Luka Ivanovic aka tombraiderluka back homepage search
interviewed by Ian Smith aka Marksdad in July 2009

Ian: "First off, your name; how old are you and where do you live?"

Luka: "My name is Luka Ivanovic, I'm 17 and I live in Serbia."

Ian: "How did you find out about level editing? I notice that your first level (Temple of Darkness) wasn't released until May 2006, so it seems you started later than many of us."

Luka: "The Level Editor was included in my Tomb Raider Chronicles Game, and I lost my second CD so I couldn't install it. Back in the day I had a really slow internet connection, so downloading trle was not an option. In 2006, I got a decent internet speed so I downloaded it and started building."

Ian: "Aha! That would explain the (comparative) lateness of your first level, The Temple of Darkness. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy it at all!"

Luka: "Well, I didn't read the manual at first, and once I finished building my first 'level', I immediately published it. It was a silly thing to do lol."

Ian: "I review as OrbitDream, and I gave it one heck of a slamming! When you released it, were you aware of the trle reviewing system? Did the feedback bother you?"

Luka: "I was aware of the reviewing system, but I never played any custom levels before that, so I thought it'd get good reviews! I think that feedback that I got then is well deserved. I now enjoy reading bad parts of the review, it shows me what I should improve in my next levels. Though the year 2006 wasn't a good year for me, because I had personal problems and taking my time while building the levels wasn't something familiar. I just wanted to have a bit of fun, and release levels as soon as possible."

Ian: "I'll tactfully by-pass your first 2 levels and instead ask you about Dagger of the Secret Jungle and The Key of Temple of Darkness. The first of these was interesting in that it seemed over-ambitious. You could reach the 'End of the world' everywhere! Do you have Beta-testers,or do you prefer to test them yourself?"

Luka: "Unfortunately no, I don't have beta testers, but I gave my new level (The Last Obscura Painting) to my friend and he helped me a lot :)"

Ian: "My review of 'Key' was probably also a little harsh. The second time I played it, I enjoyed it rather a lot."

Luka: "As for the reviews, don't worry about it, you should be a bit harsh, just to wake someone up!"

Ian: "That's an excellent attitude, and one that should be shared (but isn't) by several experienced builders over twice your age! Getting back to 'Key', there's one point rather early on where you have a 'three-level' structure and the camera views it side on. It's really effective. It was at this point that I thought 'he's getting there'! There was also rather an odd mix of textures: Peru and Egypt!"

Luka: "Thank you for the praise. Yeah, it was an odd mix, I thought it was a bit effective, to contrast the first gray parts of the level."

Ian: "As this was your first 'proper' level, did it take you long to build?"

Luka: "Well, it took me longer than my first levels, but not long enough to texture and light it properly and spicy up the gameplay a bit. A month probably. Again, the Key was tested just by me. I never notice any errors, since I know the right way!"

Ian: "You see, this perfectly illustrates the dangers of 'self-testing': you only go the way you know you're supposed to go; whereas independant testers will go all the ways you're not supposed to go! Just to clear something up: there's a corridor with five levers. Four burn you, while the one remaining lever opens the nearby door. Were there any clues to this, or was it just luck on the part of the player?"

Luka: "The ceiling above the switch was supposed to be colored differently, probably didn't save it that way and it was without it. I immediately published the level as soon as I've put the finish trigger lol."


Ian: "I did a similar mistake with not saving the correct map with one of my levels. I was too eager to have it finished and released; it's an easy mistake! Once again, independant testing would have prevented it. Anyway, a fun level; and one which displayed your developing style: linear and straightforward, but with a few really tricky little moments to catch out the players. Before moving on, which is your favourite of all your levels and why?"

Luka: "I'm glad you think it's fun, it is supposed to be easy. I changed that style though. My most recent level makes you to explore which door you've opened and go back and forward a lot. I don't have a favorite level, I find them very frustrating. There are a few things in each level I like, ie The Blades Room in 'The Key...', the Door used as ladder in The Revised version of Temple of Darkness, the Motorbike in The Last Obscura Painting.. But if I must pick one, it'd be this new level I'm working on now :)"

Ian: "Revised Temple of Darkness. Completely different to the original and far more complex and ambitious. Again, there were a few features that didn't quite work (the rope swing to the ladder in the deep chamber, for instance), but some really nice 'pushable object' puzzles. Do you sit and work these out on paper beforehand, or do you simply build the rooms and then insert puzzles?"

Luka: "I'm actually trying to make concept art for my new level, thought I should change the way I build a bit. I haven't been making any plans with my previous levels, I just... 'go with the flow' so to speak. With the revised version, I wanted to kinda delete the old version, not to let a level like my first one stand there with failure printed on its forehead. That's why I built the revised version, though I'm not a fan of remakes. Thanks for the puzzles compliments :)"

Ian: "I know it was the Temple of Darkness, but did you really need to put in quite so many shadow bulbs?"

