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Fantastic Tomb Raider Remastered Collection Was Led By Fan Modder

The recently released Tomb Raider I-III Remastered collection is a damn-near perfect reconstructed version of those classic ‘90s action platformers starring the iconic Lara Croft and her two handguns. And if you were curious as to why the remastered Tomb Raiders were so dang good, you can probably thank a talented Tomb Raider modder who revealed they led the team that developed the “dream project.”

The Week In Games: Reignited Rivalries And More New Releases

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While some folks might find the old Tomb Raider games fiddly and hard to play again in 2024, the games were extremely popular in their heyday. I mean, the franchise is still huge today, with multiple movies, spin-offs, sequels, and more. There’s also no denying that the recently released remastered ports of the first three games—Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider II, and Tomb Raider III—are a home run, recapturing (for better and for worse) every detail from those original games, while also offering improved visuals, new controls, and more. Playing the remaster feels like digging into a true labor of love crafted by folks who really care about Lara and her first three games. And that’s exactly the case.

As revealed last week, Timur Gagiev, the creator behind OpenLaraa popular open-source port of the first five Tomb Raider games—was hired by Saber Interactive and Aspyr to lead the development of the newly released remasters. Some folks had wondered where Gagiev had gone and why updates for OpenLara had stopped. It turns out that Gagiev was busy helping make these official Tomb Raider ports.

PlayStation / Aspyr

“For the past year, I’ve been busy with a dream project that has become the culmination of the last eight years of my life – Tomb Raider I-III Remastered,” Gagiev posted on Twitter. “From the beginning, we had complete freedom and set ourselves an impossible goal, which could only be approached by a small ‘Development Team’ of crazy people, ready to work 24/7 next year with an absolute vision of what and for whom we are doing.”

Gaviev also gave shoutouts to Saber Games for “trusting” him to lead the project and build a team of “true fans” to work on it. He also celebrated publisher Aspyr for helping provide source code for the Mac ports and thanked Digital Forms for providing additional support.

So it’s clear that this one fan modder wasn’t responsible for making the entire collection alone, but it is obvious that someone who cared—and who had years of experience with the games and porting them already—was given the time and budget to create a Tomb Raider remaster that would be fan approved.

Remasters made by fans just hit different

While I’m not suggesting all remakes and remasters must include fan modders and developers on the team—sometimes that just isn’t possible or reasonable—I think this was a smart move on Aspyr and Saber Games’ parts. You already had a dedicated group of modders and fans porting the old Tomb Raider games to other platforms and tweaking them to work better. So why not take advantage of their expertise and knowledge when making an official product?

Looking at this just makes me wish Rockstar and Take-Two had gone a similar route with the remastered GTA trilogy. There are so many talented fan modders and devs out there working hard on those original open-world crime sims and they could have helped a lot in bringing the games to a new audience on new platforms.

Let this be a lesson to publishers: Sometimes the best people for the job are the folks already doing it for free. So hire them, give them some money, and let them make the best remake/remaster possible. And considering how happy fans are with the Tomb Raider remastered collection, it seems to be paying off for Aspyr and Saber.

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