 1 and you are unable to continue.

Both these errors are a direct result of the missing line feed characters!

The Fix
In Stuffit Expander on the Mac, go to the File menu, and select Preferences. In the list down the left side of the prefs window select Cross Platform, then check Never under the heading Convert text files to Macintosh format. Click the OK box, and from now on Stuffit Expander will no longer damage your downloads!

To be honest, I think this default setting is an insult. Maybe if it defaulted to removing the line feeds from xxx.txt files only it would be useful. But to remove them from any file it assumes to be text, whatever extension it has, is effectively corrupting many correctly formatted files. Most of all I don't like the fact that Stuffit Expander defaults to damaging my downloads! I don't know of any other software that has a default setting to damage the files it works with!

I don't use other unzipping software on my Mac, but I understand that ZipIt has a similar default, and that the pref LF should be switched on to retain the line feeds...

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How to fix a small number of missing Samples

When you convert a set of wads, there is detail of the conversion process in the Converter Log window. After each conversion it is best to quit out of the Converter before doing the next conversion, but before doing so be sure to check the end of the Converter Log for warnings about missing Samples! If this happens, you will find that some in-game sfx could be garbled or transposed, thus making things sound very strange. There could be two reasons for this, but first check your Sound/Samples folder and see whether the Samples warned in the Log window are already in the folder or not:

- If there is a very long list and all the Samples mentioned do exist in the Sound/Samples folder, then check the above entry on the 'Missing SFX Bug' for the fix.

- If there is a short list of Missing Samples, and the Samples listed do not exist in the Sound/Samples folder, then it is an error by the author of the level. It means that the author used custom samples, often from other TR games, but failed to include them in the download.

The fix for this is to either obtain those missing Samples from the author (give them a list of the names as shown in the Log window), or to replace them yourself. You need to be sure for either of these that you use the exact name as shown in the Log window! This would usually include a '.wav' extension but not always! If the name is not exactly the same, the Converter will not be able to use the Sample.

But what to replace them with, I hear you cry..? Well, there are some options here, but the simplest way is to either use copies of another distinctive Sample (such as 'beetwind.wav') so it will be obvious what was missing when you play the game, or to use copies of a blank Sample kept especially for this purpose. The advantage of the second is that there won't be any sound at all at that sfx, rather than the first maybe being rather inappropriate! Either of these usually work, but beware that if the level's author gets it really wrong and assigns inappropriate samples as well, then no way can you fix it! But this will work nearly every time you encounter this problem.

For convenience, I have posted a Blank Sample (1k Zip) which is correctly formatted for use in the conversions. Be sure to keep this one safe and only use copies of it to replace the missing Samples, because you're likely to need it again in the future!

Be warned though that any samples you use MUST be a particular WAV format, or the level will be damaged, or may freeze your Mac! The details of the correct format are in my MP3 entry below but if you use existing Samples included with the Editor, the format will be OK - this is just for non-standard Samples.

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Download File Types you may encounter on the web (Updated 31 December 2005)

I have only ever encountered these types of files when downloading custom levels:

Zip archives (.zip) - these are, more or less, the PC equivalent of a Mac binhex (.hqx) archive. There are a number of unzipping utilities available for Mac, the best known of which is Stuffit Expander. I use and recommend Stuffit Expander 5.5 for all zips in the classic Mac OS (there is some uncertainty with different versions of Stuffit Expander, but late releases should also work OK). In OS X, 10.3 and later at least, Zips are a native format and should be double-clickable. If not, then select 'BOMArchiveHelper' or 'Stuffit Expander' from the contextual menu.

Zips may contain the set of files ready for conversion and/or play, but they may also contain an Executable (.exe) which contains a PC installer. This executable installs the files ready for conversion, and in most cases CAN NOT be run on a Mac! More details below.

Executables (.exe) - note that on many sites these days (2005) there are few, if any, EXEs now in use - in particular trle.net posts everything in Zip format!

EXEs are the PC equivalent of a Mac Application, and as such can be anything from a simple self-extracting archive to a one-off installer. In most cases these can not be run on a Mac, but should be fine for use in Virtual PC. Note that a very small number of exe's can be extracted with Stuffit Expander, so it's a good idea to try that first (thanks to Darla for bringing this to my attention.)

EXE's are occasionally seen as the download itself, but more often are the contents of a Zip file so you may not be aware you have one until you unzip your download! Also, some are segmented - that means that they are comprised of a number of smaller files which must all be present to install the files. Generally, the EXE installer is called 'setup.exe' and the remaining files in a segmented installer will be 'setup.2', 'setup.3' etc. - install them by running 'setup.exe'. An example of a PC-only segmented executable installer is the original 'Atlantis 3' release by Justin.

