Questions for Tom Hall

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Lava89
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Questions for Tom Hall

Post by Lava89 » Fri May 05, 2017 0:20

I mentioned a while back in the "GPL" thread and more recently in the "Keen 7 tech demo" thread that I had contacted Tom Hall on twitter and asked him about important Keen issues-- such as a buying back the rights or what he had planned for TUIT.

There's a few things I'd like to point out about this experience: firstly, my last conversation with him included some questions given to me from our very own Keen community, secondly he seems to be fairly reachable and last of all he's also getting up there in age (sorry, but forgetfulness with age is a fact of life!), so between all of this I got an idea:

Would any of you be willing to give me questions for Tom Hall so we can "pick his brain" about how his unique knowledge of Keen?

There's a myriad of things we've wondered about or speculated on here (sometimes to ad nauseam)-- whether it be about Keen 1-6, TUIT, Dreams or GBC. So I say we strike while the iron is hot and find out directly from him.

The format would be this: people submit questions on here, then I go on my twitter account and tag him in a question like I did in our past two conversations. If he responds, I'll string the series of questions along. This sounds weird, I'm sure, but I'm having to work with twitter and this worked twice already.

Naturally I wouldn't be hitting him up everyday, I'd select 4 or 5 questions and wait a month or two between each spurt. But if he tells me to go away I'll respectfully not ask anything more (and this thread basically dies, haha).

Which brings me to my next point-- I won't be taking every question (but feel free to ask him yourself what doesn't get accepted-- this is just about questions coming from my account). Instead, I'll take what I feel are the best questions and sort them based on relevance and importance. Then before I go through with this, I'll post a heads up on here of what I plan to ask (including my own questions) for each "wave" of questions.

I do have a few rules, but just essential ones to not strain the thought process or intimidate anyone.

So if nothing else I say we avoid:
1. Asking whether he's played any of our fangames or mods.
This has been asked alot before and I think that by now he would've already played our stuff (I have my own ideas for why this is the case if anyone is curious) and this is coming from someone who's working on my own fangame-- but I'd rather concentrate on stuff that we don't know about Keen's original development or games, and that only Tom Hall does (i.e. details about TUIT), lest he becomes unavailable to readily contact again.

2. Asking Tom Hall (or Romero as well) to release any development materials or source code.
First off, like rule #1, this has been asked before and would've happened already. Also, if you look at both of my conversations with him, it sounds like he's actively asking ID for the rights back and is very much optimistic that his TUIT will happen eventually-- so getting development files aint happenin' :)

3. Asking about non-Keen games that Tom Hall has been involved in (i.e. Wolf3D, Doom1, ROTT, Anachronox, etc)
First of all, I'd say Tom Hall has been the most creatively involved with Keen (being that it's based on his childhood), whereas those other games were co-created with other people. Also, with those other games, his involvement has been pretty limited to single titles-- whereas Keen has a deeper, unexplored history, with an entirely cancelled game.

But I will make an exception for questions about his original involvement with Prey. :) (but Keen questions will take precedence over them)

I would also advise that we focus our efforts on TUIT, since that is what we know the least of. But I'm open to pretty much open to anything Keen related.

I'll post more rules if they come to me, but I don't want to get too bogged down in rules and I'll try to give clear justification for not accepting a question.

Also, if this takes off, I'll post a list of questions we've asked him (so far) and his response, as just an archival repository. Lastly, I've talked to a few people about this in the Keen community, and I know there is some bitterness towards Hall or Romero for not releasing stuff, like the source.

But if nothing else, please look at this as helping the community--we have a chance to learn stuff about Keen that we never knew before.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here's what I've talked to him about before:
My "Keen 7 tech demo" conversation.
Preview: Image


My conversation about the rights to Keen and making a Keen-clone to avoid copyrights
Preview:
Image


Tom Hall also came on here to promote "Worlds of Wander" and we were able to get in a few questions.

