Is Keen boring now?

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keenmaster486
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Is Keen boring now?

Post by keenmaster486 » Tue May 08, 2018 7:14

I was playing Keen 4 today, and I realized something...

It doesn't at all have the magic it had when I was a kid.

When I was a kid playing Keen 4...

-I wasn't very good at it yet
-I didn't know any of the levels
-I rarely got past certain places in the levels so making progress was exciting
-I was playing it on old computers, which I also had no idea how to use and I was learning on the fly and making anything at all work was exciting

Overall, the experience was less accessible and less familiar. Somehow, though, Keen, more than other games, always felt like magic.

But now, as an adult playing Keen 4...

-I'm a master at it; everything that I could never do as a kid is now easy. It's so easy it's not even challenging.
-I know all the levels by heart. Nothing is a surprise or a mystery. I could play them in my head if I wanted.
-The experience is accessible; I can play it in DOSBox or I can pull out my old computer which I've configured to my heart's desire and be up and running with Keen in 15 seconds. I've run Keen 4 so many times that I have the command line and menu function keys to get to the first level memorized and they zip by in about 2 seconds.

Overall the experience is blah.

Now when I play a game like Atroxian Realm, which I don't know by heart, it is different, but still not magical. Atroxian Realm just feels dangerous, not magical.

Any thoughts?
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Roobar
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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by Roobar » Tue May 08, 2018 13:25

Well guess what: you're not a kid anymore 😂

I actually agree on your opinion about Atroxian.

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by 55Aavenue » Tue May 08, 2018 20:10

I think this kind of applies to a lot of old platform games from the pre-internet era. You couldn't just look up how to do things online; you had to figure them out for yourself. Or maybe you had a friend with the same game and you would show each other things. This made it so much more exciting when you finally progressed to a new level or found a secret.

Back in the day it literally took me YEARS until I found my way into the hand pyramid for the first time, but then after years of playing the game, after I had beat all the other levels multiple times, I had a whole new level to explore, so that was really cool. And I had spent so much time walking around the map trying to find a way to cram keen between the mountians or trees to try and get there it had built up such a hype. I dont really think that experience is duplicatible now days.

I had a similar experience with Mario 3 for nes. I remember a friend showed me the warp whistles and I got to new worlds and levels I'd never seen before. Now days you can jusy watch a playthrough on youtube and see the whole game.

Also getting older kind of lowers the amount of excitment a game can give you too I think :lol

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by Ceilick » Tue May 08, 2018 20:46

I think for myself the biggest loss in "the magic" was after learning how the levels were made with tiles. Somehow this placed a huge limiting factor on what I felt I could expect to see and experience in these games. There was no longer a sense that I could explore and find anything. I could explore and find basically the same kind of things.

Speaking specifically to Atroxian Realm, do you think the magic wasnt there the whole time, or only after you realized it was dangerous/hard? Was there a point where the difficulty eclipsed your interest in seeing and discovering new things? Or, going into the game, did you already expect to not see anything especially new at all?

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by Roobar » Tue May 08, 2018 21:02

As for Atroxian for me, the "magic" feel was in the first 2 levels. It was something new, a strange new world to explore. But the time level 3 and 4 came, it was obvious to me that this mod is going to be a hard one and too dark themed for my taste.

The last time I really felt the "keen magic" was when I tried Keen 7 for the first time. It felt like a true sequel in the veins of Keen. It was an exciting time. Keen 8 and especially Keen 9 also felted magical because they expanded the universe even further, introduced many more new places to explore and at the same time kept the high quality and Keen feel others lacked.

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by szemi » Tue May 08, 2018 22:49

There's the point to Atroxian Realm. Nice graphics, nice plot, but hard to complete, which is not the magic of the game at all.
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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by KeenRush » Wed May 09, 2018 12:21

I wouldn't call it boring but it sure is different and cannot be approached the same way - or it can be, but one shouldn't expect the same things from it. I think the obvious, as said, is that none of us is that kid and never will be. That just makes things so different. I hardly ever play the originals nowadays. Perhaps it's because I just know them so well and need some break from them. That's all I can think of, really.

I guess it also depends on what one wants from a game. With this I mean that if one expects for example to be entertained and surprised by a game and plays it for two decades, it might not do those things as distinctly as before. Nowadays, I'm most interested in running through a game (after I've explored the game and seen all it has) in a speedrunnish fashion, aiming for fluency of motion, not much else. Nowadays I play to not think, to take breaks from thinking.

@Ceilick: That's sad. :goth I sort of felt the opposite of that, intrigued how things could be done with nothing but tiles and their properties. By the way, are you describing something that you understood when learning modding or was it an earlier disillusioning, disappointing realization from childhood? (This world is made of squares! >: It's finite and stored electronically! :x)
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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by Commander Spleen » Fri May 11, 2018 9:09

I don't often play games in general at the moment, and this has been the case for at least much of this decade, maybe a few months' stretch here and there where I game more frequently. Usually this is because even if I do have the time there's always a nagging sense that I should be doing something more productive.)