It may be necessary to do some preparation before running an EXE in Virtual PC. The most common type is a 'Flydrive' installer (sometimes referred to as 'EZ Install'), which installs the files into the correct directories ready to convert and play the level. I understand that the Flydrive installer will create a new TRLE directory on the C: drive if one does not already exist, and install the files in it. This directory, by default, will be
C:\Program Files\Core Design\trle
and may contain subdirectories such as
...\trle\audio
...\trle\data
...\trle\graphics\wads
...\trle\sound\Samples
(The upper/lower cases shown above are correct for the PC directory, which differs slightly from the Mac version's folder names.)

However, I have come across an installer which does NOT create a new directory if one does not already exist, and will fail to run if it does not detect a specific directory and a certain file in that directory! The installer in question is a custom version included with some level downloads from the designer Szymon Cupryn (Emoo). To run this installer it is necessary to create a directory as detailed above (include all the subdirectories listed). It is also necessary that a file named 'tom2pc.exe' exists in the top level of this trle directory, as that is what Emoo's installer looks for to verify the correct directory. To do this, simply make a copy of your Mac 'Tom2PC' utility, rename it to 'tom2pc.exe' and copy it into the trle directory you created in Virtual PC. It is not necessary that the tom2pc.exe actually works, just that a file of that name exists in the correct place, so theoretically any file with that name would do, even a small text file... Check out my final entry on this page for more details of one of Emoo's games!

Once you've extracted the files, they can then be transferred to the Mac for conversion. Make sure you transfer every file that was installed, and keep a particular eye out for audio files either in the 'audio' directory, or the 'sound\Samples' directory! This can be quite messy, and the most files I've had to extract on the PC, then transfer to the Mac, was 111 (this was for the 8-level game 'Saudi Arabia' by Donald Forgues)! And it's unlikely that the designer will include a list of files installed when it is that complicated, so you need to be very careful to check thoroughly!

RAR Archives (.rar) - these are another type of PC compressed archive which are smaller than a zip, but are only seen occasionally. However, I do not know of a Classic Mac utility which can extract RAR archives, and on the handful of occasions I've come across these I've extracted them in Virtual PC using 'Power Archiver' - a useful PC archiving utility. (Note that earlier versions of Power Archiver to v6.1 were freeware, but later ones are shareware. I use the final v6.1 freeware version, which works fine extracting RAR archives. Among other things it also creates Zip archives, with some control over the amount of compression, and is generally quite handy to have if you run Virtual PC.)

RAR update - if you're running OS X there are some free RAR extractors available. I use 'RAR Expander' which should be available from most Mac shareware sites, and can be found at MacUpdate. However there have been some reports that a single RAR utility may not be able to handle every RAR file so it may be necessary to download a second utility for better compatibility. As they're uncommon I've found that RAR Expander works fine, so far...

LZH Archives (.lzh/.lha) - these are rarely seen and can be extracted using Stuffit Expander, but only when DropStuff has also been installed (this installs the required StuffItEngine extensions). Stuffit Expander and DropStuff are both available from Aladdin. Alternatively can be extracted in Virtual PC (or on a 'real' PC) using Power Archiver (see previous paragraph for more info on Power Archiver).

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Files Contained in a Download

Before extracting the files from your downloads, be sure to check the 'Missing Sound Effects' paragraph above for an essential fix to avoid a common in-game sound effects problem!

See also the MP3 paragraph below about a simple way of using MP3 Audio files in the Mac game!

A download can be as simple as a single TOM file (xxx.tom) which goes into the Graphics/Wads folder for conversion, or as complex as one I downloaded which contained 111 files ('Saudi Arabia' by Donald Forgues)!

Be aware that, after extracting the files, your original files may be overwritten during the installation and conversion process - remove any vulnerable files to a safe storage folder! Some are obvious as the Mac will warn you that you may be replacing existing files, but others aren't! For example, when you are converting a set of wads, for example, 'abc.xxx', the converter will first output a file called 'abc.lev' into the Data folder, which at the end of the process is then compressed, the sfx added, and saved as a game-ready 'abc.tr4', again in the Data folder. Once started, this process cannot be stopped, and if a file called 'abc.tr4' already exists in the Data folder, it will be overwritten without warning! (Your safe storage folder can be in the Editor folder, just call it something unique; maybe 'Safe Storage' or 'Temp Storage'.)