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Lava89
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Questions for Tom Hall

Post by Lava89 » Fri May 05, 2017 0:25

Sorry for the double post, but I just want to start off with a separate mention that we might have some fertile ground about the differences in ray guns, but that might be a minor question.

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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by proYorp » Fri May 05, 2017 1:32

OH MY SWEET YES :yorp
I love this idea!

I've thought of tons of questions and theories over the years. The first ones that come to mind are:

1.) Goodbye, Galaxy! and Aliens Ate My Babysitter were originally going to be one trilogy, but were split apart for business reasons. This seems to have had some negative effects on the story, everything being rearranged and all. How would the story have originally gone? (I actually recently had a theory about something relating to this. Maybe I should put that up if anyone's interested.)

2.) If Keen is eight, how old are Mortimer and Lindsey? (Contrary to popular belief, I've always thought Lindsey looked about 20. My suspicion is she's the same size as Keen because she's fairylike and thus smaller than a human her age. Maybe she even has little wings behind her back.)

That's all I can remember off the top of my head.

Oh yeah, I think somewhere Ceilick made a list of the most important questions to ask Tom Hall. I'll see if I can find that.
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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by Roobar » Fri May 05, 2017 3:51

tl;dr

So, as it was mentioned earlier this year, we should ask Tom Hall about these gun images taken directly from Keen 4 EGAGRAPH.CK4 file:

Image

They are stored in the "TILE8" portion of the file. Were they planning a weapon changing system? If so, how many weapons were planned? What would have been the other weapons? How changing a weapon would have worked? (i.e. pressing a keys 1,2,3 to change a weapon or carrying only one weapon at time etc.) Why additional weapons didn't make it into the final game? (I guess this question is pointless since the answer would be obvious: they didn't have enough time to implement that back then).

Since I don't follow him, another question I would like to ask is: On what are you working now? Are there any chances you're still working on a platformer? (hint: Worlds of Wander). If anyone knows the answer, then don't ask him that.

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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by chrissifniotis » Fri May 05, 2017 7:01

I don't know if this has even been asked but I've always wanted to know how exactly Tom originally wanted to resolve the series in TUIT.

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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by proYorp » Fri May 05, 2017 8:24

I believe this is what I was thinking of, from this thread:
Ceilick wrote:Q: How much of the Keen modding scene are you aware of? What are your thoughts on it?

Q: What were some of the ideas (story elements, enemies, levels/environments) that didn't make it into the official games?

Q: It's known that Keen 6 Aliens Ate my Babysitter! was originally intended to be a part of Goodbye Galaxy! to make it a trilogy. Did the split result in significant changes to the intended story for Keen's 4-6? If so, what was the original plot?

Q: What, if anything, is Mortimer McMire's motivation? Is he just a jerk, a misunderstood kid, a malevolent mastermind, or something else?
Apparently this thread didn't specifically say "most important questions," but there they are for you to sort through, to see if there's anything you'd like to ask.
Note: searching Miscellaneous for "Tom Hall questions" gives some nonfatal phpBB errors at the top of the screen, some of which seem to be coming from the thread I linked. Quoting it broke my post the first time.

@chrissifniotis:
@ThatTomHall wrote:I know what happens in The Universe is Toast.... and it is... interesting. :D ;)
As Lava89 said about rule #2, Tom seems optimistic that TUiT will eventually happen. We might not be able to get him to leak any major spoilers. (Which I don't really mind. I'd rather wait for the real thing too. :pogo)

Oh man, I can't believe I forgot this one.
How is Shikadi pronounced? Even outside of PCKF, this issue keeps coming up. If you ask this, make sure he gives a very specific answer, possibly with those dictionary symbols, maybe even a recording. We need to make sure it isn't the least bit ambiguous, not like "shi-kah-di" or something which doesn't define all the syllables.
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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by Rorie » Fri May 05, 2017 8:56

