Coming summer 2018: Keen Modding Live!

This is where you can post your Commander Keen related stories, artwork, or other stuff that is related to Commander Keen but otherwise doesn't belong in another forum.
Post Reply
User avatar
Fleexy
Tool Smith
Posts: 1357
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:21
Location: Abiathar C&C
Contact:

Coming summer 2018: Keen Modding Live!

Post by Fleexy » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:07

I've been too busy recently to prepare any Keen Day releases, so here's a status update on a work-in-progress.

A while back, I proposed a system to catalyze the creation and consumption of new single levels. A few months back, I started working on it. I call it Keen Modding Live and it's coming along nicely. Here's how it works so far:

Authentication is handled entirely with Keen Modding credentials. There's a distinction between accounts and credentials so I could theoretically add non-KM-linked login later, but so far your Keen Modding forum account is your Keen Modding Live pass. To prevent spam, linking a Keen Modding account requires at least two published posts. This is only checked at registration, so by tweaking the database (or eventually through some sort of administrative action) non-forum-users can be allowed in.

You can upload levels for any of the original games. For Galaxy and Vorticons, the uploader takes the GameMaps/MapHead(/MapDict) files and assumes that the level is in slot #1. The web player works for all episodes, immediately entering the level and restarting it with reset stats upon death or completion. (Thanks to Levellass for some patching assistance here.) When created, levels can be assigned a "zone" corresponding to how completed they are -- this allows people to publish betas or WIPs without players stumbling upon them in the showtime zone and thinking they're finished. The API allows searching for levels by a variety of properties, but there is zero web UI for this or any kind of level browsing yet. The API also lets you rename/rezone/delete levels and upload new revisions of a given level (which includes publishing unofficial derivations of other people's levels), but again, there's no web support there yet. The UI in general is currently extremely minimal.

For a smooth authoring process, I'm working on an Abiathar extension, Abiathar Live Studio. It can automatically set up a development environment for Galaxy episodes and Dreams, or turn an existing level into a Keen Modding Live project. You never need to fiddle with patches or batch files -- it provides a Test command that launches DOSBox straight into the level you're working on. When you're ready to go live, you can publish the level to the web, all without leaving Abiathar. The project file then remembers the Keen Modding Live association, so subsequent publishes add new revisions. A properties window allows you to rename and rezone the level. There are still some things left to be implemented, like the ability to find and clone/fork an existing level from the web, but I think the UX is pretty nice.

I'm aiming for a release late this summer. Let me know your thoughts and if you'd be interested in some beta testing. The testing phase will probably begin in mid-summer but possibly earlier, especially for the level creators' side. Status updates and sneak previews might turn up in the #keenmodding Discord from time to time. :disguised

Happy Keen Day 2018!

User avatar
Nisaba
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 822
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 23:34
Location: The Outpost
Contact:

Re: Coming summer 2018: Keen Modding Live!

Post by Nisaba » Wed Mar 14, 2018 15:07

oh yeah! it's good to hear that this is still work in progress. that's neat.
sound like a real complex but easy to use development environment/editor. I'm very excited about this. looking forward for news and updates. I'm also interested in beta testing things. I really love to test things soon. maybe we can initiate a complete community based mod. Thematically I already have an idea. maybe something in connection with woodlands...
"We have come to conquer you all and bring you lots of candy!" | about me | my current project: play Keen mods on a GameBoy |

User avatar
KeenRush
Android Dummy
Posts: 2540
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 20:57
Location: KEEN1.EXE
Contact:

Re: Coming summer 2018: Keen Modding Live!

Post by KeenRush » Wed Mar 14, 2018 15:49

Happy Keen Day. It's an interesting project indeed, good to hear it's been progressing. I think the odds are good for a collaboration level pack or mod using it.
My newest mod - Planet Of Agony: https://pckf.com/viewtopic.php?t=4165 | codename H.Y.E.N.A.

User avatar
Gridlock
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 529
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 2:20

Re: Coming summer 2018: Keen Modding Live!

Post by Gridlock » Wed Mar 14, 2018 17:46

Happy 3/14! This sounds neat. Not that I have much time for Keen, but I like the idea of having a way to make and publish a level without having to commit to a larger project.

Any reason for choosing KeenModding accounts over PCKF accounts? The PCKF is more frequented and I could some interested users not being registered over there (not a hard problem to fix with private requests, but still).

I'm looking to forward to seeing the system in action. Have you considered allowing people to design multiple levels in the same Gamemaps/Maphead file and choose the level index to upload, rather than require separate files for each level? Also, just curious, what kind of stats (probably just ammo) would you be starting a level with (or would that be customizable?). I could see music choice being another variable.

If the initial beta is a success, I'd love to see more features added later like custom tiles/tileinfo files. And, I have no idea how hard it would be, but I'd love to see a few mods supported later on. I've wanted for a while to make a few more levels for the TUIT series.

I have no idea how you're pulling off this web integration, but I think it's an awesome way to get things moving. Since I'm graduating college in two months, I have no idea what my situation will be, but I might be interested in some beta testing at some point.
Image
Armageddon Begins Again. The Alphamatic has arrived.

Atroxian Realm: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3536
The Alphamatic: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4086

User avatar
Fleexy
Tool Smith
Posts: 1357
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:21
Location: Abiathar C&C
Contact:

Re: Coming summer 2018: Keen Modding Live!

Post by Fleexy » Wed Jul 25, 2018 16:04

I forgot to reply to this for a while, oops! Here's an update:

Abiathar Live Studio is essentially done. Cloning/forking is working and everything seems to be smooth, with the possible exception of the version tree. I'll revisit the UI there if that becomes necessary. When we get to the beta-testing phase, I'll see what the testers have to say and probably make various refinements.

The web interface is slowly but surely coming along. It's now possible to upload new versions of all types of levels. Level information pages (distinct from version/player pages) show all the useful info on the level except the version tree, which is my next thing to handle. After that I'll make the homepage/dashboard and a way to discover levels. There is kind of an account request system but no UI for staff to handle requests yet.

Things have been slower than I expected because I'm taking an online summer class. I have one more month of summer before going back to University full-time. I'll definitely have a viable (and hopefully really fun!) system by then, but not all suggested features will be completed before the public opening.

Thank you all for your feedback! Regarding Gridlock's great suggestions and observations:
  • IIRC I chose Keen Modding accounts because the domain I made was under keenmodding.org, but I can see why PCKF accounts might be better. Conceivably I could make it possible to join with either kind of account, but then there would be complications from the ability to accidentally create two KML accounts. One advantage (that I didn't think of when I initially built the login system) of Keen Modding accounts is that, since the domain is under keenmodding.org, KM forum cookies are sent to the site, so logon could be totally seamless and automatic if I fiddled with phpBB internals enough.
  • I'm trying to minimize the amount of file parsing done on the server, so currently the "upload level" endpoint just takes files and assumes the level is in slot 1. However, Abiathar Live Studio has a slick Import Current feature that creates a KML setup from the currently selected level of a non-KML level set, which can then be published from inside Abiathar.
  • Currently the player starts with zero ammo. This is not currently customizable, but I agree it would be nice - I'll keep it in mind. Music is also not currently customizable (it just uses the music for level 1), but again, that would be good to have. I'll keep custom tileinfo in mind for a ways down the road.
  • I'm happy to say that mod support is actually very easy with the architecture I've set up! All I'd need to do is add the live-ifying patches, upload the tweaked mod package, create an Abiathar setup (for Galaxy/Dreams mods), and add a row to the Episodes table.

Post Reply