I strongly recommend that as soon as you have extracted the files from a download, they be labelled with a distinctive colour (I use pink) so they can be readily distinguished from any original files you may have with the same name! Do this also for the converted files - this can save a lot of confusion later! Note that the Mac window 'List' view preferences can be set to include a 'Label' column, and the list can be sorted by this column - this can be useful to keep all the downloaded and labelled files together. For example, a download may contain 8 or more audio files, and they are much easier to find and remove later when they're all together at the top of the list in the Audio folder with a distinctive label colour :-)

Typical files you may encounter are:

- Level Wad files (either a set of wads, or selected wads (.tom etc.) for each level in the download);
- Extra Wad files for special sequences like a custom Title or Credits;
(All the Wad files are destined for the Graphics/Wads folder)

- Game-ready TR4 files (.tr4), either level files or Title/Credits files;
- Custom Title text (uklogo.pak);
(The .tr4 and .pak files are destined for the Data folder)

- Script files (Script.dat, English.dat, and possibly Strings.H and Objects.H) which contain information like the custom level name etc.;
- Load.bmp, which is a custom image which displays when you start up the Level Player;
(The Script and Load files are for the top level of the Editor folder)

- Audio files (e.g. '123.wav'), which can be background audio, music etc. and always have a 3-digit name;
(These go into the Audio folder - Note that these may be encountered as MP3's, and require a simple alteration to work on a Mac - see the MP3 paragraph below for details!)

- Sample files (e.g. 'ah_feet.wav'), which are used by the converter to place special sound effects in the level and are named differently to the above audio files;
(These are for the Sound/Samples folder and must be in place prior to converting the level! On rare occasions these may be encountered as MP3 files and must be converted prior to use - see my MP3 paragraph for more details.)

- There will usually be an author's ReadMe, which may give simple instructions for installing and converting the level. Note that the detail in this ReadMe varies wildly depending on the whim of the author!

- If you find a 'Rename.bat' item in a download, it can be opened with SimpleText. It contains a short DOS program to rename the included editor (.tom) file for conversion, then rename it again for gameplay once it's been converted to a .tr4 file. As this file is DOS it cannot be run on a Mac. However, this process is quite easy to duplicate manually by using the Rename file as a guide. Mostly seen when there are several levels in a download which use the same basic set of wads to convert.

- Another you may come across is called 'Easylife.bat' which is another short DOS program which cannot be run on a Mac. It can be read with SimpleText but may be deleted - it simplifies the Script.txt and English.txt conversions to .dat files on a PC. Just follow the simple conversion instructions included with the Mac version for the Script.txt and English.txt conversions. Rarely seen except in some earlier levels as most script files are posted as game-ready .dat files.

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TRwest (Tomb Raider wad editing studio)

TRwest is a PC-only utility for modifying wad files with objects from other wads, thus creating a new set of custom wads. Originally it was also intended to be an aid to converting levels, but in fact very few levels were posted that required running TRwest prior to conversion - I recall only seeing a couple such downloads. In those cases, a TRwest Script file (.tws) was included in the download, and was used to create a new set of wads ready for conversion by modifying an existing set with new objects. The download was thus somewhat smaller as some of the larger wad files did not need to be included.

If you come across a level that requires TRwest to be run prior to conversion, it may still be possible to find a copy of TRwest on the web. But it also requires that you have Virtual PC installed on your Mac as TRwest is a PC utility. And it is also necessary to have TRLE installed on your PC as TRwest requires all the wad files to be in place (including all the Eidos updates), along with the file Objects.H which is in the top level of the trle directory. It MAY be possible to get TRwest to run by creating a directory on the C: drive as listed above, and copying all the Mac wad files (everything in the Graphics/Wads folder), and Objects.H, to the equivalent places in the PC directory. But as this process never caught on you may never need to bother...

One other use of TRwest is to decompile the Script.dat and English.dat files to Script.txt and English.txt. This would enable you to edit these files, after which you can then create new Dat files using the Mac utility. However, as I've never come to terms with the format of the script files, the only use I've found for this is to enable the Flycheat ;-)

The main use now of TRwest is for the designers to create their own custom wads, thus enabling them to have all sorts of unusual objects in their level. Their downloads will usually either contain a full set of custom wads, or a game-ready .tr4 file. This makes the download larger, but the conversion process a lot easier...

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Using MP3 audio files on a Mac

Background and Music files for use in the 'Audio' folder

Many levels are now being released with Audio files in MP3 format (these are the audio files for use in the Audio folder with a 3-number name in the format 'xxx.wav' - for advice on Samples for the Sound/Samples folder, see below). These levels include a PC-only converter to convert the MP3s to WAV format for use in the PC game. Often these MP3s can be used in the Mac game simply by changing the extension to '.wav' as QuickTime isn't so dependant on the file extension to use them, although the game needs that extension to 'see' them. However, it appears that in recent versions of QuickTime and OS X, this technique may not work reliably. I don't know what's happening, but it seems that QuickTime may now need the file format to match the file extension in some situations. Unfortunately I can't give any basic rules about this as my testing (in OS X Panther 10.3.5) has been somewhat contradictory, and I've seen different results on different days... Ah, OS X...

