Romero publishes Keen 7 Tech Demo from 1992

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Post by Ceilick » Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:33

Wow, great post, fantastic that it's finally revealed. Good analysis of what's there from Roobar and K1n9_Duk3.

As for my own reaction, I guess I expected more when I thought of a keen 7 Demo. Seems kind of underwhelming; it's barely not keen 4 as we know it, almost like one of the fangames that have sought to recreate the original episodes (and I guess technically that's what they were doing, as K1n9_Duk3 said, building a techdemo with existing resources).

I think some of the ideas presented are pretty neat, particularly from a modding perspective: the leaf huts (they need some work but the graphics are an exciting start), the depth the of the platforms extending above the path, and the logs forming the walls of the pits into the earth.

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Post by Keening_Product » Thu Dec 15, 2016 16:44

For all we know, those leaf huts were dropped from K4-6. I wouldn't immediately attribute them to K7. They look out of place either way - if they were oc for 7 I think they were a very long way from completion.

The most striking change in this for me is the way the paths flow. Keen 1-6 had sharp angles for inclines, but the paths in that video looked much smoother. Yay yay VGA.

Thanks for the link cooba.
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Post by IllidanS4 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 21:51

Wowowowow, this is amazing! Just came here after a long time and saw this. I hope some more videos will appear!

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Post by NY00123 » Tue Dec 20, 2016 21:52

When you think about it (if there's the need to), observing anything like this after about 25 years is surely something!

While the demo doesn't look like a lot, I think it isn't really a surprise. Let's remind that the first complete versions of Keen 4 and 6 were prepared on Nov 91, and later Keen 5 was done on Dec 91 (according to various files' timestamps). It's also known that it took 6 months to complete Wolfenstein 3D, and further that a registered version was available on June 92. So obviously, very little time was spent on Keen 7.

And while it's known that it took just one month to make Keen 5, this was obviously possible thanks to existing tech. and resources previously used for 4 & 6.

Technically wise, Keen 7 shouldn't be very different from Keen 4-6. In fact, there are still a lot of great similarities even between Keen Dreams and Wolfenstein 3D, which can be observed by comparing source codes.

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Post by Keening_Product » Tue Dec 20, 2016 22:58

I can see how Keen 7 wouldn't be a massive departure from its immediate predecessors code-wise, but how does so much remain the same when the game becomes a WWII-themed 3D FPS?
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Post by K1n9_Duk3 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 0:08

That's because the "ID Engine" was well-designed. The engine had lots of different sub-systems:

CA is the cache manager that reads the games file formats (xGAGRAPH, AudioT, GameMaps) and loads the currently required pieces into memory
IN handles all kinds of input, including keyboard, mouse and joystick
MM is the memory manager that handles all types of memory a 286 could have (conventional, EMS, XMS)
SD handles all the sound devices from PC Speaker to SoundBlaster
US contains the user interface stuff, like the main menu and such things. Two different versions of this exist: Dreams/Rover2 and the later Keen4-6/Catacomb3D/BioMenace. In Wolf3D/Spear, the actual menu code was moved over into the game-side of the code (WL_MENU), but it still has parts of the US subsystem, too
VL and VW do the generic video stuff, like detecting the type of the video card and drawing text and images for the menu, but also for drawing lines or blocks of a solid color. And each graphics standard had its own version of this (CGA, EGA and VGA)

The 2D games used an additional subsystem called the refresh manager (RF) which is responsible for the smooth scrolling.

The later VGA games (Wolf3D) had another new thing called the page manager (PM), which is basically just a new cache manager that handles the new VSWAP file format, which stores the wall textures, sprites and digitized sounds.

On top of that "ID Engine", each game had its own game code, which often contained some low-level assembly code as well, like the Star Wars text scroller in Keen 4-6 or the sprite/texture scaling routines from Catacomb 3-D (and later Wolfenstein 3-D).

