Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

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Vote for your 3 least favorite levels.

1.) Border Village
0
No votes
2.) Slug Village
3
6%
3.) The Perilous Pit
1
2%
4.) Cave of the Descendants
3
6%
5.) Chasm of Chills
9
17%
6.) Crystalus
9
17%
7.) Hillville
9
17%
8.) Sand Yego
2
4%
9.) Miragia
0
No votes
10.) Lifewater Oasis
1
2%
11.) Pyramid of the Moons
3
6%
12.) Pyramid of Shadows
2
4%
13.) Pyramid of the Gnosticene Ancients
2
4%
15.) Isle of Tar
1
2%
16.) Isle of Fire
8
15%
 
Total votes: 53

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XkyRauh
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by XkyRauh »

proYorp wrote: Mon Aug 16, 2021 7:20 The thought did occur though that this topic seems just like some old threads Xky started on Keen:Modding from like 2006 haha.
:lol Yeah! When I was searching for a way to make XkyKeen4 happen, I was thinking a *lot* about level design and how to keep it interesting. This poll really made me realize how much I dislike verticality overall. Definitely a weakness of mine!
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by Nisaba »

XkyRauh wrote: Thu Aug 19, 2021 2:51 [...] When I was searching for a way to make XkyKeen4 happen, I was thinking a *lot* about level design and how to keep it interesting. This poll really made me realize how much I dislike verticality overall. Definitely a weakness of mine!
this poll helps me a lot to get a better understanding of what the community prefers in terms of level design, layout and structure.
At least two of my FitF maps will feature an overall more vertically orientation. now I'm very curious how well this will turn out / get accepted and what kind of echo they will receive. I for one have the impression that both work quite well as they features some ideas and mechanics that only function in a vertical environment. but I could be wrong about that... so, yeah, this is pretty exciting for me
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by Ceilick »

I feel like there's something really interesting to learn about the levels which received no votes. Miragia and Border village might be set aside because of their unique functions as first level and, maybe, because of the wetsuit discovery, but Lifewater Oasis and The Perilous Pit stand out to me. A poll about the top three Keen 4 levels would be very revealing as to whether these are examples of 'great' levels or exemplary 'average' levels. For someone like myself who studies the ins and outs of the original level design and seeks to recreate those same flows and feelings, this would be great information for focusing analysis.

Also, out of curiosity for those who voted for Crystalus; is there an example of a Keen level which correctly utilizes the themes you don't like presented in it, whether that's verticality, free roaming gem hunting, or something else?
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by proYorp »

Nisaba wrote: Thu Aug 19, 2021 8:30 this poll helps me a lot to get a better understanding of what the community prefers in terms of level design, layout and structure.
I think this poll on its own only really gives half of the data about community preference. Often it seems that in general when strong opinions are involved, it tends to go to two extremes both ways, and sometimes the things most disliked by one group are also the most loved by another. For instance Ceilick's appreciation for Crystalus despite it currently winning this particular poll. I'd be curious to know how Crystalus holds up in a general "favorite level" poll.

I feel like there must have already been a favorite level discussion somewhere through the years, but I do think it would be a good idea to start a fresh one with the same three-vote structure to parallel this topic and complete the data set. That would probably be good to do next while these levels are still fresh on the mind before moving onto Keen 5.

The question is, which levels should be excluded from a "most favorite" poll? How easy would it be to change PCKF's poll size limit to say 20 options?


Ceilick wrote: Thu Aug 19, 2021 19:49 I feel like there's something really interesting to learn about the levels which received no votes. [...] Lifewater Oasis and The Perilous Pit stand out to me.
Careful, votes are still coming in. :p I was leaning towards voting for Lifewater Oasis myself. But yes, I was also pondering the implications of this and agree that a parallel "favorite" topic would be useful.

Speaking of votes coming in, I saw in the last day three new votes came in and two of them were for Crystalus. Did someone vote for Crystalus twice? :lol Can that happen?
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by Soul Monster »

proYorp wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 4:44 I feel like there must have already been a favorite level discussion somewhere through the years, but I do think it would be a good idea to start a fresh one with the same three-vote structure to parallel this topic and complete the data set. That would probably be good to do next while these levels are still fresh on the mind before moving onto Keen 5.
I was hoping you'd make more polls like this! I'm really looking forward to hearing what everyone's favorite Keen 4 levels are, and also sharing my unpopular opinion on why Chasm Of Chills is one of my favorites.
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by Nisaba »

proYorp wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 4:44 I think this poll on its own only really gives half of the data about community preference. Often it seems that in general when strong opinions are involved, it tends to go to two extremes both ways, and sometimes the things most disliked by one group are also the most loved by another.
True, true. At the same time it is the diversity of answers that makes level analysis so interesting to me. Just like Ceilick I study the ins and outs of the original level design and seek to unravel their obvious pros and cons plus their well kept secret ingredients so to speak. There are so many layers to analyse levels. like for instance you can look at the map design, the artistic work, enemy placement, difficultly level, guidance of the player, introduction of new features, embedment in the whole game, excitement & consistency, space for imagination, progression and so on and so forth. so yeah, polls and conversions like this reveal quite a lot of useful information for dedicated game designers. also those things that are left unsaid can become a source of helpful insights...

