Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

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KeenRush
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Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by KeenRush »

HERE IT IS!!
I don't recall if I've ever mentioned that this mod has been under work. I don't think I have. It was supposed to appear much earlier but never did because I couldn't work, and now when Keen's 30th anniversary started to approach I knew I had to have it finished and released. The grind almost killed me but here it is...

Commander Keen: Sunset
a mod for Keen 1, which was released 30 years ago today

:dopekeen Download here: http://keenrush.shikadi.net/sunset.zip
To play, extract files to a new folder. Open in DosBox and run play.bat.


This mod was a collaboration by me and proYorp. I focused on programming and the levels. All the better graphics are by proYorp -- you'll see the difference...

I suggest checking this mod out. I worked so hard on these levels to make them playable to most people, and during the process I made almost every level again from scratch three or four times. These are the best levels I've ever made. I also went crazy with the programming side and patched in several things never seen in Keen mods. Just check it out! 8)

Tell me what you think!

Happy 30th, Keen! :birthday


SCREENSHOTS
SPOILER ALERT! These screenshots reveal some new game mechanics (but not all of them!) seen in the mod, don't view them unless you want to be spoiled!
http://keenrush.shikadi.net/sunset1.png
http://keenrush.shikadi.net/sunset2.png
http://keenrush.shikadi.net/sunset3.png
My newest mod - Commander Keen: Sunset: viewtopic.php?t=8568 | codename H.Y.E.N.A.
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Nisaba
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Nisaba »

DANG!
the colour palette is outstanding! excellent design choices

Image
Last edited by Nisaba on Wed Feb 03, 2021 8:29, edited 1 time in total.
Foray in the Forest progress:
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | Programming
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | GFX
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | Levels
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ | Creatures
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⭘⭘ | Story
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⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | Extras

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Roobar
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Roobar »

Oh wow!

Mind = blown!

Image

That is without a doubt the best Keen 1 mod of the year!

Also, welcome back KeenRush! What a comeback indeed :).
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by DarkAle »

Happy to see you again :D
Even if I don't like Vorticon style, I must try this mod
Commander Keen in... Robot Attack!
Episode 13: The Ultra Omegamatic viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6802
Episode 14: Secret of the Sorcerer viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6837
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Benvolio »

What can I say.

Modding will never be the same again.

Gaming will never be the same again.

Nothing will ever be the same again.


(actual analysis to follow...)
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by shikadi »

You extensively messed with keen this time. :O Is this all possible with just patching?
nothing usefull here
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by c64cosmin »

:dead2
You should have seen my face when I entered the levels, are you sure this is not written from scratch? :D

It is really great what you folks achieved here, I will return to play it more. It is quite challenging, but doable.
Props to the red color effect in this passage ways. That also left me baffled, is it an OR bit drawing or something like that?

Luckly had some baklava around to enjoy after playing this. Thank you so much for this!
:love
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Benvolio »

Okay let me talk about this mod a little. (I will disclose that I have not completed the mod by a long shot - I'm not really all that good at playing mods). And it goes without saying that the amount of text I have written is riddled with spoilers.

I love most everything about this. There is so much ingeniousness, so much hard work and so much love for Commander Keen and its category of game. The game is not completely polished or smoothed over - there is a slight roughness and readiness to it both visually and in terms of the gameplay experience. This is characteristic of KeenRush's work and it works well here. It makes the player's brain work harder.

The presentation is quite old school which is refreshing. The classic titlescreen layout is well utilised, and right away you can see how beautiful the palette choice is (you know how highly I value Keen:Vorticons palette patching). A no frills menu screen serves to leave as few barriers as possible to getting stuck in. The story is entertainingly written, with just the right irreverant tone. Unless I am missing something, the storytext leaves me slightly unsure what to expect my objectives to be. I get the feeling this is fully intentional. This level of confusion then carries forward into the gameplay itself and makes things actually more entertaining.

Something that people often don't mention is the font in a Vorticons mod. I want to praise the font you have used as it is one of the more legible ones. The orange on brown colours take away a bit of that legibility but nevertheless the lettering itself is one of the easiest on the eyes that I've seen in Vorticons. If I was slightly more meticulous I would check if it's been used in previous KeenRush mods - I suspect that it has.

Anyway onto the worldmap and this is where the mind-blowing begins. I won't catalogue every instance where unprecedented programming has occurred in this mod, but for those who haven't played yet, be aware that we are seeing things here, in every part of the game, that has never been seen before in Keen. Suffice it to say the map is one of the most beautiful I have seen and it really truly evokes the image of riding into the sunset with a vividness seldom achieved in EGA. I am a fan of the fully open map design. It is obviously not what is traditional (based on the original Keen games) but it is fitting for a mod with so much variety and novelty of gameplay experiences to offer. KeenRush's mods have always had very good map overworlds, in terms of facilitating continued player engagement. Crucially an element of choice prevents burnout from more difficult levels. It works well because the number of levels is sufficiently small that no levels fall by the wayside - I find myself stumbling back into familiar challenges rather than forgetting about levels that I need to work on. It goes without saying that unlimited lives are crucial for this type of mod.