Here are some things for you to try if you have MP3 Audio files in a downloaded level - try working through these in order:

1. Rename the MP3 Audio files by changing the extension from '.mp3' to '.wav'. In many cases, particularly if your Mac is still running OS 8.6-9.x (or you're running in Classic mode), this works fine as the classic QuickTime is usually able to cope with an MP3 format with the wrong extension. But if you suspect it's not working, particularly if you're running the Carbon Level Player in OS X, then try one of these fixes:

2. Log out of your OS X session, then log back in and try again. This is a simple and effective way to fix many minor 'X-Factor' glitches, and may work in this case. You could also try restarting your Mac, or repairing your Permissions with Disk Utility (which can fix some odd glitches, and should be practiced regularly anyway...) However, if these don't seem to work, then read on...

3. If you have a PC emulator like Virtual PC (or access to a real PC), then run the converter and use the resulting WAV files. These should be fine for use on a Mac.

4. If you don't have a way to run the PC converter, then you will need to convert the audio files yourself:

- This can be done with iTunes. You'll need to set the conversion format to WAV in the iTunes Preferences, but this is found in the 'Importing' section of the Prefs, of all places... Open the MP3 in iTunes, select it, and convert it using the Menu item 'Advanced/Convert selection to WAV...' The converted file will be saved in your iTunes music folder.

- If you have QuickTime Pro, open the MP3 in the QuickTime Player and Export it as a WAV, using compression if possible. As I can't test this, I'm not sure if the latest QuickTime Pro supports compression with WAV exports (older versions like QuickTime 3/4 Pro, which I have, don't). If possible use IMA which is 4:1 and results in reasonably sized files of excellent quality.

- Your third option (and the best in my opinion, no matter what flavour of the Mac OS you're running!) is to use 'SoundApp PPC 2.7.3', which is free and still available from Mac download sites like MacUpdate. Even though this is a very old classic app and has not been updated for several years, it runs fine in Classic mode and gives you a lot of options for WAV conversion. And the download is only 600k! The settings you want for the Mac game are 'Windows WAVE' with 'IMA Encoding' with the Sample Rate and Channels at 'No change' and Bit Depth at '16-bit'. (This is the same app that I recommend below for converting MP3 samples included in a download, but these are thankfully rare...)

In fact, I'd recommend downloading SoundApp PPC even if you don't need it at the moment. It is a great piece of freeware for those occasions you need to work with PC format audio files like WAVs!

Samples for use in the 'Sound/Samples' folder

The above does not apply to Samples intended for the Sound/Samples folder - these must be converted prior to use! These files are distinguished by the name - they have a series of letters (and sometimes numbers) and are quite small. An example of a Sample name is 'ahmet_02.wav'. I have seen at least one game ('Dead Sea Scroll' by Trix) that contained Samples in MP3 format, so these must be converted to WAV before use! If you are unable to beg/borrow a PC or PC emulator to do this (games with MP3 files usually have a PC-only converter), then you will need to find something that can do it on a Mac, and at very particular settings! (See below for more details on these settings!) There are some freeware audio utilities that can convert MP3 to WAV, but the only one I have that can use the settings below is the excellent 'SoundApp PPC' by Norman Franke. I use 'SoundApp PPC 2.7.3' for these conversions, and it works fine in OS X Classic mode! SoundApp should still be available from Mac shareware download sites such as MacUpdate. (It can also be used as a simple MP3 player.)

IMPORTANT!
If you find a Mac app that can convert MP3 to WAV, it MUST be capable of doing it with very particular settings! If these settings are not used, the resulting samples can cause unpredictable damage to the TR4 file, rendering it either difficult to play, or in the worst case, crashing the game when you try to load it! The correct settings are:
File Format - Windows WAVE
Encoding - PCM
Sample Rate - 22050 Hz
Channels - Mono
Bit Depth - 16-bit

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OS X - Carbon Level Player or Classic Level Player?

The Carbon version of the Level Player release (TR Level Player Carbon) is usually the best way to go by far. It is very stable, and as it runs native in OS X it makes best use of the OS X graphics drivers. However, occasionally you may come across a level that refuses to load in the Carbon Player, but which for some reason as yet unknown will run in the Classic Player in Classic mode! Or possibly vice versa... This may be to do with the different graphics drivers used in Classic and OS X, or it may have something to do with the version of the Level Player itself.

Whatever the reason, if you come across a level that won't run in one of the Players, try it in the other! This is simple to do - the original release game included both versions (and their respective Setup utilities) so if you just installed the game and left them both in place you just choose either to run the game. If (like me) you've moved either into a storage folder, then just swap them over.

Update - I have also found that switching between the Carbon and classic Level Players can help when you find a bug that stops you in a level! So if you find that you've hit a bug in a level, then the first thing to try is to switch between the Players to see if that gets you past. As the savegames are identical between the Carbon and classic Players, then you are able to do this at will!