Ceilick wrote: Thu Aug 19, 2021 19:49 out of curiosity for those who voted for Crystalus; is there an example of a Keen level which correctly utilizes the themes you don't like presented in it, whether that's verticality, free roaming gem hunting, or something else?
some thoughts about Crystalus. if we focus for a moment on the set of tiles used in this level I think we can argue that Crystalus lacks variety, complexity and spirit. If we were to do a side by side comparison with Miragia, which uses the same core of tiles as Crystalus do, we will come to the conclusion that Miragia has visually way more to offer as it adds number of additional tiles. In comparison Crystalus feels plain and dull, whereas Miragia uses background and foreground tiles in a way to not only differentiate certain locations from one another but also to unfold a narrative this level has to offer. To me, Miragia tells a story about the location and structure of this place. Crystalus hardly does. At least to me the interior doesn't feel very much crystaline structure like, if you know what I mean. It very much has an artificial tone whereas the worldmap indicates something more organic. The inside of this place doesn't resemble what we can see on the worldmap...
So, even if I'm not a huge fan of Cave of the Descendents it does give a cave like impression while exploring the place. Sand Yego feels like a fortress in the desert. Miragia comes with a glass dome like impression and so on. you get the idea. Crystalus on the other hand lacks in terms of a clear narrative and I think this is one if not the major downside of this level. and we haven't even touched the general layout...
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by Ceilick »

Good points on Crystalus, Nisaba, in terms of tile utilization (which leads to a lack of landmarks, as Soul Monster points out) and the lack of logical map-to-level representation. These are definitely downsides and not something I'd praise the level for.

This really focuses my thought toward what I favor in this level, the open exploration and search for gems with a variety of rooms, and whether this level just does that badly in broad opinion or whether that type of level is generally 'bad'. Bloogton Tower was brought up as a similar level of this type, which I'm 100% behind it being awful, but other levels I'd consider similar (in terms of gem searching, room size and spacing, exploration) include the Pyramid of the Gnosticene Ancients, Energy Flow Systems, Neutrino Burst Injector, the Second Dome of Darkness, Bloogfoods Inc, and Bloogville. Melon Mines and Castle Tuberia have some similar vibes as well. Come to think of it, I dislike exactly half of the levels of what I consider this type. Perhaps it's just the most volatile of level archetypes.
proYorp wrote:Often it seems that in general when strong opinions are involved, it tends to go to two extremes both ways, and sometimes the things most disliked by one group are also the most loved by another.
I think you're right here, as not only is Crystalus a favorite of mine, but the Isle of Fire is a runner up on my favorites list (it'd be a favorite if it weren't ruined by the utterly lackluster second half of the level).
The question is, which levels should be excluded from a "most favorite" poll?
I think you made great choices for exclusion in this one and I'd continue on the same track.
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by Nisaba »

well, I for one voted for the Cave of the Descendents as one of my least favorite levels. at the same time I have to admit that I really like that area behind the door. In my opinion this vertical oriented path is exciting and a good challenge. the choice of enemies - in this case the MadMushroom - and the enemy placement function well and make a good challenge. it requires caution, timing, and precise movement skills.
This section even makes use of how the sprites get rendered relative to Keens position so that even some of them appear "out of the blue" and another might even climb some steps, which is really neat.
the vertical orientation of this section brings variety what might be the strength of it. but I think this only works in this restricted area not for a whole level which is strictly vertical orientated.
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by StupidBunny »

Like everybody else I have a hard time picking one, let alone three, because...well, I don't like all the levels equally but I certainly don't dislike any of them (I'll come back when we get to Keen 6 :p ) I can, though, point to a few that I never really looked forward to playing as much as others and kind of suss out why...

Isle of Fire is a pain in the arachnuts mostly because of the berkeloids, although I also struggle to remember the last half of the map which after all these years isn't a good sign either. My main childhood aversion to this map is the experience of being suddenly killed by a berkeloid fireball that's magically clipped through the walls and dropped onto me.

