Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

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Ceilick
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Ceilick » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:51

I'm about 3/4 of the way through, and I have to admit I'm getting pretty frustrated due to the number of times I'm dying late in the levels and dreading having to navigate back to the point where my progress was cut short. I'll try to be specific with my frustration, because I know you don't want to hear just "too hard".

I haven't timed myself yet, maybe I should, but I feel like I spend ten minutes exploring, sometimes dying and restarting 'early' in the level (and that's ok because I'm still exploring and figuring it out) and eventually, usually after about 3 deaths, I finally feel like I've figured the path out, I know how to pass the challenges, even if they're hard and require either good timing or the perfect key presses, that's ok, I want challenges, and I've finally overcome them and feel I'm getting to the end of the level... And I'm not, the level keeps going, and I die, and after about 15-20 minutes I'll beat the level (sometimes cheating to do so) and realize what I had originally felt like was the end of the level was only half way. Maybe it's just the kind of player I am, but it's exhausting, and hard to play more than 1 or 2 levels in a single sitting. I stop caring about figuring the level out, stop caring about what is interesting about the level design, I just want to get through it so I don't have to repeat what I've already done.

I'll continue as I've been to the end, maybe I'll feel differently by then.

Worth mentioning, I really like what you did with the in level teleporter and ice level, I'm actually shocked that such a cool idea hasn't been done before. The only flaw with it, imo, is that it exacerbates my issue with level length, and the ice level feels extra long and punishing.

Complaints on level length aside, it really is evident how crafted each and every moment in the levels are. Even the mundane dead end hallways with some points, every path and tile feels deliberate without feeling formulaic. That's how the best original Keen levels feel tool, imo. I wish I had the patience to appreciate that more while playing.

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KeenRush
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by KeenRush » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:46

Ceilick wrote:Complaints on level length aside, it really is evident how crafted each and every moment in the levels are. Even the mundane dead end hallways with some points, every path and tile feels deliberate without feeling formulaic.
This is what I so wanted to hear! I'm glad that you felt so. I really strived for that.

Anyway, thanks for analyzing. I start to see that I wasn't even close to understanding the player. I was too blind once again. Blind to the fact that I know everything about a level while the player knows nothing - crazily enough, I did think about that all the time, but still was so misguided. Countless times I thought "surely they'll notice that..." and "surely they'll remember that..." etc. And I underestimated the difficulty, badly. It seems a bit laughable but I estimated a few deaths here and there, almost none if the player is just careful and vigilant (every time I died I ignored it as just being careless and tired), and maybe a few deaths in the most difficult levels where there are some puzzles that need to be got right (such as the falling blocks in the teleport level)... :dopekeen I went all out with the level sizes and actually had to modify akeen's source because it only allowed 300 as maximum width and height. This tells something about my delusions. :helmet I honestly thought that players will be rejoicing "cool, this level isn't ending yet, there's more!"

Well, I'm taking this all as a challenge. My next big mod production has to get better, and it will, damn it. Thanks for all the feedback.


I'm thinking that what I'll do next is this: Instead of starting with what I've planned to do next I'll do a smaller mod, mainly - or perhaps exclusively - based on Keen physics. And I'm making this mod with no regard whatsoever for the player. I'll make it as a challenge for myself. I won't expect anyone to pass it (although I know some will, if they just play it), I won't expect anyone to even bother. It'll be purely to serve my own vileness. :mort This way I hope to exhaust my obvious and slightly disturbing need for difficulty a bit before I attempt to do levels that should not be too challenging.

Edit: But my next project is to finally learn that video recording and editing, and make a playthrough of this mod.
My newest mod - Planet Of Agony: https://pckf.com/viewtopic.php?t=4165 | codename H.Y.E.N.A.

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Roobar
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Roobar » Mon Dec 11, 2017 18:20

Soo basically what you're saying is "in the end it doesn't even matter". Because you asked for opinions and I wonder why. I really am. There are a lot of opinions in this thread, but you didn't change anything in your mod. You kinda agree that it's a little bit harder than you thought and that's it. And you're still gonna make your "dream" mod that will be level difficulty "keenrush". So yeah. In the end it doesn't even...

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XrackProject
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by XrackProject » Mon Dec 11, 2017 18:22

KeenRush wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:46

Edit: But my next project is to finally learn that video recording and editing, and make a playthrough of this mod.
If your a "newbie", then I recommend to buy Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 or 13. Its a nice program, you will find a lot of tutorials on Youtube cause its like the smaller "sister" of Sony Vegas, and most tutorials also will work on the SMSP version too. It offers everything you need for videos, Youtube and what so ever. You can even use Green Screen FX and any other stuff that you see around youtube.