Id was able to make games quickly because they were able to re-use the core engine and its file formats and therefore didn't have to spend too much time building new technology. New engine means new file formats, which means you also need to write new tools for creating and editing the new data files.
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Post by _mr_m_ » Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:54

K1n9_Duk3 wrote:Id was able to make games quickly because they were able to re-use the core engine and its file formats and therefore didn't have to spend too much time building new technology. New engine means new file formats, which means you also need to write new tools for creating and editing the new data files.
Hence why TED5 was able to read and write the GAMEMAPS file(s) for multiple games, yes? Is it documented anywhere what games levels were created using TED5?
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Post by Nisaba » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:33

_mr_m_ wrote:Hence why TED5 was able to read and write the GAMEMAPS file(s) for multiple games, yes? Is it documented anywhere what games levels were created using TED5?
yes, yes it is. just take a quick look over here: shikadi.net/moddingwiki/TED5
the list says:
  • Bio Menace
    Catacomb 3-D
    Commander Keen 1-3 (TED5 is apparently able to edit the CK 1-3 Level format, though how is not known.)
    Commander Keen 4-6
    Commander Keen Dreams
    Dangerous Dave 3
    Dangerous Dave 4
    Rise of the Triad
    Wolfenstein 3-D
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Post by Levellass » Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:22

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Keen Engine is exceptionally well built.
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Post by Quillax » Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:31

I just checked out the video, and while it ended up being less than what I expected, I thought it was kind of neat. The leaf huts and wooden pits looked neat to me. I also like how the art style looks (yeah, it seems that they are using existing resources, but if they continued Keen 7, then I think that art style could work well for the new graphics). It's such a shame that they dropped it so soon after it started. :( I could see it being a great game if the team actually continued and finished it.

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Post by Levellass » Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:14

Now someone must port this to regular galaxy.
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Post by KeenRush » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:08

Neat. My reactions are a bit watered down because I have clear false memories of having seen this film before. :confused I'm quite sure I haven't, but...
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Post by Keening_Product » Thu Dec 22, 2016 21:19

Thank you for the good explanation, K1n9_Duk3.
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Re: Romero publishes Keen 7 Tech Demo from 1992

Post by guynietoren » Fri Dec 30, 2016 17:53

Seeing this just put in my head a need to see a claymation Keen. The Gumby type claymation. The Keen4-6 enemies already point in that direction. Blah... should I give up on wanting this to not keep my hopes up?

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Post by GoldenRishi » Sat Jan 07, 2017 20:27

This engine demo is quite interesting. I agree with the commentator who said that this looks a lot like Mystery of Isis II, except it uses a different shading technique. Here it predominantly uses dither shading, rather than the linear/anti-aliasing-esque shading that Isis II did. Dithering was common even in the earliest Keen games and all throughout the DOS era.

One thing I will say, I think the loss of colors in the bright end (a problem with VGA, from what I can tell) makes the graphics kind of dreary. It'd be nicer if people learned how to shade at a brighter scale, or use effective highlighting.
K1n9_Duk3 wrote:That's because the "ID Engine" was well-designed. The engine had lots of different sub-systems:

CA is the cache manager that reads the games file formats (xGAGRAPH, AudioT, GameMaps) and loads the currently required pieces into memory
IN handles all kinds of input, including keyboard, mouse and joystick
MM is the memory manager that handles all types of memory a 286 could have (conventional, EMS, XMS)
SD handles all the sound devices from PC Speaker to SoundBlaster
US contains the user interface stuff, like the main menu and such things. Two different versions of this exist: Dreams/Rover2 and the later Keen4-6/Catacomb3D/BioMenace. In Wolf3D/Spear, the actual menu code was moved over into the game-side of the code (WL_MENU), but it still has parts of the US subsystem, too
VL and VW do the generic video stuff, like detecting the type of the video card and drawing text and images for the menu, but also for drawing lines or blocks of a solid color. And each graphics standard had its own version of this (CGA, EGA and VGA)

The 2D games used an additional subsystem called the refresh manager (RF) which is responsible for the smooth scrolling.

The later VGA games (Wolf3D) had another new thing called the page manager (PM), which is basically just a new cache manager that handles the new VSWAP file format, which stores the wall textures, sprites and digitized sounds.

On top of that "ID Engine", each game had its own game code, which often contained some low-level assembly code as well, like the Star Wars text scroller in Keen 4-6 or the sprite/texture scaling routines from Catacomb 3-D (and later Wolfenstein 3-D).

Id was able to make games quickly because they were able to re-use the core engine and its file formats and therefore didn't have to spend too much time building new technology. New engine means new file formats, which means you also need to write new tools for creating and editing the new data files.
That's what I'd expect, but it's interesting to see it clearly delineated.
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