Pyramid of the Moons isn't terrible but I feel like there's a lot of wasted space in there, and that there's a lot of backtracking and hopping through long tunnels without much in them. I know those underground tunnels are optional but that isn't a good excuse for how redundant and boring they feel. All the dart shooters and platforms also mean there's a lot of waiting and stop/go in the map. Admittedly my impression of the map as backtracky and wait-ey is probably informed by the fact that I almost always collect the worms when I play this, and as fun as the payoff is it can still be a bit tedious. The secrets and easter eggs are the best part of this one.

The Chasm of Chills also comes to mind, because again it's one where most of the best bits are hidden (and there are a lot of hidden bits, to be fair) but where the main map doesn't have much structure to it--it's mostly just a big open area with some stuff to jump over, some platforms suspended in the air, and otherwise no objectives apart from "move to the right". And, well, to quote Homer Simpson, "everybody hates birds".

I see Crystalus and Isle of Tar in here a lot, and while I get why I guess I can't say I dislike either of those, although I admit I do get waylaid playing both of them even after all these times doing so. I guess I like the atmosphere of both, and feel like there's enough exploring to do in both maps that they never feel dull (well, Crystalus does in a couple parts.) Hillville also gets an honorable mention for being another pretty featureless left-to-right map, although I also don't mind it as a mostly easy and airy interlude map with some secret hunting in the sky. I used to hate Sand Yego mostly for all the mimrocks and arachnuts but I've gotten better at dealing with them and the map has grown on me a lot.
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by proYorp »

Soul Monster wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:32 I was hoping you'd make more polls like this!
:D I love doing data collection and things! I'm so glad that other people are enjoying this as well.
Chasm Of Chills is one of my favorites.
Oh snap! :lol I'll be interested to hear about that.


Ceilick wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 9:23
The question is, which levels should be excluded from a "most favorite" poll?
I think you made great choices for exclusion in this one and I'd continue on the same track.
Well, the thing is, I've heard plenty of complaints about both Well of Wishes and Pyramid of the Forbidden on their own and about levels of similar type, so those seemed to be the obvious answers for some of the least popular levels, thus making them the least necessary to include (and possibly necessary to exlude to get a clear amount of data for other levels). However, off the top of my head, I can't think of any levels that have received equal amounts of unanimous praise. I'd hate to exclude something at random and unfairly leave off what might be some people's favorite level.

Maybe I should just keep the polls consistent and exclude Well of Wishes and Pyramid of the Forbidden from the next one as well. That might be better actually, because if they were added in, the polls would not be a one-to-one comparison.


StupidBunny wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 14:40 Like everybody else I have a hard time picking one, let alone three
Heh. The reason I chose three as the number of votes per person is because of the limited population size of PCKF. I wanted to get a full gradient of comparison between all the levels, rather than having most of the votes stacked up on a few options, as tends to happen. As it currently stands there are 38 votes submitted, which is much more data to work with than the dozen or so votes there'd be if there were only one vote per person. But more than three would be asking too much. :p

Of course, if someone can only think of one level to vote for they can go ahead and do that, especially at this point where there are already a few dozen votes submitted. A user should theoretically be able to use their other votes later, if the "change vote" option works as advertised.



Edit: hot topic wow :0
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by StupidBunny »

ProYorp wrote:Well, the thing is, I've heard plenty of complaints about both Well of Wishes and Pyramid of the Forbidden on their own and about levels of similar type, so those seemed to be the obvious answers for some of the least popular levels, thus making them the least necessary to include (and possibly necessary to exlude to get a clear amount of data for other levels). However, off the top of my head, I can't think of any levels that have received equal amounts of unanimous praise. I'd hate to exclude something at random and unfairly leave off what might be some people's favorite level.

Maybe I should just keep the polls consistent and exclude Well of Wishes and Pyramid of the Forbidden from the next one as well. That might be better actually, because if they were added in, the polls would not be a one-to-one comparison.
Heh Pyramid of the Forbidden is actually one of my favorite levels in Keen 4. I'm kind of a masochist that way.
Ceilick wrote:I feel like there's something really interesting to learn about the levels which received no votes. Miragia and Border village might be set aside because of their unique functions as first level and, maybe, because of the wetsuit discovery, but Lifewater Oasis and The Perilous Pit stand out to me. A poll about the top three Keen 4 levels would be very revealing as to whether these are examples of 'great' levels or exemplary 'average' levels. For someone like myself who studies the ins and outs of the original level design and seeks to recreate those same flows and feelings, this would be great information for focusing analysis.
I personally love Miragia and it's a contender for my own favorite map in Keen 4. A lot of that is just the thematic uniqueness of the map, an ethereal ice/glass city in the desert full of cool domes and disappearing blocks and such. I also don't mind that a lot of it is optional--in fact some of my favorite maps in Keen and Doom alike are the ones that have lots of optional trips and secrets, where the haul to the exit is fairly quick (within reason) but there's lots of room to go wander and poke around and get lost if I want. I do wonder if they deliberated a while on where the wetsuit is supposed to go, since it does feel like it's in kind of an arbitrary spot. Oh yeah and I always really liked the extra life secret in the lower right...I don't know why but I always felt very cozy and safe and serene going down there.