Let's face it even though it would be great to see TUIT rise from the ashes, it unfortunately won't happen, I mean it is now 2017, it was due Christmas 1992 so it has been 26 years, 27 by December this year, same questions asked over and over again, time to move on, time to let it go, zenimax ain't gonna sell the rights or release the source code, time to do more useful things in life rather than continually worry about a game that will never see the light of day
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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by ComissionerDeWitt » Fri May 05, 2017 19:31

Rorie wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 8:56
Let's face it even though it would be great to see TUIT rise from the ashes, it unfortunately won't happen, I mean it is now 2017, it was due Christmas 1992 so it has been 26 years, 27 by December this year, same questions asked over and over again, time to move on, time to let it go, zenimax ain't gonna sell the rights or release the source code, time to do more useful things in life rather than continually worry about a game that will never see the light of day
Yeah....nope :p
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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by Lava89 » Fri May 05, 2017 19:41

@Roobar: yeah, I mentioned that thread in my double post, but thanks for fleshing it out more :)

So how does this sound: "In both the original Keen 4 files and Keen 7 video, there are different colored guns. Were other weapons originally planned?"

It sounds kind of minimal (it's actually just 3 characters shy of the limit), but I'll ask more about it depending on how he answers. If he says they were just testing out other colors, then that "dialogue path" is pretty much dead (haha, I've played too many RPG's), but if he says there were other weapons planned, then I'll press for more info about how that would've worked.

@chrissifniotis: proYorp basically took the words out of my mouth (or keyboard in this case), and even quoted Tom himself which was great, haha. Our very own Fleexy gave me the idea to ask about whether Mortimer would've been defeated at the end of TUIT and he was pretty tight lipped about it. So I won't ask him that, but it's still a great question, nonetheless.

@Rorie
" same questions asked over and over again, time to move on"
Actually, these aren't. That's the whole point of this thread-- find what out what we don't already know (and that he's willing to give us).

Did you know that Tom Hall's 3D ideas for TUIT came later on? Up until April 23rd, if you were to read his original quotes about TUIT, it would be easy to assume that he wanted to do a Mario 64 type game from the beginning.

Did you know that, to Tom Hall's knowledge, no art was made for Keen 7, outside of the video Romero posted? (that even includes a VGA version of Keen)

I also asked him about when he had that zoo idea for TUIT-- I've seen NO ONE ask him about that before.

Instead what I hear people ask over and over again is whether he's played Unofficial TUIT or [insert mod \ fangame] and to release the source code-- both of which are a waste of time and add nothing to the collective knowledge of the Keen games as whole. In fact my list of rules are actually an effort to avoid asking him stuff that we pretty much know already.

"zenimax ain't gonna sell the rights or release the source code"

In this thread, who said ANYthing about asking Zenimax for the rights or source code? I already asked Tom Hall about the rights back in 2015 and feel that topic is closed-- I even posted that conversation on here so we know what's already been done. I also stated in my list of rules that getting development materials (i.e. source code) will never happen. Please keep up.

"time to do more useful things in life rather than continually worry about a game that will never see the light of day"

Right-- except no one is worried about it. We're trying to get info that we don't know-- which can actually lead to better mods and fangames (there, I said it).

If anything, this thread is operating under two assumptions: A) that TUIT will never happen and B) that Tom Hall is convinced that it will happen, so he'll never want to give us everything about it. So while we can get in touch with him, we'd like to know as much as we can about TUIT and that he's willing to give us, knowing that this game will never get made.

All of this was already stated or implied in the original thread-- which I know was in TL:DR territory, but it's still common courtesy to read before jumping in with a bunch of assertive assumptions :)
Last edited by Lava89 on Fri May 05, 2017 20:41, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by ComissionerDeWitt » Fri May 05, 2017 19:54

Lava89 wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 19:41
@Roobar:yeah, I mentioned that thread in my double post, but thanks for fleshing it out more :)

So how does this sound: "In both the original Keen 4 files and Keen 7 video, there are different colored guns. Were other weapons originally planned?"