I don't find that gaming allows me to "stop thinking". It seems to require just as much mental extertion as IRL tasks or creativity so I'm more likely to end up spending that time on art projects or modding. It takes time to change modes between productivity and actual downtime, and by then I've usually already overshot into bludge mode or some degree of nihilism in which gaming seems to be futile or a contrived diversion.

When I do have the time/energy to play games, it tends to be sim games like Theme Park or simpler platform games such as Dark Ages and Captain Comic. For me these games do retain a high level of their original sense of wonder despite frequent replays. Hocus Doom is one of the few newer games that I chip away at occasionally, and I'm trying to get into some more graphical adventures.

When it comes to Keen, it depends on the environment as to whether it maintains any degree of its original magic, but there's always a slight spark there even if it's buried behind a lot of familiarity and routine.

NetKeen is definitely as much fun as it ever has been. Involving other people seems to help in general, especially when it's my brother's kids. I make sure they have access to as many DOS classics as possible on their computers. Occasionally I can gather a small group of people who seem enthusiastic but it's usually just a brief nostalgia phase for them and they quickly lose interest. A lot of them are liek, OH YEAH KEEN LOL HEY HOW COOL IS DOOM

It feels like a lot more work to play mods than the original games, especially the harder ones, which is why I'm trying to make my current mods a lot easier with more emphasis on atmosphere and exploration. This preference may be what currently drives me away from enjoying a lot of mods.

I agree about Atroxian Realm. As much as I want to enjoy it, there's just this bleak vibe that makes it difficult to get more than a few levels in. There's enough bleakness out in the real world.

I can't even stand being in a city or large town surrounded by colourless steel and concrete and humanoids for more than two days. Overcast weather or fields of yellow grass have the same oppressive effect on my mood. So when it comes to my escapism I prefer graphical extremes of bright, idyllic and cheerful countryside to high contrast mystical/cosmic high fantasy/scifi that's as far removed from everyday reality as possible.
Ceilick wrote:I think for myself the biggest loss in "the magic" was after learning how the levels were made with tiles. Somehow this placed a huge limiting factor on what I felt I could expect to see and experience in these games. There was no longer a sense that I could explore and find anything. I could explore and find basically the same kind of things.
It was apparent to me very early on that most games were made of squares. I couldn't really pinpoint a moment where this realisation dawned on me or a time that I had assumed otherwise.

Of course, this was at a time when tile engines were pretty much the way games had to be made, even for most 3D games. I was probably also exposed to a lot more oldschool machines like Apple II, Vic 20 and Commodore 64, not to mention the raw DOS era before Windows became a standard feature, which made the blockiness much more obvious as a matter of course.

If anything the realisation that everything was tile based was fascinating and empowering to me. It was amazing that you could create so much complexity out of such simple components. It was when game development took a severe turn toward reality-simulation that I lost interest in the new stuff that was coming out. I still prefer grid-oriented games as they just seem more tidy and well structured than freeform 3D.

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by Nisaba » Fri May 11, 2018 10:30

Commander Spleen wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 9:09
If anything the realisation that everything was tile based was fascinating and empowering to me. It was amazing that you could create so much complexity out of such simple components. It was when game development took a severe turn toward reality-simulation that I lost interest in the new stuff that was coming out. I still prefer grid-oriented games as they just seem more tidy and well structured than freeform 3D.
I second this.
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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by hairmonster12 » Sat May 12, 2018 3:17

I wear glasses because I have bad vision, but once in a while I take them off when playing Keen. This makes the game look blurry to me and my skill goes down. I call it "nostalgia mode" :crazy
'Kay, so...

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by Ceilick » Sat May 12, 2018 17:56

By the way, are you describing something that you understood when learning modding or was it an earlier disillusioning, disappointing realization from childhood? (This world is made of squares! >: It's finite and stored electronically! :x)
I don't think I saw the tilesets until I first started modding at around age 13. And, yeah, exactly as you describe, suddenly what seemed like an unlimited world was not just limited by being tiles, but limited by being constructed all through the same few tiles. And while they can be combined in interesting patterns, I feel like it establishes a ceiling for expectations, and having a ceiling is detrimental to experiencing 'the magic', I think.

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by Commander Spleen » Sun May 13, 2018 1:13

Ceilick wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 17:56
By the way, are you describing something that you understood when learning modding or was it an earlier disillusioning, disappointing realization from childhood? (This world is made of squares! >: It's finite and stored electronically! :x)
I don't think I saw the tilesets until I first started modding at around age 13. And, yeah, exactly as you describe, suddenly what seemed like an unlimited world was not just limited by being tiles, but limited by being constructed all through the same few tiles. And while they can be combined in interesting patterns, I feel like it establishes a ceiling for expectations, and having a ceiling is detrimental to experiencing 'the magic', I think.
This sounds a lot like saying there's a ceiling to literature due to a limited number of characters in a language's writing system. And music boils down to a small set of repeating notes, so even the most creative song is never truly unique.

