In 2003 I discovered a tool called Glidos that allowed the original DOS based Tomb Raider to be played on Windows. I was thrilled that I could once again play that classic on a newer computer. As I studied the Glidos docs, I learned that a side effect of the way it worked allowed it to replace the game textures ‘on the the fly’. My interest was piqued: could I re-texture the game this way? Yes I could.
I planned to re-design the game textures in PhotoShop. My aim was to keep the original tone and atmosphere, but simply update the graphics to look more realistic. The old games tiles were only 64x64 pixels, but Glidos allowed replacements up to 256x256. This meant a four fold increase in detail and clarity. In my spare time I started to completely replace the games images. I had great fun sourcing matching assets to try and keep the original flavour of the artwork intact. It was time consuming manipulating all these images into something that resembled the originals, but needless to say it was enormous creative fun.
I was an active member of the Glidos forums and posted my progress. Other artists became interested. Before long I realised that I should create a website to display our work. I set about designing a simple site that would show-off the work of all the artists.
However as time passed, I became frustrated with this side-project. Getting the graphics into Glidos was a tricky affair, involving lots of fiddling about with tiny text files and file pointers. Managing all that on top of the creation of new textures became a chore and I started to lose interest.
I never did finish my textures and only managed to complete a few levels. Other artists did indeed complete the whole thing. I’m a little sad I didn’t stick with it, but it was fun while it lasted and I learned so much about PhotoShop that directly helped me in my day job.
Now when I look back, I have fond memories of that work and the friends I made online during the time I spent on it. Side projects are important and rewarding and whether we finish them or not, the creative reward we can get from them is priceless.