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Old 05-05-21, 16:04   #1
UroshUchiha
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Default Tomb Raider Flatland Restoration Project

Recently I learned that the long-dead Flatland plugin was released as a standalone open-source tool so I decided to raid this long-forgotten (by most) tomb like our beloved heroine. Time to share the relics I discovered with anyone interested.

This topic was talked about in the past on this forum, but I don't want to necropost. Here and here mostly. TR2Gold and TR3Gold Discs featured Flatland levels (the author of "Lara Croft: Castle of Fate" also participated in the 2nd linked thread). Flatland levels were also talked about at IGN, Tomb of Ash, Virtual Lara and Archaeology.org.

Back in 1999 Eidos Interactive and Flatland teamed up. Eidos provided TR related textures that Spot (term for the .3dml game file) builders could use to make levels and in return, Flatland promoted the release of Tomb Raider The Lost Artefact by doing a contest in celebration of Lara Croft's Birthday that year. The challenge was "build the best 3D Adventure Tomb for Lara".

1x Grand Prize: AMD Computer, 3Dfx Voodoo 3 board, Eidos Game Pack (TRIII, Warzone, Thief, Gangsters, Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty, Daikatana)
4x First Prize: 3Dfx Voodoo 3 board, Eidos Game Pack (TRIII, Warzone, Thief, Gangsters)
2x Honorable mentions
10x Second Prize: An Eidos Game Pack

So I sat down, spent a decent amount of days, in an attempt to preserve and restore as much of these I could find and make them easily playable on modern-day computers.
By default, Flatland comes with a decent amount of textures (certain Tomb Raider ones included), but Spot builders can include their own custom ones as they please (.wav files too for sound effects). And certain creators did just that. Mixing the default ones with their custom made ones.

Hunting down articles, long-dead websites, URL paths, going through the code to see redirects, and so on through the Internet Web Archive took days, but I think I finally hit the point where this is as much as I can do/find on my own.

I said restore, but what does that mean? Well, apparently now that Flatland is a standalone tool with a new version some syntax changed so I deep dived into the code of these projects, learned as I went and fixed certain issues.
Such as:

Previously to make a small pyramid you had to type block="halfpyr", but now that attribute throws an error and doesn't apply the texture, the new one is block="halfpyramid":


Scaling of certain sprites/textures was also changed in a way making them appear in their ordinary 64x64 or 128x128 resolution (which is also how much collision they had). Which made gates and doors useless cause you could just walk/jump over them. So I changed those too where I found them:


I mentioned earlier that creators could use their own textures. Some creators even used the default ones but didn't load them through Flatland, they saved them locally and loaded them from the root directory. So I had to go find them sometimes by name which was easy enough since most people just used what came by default. The custom-named textures were much more of an issue. I did manage to find a decent amount through the Web Archive, the ones that I couldn't find I either replaced with the stock ones (a certain type of a wall, or a ground texture etc) making some levels go from the left image to the right image:





THE LIST
With that out of the way, I now present the list of levels I managed to restore/archive. This list contains only the Spots that were featured in the contest mentioned above, Spots from TR2 and TR3 gold discs, and other TR related Spots featured alongside the contest ones.


CASTLE OF FLAME

Probably the most popular one, which is the reason why I am posting this in the TR3 section of the forum. The project started with that one. This spot comes from the TR3Gold disc and features two levels with the second one just being a place to download a wallpaper for beating the game and watching two cinematics. The plugin was able to play videos, but I was unable to find a way how to make the standalone tool play the clips from the local folder.
Also the level itself has had a broken zipline (at least on the version that I have) so I fixed it and it now works properly.


QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN MASK
This one was made for the Golden Mask contest. Players who reached the end of the level were redirected to a web form which they had to submit for a chance to win. Another unresolved issue with the standalone software is that I am unable to make it open this page in your browser. It was easy for the plugin since you were using your browser to play this anyway. The contact form is saved and archived in the folder regardless.


WINNER'S CIRCLE

This is just a single room where all the winners of the contest are featured making you start any of them from that location. Sadly this one was missing all the textures and even with the image provided and my attempt to add textures to it it never took the shape the image showed. The spot simply wasn't built like that. So I just made a floor with default textures and added custom made thumbnails for the featured levels.
Oh and I did connect this Spot to all the other ones so you can actually use it to start other games.


NECROPOLIS

The Grand Prize winner made by Lara Goeke. This level got a direct continuation called "SCION TEMPLE" made by WittRaider Team. The ending of Scion Temple leads you to a form where you have to solve the riddle using the clues provided during the level to participate in the contest. The form was downloaded locally for viewing.


MCCLARD'S TOMB
The first First Prize winner. It achieved "Most Beautiful Spot" award.


AKIB'S CASTLE
The second First Prize winner. It features a little celebration party in the castle, but if you find the right tombstone and click on it, you'll continue down the chain of three additional levels to solve. This one uses a lot of custom textures, but a few I could not obtain. The last level seems to be unfinished.


