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Re: Early Atroxian Realm Sequel Thoughts

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:20
by troublesomekeen
Maybe Princess Lindsey is the Tooth Fairy. She seems to have a connection to Three-Tooth Lake in that one of her hints is the location of the Swim Gear. The gear is located in Miragia so perhaps her royal city is one of those peculiar semi-invisible places that you can only see if you stand at the perfect angle. Maybe it's actually her own swim gear and she was letting it out to dry.
On the other hand, perhaps the reason she floats is because she's backwards, like how Merlin from the stage play Camelot ages in reverse (he gets younger as time goes on), Princess Lindsey swims/floats in the open air as if it were water, but sinks like a stone in water as if it were air. She's got a crown and she's got a wand. All she's missing is a giant ankh bubble and she could be the Witch of the North from Wizard of Oz.
I wonder what Tom Hall would do with Lindsey if she was involved in another game. I'd like the Lindsey expansion to be taken not-too-seriously, with that quirky humor and (tongue-in-)cheek-iness. Nothing totally bonkers but something that makes you roll your eyes and facepalm while grinning from ear to ear.
She doesn't seem to be 'in' with the whole Gnosti-scene. I think her primary duty is to grant the wishes of those courageous adventurers who take the plunge into the Dopefish-infested icy blue waters of Three-Tooth Lake to have their prayers answered at the Well of Wishes. Of course she wouldn't outright tell anyone to make a wish at the Wishing Well. That would be like calling a cab to get to a taxi. If she is the Tooth Fairy, then her domain extends to Earth which wouldn't be a problem. Those Miragia portals can disappear and reappear in a different place altogether--maybe even a different world. And because there's teleportation going on, the time-stream would be bending hither and thither, much like how Santa Claus has enough time to visit every house on Christmas Eve.
If I were to make a Lindsey mod, I'm not sure what I would do. I'd probably puzzle over it and keep puzzling and never actually make it.

Re: Early Atroxian Realm Sequel Thoughts

Posted: Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:05
by Gridlock
Wow. It's Keen Day already, and I realize I haven't posted anything about this project in over a year. That's not to say there's a lot of progress to show, but it's certainly not dead. I've been pretty busy in the last year and a half. I'm still working professionally in indie game development. In fact, to self promote a little, my studio just yesterday released a game on Switch and Steam that I was lead programmer on. If you're interested, it's a quirky romantic comedy adventure game with some retro charm: ... Past_Fate/

So what about this project? Well, working full time in game development definitely saps a lot of my energy for passion projects like this. But, even though I could be spending my time working on stuff I'd actually own, I can't help but come back to this project again and again. I'm really excited about all the ideas I have for Voyage to Veota, and I'd be really disappointed if they never came to fruition.

Voyage to Veota is still at a point in development where most of the work is on the technical end, building frameworks and tools in Unity in order to have the foundation I need to really start full development. There's cutscene tools (like dialogue and movement), player controllers, game management, data serialization, UI implementation, NPC and enemy AI, level tiling tools, and other miscellaneous things that all need to built out before I can start designing levels and scenarios. The sheer amount that has to be architected in code has definitely made the early phases of the project slow, since I already spend most of my work day starting at Unity and C#. But, I do believe I'm making progress.

Gameplay isn't quite at a point yet where I feel ready to show it off. What I can say is that the game will look very authentically like Keen Galaxy, but with a pretty substantial change in gameplay. It won't exactly be a 2D platformer, but I think the new direction I want to go in could feel really fresh. That's about all I'm willing to say at this point.


Of course, I couldn't post an update with providing anything to look at. To give a tiny taste of the kind of production values I want for this game, I recently put together an art test showcasing what a cutscene could look like. Specifically, this cutscene shows off some establishing shots for the first chapter of the game, which sees Keen and friends return to Gnosticus IV for a dire warning (and possibly more) from the Oracle. I'm somewhat re-imagining the setting for the Oracle, which sees Keen exploring "Mount Prognosticus," home to Oracle Town and the Oracle tower atop the mountain.