There are obviously a few broad categories of levels here - 1) classic platforming, (let me give a subcategory 1b to Luma Lightbug) 2) overhead adventuring and 3) riding on "Skippy" levels. I like how there is not a predetermined learning curve prescribed for each of these - the player is free to practice and perfect the skills required for these at their own pace, i.e. by alternating between each level within the category rather than having to progress from easier to harder versions.

Let me talk slightly more extensively about the levels in their broad categories.

1) Classic Platforming

This may be the closest to original Keen gameplay yet it introduces so many novel mechanics that I've lost count. The graphics and colour scheme are beautiful. They have that classic KeenRush look and feel (A New Dope is probably the most closely resembled in colour scheme terms). The minimalism allows you to enjoy the challenges. Parts of the platforming aesthetic really remind me of the graphical style of XkyKeen2 (one of my favourite mods) so that's a nice, if coincidental, thing to observe. Long story short these levels are nothing short of thrilling. If I'm not mistaken, they draw on some of the programming of Fall Up but conceal similar effects behind the scenes creating some scenarios that I've dreamed of for decades. The sprites are all incredible and frankly, there are *so* many of them, it boggles the mind. I don't really want to spoil any of them but a certain character in particular elicited some true guffaws of admiration and amusement.

1b) Luma Lightbug

This is amazing. Truly beautiful use of colour and obviously the stuff of dreams. For players, I recommend playing in a dark room to maximise the atmospheric impact of what we're seeing here (the only warning I'd give is this could theoretically trigger migraines). For some reason this strongly evokes memories of "James and the Giant Peach" which was one of my favourite books as a little kid. In Keen terms, what this is, is an advanced (and frankly much improved) version of the "Land of Nothing" from Extinction. I can't really criticise your choice of level design. Of course the long drops are disorientating and create momentary frustration. But frankly it's a game and the player needs to put in a bit of work and in this case it's mainly concentrating and applying a little of ones spatial awareness. (Those lacking spatial awareness are more than free to jot down a little map for themselves on paper as they explore the level).

2) Overhead Adventuring

These levels are visually the most beautiful in the game. The enemy sprites are so amusing and fun to work around. This category of 2d gameplay was never as good as platforming but what you have done with it is truly enjoyable. I get a real OrbKeen(beta) atmosphere from this. But with your amazing palette working wonders and really immersing me in the shadowy passages and chambers.

3) Riding on "Skippy"

The always-moving mechanic is something I think we saw first in Herry Jerry's The Banana Mod. In Sunset, this is employed in a beautiful way, with large scale given to the player and hazards. It is not easy and requires the player to build up a memory of the level rather than reacting to the layout as it is revealed. Luckily this is manageable as these levels are not too gratuitously huge. Although I would praise the implementation of the mechanic of these levels, they remain my least favourite of what's on offer here. However their presence itself just brings the variety of Sunset to the next level.

------------------------------------------------------------

Rather than try come up with some words of my own to describe the difficulty of Sunset, let me quite c64cosmin in saying it's "challenging, but doable". I think KeenRush and proYorp have done a very good job in calibrating the difficulty of the new environments to have the player feeling intimidated - not to the point of hopelessness - but to the the point of taking each level seriously. Then one's reward for pursuing the level with multiple attempts is often better-than-expected success. In other words, it feels like the success in a level is earned, but is not covetously withheld from the player for an unacceptably long time.

Overall I think this is an incredible achievement and contains enough material to make several mods - heck enough material to make several early 90s game programmers' entire careers. To have it all packaged into one mod was obviously a conscious decision of the modders and frankly it works - not necessarily perfectly - but certainly achieves the objectives of thrilling, entertaining and just generally being beautiful.

Thank you so much KeenRush for sticking with Keen and with us and for applying your huge talents as an all round game developer to this cool niche community that clings onto existence decade after decade. Please keep modding - even if the next one is in 2025 or 2030. It truly is a worthwhile pursuit when you keep the standard this high.

Of course proYorp also deserves immense credit- the exact contributions they made we don't precisely know but I will take KeenRush's word for it that perhaps some of the pixel art with the highest levels of finesse would be attributed to proYorp.
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Grandy02 »

This is amazing! I first entered the level Ways of Water, and jumped over the first two water pits, as I thought it's deadly, as usual. But then Keen fell into the water - and was able to swim! The first "wow" moment. Other ones followed, such as the lightning bug, the overhead dungeons, the Skippy riding - just wow.
You two did an awesome job. Indeed, it''s a great achievement. :)
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by TheBigV »

When I got to the first level with the Luma, I questioned if I was actually playing a source code mod.

It's impressive how KeenRush managed to make this multiple genres within the limits of a patch mod.
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Quillax »

First of all, welcome back, KeenRush!

Now, here's what I'd like to say about this mod; it's a lot!

