What’s in the Box, Lara? The Advent Calendar Progresses

In the year 2014, eager members have again managed to create an Advent Calendar for the community. It is now for the eleventh time that you can let it surprise you for twenty four days and wonder what might be in each box. To me, the Calendar projects of the community, like those that have been established at Lara’s Levelbase, TRForge and AspideTR, are some of the events I keep looking forward to every year.

This year, a surprise of a special kind came into being backstage: All entries have been handed in on time! I believe that’s a first in all those years I participated in the Calendar workshop (first 2005). To that, a “Yay, us!” Banner-TypeA

Some of the authors and helpers of the Lara’s Levelbase Advent Calendar have been regularly present in the teams, some even since the initial Calendar of 2003. However, this “standing committee” warmly welcomes every new entrant. Anyway, I wanted to put a finer point on that, and so I did a little bit of research. What I came up with are details on the Calendars of 2014 and four of its predecessors:

In total, 45 people participated in the Advent Calendar projects in the period 2010-14. They grouped in teams of 15 (2011) to 25 (2010) members. That implies that many team members must have participated in more than one workshop. Indeed, there are 5 members who partook of all five workshops, and another 9 members partook three or four times. Altogether, 27 members have participated only once in the last five workshops, with 7 of those members participating for the first time 2014. For the period 2011-14 there have been 3 (2013) to 7 (2014) new arrivals each year.

From the gathered data on the Advent Calendar Projects 2010-14 you can deduce several things. On average, the Advent Calendar teams consist of 17,8 members. Depending on your approach (i.e. percentile vs additive), the average team consists of 23 % (i.e. Ø 4 persons) members who have regularly participated before, respectively 10,4 persons who have regularly participated before. Furthermore, the data suggests that up to 60 % (i.e. Ø 10,7 persons) partake only once, or for the first time.

Nota Bene: You are free to conclude that there is a certain dynamic at work with the assemblage of the groups. One out of four members engages practically every time, whereas for more than half the team further collaboration remains unlikely. Only few members infrequently participate every few years.


Looking at the Advent Calendar teams of the period 2010-14 in the context of binary gender distribution (the LLB Forum only gives members the options male/female/prefer not to say), the results can be rather surprising to some:

Despite slight variations, the gender distribution in members who identify as male or female is identical, or roughly even. In contrast, the Advent Calendar team 2014 consists of twice as many members who identify as female, than those who identify as male. However, considering the total number of 45 participants, the gender distribution remains even to a hair’s breadth.

Nota Bene: In conclusion, it’s fair to say that concerning its members the Advent Calendar 2014 is a female dominated project, whereas in the main, with regard to popularity the LLB Advent Calendar remains a gender-unspecific workshop.

Concerning content distribution, the Calendars of the years 2010-14 have been characterised by a mixture of consistencies and innovations as well. I have made a graph as an overview from which you can deduce some interesting trends:

Graph 1: Advent Calendar Content 2010-2014

LLB Advent Calendar Content 2010-14

The number of Tomb Raider Custom Levels received has decreased steadily before, which of course leaves more possibilities for other kinds of content. Especially the number of recipes has increased. Thanks to the efforts of zealous object designers, custom objects have sort of boomed, so that now they seem to take advantage of the “Level Gap.” Only two years ago, special surprises were an important component of the Calendar, whereas presently it seems that nobody can be bothered with preparing something in this rubric.

In another graph I attempt to illustrate the overall distribution of Advent Calendar content per rubric for the past five years. That way, the relations between individual rubrics will (hopefully) become clearly visible:

Graph 2: Advent Calendar Content 2010-2014

LLB Advent Calendar Content 2010-14

Even though the number of custom levels has fallen with the years, levels still provide a quarter of the total amount of entries in the five years’ retrospect. As a matter of fact, those contents that are directly connected to the custom level scene, meaning levels & objects & textures, represent more than half the content. Specials, both recurrent in the form of wallpapers and non-recurrent in the form of level building tutorials, audio dramas, or texturising-levels may have become rare in recent years, but they still represent a considerable constituent.

What conclusions can you draw from this information on a more abstract level?

That is something everyone should find out for themselves. Something the above figures do not betray are the community’s interests. Notwithstanding that I have had the opportunity to operate in both camps, all I can say to that is that those members of the TR and custom level community voluntarily engaging in the workshop, and Technik, make every effort backstage, in the supposed interest of the community. Of course, everyone in the team hopes that the contents are accepted gladly.

Well, I hope that this year’s calendar will not be the last project of its kind, and wish you all a nice time with the upcoming surprises!

As a last point, I would like to remind / encourage you, depending on your own personal perspective: In the end, the Advent Calendar remains a workshop that is generally open to anyone who can, and wishes to participate, and which can only live through the engagement from within the community.

Best regards,

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