For Commander Keen and similar platform games, I would say the limitations are more in terms of how you are able to interact with the game world. The graphical variations are endless, but there are only so many ways you can implement certain types of platform before it just looks like more of the same.

But I think this also relates to the specific objectives within the game. Keen boils down to getting from one place to another without dying. Shooting creatures, dodging hazards, collecting keys to open doors, adjusting switches to control platforms, all this stuff is just a way to make that walk across the screen a bit more interesting. Even points are not really relevant and just another diversion. For me that's where the magic is difficult to recapture and is a major reason why designing levels takes me such a long time.

However, I can play simpler arcade games like Bubble Bobble, Mr. Do's Castle or Tetris for hours, perhaps because there is a far thinner layer between the essence of the game and the contrived explanation of why they are what they are.

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by proYorp » Sun May 13, 2018 2:18

Almost since I first started playing Keen when I was like 4, I would go through this cycle of stages where I would first play the heck out of it, then get sick of playing, then weeks, months, or years later I would come back to it and be like “Oh man this game is the best! Why’d I ever stop playing?” So I’ve never been permanently bored of Keen.

But the experience for me has definitely changed since then. Back when I first started, I always played with cheats, and my main thing was just exploring the levels, playing around with the creatures, just experiencing the environment. Since under most circumstances I didn’t have to worry about dying and having to tediously redo things, it was very easy to be completely immersed in it.
This is probably why Keen 6 is one of my favourites, because while it’s almost unanimous that the levels leave something to be desired, the ecosystem of Fribbulus Xax is, in my opinion, the most all-around detailed and fun set of characters and environments.

Nowadays how I replay the original Keens is almost completely the opposite. No cheats, usually on Hard Mode, usually with no saving, an almost arcade-style method of playing. (I haven’t actually managed to beat the game doing this yet, if you’re wondering.)
There is almost a complete lack of immersion, likely due to the amount of replaying I’ve done. But this can usually at least somewhat subside after I take one of my long breaks from playing.

The longest break I took was several years, after my newest computer was unable to play DOS games (curse you Windows 7!) During that time I’d forgotten almost all the story elements and the ways around the levels. Then a friend introduced me to DOSBox and I was able to completely reexperience the series.

Atroxian Realm definitely had a very different feel to it, but it still had that intrigue and excitement of exploring a new planet, a new environment.
I have mixed feelings about the darkness in AR. I’m not generally a fan of darker stories, but in-level the darkness kind of gave the sense of something lurking, a mystery to solve which just piqued my interest all the more. And the story was still probably the best I’ve seen in a mod.
I guess the difficulty especially in the later levels could kind of distract from the experience, having to redo and repeat parts you've already been through, but that’s why I usually save-scum on first playthroughs. :p
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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by Ceilick » Sun May 13, 2018 2:52

This sounds a lot like saying there's a ceiling to literature due to a limited number of characters in a language's writing system. And music boils down to a small set of repeating notes, so even the most creative song is never truly unique.
Yeah, exactly this, but where its hard to wrap my head around the totality of language or story concepts, and not being particularly musically inclined, wrapping my head around musical notes, tile composition in a Keen-like game is, or so it seems to me, a very graspable. In things I'm less familiar with I can conceive of a ceiling of experience without it really affecting my expectations. Music is still going to sound new to me even if its the same notes in a new pattern because I don't music. I feel like understanding tiling in Keen has, for me, created a predictable experience. Not to say that my mind couldn't be blown by an author's creative use of tiling somehow; I'm aware feeling like there is a ceiling and there actually being one are different.
For Commander Keen and similar platform games, I would say the limitations are more in terms of how you are able to interact with the game world. The graphical variations are endless, but there are only so many ways you can implement certain types of platform before it just looks like more of the same.
I think this is exactly right, and maybe I'm conflating this concept with tiling, but both in official Keen titles and fan works, it seems like our experiences are now expected and/or predictable despite graphical variation and perhaps other forms of variation.

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Re: Is Keen boring now?

Post by KeenRush » Mon May 14, 2018 7:24

Ceilick wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 2:52
Not to say that my mind couldn't be blown by an author's creative use of tiling somehow; I'm aware feeling like there is a ceiling and there actually being one are different.
In a closed, finite system like Keen there is bound to be a ceiling somewhere but because of the complexity of all that can possibly be done, it's not likely I will be around to witness it even if I live a thousand years (which I don't imagine happening) and we all push out a hundred mods a year (also unlikely). For me the very limitations of Keen (and what can be done with patching, which like sends the complexity into exponential overdrive) are the foundation of my interest in Keen (1) modding. For me this tile-based world is a relief from the regular one. I'm glad I don't feel fatigue of it because I feel that about more or less everything outside of it.

@Ceilick: Your 'tile-world-weariness' never shows in your works, however. Also, you're one with one of the largest modding body of work. Why? If you feel that strongly about the very fabric of that world, why did you keep at the craft? I'm very glad you did and I feel it was all very much worth the effort, but I'm just curious.
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