Artistically, I'm trying to keep this authentic to the old-school Keen look. Everything is in 16 color, and I'm also enforcing a 320x200 aspect ratio. It does make some of the movements a bit jittery. While I could have left it with much smoother movement, I think there's something about the jittery movement caused by enforcing this low resolution that feels more old-school. But, I'm open to thoughts on this style.

It's still a bit rough, and I'll probably change some artistic choices later on. There's also not much sound or music yet, so this is still very much a work in progress. Here's a video link:

Shout out to Bubbatom for some art that was helpful for me in making this. The Oracle tower design is based on his art from The Eight Accumulators, and one of the BWB sprites is modified from an Octoflore sprite (drawing the BWB from the side is really hard!)

So, where to from here? I've set a goal for myself of creating a full playable demo of the game's first chapter. Basically a "vertical slice" in industry terms. It'll require me to complete a lot of the core systems, like gameplay, UI, and dialogue, while also being able to test content creation. I'm still thinking a lot about the creative aspects of the game beyond the first chapter, but I think focusing on a small chunk provides a more reasonable goal given my limited time and resources. Assuming I can complete it, which is not a certainty, my best case scenario would be to have something by Keen's 30th anniversary late this year. That's most likely way too optimistic, but I do hope to be able to show more results in the coming year.

Hope you all have a good Keen Day. The current situation in the world is a little bleak right now, so a little Keen spirit might be what we need.

Re: Early Atroxian Realm Sequel Thoughts

Posted: Sat Mar 14, 2020 23:16
by Nisaba
thanks for keeping us updated.
I'm really glad to hear that you are still into this. your ideas inspire me. I love the fact that you've decided to keep this project authentic to the old-school Keen look. back then this was my major concern when you first started this thread but now I'm super excited which decisions you gonna make which routes you might wanna take. looking forward to further insights and updates.
Voyage to Veota rules! the BWB cutscene is dope

Re: Early Atroxian Realm Sequel Thoughts

Posted: Sat Mar 14, 2020 23:38
by proYorp
I audibly gasped when I saw there was a video link. :O
This looks really cool, the combination of DOS colors and aspect combined with the more modern visual effects such as complex parallax and shrinking give it a really unique feel, and very fitting for a Keen game.
I wonder if it's possible to prioritize rendering the outlines as an object is shrinking. When the BWB shrinks and the outline disappears it looks sorta... unfinished? IDK just a random thought I had.
Are these graphics done in full color and forced to render as 16, or were they drawn in 16 color?

Heh, is your new game on Steam done in a similar style as this? From the trailer, the art style (the combination of 2D and 3D) looked reminiscent of that other game you said you were taking inspiration from-- I think it was called Octopath Traveler?

The game sounds super interesting, can't wait to see what the gameplay is gonna look like.

Re: Early Atroxian Realm Sequel Thoughts

Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2020 18:08
by Gridlock
I love the fact that you've decided to keep this project authentic to the old-school Keen look. back then this was my major concern when you first started this thread
Sure, that's completely understandable. Even with keeping 16 colors and pixel perfect, 320x200 rendering, I was still worried about being able to make the experience feel authentic. I've always felt that most fan-games, as impressive as they are, never quite get things like the physics right. But, since I've moved away from the gameplay being a standard Keen platformer, I think I've found a way to side-step the issue.
I wonder if it's possible to prioritize rendering the outlines as an object is shrinking. When the BWB shrinks and the outline disappears it looks sorta... unfinished?
I was sort of iffy about this myself, but I wasn't sure if other people would notice. I'm sort of at the mercy of pixel perfect float calculations with how objects scale smaller. However, I do have the option of substituting in different sprites as the BWB scales smaller, so there are other things I could do to work around this.
Are these graphics done in full color and forced to render as 16, or were they drawn in 16 color?
I would actually say it's a bit of a mix, since I have the ability to do both. In this case, most of the images were already saved as 16 color using Photoshop's indexed color mode. I can even import images from Google images, tweak the colors/contrast, save them as indexed color, and then heavily modify them. Where applicable, this makes the pipeline quite a lot faster than hand-placing each pixel (I can't even describe how long the AR title screen took to make). Having the images already saved in 16 color also makes the result more dependable, since converting from full color to 16 color tends to lose a lot of color data, and you have to tweak a bunch of settings beforehand to get the conversion just right. Plus, Photoshop has some nice dithering options to choose from when you make the indexed color conversion.