GARGOYLE'S CASTLE

The third First Prize winner. Features two beautiful levels, especially the second one. The second one in the end leads to a .HTML page which is not archived on the web.


MYSTERIES OF OSA
The fourth First Reward winner. It achieved the award of "Best Interactivity". Sadly this level is lost. Even on the page for contest winners at the time for this one it just says "this spot is temporarily inaccessible". Mysteries of Osa will remain a mystery it seems.


MANSION MAZE
The first Honorable Mentions level. This one features three semi-connected levels. The issue is that there is no way to enter the second level from the first as it doesn't have an exit trigger. So you have to boot up the second level manually once you are done exploring the first. The second level is TEMPLE OF THE FAITHFUL and the third is THE FOUNTAIN


TUNDAI TEMPLE
The second Honorable Mentions level. This one uses A LOT of custom made textures which are not preserved on the web archive. I added a few stock ones just to see what the level is about only to realize that at the end of it you are supposed to continue to the 2nd part of the level which I was unable to find hosted anywhere so I left it at that.


SECOND PRIZE WINNERS
I'll list these in the format:
Creator name - Level Name (Description)

urbanotor - Maze (A fairly short exploration level)
tangoroof - Lara's Party (Just a level inspired by Windows 3D Maze Screensaver. Nothing really Tomb Raider about it)
sasche - File not archived
rgordon - Lara's Temple (A short little exploration level)
forster - Pyramid (Short climb the pyramid level to reach Lara)
cunning - File not archived
death_knight - Lara's Party (It's the same thing as Lara's Party but with multiple floors. Nothing inside of it either)
dfeagan - File not archived
looneytunes - File not archived
bobman - File not archived


LARA CROFT BIRTHDAY CONTEST
Description of this Spot says "For Lara Croft's Birthday this year, Eidos teamed up with Flatland to sponsor two contests. This spot contains the puzzle that contestants needed to solve in order to be eligible for the contest." This is another Spot made by WittRaider Team. The web page where players could solve the riddle is downloaded.


GARDEN MAZE
A level featured on the Tomb Raider section of the old Flatland website.


TR2GOLD

A list of levels featured on the TR2Gold disc. All of them just exploration levels with one level redirecting you to the old Tomb Raider website.
One level I did find on the web archive is called "TR2 Gold Spot - Russian mine" but it's not featured on the disc. It was made, yet again, by WittRaider Team.


TOMB RAIDER 4

A level made to promote Tomb Raider 4.




FLATLAND USAGE

The tool itself is very simple to use. Just open the Flatland.exe go to File > Options and customize for your preference. Then go to File > Open Spot File and load any .3dml you want to play. Click on the screen and play the games.

Go to View > Error Log if you are interested in seeing what might be broken in a particular level. Oh and yes, go to Help > View Help to see the controls.



>>>>>>DOWNLOAD LINK<<<<<<

Extract the archive and enjoy this obscure piece of Tomb Raider history



END
This marks the limit of what I could do on my own at this point in time. I tried sending an email to two old Flatland support email addresses I could find but I get an auto-reply that they are no longer in use. Tracking down the email addresses of people who made these games back in 1999 would probably not lead anywhere since most of their personal websites were shut down ~2002 and the emails were tied to that particular domain from the few examples I saw.

If anyone has some of these archived from back in the day, or knows a person who may have them (maybe even the creators), please feel free to share them with me and I will update this post. There are still certain original textures and .wav sound files missing in some of these that I replaced with the stock ones for now. Every level mentioned above is linked to the web archive URL I used to acquire the original file just in case anyone is interested.

I'm also well aware that not many people would be interested in this, but to you few who took the time to read through this post, thank you. Was fun digging up this forgotten part of TR history. And with that, I am gonna go take a much needed nap.


SHOUTOUT
Treeble - For letting me know that Flatland is now a standalone tool and providing two Spot files from the TR2Gold disc.

Last edited by UroshUchiha; 05-05-21 at 17:01.
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Old 05-05-21, 16:16   #2
CircusBabysGal
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Woah! I've never heard of this! Thank you so much for sharing! This is exciting stuff! I'll download and try it later!
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Old 05-05-21, 16:32   #3
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Yes I remember this! My copy of Lost Artifact had one of these levels. I lost the disc and every time I asked about it here nobody knew what I was talking about Its cool someone finally unearthed these.

Edit: It was the Castle of Fate! So weird to play it again after 20 years.

Last edited by LaraCablara; 05-05-21 at 16:37.
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Old 05-05-21, 17:00   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaraCablara View Post
Edit: It was the Castle of Fate! So weird to play it again after 20 years.
Castle of Fate is definitely the most popular one. The few articles I could find online from that time were about that level in particular.
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Old 10-06-21, 14:21   #5
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Old 10-06-21, 14:55   #6
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It's always great to see a part of Tomb Raider history get preserved and restored. Nice work UroshUchiha!
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Old 10-06-21, 15:21   #7
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Glad to see a video about it! Hope you had fun exploring this relic
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