Border Village probably gets a bit of a pass for being the first level and that most of Keen's first levels are pretty flat and linear like this. That said, it also succeeds in looking like a border village, it's small and it's actually got houses and the little cookpots are a nice touch. Plus of course the King Slug downstairs which probably should've been in Slug Village but never mind.

As for Perilous Pit and Lifewater Oasis, I would probably put those in the "average" category, where "average" means "good" and also "not overly difficult". I think many of the pyramid levels are excellent but are also long and sometimes quite hard, bordering on mean, and are more likely to overstay their welcome for some people. They're not as wandery as Crystalus--and although I love wandery maps, a lot of folks are not me--and also not as redundant and flat as Slug Village or Hillville, each requiring a bit of exploration without demanding too much backtracking or waiting for stuff to happen. Like they're (probably?) not distinctive enough to be that many people's absolute favorites, and I myself wouldn't have thought to put them in my top three, but there's also not that much to say against them. I have no memory of being angry or bored or frustrated playing them, I think they're everything they need to be and nothing more.

The Perilous Pit still looks like a bee's nest btw
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by The Shifted One »

Hillville has always been my least favorite.
Why are there houses on the world map but not in the actual stage?
Why?!
Aside from that, the level has always felt boring and uninspired.

The well of wishes would be next on the list.
It's one of the most memorable but also one of the most boring; even the Dopefish can't save it.

Ilse of fire would be the last of three.
Aside from being boring it's also hard.
The Berkeloid's add some flavour to it at least.

I find it interesting to see the Chasm of Chills so high as it's one of my personal favourites.
I loved the strange and obscure secrets in it, it really gave the whole level a mysterious atmosphere.
I've spend hours in it looking for secrets thinking that there might be something related to that secret pyramid in there (which, turns out there was).
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by ckguy »

I think my least favorite has got to be the Well of Wishes. Yes, it's got unique mechanics, and yes it's got the famous dopefish, etc., etc. But it's just so dang slow to move around in. Once I had memorized the route through it, it just became an exercise in boredom punctuated by moments of stress when the dopefish are around. I was never really tempted to ever explore the other parts of the level again, because it's so painful to do so.

I'm also surprised that folks are voting for Chasm of Chills as one of their least favorites. The fact that so much of it is secrets and stuff you don't need to play to beat the level is what makes it so cool in my opinion. There aren't any other levels in all of the official Keen games where such a large fraction of it is on the other side of a secret passageway.
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by Ceilick »

The Shifted One wrote:I loved the strange and obscure secrets in it, it really gave the whole level a mysterious atmosphere.
ckguy wrote:The fact that so much of it is secrets and stuff you don't need to play to beat the level is what makes it so cool in my opinion.
This seems to me a major determining factor for how players view this level. Does anyone enjoy this one for reasons other than the secrets?


Here's a quick list of some of the major factors mentioned so far in choosing our least favorites:

Excessive vertical gameplay
Underwhelming visual presentation or tile utilization
Uninspired or plain rooms, tunnels, and/or paths
Excessive difficulty or deadly encounters
Lack of difficulty or tension
Excessive exploration and/or backtracking
Poor world map representation
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Re: Keen 4 Least Favorite Level?

Post by The Shifted One »

Ceilick wrote: Tue Aug 24, 2021 17:51 This seems to me a major determining factor for how players view this level. Does anyone enjoy this one for reasons other than the secrets?
If you take away these there is nothing left but a very basic, Hillville like level.
I don't believe that matters really because if the rest of the level would be more, lets say complicated then the secrets wouldn't stand out so much.
The entire atmosphere of this seemingly straightforward level that probably houses more then you likely able to spot the first time around will lose its value.
Seeing how much this levels identity is largely based off of these secrets judging it for being boring without them seems strange.

I would like to add that this, like every opinion, will differ for each person.
Some people may enjoy Keen for the more basic platforming rather than its exploration/atmosphere and I can see why the level would fall flat for them.
I just personally had not expected so many Keen players to feel that way ;)
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