Important - when switching between the two Players, be sure to have both the Level Player and the relevant Setup utility in place in the main TRLE folder! So if you're using the 'TR Level Player Carbon' you must also have the 'TR LP Setup Carbon' alongside it. Or if using the 'Tomb Raider Level Player', it must have the 'Tomb Raider LP Setup' alongside it. Each game uses different preferences, so you'll have to set each one up separately to your personal choice.

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Miscellaneous Problems

(Note that some of these glitches I've seen may or may not be Mac specific, and could even be just my own setup...)

Updated! With the occasional level you'll find that it refuses to load a New Game or an individual level within the game, and sometimes the game won't even start or you'll hit a bug in a level. If the game won't start, it could be due to an incompatible Load screen (Load.bmp) - try replacing it with the original and see if it works. If you have a graphics application that can save as BMP (bitmap), then open the custom Load.bmp, and resave it as a 640x480x72dpi medium quality BMP. This usually fixes the problem. If a New Game or in-game level won't load or you find a bug, then it's likely an incompatibility between the level and the Mac game. If you're running OS X one thing you can try is to switch between the Carbon and Classic Players - I have seen a game that wouldn't run in the Carbon Player, but was mostly OK in the Classic Player, and I've also seen switching Players get me past a bug in a level. See the previous item for more details.

The Mac game install has both a Load.raw and a Load.bmp. This is the load screen - the first image you see on the screen when you fire up the Level Player, while the Main Menu is loading. The RAW is the default on the Mac, but the BMP is used if the RAW is missing. The PC game only uses a BMP, so all the load screens you'll come across with PC made levels are in that format. When playing levels with a Load.bmp, be sure to remove both original Mac load screens from your Editor folder, so the new load screen will be the one you'll see! (BMP, or Bitmap, is the PC-native graphics format, equivalent to a PICT on a Mac.)

Occasionally you'll come across a load screen (Load.bmp) that looks garbled. This is usually because the load screen has to be a particular size - 640x480 pixels - and the one included with the level is at a different size. You'll need to use a photo-editing package (like Photoshop) to re-size the image to 640x480, then re-save it as a BMP or RAW for use on the Mac. Most photo editing packages can save as a BMP, which is the PC-native format, but a RAW is less commonly available as a save option (see the previous paragraph for a note on the Mac load screen formats).

You may come across a level that, while in-game, when Lara dies, or you try to load a save using QuickLoad (F6), or exit to the Main Menu, crashes to the desktop. I've heard that this may be caused by faulty 'LoadCamera' parameters, but if so I don't know how it can be fixed so you might like to contact the author of the level. The QuickSave (F5) works OK, the savegames seem to be saved correctly when the game crashes, and a savegame can be loaded at the Main Menu, so all is not lost - but it is annoying! (Despite the Mac error message you get, this probably won't destabilise your Mac so you shouldn't need to restart the Mac, just the game!)

I have noticed a strange glitch with one level only, which caused a weird graphics problem ('Escape from Manosque' by Chris C.) When the level loaded, it was as if Lara was being seen through a kaleidoscope, with shards of colour covering the screen and making the level unplayable. The fix for this is to immediately save the game, then reload that save. On doing this the graphics should be fine and the level perfectly playable.

A not so uncommon problem has to do with the so called 'Lara's Butt' syndrome. That is, Lara's hip section is seen floating in mid air (this could also manifest as some other odd floating objects which look out of place). The reason for this is usually nothing to do with the conversion - it is a conversion 'default' when an object referenced in the downloaded TOM file cannot be found in the matching wads. This is usually the result of an author including objects from the wrong set of wads and is a design error. However, very rarely it may also be seen if you convert a level which required a TRwest script to be run prior to conversion, but which wasn't - thus the wads will be missing some objects. But as very few levels requiring TRwest to be run prior to conversion were ever posted, and as the TRwest requirement is clearly stated in the accompanying ReadMe, this will be fairly obvious (see above for some notes on TRwest). Whatever the cause, the strange objects are replacing objects which may be required to complete the level, such as keys, locks etc. which will not work. But they could also be replacing some of the bad guys, which isn't such a bad thing as Lara's Butt doesn't attack you ;-)

A rare problem has occurred after the conversion seemed to progress normally, but the level refused to load and froze the Level Player. I have no idea of the cause for this, but it could be a buggy level, some obscure incompatibility between the level and the Mac game, a script file incompatibility, or even a problem with my particular setup.