It sounds kind of minimal (it's actually just 3 characters shy of the limit), but I'll ask more about it depending on how he answers. If he says they were just testing out other colors, then that "dialogue path" is pretty much dead (haha, I've played too many RPG's), but if he says there were other weapons planned, then I'll press for more info about how that would've worked.

@chrissifniotis: proYorp basically took the words out of my mouth (or keyboard in this case), and even quoted Tom himself which was great, haha. Our very own Fleexy gave me the idea to ask about whether Mortimer would've been defeated at the end of TUIT and he was pretty tight lipped about it. But still a great question, nonetheless.

@Rorie
" same questions asked over and over again, time to move on"
Actually, these aren't. That's the whole point of this thread-- find what out what we don't already know (and that he's willing to give us).

Did you know that Tom Hall's 3D ideas for TUIT came later on? Up until April 23rd, if you were to read his original quotes about TUIT, it would be easy to assume that he wanted to do a Mario 64 type game from the beginning.

I also asked him about when he had that zoo idea for TUIT-- I've seen NO ONE ask him about that before.

Instead what I hear people ask over and over again is whether he's played Unofficial TUIT or [insert mod \ fangame] and to release the source code-- both of which are a waste of time at this point and my list of rules are actually an effort to avoid asking him stuff that we pretty much know already.

"zenimax ain't gonna sell the rights or release the source code"

In this thread, who said ANYthing about asking Zenimax for the rights or source code? I asked him about the rights back in 2015 and feel that topic is closed-- I even posted that conversation on here so we know what's already been done. I also stated in my list of rules that getting development materials (i.e. source code) will never happen. Please keep up.

"time to do more useful things in life rather than continually worry about a game that will never see the light of day"

Right-- except no one is worried about it. We're trying to get info that we don't know-- which can actually lead to better mods and fangames (there, I said it).

If anything, this thread is operating under two assumptions: A) that TUIT will never happen and B) that Tom Hall is convinced that it will happen, so he'll never want to give us everything about it. So while we can get in touch with him, we'd like to know as much as we can about TUIT and that he's willing to give us, knowing that this game will never get made.

All of this was already stated or implied in the original thread-- which I know was in TL:DR territory, but it's still common courtesy to read before jumping in with a bunch of assertive assumptions :)
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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by Lava89 » Fri May 05, 2017 20:05

@ComissionerDeWitt haha, many thanks!

@Roobar: I forgot to address your other idea, about whether Tom Hall is working on anything else, like a platformer. I think that's a good idea and something I've wondered myself, but I might put that at the end of my conversation with him, since it might seem a non-sequitur from the other Keen stuff I'd be asking him-- in fact I am going to do the same thing about my question for him about Prey (i.e. what was the original 1997 version of the game going to be like, compared to the 2006 game).

@proYorp: Sorry I forgot to address your other questions. I really like your Goodbye Galaxy and Keen 6 split question (which even Romero alluded to in a video), so that one will definitely be a priority question.

I also think your Shikadi question is good and same with the ages of the different characters, but I might save those towards the end if I can fit them in.

Also thanks for finding Ceilick's list-- his question about stuff that didn't make it in is good, but I might have to split it up, since Tom Hall could give us a long answer, but is limited by Twitter. But I think the Roobar's gun question is a good first step and he did give us some info about the Dort back when he was advertising Worlds of Wander. But if anyone has any other ideas of how to approach it, I'm all ears :)

So far I got:
Major questions:
Changes to Keen 6 after splitting it off from Goodbye Galaxy (proYorp)
If different guns were planned (Roobar)

Then minor questions include:
Ages of Mortimer and Lindsey (proYorp)
Pronunciation of Shikadi (proYorp)
Tom Hall's involvement with 1997 Prey (me)
If Tom Hall is working on any platformers (or any other games) (Roobar)

Please keep in mind that the order of the questions are vaguely based on which one will be the best conversation starter and then easy to segue into other questions.

So for exanple, I could start by saying that I heard Keen 6 was split off from the 4-5, and then transition into the question about the guns (since it's related to development details of the games).

