Hyper Square (Psiko)
A Special Preview
by Jürgen aka Lara for Ever - March 2013

I want to report about a new project from Psiko, as he is working on it for a long time yet, and finally the release is not so far away any more. After my own longer time away from Tomb Raider I had this luck to get in contact with him again and now having this chance to report about this huge project, with new exclusive material in addition. And I am totally sure players will be excited for what to expect here.


Psiko has send me material and info about his project, and actually I wanted to work out something own about all this. But in the end I found all those words from him speaking for themselves, and so I leave them as they are, only bringing them into a report form now. And I hope you will also be as excited as me.

So, what is “HyperSquare”, the name of this project, which appeared in 2009 yet for the first time, all about? The creator may explain for himself:

“HyperSquare” is the first part of a series of level sets from me. I have taken the idea of a “series” and not simply a closed game, from the fashion that today comes from the serials for televisions, that are divided into multiple seasons and tell a huge and complex story that gets unfolded slowly to the watchers, with lots of twists through many episodes.


Well, an interesting thought, which I can only agree. As a fan of long, intense TV Series I find this very interesting for a new tomb Raider level series, but for the details, and how this project was born at all while Psiko actually was working at something totally different, let's hear the thoughts and words of the creator again:

In the beginning, some years ago, I suddenly stopped working on my unreleased game "Fables", and started "HyperSquare” thanks to an build intuition on how to use the complete features of 3ds max (a professional 3D program) to Tomb Raider games still having as a base the engine for Tomb Raider 4. This invention allowed me to use 3ds max as a world editor, giving me the chance to a total revolution on the graphics side, thanks to an astonishing technique impossible with the old fashioned classic Tomb Raider Level Editor, but still using all its basic features and all the wonders of NGLE.

“HyperSquare" project was born on June 2009 from that technical intuition, and since then, has grown bigger. Now it includes part of the gameplay from that unreleased game “Fables”, even if enhanced by the chances of the tools we have today. But the story of “Fables” was fantasy, so I have re-written it with a science fiction basis.


So, one project cancelled (though I guess this fantasy project "Fables" certainly also would have been very interesting, and it is a pity that it now never will be released any more), and another born, as it often happens in a development process. And the creator gives us more details about "HyperSquare":

This level set includes a high innovation both visually either in the gameplay side, with new animations for Lara, for objects and enemies, new locations, new audio files and new sound effects, new puzzles to solve thanks to those new moves which you'll learn from a tutorial level inside the game itself: it will be like to explore places un-accessible before, like we learned inside Tomb Raider 3, when Lara learned to crawl, monkey swing, run faster…

I have done a lot of work in all the past years, and I've learned a lot from this method I invented, thanks to the fact the using 3dsmax in this way was unusual to myself. Thanks to this method we can have a graphic that reminds the games from Playstation 2, like Angel of Darkness itself, even if, to be honest, I am obviously not that good as Core Designers. Some Custom Level designers are using this method too, as I wanted to share it with everyone, but had no time to develop tutorials on how to use it, so I published the main guidelines to make it useful to others. Some VERY good levels are already coming up from this method.
Speaking about my HyperSquare game, some Full Motion Videos (FMVs) will guide you throughout the storyline with in-game helps if you get stuck. The computer I have does not allow huge computations typical of a render farm, and so, certain FMV sequences take lots of days to be completed during which my PC is useless. So, if an error is present in a sequence, I have to start again the rendering process. At the end, I decided that some errors can be forgiven, as it is more important to tell the story itself, instead of losing years to create the perfect FMVs which I would never be able to create.

Interesting details about this new level series, and everybody may imagine how hard and complex it may be to realize an ambitious project as this one. And how much time and effort a creator has to spend at a project like this. So, of course players also may be interested what this new series at last may be about, what story it may tell us, and what kind of adventures Lara has to expect:


About the story of the game itself, I do not want to reveal that much. I can say that in HyperSquare there will be a big science fiction component, which will be introduced gradually to the players but even a lot of classical locations. The story is really complex: even if I already have all things in mind, and even if present since the beginning, a lot of elements of this novel will be suspended, and you’ll need the second or third part of this series to understand everything.