With a very small number of downloads, when attempting to convert the wads to a game-ready TR4 file, I have seen a Sprite Error. This has been either a 'Sprite memory' error, or a 'Sprite doesn't fit' error. These errors will be listed in the converter log window the third line down, and the conversion will fail at that point. When this happens I always transfer all the relevent files to my PC Editor in Virtual PC and try again - on a couple of occasions this has worked, but the resulting TR4 file may not work when transferred back to the Mac in this situation. In fact, I can only recall one level with this problem where this fix did work... I have not yet been able to find the cause of these sprite problems - if you find a 'fix' please let me know! (It's just possible that it could be an excessive amount of textures in the level, but this has not been confirmed.)

Very rarely, you may come across a level that freezes repeatedly at the same spot. I've noticed that this only happens with levels that have a large number of enemies, possibly with excessive enemies attached to the same trigger, and the game freezes when Lara activates that trigger. The only fix for this is to convert the level with a modified TOM that has the offending trigger/s removed - sometimes the author may be able to help out, but if not then you may not be able to play the level. However, if you have access to the PC game, or can play custom levels in Virtual PC, then the game may play with no problems. This points to the fact that the issue here is a Mac incompatibility - maybe a bug in the Mac Level Player, possibly an internal memory issue. (Note that I've investigated this problem recently (September 02) while testing a pre-release custom game, and the author was happy to work on a fix! But this not always the case...)

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Cheats

Flycheat
This is a debugging tool which is built into the TR Level Player. In use it allows Lara to 'fly', thus removing the barrier of gravity! It is enabled or disabled in the Script files. The original install of the Level Player has the Flycheat enabled, but many level designers disable it so players can't cheat the level.
To enter the Flycheat mode where it is enabled in the script files, hold down the keys D O Z Y together while playing. If it is enabled, Lara will jump into the air - she can then be manoeuvered, or 'flown', by use of the Action and Arrow keys. To get out of Flycheat mode, hit the Shift key - doing this causes Lara to fall to the ground below, so be sure to do it at a safe height or over deep water! Activating the Flycheat will also give Lara unlimited inventory items, and make her invulnerable to MOST injuries. Not all though, so be careful...

TR4 Cheats
The normal Cheats for TR4 (Last Revelation) also work in the Level Player, so check out my Gameplay Tips download linked on my Level Editor info page for more details!

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Extra Notes on Converting levels

The conversion process for playing custom levels may seem confusing at first, but once you've done a few it will become a lot clearer, believe me! Always read the instructions included with the download, and allow for the slight difference in the Mac conversion process (more on this below).

Many of the custom levels on the web require converting before you are able to run them in the game. The advantage is that the TOM levels (.tom) are much smaller than the game-ready levels (.tr4 - these don't have to be converted) and are a lot faster to download. Even a full set of wads is smaller than a .tr4 file! For instructions on converting levels, check the Mac documentation, and read further on in this section. The instructions on page 17 of the Editor PDF manual are for a PC, but the Mac version is a simple 'drag & drop' although otherwise is much the same.

This may seem obvious, but the very first thing you should do is read the author's ReadMe included with the download! This may not always be clear, but in most cases will give you the basic information you need to convert and play the level. There may also be details of the files included, and a guide to the files which will be overwritten when you install and convert the level (and which should be put into safe storage). The only significant variation for the Mac conversion is that the Mac is 'drag & drop' - see below for more details.

Remember that to convert a level requires a full set of the specific wads for that level (usually 8 files, but could vary). If only a TOM file is included in the download, then it should be used with your installed wads of the same level. The download may contain the full set of wads, in which case these are the only files required for the conversion. Or it could contain a partial set of wads, in which case you may be required to copy and rename either some of your installed wads, or other wads included in the download. The author's ReadMe is usually quite clear on what has to be done in the more complicated cases, so be sure to read it!

The manual supplied with the Mac Editor version - Manual.pdf - is the original PC manual. Virtually all the information contained in the manual is equally applicable to Mac or PC, with the exception of the use of the utilities (converter, sfx, logo, and script). See the next paragraph for more details. The TR Editor Read Me! on the Mac TR Editor CD has some more notes on differences between the Manual's PC instructions and the Mac equivalents.

The Mac conversion process differs from the PC process only in the initiation of the conversions. On a Mac, this is simplified to 'dragging & dropping' the relevant .tom file from the Wads folder onto the Mac Tom2PC converter utility, which then runs the conversion and places the game-ready .tr4 file into the Data folder. Otherwise the process is the same, the wads should be in the Graphics/Wads folder, and if Samples are included they should be in the Sound/Samples folder. This Mac 'drag & drop' process is also applicable to the WadSFX, Packer, and ScriptEdit utilities, rather than running them as described in the manual.

There may be additional files to convert. One example is the Script.txt and English.txt files, which have to be converted to Script.dat and English.dat. A third file is also created during this process - Strings.H - this goes in the top level of the Editor folder along with the other two. However, only some of the earlier levels were posted with Script text files - mostly you'll encounter the game-ready Script.dat, English.dat, and sometimes Strings.H (if Strings.H is not included in the download, don't worry about it).

