Lara’s Levelbase Tribune
23rd March 2004 – 23rd March 2016
The Tribune started out as a monthly online newspaper 23rd March 2004 and was pursued as a blog since 15th October 2007. That means we look back at a dozen years of LLB Tribune history, twleve years of articles about the Tomb Raider universe.
Despite hoping persistently for some for new members to join the editorial team, to bring about a few guest entries, or to keep the blog project alive and going some other way, it became eerily quiet in the team and on the outside soon after the little revival in October 2014.
The New Tribune obviously hasn’t been able to attract readers for some time now. Maybe it would have been time for another transformation, switching to a new medium, or other kinds of entries, and we’ve simply missed the right moment a long time ago? Anyway, there is little use entertaining a medium of information if there is no proper circle of recipients. After twelve years of Tribune activity, however, a closedown without a decent farewell article would be unimaginable…
Over the years, the Tribune team has known plenty of changes, which in turn affected the contents dealt with. As a monthly online newspaper, the Tribune issued the “Young Tribune”, for instance, which was a section dedicated to the Raider kids, as well as a Fun Corner, which contained Micky’s Lara Croft pic stories, and Magnus’ comics.
When the Tribune fusioned with the blog, admin agnes announced clear objectives on the aspidetr Forum:
“We want to give brand new news and great level reviews, also previews and interesting interviews, mixed up with fun and nice stuff all about Lara and the Levelbase, to the people.”
Team leader Buck gave a confident statement to aspidetr:
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of readers and let’s hope that this frenzy will never end!”
Now, as this frenzy project ends, it is time to explore what the past twelve years have become to mean to the ones engaged on a personal level. Some members and veterans from the editorial team of the Tribune have recollected some very individual insights on that…
Tijay, a member of the first lines, came up with the encouragement to start a means of publication. A virtual model might have been the Croft Times, which was available in several languages back then. He supervised the beginnings and soon left the project. As a consequence, we did not have a manager until LuminaArtisColoris started bossing people around. The range of contents always seemed rather limited to me. Sure, topic number one was custom levels, but what else was there? This couldn’t have been all there was. This is why I introduced topics of my own, or members of the forum. In doing so, I continued Tijay’s Board Gossip series my own way, in fancifully interlarding the gossip.
We had some excellent articles. I remember an interview with Morgan Gray from Crystal Dynamics, for instance: Lumina, daniel, BaGi, her son, and I sat huddled together at the Games Convention 2005 for the interview, and covered more than a hundred questions, which the man actually answered to the best of his abilities.
Will there be tons of medipacks again?
This kind of questions was interesting to fans at the beginnings. Most of the time, you could expect me to write joke articles. There was one referring to Alison Carroll’s many action poses, one of which had a striking resemblance to a well-known sumo westler smiley that Lumina kept using to remind people of the monthly deadline.
Even though we published on the modern internet, where all the other users used blog systems without deadline pressure, Lumina insisted on a monthly rhythm. This was true even after we switched to a blog system!
In publishing a stack of five or more articles on one day of each month we unintentionally devaluated our work tremendously and prevented it from attracting attention. The bottom line is that we were quite a disorganised bunch, stumbling over their own feet all the time. Simultaneously, there was another news blog for some time, managed mostly by Buck and Gandalf, who also joined the Tribune at some point. Some time after that, Lumina opted out and with Doro at the top, things got a little more quiet. The chaotic times came to an end and we settled in with the blog system. The constant continuity from back then until today appear to be micky’s calendar pictures. Those were the easiest to handle, too, because there was hardly anything to translate.
We kept making it our business to translate all the texts in order to reach more readers. Until today I can’t tell if all the translation work, which later was handed to MPrager and mugs, might have been in vain. How many readers does it take to be worthwhile? Is quantity more important than quality? What qualities? Questions like these kept me thinking back then, unnoticeable for the editorial team, of course. We didn’t have all too much contact with our readers in my assessment. How many readers we had in English speaking countries, I thus don’t know. To my knowledge, the number of hits was fairly limited. In Doro’s editorial team, however, there was agreement that quality outdoes quantity anyway.
After graduation, I completely retreated from the Levelbase relatively soon. For a little while I still supported the jury, but that, too, ended sometime. For what it’s worth, I had been active on the forum almost every day ever since I was twelve years old. It was time for a change.
We once had a council of elders, which later became the board team, and we had the jury, and the Levelbase Tribune. In other words, we mimed politics, judiciary, and the press, and kept bothering the ordinary members who built custom levels. I was part of all that mischief. Now even the Tribune is closed down, sleeping the sleep of the just. So, of the projects from the beginnings of the LLB, the only thing left is the jury. Time is relative like that.
Back then nobody knew that the Levelbase, and a custom level community, would even still exist ten years later, or that we would be talking years when speaking about the beginnings. My life felt like an eternity ticking by ever so slowly, and from which I still managed to gather some exciting memories. Today I like to remember from time to time my experiences and insights into the human condition that I got at the Levelbase. After all, I’ve spent a defining period of my youth here, and experienced some things for the first time. Growing up in the early years of the internet was something very unique and special that brought to light new impulses in modern society, as well as long-known behavioural patterns in a new design. For the first time in human history you could communicate over huge distances via the likes of internet forums.
Admittedly, there was some less enjoyable jiggery-pokery every other day, which surely is an issue of the German internet society in general, and not just limited to Levelbase members, like I used to think? But it is not just the German speaking part of the internet where people tend to insufficiently resolve critical situations via smileys, where misunderstandings are bound to occur in similar real life situations.
