Photo of me with Jonell Elliott and Eric Loren.

TR26 – Tomb Raider Celebration Day

Hi guys, last weekend I went to the TR26 – Tomb Raider Celebration Day which was held at Derby QUAD, the city where Core Design, the original creators of Tomb Raider, were based. It was also my first ever fan event and first convention I had really been too so I thought I would write about my experience there.

So the overall theme of the day was to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the release of the first game, whilst also marking the 19th anniversary of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, the sixth and final game Core Design made in the series and the second movie Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life which was also released in 2003.

The first talk of the day was with the voices of Lara Croft and Kurtis Trent, Jonell Elliot and Eric Loren, who were reunited on stage for the first time in 20 years, pretty much since the recording sessions wrapped for the game. The interview was hosted by Chris Carpineti of Raidercast – a really interesting podcast which I would recommend having a deep dive into.

In the interview, the actors talked about how they got on and also how unusually for a game production they recorded their lines together, rather than individually which both Jonell and Eric felt added an extra dynamic to the game, as well as the dialogue being recorded in a week.

Jonell also reflected on some of the years she spent as the voice of Lara Croft (she voiced the character three times beginning with 1999’s Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation), including recording in a live booth in a Q&A at E3 in Los Angeles.

The audience were also allowed to ask questions, a story of which stood out for me which was told by @DrMemehattan on Twitter who played the game with his 9 year old daughter, whilst recovering from a serious health issue which was definitely emotional and also shows the power of these games to connect audiences across the generations and how younger kids can love older games from 20 years ago. It also brought back memories of me playing the game as well as I was around the same age as Dr. Memehattan’s daughter when the game was released.

There was also an exciting announcement from popular Tomb Raider fan-fiction author J. R. Millward, a brand new two-part sequel novel to the Angel of Darkness game. The game was of course originally intended to be a trilogy which sadly never came to be but I was doubly excited about this as I will definitely give it a read and write my thoughts on the book here.

Below is the announcement video from Raidercast’s channel:

After the discussion there was a break where we could get a photo with Jonell and Eric, which is the featured image for this post you are reading right now. My main question here is what’s the etiquette for this moment? Where is the roadmap? How do you meet someone you grew up listening to whilst playing games after primary school?

In the end I went with a hug for Jonell and shook Eric’s hand, so a combination of very formal and very, well, not. Both actors were lovely and it was super cool as well. I also meant to say how I loved the game and their performances but just managed a “my name is Mike and a how are you and see you later”. 😂

The second session was hosted by Ash Kapriyelov who created the Tomb of Ash fan site and has done a huge amount of work in the Tomb Raider community preserving the legacy of the classic games, including the Dark Angel Symphony (more on that below), acquiring a build of the Core Design version of Tomb Raider: Anniversary which sadly also never saw the light of day and inviting Core Design developers to fan events.

His session opened with the amazing Tomb Raider: The Myth of El-Hawa, a prequel short film which acted as a bridge between Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation’s climatic scene and The Angel of Darkness’ opening. It was amazing visually and incredible that Ash managed to reunite Jonell Elliot as the voice of Lara with Murti Schofield who wrote the stories for both games. At the time of writing, the animation will be released online on 21st October 2022 but we got a first look and it is fantastic.

In the rest of the session, Ash talked about his reasoning behind his preservation work on the game and also produced a map for Embracer Group, the new owners of the Tomb Raider brand, which we need to send to someone, somewhere at Embracer I think.

After another break we then had an autograph signing session, where we could get merchandise signed by some of the developers who worked on the game as well as Jonell and Eric. Ash also had a table of merchandise outside the stage room where I purchased the Dark Angel Symphony on vinyl which is a collection of music from The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider: Chronicles and The Angel of Darkness which I had signed.

I also got talking to a Norwegian fan of the series in the queue and it was again fantastic to realise how much this series crosses borders and cultures. 

There was also a dev talk with the developers from Core Design but unfortunately the queue for getting stuff signed was so long as everyone wanted things signed by Jonell and Eric I missed it, however as soon as I find a YouTube video of the talk (and all of the talks) I will add it here.

The day also ended with a showing of Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life but I also unfortunately had to miss this as the previous talks had run over and had to catch my train back home, though I have seen the movie before but would’ve loved to have seen it in the cinema.

However it was an amazing first experience of fan conventions and as I know it is an annual thing I hope to go back next year, and maybe this time get a ticket for a later train.

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