Fabio Ribeiro aka Phabius Phodes back homepage search
Fabio Ribeiro interviewed by Michael Prager aka MichaelP in September 2002

Michael: "When did you start playing TR and how did you get hooked with the Level Editor?"

Fabio Ribeiro

Fabio: "Iíve started playing Tomb Raider in 1996, when the first game came out. Since then I could not stop! Then I did TR Gold, TR2, TR2 Gold, TR3, LA, TRLR and TRC, oh... and the Times level of course! I first heard about the Editor on the net, in the extinct, months before it was released. Since then I started planning my first level, based only on the theory I learned from texts on the net... As soon as it came out I bought it and completed the first level in three months. Now Iím totally addicted and cannot get rid of it!"

Michael: "Interesting. So do you actually sort of draw a level scheme before you go build it? What is important for you in your own levels and what will you never build into one?"Original draw of Map for Blezqi Zatsaz

Fabio: "Yes! Three months before the editor was released, I began learning what it could do, through info and comments on the net. So I did a map of the level in Adobe Photoshop, with all rooms, puzzles and stuff... Of course I had to change a few things, like room geometry and some puzzles, due to the original limitation on WADs. And because the Editor was so fascinating at first glance, many things were designed on the way through the building process. But I can tell you more than 50% was planned beforehand. I still have that original map! To me, whatís important in my levels is the visual aspect. Of course gameplay is a major item too, but I always take special care with the geometry and textures of the place. And lighting, though itís one of the most difficult things to manage. I donít know exactly what I would never do in a level... Because fantasy is the ticket to a good level, so whatever comes to my mind can be turned into reality, well almost..."

Michael: "You have also reviewed a few custom levels, but that was a long time ago. Are you still playing other author's custom levels and if so which and why did you select those?"

Fabio: "I play some levels (or parts of levels) when I can, but my time is so short these days due to the tour with my band that I prefer to dedicate every free minute to my own levels. I need to complete level 3! Itís 90% done. But I think itís very important to play other levels, to get inspiration and to see how people are going with their skills. The last levels Iíve played were some of the Rescue series by Pascal. Amazing! Believe it or not, I did not play The Last Crusade yet! This is the one Iíll play next. I owe it to Renť! He even sent me the project files and it looks incredible! Generally I choose levels by the reviews on your site. I choose the better ones. Also, I like to see screenshots first."

Fabio and his keyboards

Michael: "I am sure the reviewers of the site will be glad to hear people choose levels based on their reviews. Do you also read reviews about your very own levels and do you care about them? Remember how one guy once long ago became so angry about a critical review Ė what is your opinion today about a review system in general now that we are more than a year down the road of existence?"

Fabio: "Yes, I read the reviews of my levels once in a while, to know if my job was well done! And yes I care about reviews! At first, theyíre the mirror of your level quality. But I donít take it personal, just technical. Someone who makes a review has to know exactly what he/she is talking about. So if I read something that looks superficial or not coherent, I just donít care... With my first level, someone pointed at a 'design mistake', but in fact the person had just missed a secret! And of course the reviews are the point of entry to know what a levels is all about, its story, modeling and texturing, quality, gameplay, etc. So it's good to choose a level to play based on the reviews."Shaman in Spain - April 2002

Michael: "Tell us more about the band and the tour. I remember a while back you had plans to be in Europe and were hoping to meet a few fellow raiders along the way. Did that work out?"

Fabio: "Shaman is the most famous Brazilian heavy metal band. Most of its members, including myself, came from another well-known band - Angra. I'm the 'guest' keyboardist for the live concerts. The tour began in early August, and we're doing about three concerts per week. Until October we'll be touring Brazil. Then we're going to Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc.). And then to Japan, Mexico and USA. Then back to Brazil for the final concerts in January 2003. When we went to Spain last April, I could not find anyone related to TR, so I don't know if there are any TR fans in that country. But of course, if possible, I would like to meet TR people around the globe! So when I'm about to tour Europe, etc, I'll keep everybody informed on the Eidos Forum."

Michael: "I can assure you there are plenty of TR Fans in Spain (and in Catalonia more specifically). As you mentioned that Renť sent you his project file - can you envision a joint work on a level with another level designer? Anybody specifically? What about your fellow Brazilian level designers, Treeble, Leandro, Jesseas,...? Any contact with them?"

Fabio: "Yes, I can envision a joint work on a level with someone else. Renť would be a good person to work with, as I know him already, and Pascal too, maybe Mirai. I don't have any direct contact with the Brazilian designers, I did not play their levels yet but I'm very curious about them so I'll do it when I can. One of them asked me about a Brazilian version of the TRLE manual, which I've began translating to Portuguese but not completed. That was the only contact. I think about a joint venture mainly because sometimes I have lack of ideas on gameplay, but I think I'm good on room modeling and textures, so I could take that part if it happens."