The Levelbase remains my biggest, most intensive longtime internet tribe, where I also interacted on a personal level. It was my first, long-standing internet relationship, if you like. I have found people who I guess I will still be glad to spend time with fifty years from now. Very close relationships have come into being, the kind that survive longer periods of radio silence. Every internet user experiences this feeling of belongingness sometime, and I did so through the Levelbase. It is an experience that is ordinary and peculiar at the same time, and one that might soon become a normal part of growing up all over the world. The Tribune made up a substantial part of the experiences I made in a world with internet.
When the Tribune was about to transorm into a blog, I joined up as a graphic designer, shaping the visual presentation and composing the articles (pictures, links, &c.) where necessary. In addition to that I functioned as a proofreader and also wrote an article from time to time.
It was fun for awhile, and especially my dabbling into journalistic practice, even if only to some extent, was very interesting. Take doing research, checking sources and clarifying rights, for instance, and the necessarily established contact with other TR websites.
From an internal angle, the highlight sure was the meeting at our unofficial (officially, it was Buck) manager Doro’s, where I got to meet my highly esteemed colleage Quetz in person, for instance. It didn’t save us from friction evolving in the team, leading to the one or other resignation, however.
I honestly can’t remember when I joined the group of people who worked on preparing each monthly publication of the New Tribune. My function was as proof-reader for the English rendition. I was proud to be asked to help and happy to make a contribution to something I felt was innovative and worthwhile.
I still find it bewildering that so few raiders “subscribed”. The articles were always interesting and yet they garnered very few comments from the reading public. I think losing this community asset is a shame.
Perhaps its demise was more a function of the younger raider generation being unwilling to commit their time and effort to it’s success. Someday, raiders will try and log-on to their favorite TR site and find it was closed for lack of interest. I truly hope senility will have set in before such a thing becomes a reality. My thanks to all the people who brought us this gift – it was a terrific concept!
When Buck asked me sometime in 2008 if I was interested in writing for the New Tribune, I quite spontaneously accepted – basically without having the foggiest idea what I was letting myself in for. Since, as an exclusive player, I had wittnessed some of the conflicts and clashed between players and level builders, the Tribune seemed to me an appropriate medium to mediate between the two parties. After all, it was about Tomb Raider, respectively the fantastic custom level scene.
Well, I started with interviews of level builders and players (from Laraslevelbase and trle.net), covered the Advent calendar with articles and article series, occasionally the BtB contests, too. Of particular interest to me were questions concerning gaming behaviour, or the phenomenon Lara Croft as such. The more time-consuming these articles were, however, the smaller the interest of the readers seemed to be, and on a permanent basis that may clog even the most flexible feather a bit.
ZOne of the most enjoyable memories of these times is the Tribune meeting in April 2010, which came to be on Doro’s initiative. It may seem paradoxical that soon thereafter the New Tribune team stagnated and broke apart. In my oppinion, the fact that this was noticed only by a vanishingly small number of readers, however, sheds light on the deeper reasons: Obviously that form of publishing had outlived itself in the community. One may mourn that fact, but it is how it is. Sadly.
I was on the team for eight years now. That makes it hard, of course, to lie the blog dormant now. Since Buck welcomed me aboard in December 2008, I’ve been active in different sectors of the blog. Having started out with translational work, I progressed to writing and finally ended up with organisational tasks, and all the while I’ve had many valuable experiences.
The Tribune meeting at Doro’s was a big landmark for me. It was that personal contact with the rest of the Tribune team that made me attend the annual TR Meeting in summer. I’ve been a regular there ever since.
As a last point, my thanks go out to all the people who have been involved in this project over the years! I am also very grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this, and the good times! Thank you!
The Tribune goes offline… after 12 years… it is somewhat sad, because many people from several “epoches” have invested a lot of effort into the Tribune. Some were a part of it from its beginning to the end – admirable!
My time with the Levelbase Tribune dates back a small eternity, and I do not by a long shot remember all the details. Searching my computer, however, I made a find and was surprised to learn that my first report is actually TEN years old! It was titled “Zickchen and the demo”, deals with the demo version of “Legend” and dates 22nd March 2006. Woah!
It was Buck who “recruited” me back then. He encouraged me to please try. And so I did – with growing enthusiasm!
I wrote a small series on how I got addicted to Tomb Raider, reported of my first meeting, of testing levels, of my own experiences in level building, and we kicked off a new era: The Level of the Month. As the outright glutton for gaming I was back then, I actually played ALL levels pulished in the respective month and picked my favourite one for a review. This I did thirty times in the period from 2006 to 2009.
The work with the Tribune was something quite wonderful, because you would get in touch exclusively with wonderful people! I have made many friends through the Tribune and the forum. Although since the birth of my son I have been no longer active, TR-wise, these friendships still remain and for nothing in this world would I want to miss a meeting with these people.
Now is a good time to thank everyone. It was a great time back then!
Sponge, you I thank in particular, for making me sift through my ancient articles once more, crack a smile, dwell in nostalgia, and recall many brilliant moments and events (like, for example, our Tribune meeting at Doro’s)! And although I’ve been secluded from the scene for so long now, I’ve never forgotten about them, and am now feeling somewhat wistful.
Goodbye Tribune… You were something else!
With these words, and after brief consultation, the New Tribune is now put into cold storage, and the workshop dissolves.
For the record, it should be clear that the Tribune project did indeed make a difference. The interview from the GC 2005 that CuahianoSmall referred to, for instance, has even been translated into Chinese due to its exclusivity (see: gmly.info). The entertaining and informative services of the Tribune have been consumed gladly by the community. On internet platforms like tombraiderforums, trle.net and aspidetr you can still find references to once new issues of the monthly newsaper, or to entries on the blog.
In addition to that, there are the memories that have been made in the editorial team over the years, and which seem to have had a very individual effect on everyone. I would like to think that for some part of the readers, something similar has occured.
Well. I’m done here.
Take it easy!