Some levels have custom Audio files (.wav), which may overwrite the original Audio files in the Audio folder. These are obvious by their name, which is a 3 digit number - e.g. '123.wav'.

Some levels require that new audio Samples be placed in the Sound/Samples folder prior to conversion. These are distinguished by a different name format to the audio files in the previous paragraph - e.g. 'ah_feet.wav'. They are also quite small files, as they are just the sound effects for the level (gunshots, footsteps, etc.) and are embedded in the TR4 game-ready file.

Many levels require the new or updated Eidos wads to convert - see the first paragraph on this page for details of the Eidos updaters required.

When all else fails, read the instructions ;-)

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LevelManager (Shareware Custom Level Installer)

If you find that the install process is too complicated, then you may find the LevelManager shareware utility handy - this utility is intended to do all the work for you, so you only have to start it running, then play the level.

Note that although I have seen an early development version and was able to make some suggestions for further development, I have not used the final release LevelManager and therefore I'm not able to comment on it, nor am I connected with it in any way. So any queries you have should be directed to the developer. However, it has received favourable comments from some Mac users on the various custom level forums and should be useful to those people who find the manual install process too confusing.

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My Favourite Levels

If you've managed to read this far, and still want to download and play custom levels, then good luck! As I said earlier, it does get easier with familiarity, but can be quite confusing at first... But the rewards far outweigh the effort, with quite a few levels having been released to date that are the equal of anything from Core Design!

Here are a few of my personal favourite levels. All the games mentioned here are available in Mac-friendly downloads from trle.net at the time of writing! There are many other very good levels available on the web, so be sure to check the sites I recommend on my TRLE Info page!

One of my favourites is 'Twilight City' by Horst Kolodziejczyk (Hokolo), a long and difficult single level. Lara has to negotiate some difficult terrain and puzzles in this city level, and to finish requires finding all 5 pieces of armour to open a door to the last stretch (if you reach a large blue door that is shut, you need to find the rest of the armour - it will then open automatically). To complete this one requires you to search everywhere, and don't forget to check out all the walls! If you're interested, I completed this in around 2.5 hours, and found all the secrets first time past...

Another great game is 'Deep in the Jungle', again by Horst Kolodziejczyk (Hokolo). This game consists of two levels; one in a jungle setting, and the other with plenty of use of the Land Rover in a mountainous setting! This is a very satisfying and challenging adventure, and you'll be a better driver when you finish ;-)

Another challenging one is 'Recon Labs 3' by Szymon Cupryn (Emoo), consisting of 5 individual levels, the last of which ('Ceremony') is absolutely lethal, with some extremely difficult manoeuvres required of Lara! Get through this game and you can call yourself an expert ;-) This particular download contains a total of 82 files once extracted -
- 12 samples for the Sound/Samples folder (these must be in place prior to doing the conversions);
- 56 wads for the Graphics/Wads folder (requires 7 conversions and includes 5 levels, a custom Title, and end-game credits);
- 7 wav files for the Audio folder;
- 4 miscellaneous files (Script.dat, English.dat, Load.bmp, uklogo.pak) - uklogo.pak goes into the Data folder, the rest go into the top level of the Editor folder;
- 2 Readme's (one in Polish);
- 1 'Bonus' which requires you to find all 3 parts of a password to unlock, and contains Emoo's first 3 levels - the password parts are hidden as objects in the game... you'll know them when (or if ;-) you see them! (This was originally included as a PC-only EXE, but may now be a Mac-friendly passworded ZIP.)
Recon Labs 3 is tricky to install and convert, but if approached methodically shouldn't be too much of a problem. And if you want a real gameplay challenge, it's worth all the effort! (I got through without help, but had to ask afterwards about two of the password parts which were required to unlock the bonus...)

One of the most difficult levels I've seen is 'The Lost Valley' by Jun Munakata (Jeyem). This single level is massive, and my *second* run through took just over 3 hours! If you're interested, I completed this one without the use of any cheats, and without any outside help. I found 4 secrets, including the final special 'treasure' - the reward for a lot of work, and a fitting prize for completing the level. I've played whole levels that seemed smaller than the ground you cover to get this one secret! The level is set in a series of wonderful valleys and canyons, with side excursions into underground passages and ruins - the outside areas are the best I've ever seen, and that includes any of the original games! Nothing is very obvious, and there are many difficulties with finding your way and solving the puzzles. And some of the jumps are the most difficult you're likely to encounter in any level, but all are do-able. Not a lot of enemies, but those you meet are very well placed, and provide a good adrenalin rush ;-) In fact, a few times I was so engrossed in the game that a simple slamming door made me fall off my seat! Definitely a real challenge, even for an expert Raider, although may be too hard for an inexperienced player.