I just felt to write that because I see a lot of people getting the most expensive softwares and use maybe 5% of what it actually offers. No need for that! :) A 40$/€ software offers everything you need for video and even small film productions.
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KeenRush
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by KeenRush » Mon Dec 11, 2017 20:10

Roobar wrote:There are a lot of opinions in this thread, but you didn't change anything in your mod.
Huh? Of course I'm not going to change an already completed mod. :confused I've never seen anyone changing their released mod based on comments it receives. I just don't understand your point. And the difficult mod idea is not my dream mod. My dream mod is something that is playable, likeable, versatile, well-designed, and occasionally challenging -- like XkyKeen2.

Thanks for the tip XrackProject, I'm definitely a newbie, but I have almost no interest to get better than that at video editing. Video is just not my media... I've gotten a free editor called Shortcut. I've recorded in DosBox and I can't get frame perfect cuts even if the program should be capable of that, but I guess I'll just make it something less professional. I recorded a segmented playthrough today, I tried to make it sort of fast but it could be much improved - but I won't improve it because I have no interest in that right now. I don't know when I'll finish the video editing and upload it somewhere, it can take a while.
My newest mod - Planet Of Agony: https://pckf.com/viewtopic.php?t=4165 | codename H.Y.E.N.A.

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Nisaba
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Nisaba » Mon Dec 11, 2017 22:38

"We have come to conquer you all and bring you lots of candy!" | about me | my current project: play Keen mods on a GameBoy |

Ceilick
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Ceilick » Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:52

I honestly thought that players will be rejoicing "cool, this level isn't ending yet, there's more!"
:lol I'm sure some players are like this, who enjoy the extra challenge and satisfaction from completing such challenges, but Im not sure the keen community has many players like this anymore, or our patience has been worn thin by less polished titles. This feels especially true when expecting a 'normal' keen mod, as compared to going into a mod and expecting a challenge/puzzle mod such as your mod Fall Up, and that which earned the reputation post release, Episode Smile.
I was too blind once again. Blind to the fact that I know everything about a level while the player knows nothing - crazily enough, I did think about that all the time, but still was so misguided. Countless times I thought "surely they'll notice that..." and "surely they'll remember that..." etc. And I underestimated the difficulty, badly.
I wouldn't say you were blind; I still stand by my earlier post that the early levels felt fair and I didn't feel like I needed to be the level designer to understand the levels; on the contrary I frequently felt as I played that I understood things from the level designer's perspective, either immediately or once I had died once or explored enough. The issue, for me, was that after spending too much time in a level (90% of the time because the level was long) I couldn't focus or care about that anymore, I just desperately wanted to find the exit :p

It's kind of funny, too, that it never worried me that the next level might be just as challenging. Starting each level for the first time is often like a mental reset of patience and enjoyment. But I needed the mental boost of thinking "yes, Im making progress, I'm winning" to get that reset, and that feeling usually only comes from completing levels.

Think of each level like an empty cup that the player wants to fill, and every challenge completed or area passed is a shot of your drink of choice added to the cup. The player is going to be happy as long as they feel their cup is getting filled, even if they don't exactly know how big the cup is, they can imagine "just a few more shots and it's full, my work is paying off!". But the longer it takes to fill, the more doubt the player has it'll ever be full, or they question just how big a cup they need to fill, that whatever progress they make is only a drop in the bucket, "my cup will never be full, this is taking forever, do I even want a drink anymore?".

That isn't to say the player should always be making progress, sometimes getting stuck is good and fun, but I think only when it feels like "I just need to pass this spot and the exit is right on the other side" or "I just need to pass this challenge and the rest of the level will be easy".

My advice for your next work if your goal is for a more accessible, xky2 type mod, is to keep the level design philosophy you have here and just make the levels smaller.

Hopefully I'll get to compete this mod this weekend :)

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Nisaba
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Nisaba » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:54

Ceilick wrote:
Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:52
My advice for your next work if your goal is for a more accessible, xky2 type mod, is to keep the level design philosophy you have here and just make the levels smaller.
I second this. Keep the beautiful colour scheme, stay true to your outstanding level design, but please split the level sizes in half. I love the challenges your levels provide, but often times I get frustrated of starting things all over again. so the emphasis here is on exploration rather than just surviving a designed world that would take like 30 minutes to get to through just one level. when a mod gets way too difficult I have the impression that this is not worth the aggravation. In other words, I get the feeling of not getting rewarded enough for all the sweat and tears. Smaller level layouts might help keeping the motivation high.
"We have come to conquer you all and bring you lots of candy!" | about me | my current project: play Keen mods on a GameBoy |

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Malvineous
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Malvineous » Wed Dec 13, 2017 0:02

I also agree with this. It's all about risk for the player. As a level becomes larger, the risk increases that you'll lose more and more work if you die and have to return to the start. Duke Nukem II (among others) addressed this by having checkpoints, so if you die you don't have to go all the way back to the beginning of the level, and the later Keen games introduced mid-level save games, which pretty much removed the risk of losing so much progress with one tiny mistake.