When I downloaded this mod, I expected Keen 1 with just a new central gimmick and enemy behaviors patched in, like in KeenRush's previous mods (e.g. Fall Up has the gravity-changing plates). I got not only that but also a whole series of impressive patches! Seriously, it's like every level has something you've never seen before, not even in another mod! The cast is astonishingly huge! I think there was like over 10 enemies, maybe 15! The green fish with really long teeth sure looks a Dopefish; was that intended? :dopefish I totally didn't expect different gameplay styles! I'm utterly amazed on how much KeenRush was able to pack in within such a little 30-year old game!

I'm really enjoying this mod! I think I only got a few more levels to go. I like how the levels generally focus on exploration and collecting, with a few fun Mario-like levels mixed in. So far it isn't too difficult, although a few of the later levels gave me a good challenge. I have played all of KeenRush's previous mods (Xky1tuned excluded) and beaten them all (except Fall Up), and this feels like one of the easier KeenRush mods. I'd say it's still harder than Yorphius II, however, but it's certainly close. An easy mod isn't necessarily bad; while I do enjoy a good, hard mod, it's nice to relax in an easier one!

The story made me laugh! :lol The palette is so good (it really has a sunset feel) and the graphics are really nice; proYorp and KeenRush did an amazing job! Even the cruder drawings look good! The new sound effects go really well with the originals!

This mod totally deserves more attention! KeenRush and proYorp made quite a fine work of art! No other Keen 1 mod (any Keen mod actually) impressed me as much as this one!

With so many features packed in, I actually think this mod would be great for levelpacks, a community levelpack perhaps! The only problem is that some of the patches seem to be hard to work around. Like, is each level encoded a specific gameplay stlye? Can it be easily changed in the patchfile? I don't know the answer to either question, but I have a feeling my assumption in the former might be true. The enemies are a concern. I applied all the patches to an otherwise unmodified copy of Keen 1, minus the tile properties and level names (DosBox said one of the latter was too long), and it seems that enemies will act based on their starting location. I had this level with a lot of Vorticons grouped together and some acted like the beetles while others acted like the walrus Dopefish. :dopefish The Luma Lightbug levels look like they would be a pain to make, since they have to be all dark! Grandy02 sure did a good job with the Luma Lightbug levelmap in KeenWiki, it definitely didn't look like a quick task! I guess the level designer(s) would have to get really creative!

By the way, playing plain old Keen 1 with the Sunset patches was actually kind of creepy, thanks to the Butler Robots (Luma Lightbugs). :O It's like the game got corrupted! It actually froze on me a few times!
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Nisaba »

man, this mod really blows my mind.
as others already mentioned I am fascinated by the variety of game type scenario's you were able to put in this very mod. like dungeon crawls, quick time events, jump'n'run elements and so much more.

and the setting is just georgious.
I think it is about time to post some screenshots. really fantastic design choices over here! and the colour palette works just pervect. purple and orange: That put a spell on me. the worldmap is just marvelous. I am in love!

Image . Image
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Image . Image
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Image . Image
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Image . Image


this is once again a true KeenRush mod which pushes the limits of what this engine is capable of. this is an absolute highlight
Last edited by Nisaba on Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:21, edited 1 time in total.
Foray in the Forest progress:
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | Programming
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | GFX
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | Levels
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ | Creatures
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⭘⭘ | Story
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | Music
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | SFX
⏺⏺⏺⏺⏺ ⏺⏺⏺⏺⭘ | Extras

Other projects:
- Play Commander Keen on a GameBoy
- The Lynx Nyx
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Quillax »

I beaten the mod a while ago! Some of the last levels I played were challenging, but still doable and fun! I also found the secret level, assuming the poison maze is supposed to be the secret level. Again, there are so much features in this mod and lots of creative uses of them, it's astonishing! I wonder how, on the world, do those red passageways and background waterways work. I can't imagine how that stuff is possible! :O The quick-thinking you have to do in the beginning of the Pyramid of Pain is very interesting! The last level (Into Darkness) is really neat and surprising, although for a final level it felt a bit too easy and short. The ending is funny! :lol

KeenRush and proYorp produced a very impressive Keen 1 mod that pushes the game to its limits and features some beautiful artwork! Why hasn't this gotten like 5 pages of posts already!? Every Keen fan should try this out! I can't wait to see what these two will make next! I wonder if it's possible to push the limits even further.
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by Plasma Captain »

I just finished this earlier this morning. I must have missed a secret level, as I believe I'm about 11-12 points under the max (I know I missed one in the final level, 10 somewhere else...)

I'm not sure what I can say that hasn't already been glowingly stated by now, but I agree with Quillax in that this thread deserves more posts, because wow. When I started this one night, I remember I played three levels, and every single one of them delivered something new and unexpected. I mean, obviously you've got levels that play like totally different games, but even the classic levels have variations that bring something new... I can't even begin to imagine how you've pulled some of this off... The end product is so far removed from the base that it doesn't even feel like it started as Keen 1.

Unless I'm seriously forgetting about something, this might be the most technically impressive Keen patch job ever done, given the scope of the whole thing.

Just... wow.
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Re: Commander Keen: Sunset (K1 mod with new game mechanics)

Post by 55Aavenue »

I've just started playing this and am blown away! As everyone else has already said the graphics and colour palette are just amazing! I almost can't believe this is a Keen 1 mod, it feels likes its own game.
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