Luka: "Haha, well I dunno. Firstly there were only a few lightbulbs, then I put more cause I felt it isn't dark enough. Again there comes that problem of self-testing. I knew my way without using flares, so darkness wasn't a problem for me!"

Ian: "The last Obscura Painting. Undoubtedly, your best work so far! You've already mentioned that you'd been developing this for some time; but you said something about losing the original files? Does this mean that you basically started again from scratch? If so, how long did the 'remade' level take to build?"

Luka: "Thank you! I've lost the original game 'Castle Ruins' and had to build from scratch. Though I still had objects and textures there, so all I had to do is start building. It took me a month to make this level but it's cause I knew from the start where I was going with it. A hard month I must say, I worked till 4am just to fit the textures perfectly. Though everything paid off, I'm happy with how it turned out."

Ian: "Visually, this is notably different in style. Much brighter, more colourful and 'open' (btw, I didn't mind the crocodiles in a Scottish castle. If the owner was eccentric enough to keep gorillas in his dungeon, he was perfectly capable of owning one or two pet crocodiles!). This was very much a 'back-and-forth' adventure. Was this always intentional?"

Luka: "Yeah it's different. I wanted to get away from Egypt a bit. When you see cartoons, the crocodiles are always outside the castle in the water surrounding. I dunno why it was weird, though I respect everyone's opinion. I don't know if you actually noticed the names in the Church's basement. Those gorillas, or yetis, were human once. And Lara got scared when she found herself there, so the movement and camera were pretty odd! Yeah back and forth was itentional, as was the no cameras showing which door opened throughout the level. Though everything was in Lara's Notebook. It's something meant for players to read before playing. It has a few riddles inside."

Ian: "The timed motor-bike ride! One of the toughest challenges I've ever faced in a custom level; yet perfectly do-able. How long did it take you to set up?"

Luka: I can't remember correctly. Though I built it in less than an hour. I always liked those motorbike chases, so I thought 'why not?' Everything connected to the motorbike is pixel perfect. It takes 30 seconds and if you make a mistake in one second, the door closes. I replayed that part A LOT till I got the hold of it. :D My levels up till The Key to the Temple of Darkness have taken me a week to build or less. Then after that, once I sorted out my problems, I started working more on my levels and they had better results. The Last Obscura Painting has taken me a long time to build. I started building it last year, some areas in the final version look similar to the previous version which was very different. Then I lost everything and was disappointed and couldn't do everything once again. But in June this year I started working on it again. The level itself is a bit smaller than it was, but the texturing is a lot better. I am a bit weird I must say when it comes to levels. I don't like realism that much. I'm inspired by fairy tales, horror movies, darkness, places that I've seen, places that I dreamed of.. I like to draw and when I paint a picture I usually put lots of weird stuff in it. Same with levels. Don't expect me to think whether crocodiles suit in a level situated in England. Or any realistic thing. When I like something to be realistic I will do it that way :) I don't think that builders should change something they imagined just for the sake of rating. Players are hard to please, so am I, so you never know what could be good and what could be bad."


Ian: "Let's talk a little about you. Are you still studying? If so, when do you find time to build?"

Luka: "My teachers at school are great, so I don't have to study much and yet I have excellent grades. So I have time for all my obligations and still have time for building levels. Though I started this level once my school ended, at the end of June."

Ian: "Are your family interested and/or supportive in your hobby? (Or do they just think, 'he's in his bedroom playing with his computer...again!')"

Luka: "Strangely enough, they don't care. My friends are supportive though."

Ian: "What are you planning on building next? Any sneak previews?"

Luka: "I actually learned that I shouldn't reveal anything about a new level until my work's done about 90%. If something happens, like with my last level, some are going to be dissapointed. Anyways, it's a bit different than my last level. It's more open and has a different setting."

Ian: "You must have other hobbies. What do you do when you're not building levels?"

Luka: "I'm composing, singing and recording music, taking photographs, drawing, going out..."

Ian: "Serbia. Tell us a little about it. Is it somewhere nice to live? Would it make a good holiday destination?"

Luka: "As in it's looks, it's beautiful. As for the people, majority is really nice. As for me, I don't like living here. I'm a music fanatic, and a major music genre here is folk - which absolutely gets on my last nerves! In my town there are no places which don't play it. It's crazy. It would make a great holiday destination, that is, if you're up for visiting a beautiful town such as Belgrade, or having a quiet vacation in the countryside. You can also go skiing here. Or there is this Mammoths Path holiday, which is really interesting. I just gotta say that Serbia is on its way to progress - culture-wise and tourism-wise."

Ian: "I think it could be said that, as far as building levels is concerned, Luka Ivanovic is ALSO on his way! Thank you very much for taking part in this interview; and we all look forward to whatever levels you have planned for the future."

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