A breach in the space-time continuum has opened and seems malicious. After the TechnoEgyptians mess, Lara has to go to some areas in Italy to discover what is going on. She gets in touch with the strange secret society of Eternals, who seems to control the time and space.

Not too much details at this time, but more than enough to be curious and excited yet, as I think. And Psiko also wants to tell us something about the background, on what this level series depends on:


HyperSquare Inspirations

Background of my story is the wonderful novel by Isaac Asimov "The End of Eternity", where the Eternals use time travels to protect the Mankind itself from Time Paradoxes and dangers like nuclear wars or new world dictators.
I think Time Paradoxes are the best and greatest science-fiction theme, and it is really hard to create some convincing ones, like the few ones presented into Asimov's novel.
I sent to you four in-game screenshots, and some inspirational pictures, from my huge collection of images inside my inspirations folder. The head make of broken toys is from an Italian artist, Dario Tironi. The Inspiration from the Fauno Domus in Pompei shows how ancient Roman houses were full of colored marbles and mosaics which we lost for the time consumption.

The creator allows us to also not only watch screenshots from his new game, but also have a look into the creating process. So there are also making of screenshots, and information from Psiko about them:


HyperSquare Making-of-FMVs

The "making of" images shows the study for Lara's new outfit, that had to have some key features like the rockets, for some of the many new moves, then the animation process for a FMV showing Lara moving and talking, and some of the brand new textures I created. In HyperSquare there will be even some strong reference to art and specifically to Italian art of the 20th century, even if in that texture you can spot a painting from Picasso as a wall graffiti.
Considering the year when I started working on "Fables", I am working on this project since 2006, even if all the youtube and screenshots previews for that one are not updated and I put them off from internet, and most of the gameplay of Fables is now useless or has been cut off from "HyperSquare".


HyperSquare Making-of-Textures

One thing is for sure, "HyperSquare" will not be only any further level project, it will be something really very special. And also something very big, a huge level set with not only one part, as the creator explains:

"HyperSquare" so is the first part of a trilogy, but is still a stand-alone game, and can be played as you would watch a "season" of a serial. It is the first of three parts of a Relativistic journey through time and space in search for many answers: who are those Eternals and what is that dimensional breach that suddenly appeared inside our Solar System that seems malicious? You'll see the big picture only playing the entire series, but for now, after all those years of work, I am trying the release of "season 1" for May/June 2013. I hope I can make it :)
I am not releasing a new level since the year 2004, and working hard on this one since 2006... Development time for the second and third part of the entire game will be a lot shorter, it can be done in one or 2 years for each part... at least I hope.. :) In all this period, I changed my artistic vision to a more realistic look of my locations, even if there will be something still colorful and fictional. But no more punches in your eyes trying to watch at it XD
I forgot to say that for the outfit realization/”making of” images, I have to thank Deskj who listened for months to all my needs for the outfit I wished to have.

Making of LARA's OUTFIT:

HyperSquare Making of LARA's OUTFIT

And there is one further addition. It is always great to see what level designers create with their project, and all those years since the first release of the old TR4 editor have been so exciting for us all. Some very creative heads have developed this editors, created new tools and made things possible we never could have believed ever to find them in Customlevels. And this development never ends, we can always be surprised again. Psiko is one of those very creative heads, but let's listen to himself again, what he further wants to introduce us to in this report:

Lately I worked on how to add hand-to-hand fight, and I was quite successful, at least for what I specifically needed for my levels: it is not a complete hand-to-hand combat feature, but it is exactly what it was needed for that specific level I am working on: enemies react very well to 4 new Lara’s moves, that are 3 kicks and 1 punch. I have done this new feature with the tools we all have, but I think it will be possible to improve it much more with the latest upcoming update from Paolone and his TRNG, at least from what Paolone told me on private emails. In that screenshot, Lara is kicking a new enemy: both Lara and enemy are using custom animations.


As I said, exciting and really amazing. A new incredible project is in its developing process, and we can really look forward to. Many thanks to Psiko for those great information and screenshots, and the honor for me to tell about.

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