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Custom Levels for play in other Versions of Tomb Raider (updated 9 December 2007)

Some resourceful people have made converters that convert a TRLE level so it can be played in the other TR games, thus giving proper animations to the TR3 bad guys! I have seen a few of these in the past, and have played several (and even beta tested one), but I wasn't aware that very many existed, and the quality was patchy, so I haven't included any info on them before. However, I've received details from a MacRaider reader about these levels, so I'm including his description below. If you need more information about playing these levels on a Mac, please contact him - I have little experience with them! Also, I can not vouch for the accuracy of this information, so again please contact him direct with any comments.

I can't actually recommend any of the levels you may find, but some time ago I did test a TR3 level by Emoo (Szymon Cupryn) called 'Survivor'. Assuming this level was posted as I tested it, it should be OK on a Mac, and it was a good 'TR3 India' level! This one is currently available from 'Lara's Home' - links below. However, I did not test the other two from Emoo posted there, and they may not be compatible with a Mac - one of them is supposed to require a special TR3 game to play, and this is PC-only.

Bear in mind that these levels were never intended by the makers of the Level Editor, so you should exercise some caution when playing! You may also need to do some experimenting of your own! You will find that these levels can be a bit patchy as far as compatibility on a Mac, and some can't be played at all!

************************************************

The following details are from "Leonardo" and are for playing these levels on a Mac.
If you need more information his email address is leonardo_watson@yahoo.de
(Comments in italics have been added by MacRaider.)

Playing TR1 levels:

1. Copy the entire folder with the TR1 game to your hard drive. For playing you need the original TR1-CD in your CD-ROM drive (not the one with the TR Trilogy release, it won't work!) Unfortunately you can't use the demo-game!

2. In the Data folder replace the document 'LEVEL1.PHD' with the custom level of your choice. You may need to rename the document before using.

Playing TR2 levels:

1. Copy the entire folder with the TR2 game to your hard drive. For playing you need the original TR2-CD in your CD-ROM drive (not the one with the TR Trilogy release, it won't work!) Unfortunately you can't use the demo-game because your computer will crash! (This can be a weird freeze which may rearrange folders on your desktop, or windows you have open! Don't try it! You have been warned...)

2. In the Data folder replace the document 'WALL.TR2' with the custom level of your choice. You may need to rename the document before using.

3. You don't need all the other documents - they are only needed by a PC.

Playing TR3 levels with the original game:

1. Copy the entire folder with the TR3 game to your hard drive. For playing you need the TR3-CD in your CD-ROM drive. You can use the one with the TR Trilogy release in this case.

2a. In the Data folder replace the document 'JUNGLE.TR2' with the custom level of your choice. You may need to rename the document before using.

2b. Some games come with a 'tombPC.dat' in their folder. If you want you can use this but in this case don't change the level name! (This gives a new level list at the New Game page!)

3. Some folders contain a further folder 'Pix'. The format '.bmp' inside cannot be read by the Mac version of the game. If you want to use them, you have to convert them into '.pict'. But don't worry - you don't need them. (You can convert them using Photoshop or another image editor, but they may need to be a particular size - check the originals with the game for formats and correct naming.)

4. You don't need all the other documents - they are only needed by a PC.

Playing TR3 levels with the TR3 Demo Game:

1. In the Data folder replace the document 'SHORE.TR2' with the custom level of your choice. You may need to rename the document before using.

2. Some Games come with a 'tombPC.dat' in their folder. If you want you can use this but in this case don't change the level name! (This gives a new level list at the New Game page!)

3. Some games contain a further folder 'Pix'. The format '.bmp' inside cannot be read by the Mac version of the game. If you want to use them, you have to convert them into '.pict'. But don't worry - you don't need them. (You can convert them using Photoshop or another image editor, but they may need to be a particular size - check the originals with the game for formats and correct naming.)

4. You don't need all the other documents - they are only needed by a PC.

Playing TR5 levels:

1. Copy the entire folder with the TR5 game to your hard drive. For playing you need the original TR5-CD in your CD-ROM drive.

2. In the data-folder replace the document 'ANDREA1.TRC' with the custom level of your choice. You may need to rename the document before using.

3. If there are any other documents, you don't need them - they are only for PC.

 

You can get TR1 - TR5 levels from these sites:

Lara's Mansion

http://larasmansion.larashome.com/

Lara's Home (the largest collection available)
(Go to the forum topic 'Latest Custom Levels' where you'll find links to the TR1, TR2, TR3, and TR5 strings - the download links are currently in those strings but may change when the site update is completed.)

http://www.larashome.com/forums/

The Quad's Store

http://thequad.free.fr/main.html

 

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