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Robert LaChapelle aka ve2lyr back homepage search
Robert LaChapelle interviewed by Ian Smith aka Marksdad in April/May 2004

Ian: "First of all, give us some details about yourself. Age, location, occupation."

Bob: "60, Montreal, Retired"

Ian: "How did you first discover the joys of TombRaiding?"

Bob: "I played all Tomb editions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, AOD..."

Ian: "What are your opinions on AOD?"

Bob: "More fluidity, but not easy to execute correct movements to Lara. Good music. Discotheque was a great idea. I had fun in this room. Too much dialogue; we must be able to overcome this."

Ian: "OK, your levels are all what I would describe as 'left of centre'. In other words, not the usual idea of what a TR adventure should be. Indeed, most are extremely short and centered around just one puzzle concept. What sort of feedback have you received about this? Do other people enjoy this sort of approach?"Labyrinth

Bob: "My interest was in a non-classical form. Originality was my first approach. All the levels are short, because I made those levels ONLY for my pleasure. This consisted in making the levels: short, as attractive as possible (by originality), not too long TO CREATE. The feedback was a surprise for me: it was not as good as I expected. I was convinced that surprise and interest for astronomy or chess would be enjoyable for everybody. I discovered that most of the fans enjoy ONLY the classical approach. Otherwise, a lot of players appreciate this kind of level. I did receive some encouragements."

Ian: "Is the format of TR suitable for your kind of approach, or are your types of ideas limited by the Level Editor and/or TR Concept itself?"

Bob: "My interest was in creating new environments INSIDE the TR levels and tools. So, the format of TR is suitable."

Ian: "In that case, have you played any of Richard Lawther's levels? They incorporate similar (only not quite so hard) cerebral puzzles as yours, but manage to contain them quite successfully within an 'adventure-themed' concept. Would this sort of 'compromise' be acceptable to you, or are you not affected by ideas of 'popularity'?"

ISS 101

Bob: "I am affected by ideas of popularity. That's why I did not create any level after ISS 101. I played Richard's levels. Yes, this sort of compromise should be acceptable for me. I did not continue making levels principally because I discovered the GREAT quality (the ones who take so much time!!!) of certain levels... I don't want to be so involved. The only way to keep going on, is to use the same style: short level, new textures, new music, surprises, one or two puzzles. The only other way (for me) is to be PART of a great level building team..."

Ian: "Do you think then, that the type of people who would be attracted to TR are simply not the kind who would ordinarily enjoy 'cerebral' levels, such as yours?"

Bob: "Yes."

Ian: "Would you ever build a more 'traditional' adventure?"

Bob: "No, I'm not interested."

Ian: "You've played other Custom Levels. What did you think of them?"

Bob: "I have tried a lot! I prefer original ones with very original ideas. I was VERY surprised by the EXTREME HIGH quality of some levels: The sets, the colors, the textures, music... etc... I think some creators took a LOT of time (and their lives!) to do what they did. It was not my kind of investment."

Ian: "Have you read any of the reviews on trle.net?"

Bob: "Yes. This community is really filled with levels! The reviews are VERY good. Some critics can actually be a help for making new levels. That was the case with me."

Ian: "Was it easy for you to get to grips with the Level Editor itself?"

Bob: "No. It took me several months to learn the Level Editor. The first levels have been my learning process."

Ian: "ISS 101 (released Aug 23, 2002) was your attempt to combine (very well, I thought) several of your previous levels in one. Do you know of any players who have been able to complete it without asking/seeking assistance in any way? Isn't the Planets puzzle (although original) too difficult for most people to be able to solve? Or, for that matter, the solution to your 'Chess' level?"Chessboard

Bob: "I did receive feedback from at least one experienced player who did it without assistance. He tried every combinations with the digital numbers, without correlating the moons for each planets. With the chess level, at least one player with chess experience did enjoy it VERY MUCH. The Planets was too hard... The camera angle (masking the changing sky) was not a good idea."

Ian: "But, at least with the version in ISS 101, you gave additional clues to the identity of the various Planets with the help of audio files from 'The Planets' suite. Did this piece of music provide the inspiration for the puzzle in the first place, or did you already have it in mind?"

Bob: "The puzzle came to me from a digital approach to insert to number of moons. No, the music came after; but yes, it was a clue for planet identification. You know that making levels is an art... Some people do not enjoy easy levels. Others do not enjoy the hard ones. It is not always possible to invent a perfect puzzle. I tried to make some levels using new ideas, such as the chessgame or involving knowledge of astronomy.

Ian: "ISS 101 is your longest single level (as opposed to Labyrinth (released Jan 29, 2002), which is several of your other levels stuck together: Chessboard (released May 1, 2002), Jumps! (released May 5, 2002), The Crypt (released May 22, 2002)). How long did it take you to construct? The 'Space Pioneers room' was interesting. For those who never managed to complete the level, tell us who the people were."

The Planets

Bob: "ISS 101 is part of a trilogy: Lara on the Moon (released Feb 27, 2002), The Planets (released Apr 25, 2002) and ISS 101. I took several months (3 or 4). I wanted a great surprise for the community with this 'Pioneers room'. But I did receive only one picture (I asked several times) from eRIC. Michael Prager also sent his picture, with the permissions accordingly. Other ones are me and my family."

Ian: "Travelling (released Feb 2, 2002). What was the point of this one, may I ask?"

Bob: "My profession was cameraman, technician and tv producer. So, I wanted to experience all kinds of travellings with the camera. That was the only purpose. And try some 'skins' for Lara. It was only to study the Level Editor. I discovered (see my comments about the critics) that it was an error to release those short studies. Another error: Making seperate levels with the Labyrinth ensemble."

Ian: "French speaking Canada: should it become an autonomous (independent) country?"

Bob: "Yes. But all this is very complex to explain!"

Ian: "In that case, I think we'll leave it there! Thank you very much, Robert."

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