I think large levels would not be an issue in later Keen games where it's possible to save your progress mid-level, but with the early episodes it can make it very easy to feel like you're not making any progress.

Also, I think we need a patch/TSR that adds a random and unpredictable delay to your key presses so that people like KeenRush get to see what it's like to play their own mod as mere mortals do :)

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XrackProject
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by XrackProject » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:56

KeenRush wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 20:10
I've recorded in DosBox and I can't get frame perfect cuts even if the program should be capable of that, but I guess I'll just make it something less professional.
Okey, if you dont want to spend money on a programm then also take a look at "Open Broadcaster Software". Its actually a streaming software but you can also record screens, gameapps and acutally anything that is happening on your PC with it. There are also a lof of basic tutorials on Youtube for that. You cant edit anything with it, but I have to say that Im using it for almost any video on my channel for raw recordings. Shortcut is an "ok" program, and there are even more free editors out there. But if you want something that works fine, simple without messing or freezing and with a bunch of tutorials on Youtube, I recommend Sony Movie Studio. There you can cut scenes frame by frame and make other cool stuff for (compared to other programs) little money.

But I think you will be ok with Open Broadcaster Software aswell. There are a lot of free and nice Plugins out there for it too. If you want to record a specific moment in a video, you simply can make a screen or monitor capture of your recording and put everything together in Windows Movie Maker. Thats the simplest way that I even use while working on my 8 years old laptop. :)
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Ceilick
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Ceilick » Wed Dec 13, 2017 23:23

Just completed what I think is the second to last level (the really tall vertical one). I really liked this level because, despite being challenging and longish, while playing I felt like I had a good sense of my progress level because it's impossible to get lost in the level dimensions, and because the way the keys were used I felt I could measure how far away the exit was (by the second key I concluded that each represented 25% of the level). I died a few times (I tried to be more patient this session and it really helped plan my jumps and not running head first into hazards, but I still fumbled some jumps and got caught by gargs before I could react) but having that strong sense of progress kept me focused and not give in to cheating. I really like the secret area in this level!

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Commander Spleen
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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Commander Spleen » Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:47

I'm saving this one for when I'm back home for summer. Haven't been in much of a gaming frame of mind where I am at the moment.

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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by XkyRauh » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:17

Hey KeenRush! Here's an hour of me struggling to do simple things:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... PhcMwcMVfy

The more I dance on the world map, the more frustrated I am. :) And I'm sure you'll be frustrated too, seeing how awful I am at this game!!! lol

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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by KeenRush » Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:58

Thanks Ceilick, Nisaba, Malvineous. It's very helpful to read all that. I will work on my time/risk/size level ratio. The most difficult thing is trying to limit oneself from adding more to a level when new puzzle and room ideas keep flowing. But on the other hand that more rational approach will cut the amount of level work like 75%, which is very good news; as much as I like levelling, getting weeks off of the development time is good...

@Ceilick: Yes, that tower is possibly my favourite level in the mod, and one of the best I've ever done. There are actually two secret areas, one at each end of the level. ;)

@Spleen: Thanks for telling that, I was anxious to know whether you've noticed this mod or not... Let me know what you think, later.

@Xky: Thanks a lot! I shall watch them all for sure. I'm in fourth video now and can't understand: don't people see what's in front of them? :lol I thought it was visibly obvious that you have to walk below those platforms near the red door to go where the red key is (in level 2), and I never expected anyone (in level 3) jump the 1-tile gap between those danger tiles to get access to that part of the level when there's the intended way that's simply doing an ordinary jump without any hazards near it... It's sort of amusing.
My newest mod - Planet Of Agony: https://pckf.com/viewtopic.php?t=4165 | codename H.Y.E.N.A.

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Re: Planet Of Agony (Keen 1 mod)

Post by Levellass » Sun Dec 17, 2017 16:58

What you need Rush, really REALLY need in Keen Vorticons, is checkpoints.

You're talented, you can patch that. Little checkpoints that break the large levels into smaller fragments so that a death isn't a total loss. (Atroxian Realm was good with this, though game saving kinda rendered it obsolete.) It can even reset all the enemies and points, just a changed start position would be enough I think to allow players to gain a goal and a sense of achievement on attaining it.

And don't worry, I have a mod to release soon, then people will complain about MY stupid level design. (Or more likely ignore it.)
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