Michael: "Are you earning yourself a living with your music or do you have another job of sorts? Any hobbies other than TR? How does your family/spouse/friends deal with your TR work/addiction - do they play as well?"

On tour in Spain - April 2002

Fabio: "Yes, everything I do is music related. I have this band - Shaman, and another one - Pink Floyd Tribute. And I have an instrumental progressive rock project called (guess what) Blezqi Zatsaz! Also, I work as consultant/product specialist for two keyboard manufacturers - the Japanese Kawai and the Swedish Clavia. My only hobby is Tomb Raider, although I play some other games like the Combat Flight Simulator series. I have only one more friend who plays TR, Marcio Baravelli, the singer/guitarist of Pink Floyd Tribute. My two partners at my recording studio used to play it as well but now they don't do it anymore. One of them, Ale Souza, did the complete series! My girlfriend does not like it very much, but I think she's just jealous about Lara :) But she understands when I spend hours in front of the editor screen, because it does not look like a simple game anymore, it's like a secondary job, as my levels were included in two Eidos CDs and on the TR Movie DVD in Germany. So she's proud of it."

Michael: "Where do you actually live when you are not on tour? Is that also were you grew up? Have you traveled aside from being on tour with a band? Where to? Any places you especially like or don't like?"

Fabio: "I live here, in the same house, Sao Paulo - Brazil, since I was born 33 years ago! I travel whenever I can, without the band, just for fun. I've been in many places, United States, many places in Brazil, South America, etc, etc... With the band I've been all around the world, and it seems I'll do it all over again this year. I specially love Europe! France, Germany, and Spain are my favourite places! Lovely! I wouldn't like to say that, but I don't like Brazil very much. Not the 'physical' country, which is wonderful! But the government. Brazil is a country, which could be one of the best places to live in the whole world, if we had better people to manage it. If things don't get better in the following years, I plan to move to Europe, where my job has more recognition. Every time I go there I have a strange 'dťjŗ vu', like I was there somewhere in time!".

Michael: "Do you have any idols or a credo for your life? What is important to you in order for you to be a happy person?"

Fabio: "My credo is Music! I'm a musician since I was 5 years old. My dad and mom were musicians too. What's important to me to be a happy person is to do what I like and make a living from that."

Michael: "Let's get into a little more detail about your levels. I understand you are about to release Part 3 of your series soon. Can you tell us how that idea for the series developed and how you decided to tie them together into one story?"Asphaeings Amulet 1 - City of Blezqi Zatsaz

Fabio: "It all happened naturally... You know you cannot put everything in one level only, due to the limits of the Editor/Engine. In the other hand, there are so many possibilities that new ideas come every time, so it is very easy to overload the system. In the first level, Lara has found a way of entering City of Blezqi Zatsaz (released Apr 5, 2001), through the sewers, looking for the Asphaeings Amulet... At first, I was planning to resume the whole story in one level, but the first one became so big that I could not do it. Then Temple of Azzivullas (released Nov 23, 2001) came into my mind. A buried temple under the city, where the Amulet was hidden... Then I realized that it should have an 'escape' sequence. Lara trying to get out of the place with the Amulet. So here it comes: the third level Ė The Escape...(released Oct 22, 2002)."

Michael: "Are you already thinking about a fourth level?"

Fabio: "No. Not for this series. Of course I'll make more levels, as soon as I can, but I plan to change the scenario... New story, new places, etc...""Lara Croft would be jealous!"

Michael: "As we are just past the September 11 memorials, what do you think about how the world has been reacting to terrorism and how the USA have been pushing for a war against Iraq?"

Fabio: "This is a very complex question, but I'll try... September 11 was one of the most terrible days since those in world war II. I think it was an extremely stupid and non-human act. But it was also a warning to the United States, that there are places in the world which need help. I'm totally against fanatism and extreme religions of any kind, but I think it happens due to a lack of culture/information, a lack of opportunity to have any culture/information. The solution for all these problems is very complex, because it's almost impossible to make everybody think the same way. I would like to see the world as a common ground. No countries, no frontiers, no differences... But for that to happen, every single man should have conscience that we are just contributing to the end of this planet, and we should stop now. I would like to see all the money and technology spent in weapons turned into an investment in the future of the planet, space exploration, natural resources preservation, all those things we already know, things we say everyday but never do... So maybe it has to be started by those who have strength to do it. The USA are making the same mistake again in pushing for a war against Iraq."

Michael: "Do you have any heroes or idols - people that impressed you and who you look up to?"

Fabio: "I had a few "music" heroes. Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman were two of them... Now I see them as friends!"

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