I could also start with saying I heard about the gun files discovered in Keen 4 and then seen in the Keen 7 video (since the video is halfway recent), then move into Keen 6's story.

But I'm open to suggestions either way. :)

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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by Rorie » Fri May 05, 2017 23:58

Lava89 wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 19:41

@Rorie
" same questions asked over and over again, time to move on"
Actually, these aren't. That's the whole point of this thread-- find what out what we don't already know (and that he's willing to give us).

Did you know that Tom Hall's 3D ideas for TUIT came later on? Up until April 23rd, if you were to read his original quotes about TUIT, it would be easy to assume that he wanted to do a Mario 64 type game from the beginning.

Did you know that, to Tom Hall's knowledge, no art was made for Keen 7, outside of the video Romero posted? (that even includes a VGA version of Keen)

I also asked him about when he had that zoo idea for TUIT-- I've seen NO ONE ask him about that before.

Instead what I hear people ask over and over again is whether he's played Unofficial TUIT or [insert mod \ fangame] and to release the source code-- both of which are a waste of time and add nothing to the collective knowledge of the Keen games as whole. In fact my list of rules are actually an effort to avoid asking him stuff that we pretty much know already.

"zenimax ain't gonna sell the rights or release the source code"

In this thread, who said ANYthing about asking Zenimax for the rights or source code? I already asked Tom Hall about the rights back in 2015 and feel that topic is closed-- I even posted that conversation on here so we know what's already been done. I also stated in my list of rules that getting development materials (i.e. source code) will never happen. Please keep up.

"time to do more useful things in life rather than continually worry about a game that will never see the light of day"

Right-- except no one is worried about it. We're trying to get info that we don't know-- which can actually lead to better mods and fangames (there, I said it).

If anything, this thread is operating under two assumptions: A) that TUIT will never happen and B) that Tom Hall is convinced that it will happen, so he'll never want to give us everything about it. So while we can get in touch with him, we'd like to know as much as we can about TUIT and that he's willing to give us, knowing that this game will never get made.

All of this was already stated or implied in the original thread-- which I know was in TL:DR territory, but it's still common courtesy to read before jumping in with a bunch of assertive assumptions :)
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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by ScarletFlame » Sat May 06, 2017 1:33

I think most of my questions I'd ask would be story based. I want to know more about Princess Lindsey, Molly Mcmire, Mortimer Mcmire, Billy's Parents, and the creatures, planets, and machines in the games, since we don't know too much about them, and since we only really know about how Tom created Commander Keen/Billy Blaze and the Dopefish.

I'd also like to ask about the connection between Wolfenstein 3D and Commander Keen. Like, were they planning on making all of the id games take place in the same universe? Would the "Wolfenstein 3D sequel that never got made" talk about this lore?

The problem with these questions is that a 140 character answer wouldn't be in depth. :dead2
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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by chrissifniotis » Sat May 06, 2017 4:29

proYorp wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 8:24
...
@chrissifniotis:
@ThatTomHall wrote:I know what happens in The Universe is Toast.... and it is... interesting. :D ;)
As Lava89 said about rule #2, Tom seems optimistic that TUiT will eventually happen. We might not be able to get him to leak any major spoilers. (Which I don't really mind. I'd rather wait for the real thing too. :pogo)
...
Fair enough. I was kinda figuring he may have changed direction during the wait to get the IP.

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Re: Questions for Tom Hall

Post by K1n9_Duk3 » Sat May 06, 2017 5:33

Lava89 wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 20:05
gun files discovered in Keen 4
The three gun icons are actually present in all three episodes of Keen 4-6.

Another good question would be to ask how far they got with the in-game story sequence that seemed to be planned for Keen 4. In case you don't remember, the tileset from the Keen 4 demo contains actor icons for Billy's parents, the council page, the BWB megarocket and Billy's backyard clubhouse. And since the Keen 1 beta had an animated sequence with the vorticon stealing the parts from Keen's ship, it seems likely that something similar was planned for Keen 4.
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