But, I can also force anything to render in 16 color. Particle effects (like the white star things in the chapter intro) will render in 16 colors, allowing me to create some neat atmospheric effects. Additionally, I may end up using some 3d models throughout the game for setdressing, since I can rotate/scew 3d models to get lots of combinations that sprites wouldn't allow. I'm not very good at modeling, though, so I'll have to rely on assets I can find and texture myself.

Re: Early Atroxian Realm Sequel Thoughts

Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 23:51
by Zero Diamond
Hello, Zero X. Diamond here on a different account since apparently my old one uses something other than the handful of passwords I used in my youth and is also apparently connected to a dead e-mail or something.

I only recently was reminded that the first game was inspired by my unfinished Keen 4 modding contest entry, which apparently the community has taken to calling "Zero X" since I must have never actually given it a proper name. It's honestly an honor to know that I was a major source of inspiration to somebody in a creative sense, and I'm super happy that you liked my dumb, clearly unfinished tripe enough to actually go out of your way and complete something.

I've since moved on to bigger things myself, such as the in-development and officially licensed sequel to Ken's Labyrinth, a highly praised fan game for Joel from Vinesauce, and my somewhat successful streaming career, but I still cherish Commander Keen and appreciate all it's done to inspire me in my own endeavors and how it helped me get the knack for modding in general as it was one of the first things I ever really sat down and played with. I still look back at my old failed mods from time to time and think about what could have been done with 'em...

Anyhow, on the actual subject of a potential sequel and your musings in the OP about potentially wishing to sell your end product: why not get a little creative and simply distance the original content dealing with the Atroxian Realm from the copyrighted Commander Keen content? The material is original enough that I think with a little bit of adaptation, you could easily make it stand on its own. Retro is still a big aesthetic in indie gaming, and I think if you really went for it, you could absolutely make a nice little game and successfully make a nice little profit off of it. Of course, I wouldn't want to cause another Team TNT situation a la Final Doom being picked up by iD for a commercial release after originally being announced as free, but... you know, just saying.

Re: Early Atroxian Realm Sequel Thoughts

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 20:28
by Gridlock
Hey Zero Diamond,

Appreciate the thoughts. I think it's fun that an early spark of AR came from that mod. Besides the name Atroxus, I remember there being one music track that inspired some of AR's darker direction.

The idea of turning Atroxian Realm (the original mod, not the sequel) into an original property is indeed something I've considered from time to time. I do think the game has a certain unique identity with its tone and setting that could have potential. However, I've never really figured out how I would distance it from Keen. Who is the main playable character? How does the story evolve into something more complex? Is it still a platformer? Does the art style evolve to a more 3D look? I've pondered a lot of these questions, but I've never been able to figure out answers that I'm satisfied with. Taking away Keen means having to re-contextualize a lot of things, and at some point I worry that there isn't nearly enough of a unique identity for the concept to stand on its own, particularly from a gameplay sense. Maybe someday I'll figure it out.

I suppose I'm in something of a unique position, since I actually work full time for an indie game studio primarily as a programmer, but also sometimes in a creative capacity. That gives me more access to various resources, as well as insight into the marketing and analytics side of how indie games perform. I guess it's also showed me how high the bar has to be for a product, in terms of both quality and, much more importantly, marketability. At times, it's honestly a little exhausting, even if it's not typically my area of focus. I could imagine an Atroxian Realm reimagining being very hard to pitch if I tried to go the "professional" route. A single player pixel art platformer is honestly a really hard sell right now, whether for development resources or even just publishing resources.

Weirdly, even though it's far less beneficial for me to work on another fangame than an original project, I just can't stop thinking about the ideas I have for Voyage to Veota. Whereas Atroxian Realm was only tangentially related to the Keen universe, Voyage to Veota is far more connected, to the point that I couldn't imagine it working as its own thing. To some extent, I kind of enjoy having Keen as a little creative escape. That said, there's a chance I could get to work on some very exciting projects at work in the future, and if any of those ever come through I probably wouldn't have the bandwidth to think about Keen anymore.