Future plans for Commander Genius (2011)

All discussion about the Commander Genius project (a Keen interpreter + more).
Post Reply
gerstrong
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 1220
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 14:44
Location: Frankfurt - Germany
Contact:

Future plans for Commander Genius (2011)

Post by gerstrong »

As some of you might have observed, that project got a bit inactive lately. It's nothing new, only the fact, that I'm taking that project not that serious anymore as before.

Don't get me wrong, I still have the same plans as before, but in those last 3 years my development style has changed a bit. I try to plan more and deploy then. I think this also made the code a bit snappier.

Now I don't want to give a sermon and am getting to my points:


Origins:
---------
Why I mention this and why I do that? I always felt that Commander Keen is a must have for DOS gamers. I think it is one of the best games ever made. I really loved it and every time I setup a new computer for myself, even if DOS was missing, I felt the need to put it on. I liked the first 3 Episodes a lot but I saw Commander Keen 4 first, so I thought they are nice but... two-button firing only? No music? No Soundblaster effects? Yeah, it's hard to criticize the games that way, but as child you can imagine having seen something more advanced and going back, well why wouldn't I think that? Don't get me wrong, Keen 1-3 are great classics. I only felt they should have got a remake, with maybe the feeling of Commander Keen 4 in some ways. Other fans would say it's fine that way and I understand it. They are great classics!!

Nevertheless I never liked the idea having to play those great platformers using Dosbox. They made a lot of trouble and still do make. You have to configure them much more, they eat more ressources and I felt it too much choppy. Well, the system couldn't do better in that time, so it was DOS and it's comprehensible.

I have been looking for about 10 years to see some remakes done. There are many Remakes, like Commander Keen 2000. They have different story, different gameplay, sometimes same sound effects and music. Regarding the quality, well, that's another story...

I think a remake was a good idea, but it should have been like the original with minor improvements.

In 2009 I found that almost dead project called CloneKeen. I ran the Windows version and well, I liked the idea of having it runnning natively, and there were some other neat features.

One thing I wanted to get rid of is the limited joystick support of DOS Keen 1. Clonekeen never supported any joysticks, but used SDL, why not to support those, wouldn't be hard?

On my Linux machine I downloaded the source code and tried to build it. The good thing was, that it wasn't that hard, because it didn't use that many libs or strange ways to build it. The bad news were, that the code was a bit strange and hard to get understood.

I think the original author Caitlin Shaw took the code from somewhere else and improved it also, because I found fragments which point, that part of the code ran on DOS. I also could be mistaken.

I implemented not only the joystick support, I also implemented the ways to use a third and fourth button for firing and status screen in Keen 1 optionally. So for those who didn't want to use the two-button firing in Keen 1-3 the weren't forced to do so. That feature still remains in CG and will be there forever!

On that way I fixed a lot of other bugs and made CloneKeen much better. I really didn't want to do anything without the permission of the author and I wrote her. I hoped, that I would get a response, at least a yes or no. I hate it when people never respond. So I did what I think was the right thing. I continued developing ignoring the existence of that author.

I called the product, being like a fork, CloneKeenPlus. Many fixes were implemented and some great new features were coming along.

More than a half year later, when CloneKeenPlus became popular, Caitlin Shaw wrote me and I offered to join forces... Well, she didn't seem to like that idea, not sure, and released another CloneKeen which I swear has a lot of good changes, but I don't want to talk much of it, find it out yourself and compare...

In that time I wanted to change the name of the program to something different. Many people don't understand why, so I will explain it again.

All the Commander Genius versions have no code of CloneKeen or CloneKeenPlus. Some of the old developers remember that we started to develop the project from the scratch and started to use C++ as also OOP. It was necessary because the CK code got out of control, it had so many flaws and issues, that to make a cleaner core was really urgent. That was what we made and we opened up the possibility to dock support for other games and engines. In that case Commander Keen 4 is taking profit from that feature. That is something very deep of the core we thought up from the beginning.

So Commander Genius is fresh new Code. No CloneKeen or CloneKeenPlus code is used. Some similar concepts were taken of course to make it happen, but the code is entirely different. CK and CKP were completly written in C.


What is up to come:
-----------------------
Well, I plan to support Commander Keen 4-6. Many stuff of Keen 4 is already working, and it's nearly playable until the finale. Enemy AIs are still missing, and the page view for story still lack. But give me some time, it will all come. Keen 5 can be launched so far, but it crashes. keen 6 I don't know. My energy is on Keen 4 and when all works Keen 5 is next.

Also I would like to support Network Play on Commander Genius. I think it is not that hard to implement, but someone has to take that time. People wanted to do it, but never got that far. I hope we find someone because if not I will work on this but after Keen 4-6 at least are supported. It's not hard to implement that...

If all that is done and works and I still have some time and mood, I might support other classics, like Bio Menace. A lot of functions are developed in Commander Genius, it wouldn't be hard to support those games.


Release Cycle:
-----------------
As you know, we release a version of CG every month. Also this month at end another Release will come out with more bugs fixed. I would like to expand that cycle to maybe 2, 3 months, or just a it's done, when it's done!

Why? It seems that the interest has dropped lately what makes me sad, because I had more hopes when starting on Commander Keen 4 support. Sadly I seem to be lonley again, which I don't mind, because in many occasions I have been.

I think the people need to see more stuff, so I prefer working on those features, keeping it a bit more secret and than make a major release.

I will talk to the members that always have been helping quite much in all that great time. In that case I refer to Tulip, Pizza2004 and Albert Zeyer. Without your help, the project haven't had come that far..., so thanks a lot guys :-)


Team Work:
--------------
Well, this is a point were I am partly happy, but also sad. We have had a lot of members that promised to implement features and they never got anything done. But also we had members like Tulip or Pizza2004 that always helped a lot and even they haven't that much time, for some checks and reports or platform support, here they are. Thanks a lot to you guys! Also Albert has implemented some neat features that helped Commander Genius a lot to become a better interpreter. I'm really proud of you.

Nevertheless you should now, that to new members I will be more strict. Why? Because I don't like dissappointments and the team is that big that I should see more results. Sadly it's not the case. A bigger team, would mean more trouble. I really don't need that. So if somebody wants to be part of it, he has to proof himself.


My Time:
-----------
I have been investing a lot of time into that. I sometimes haven't slept to get that or other feature working. Today it's different. I plan stuff more carefully and I won't have that much time anymore for the project. I have other 3 development projects going on now, on those are some for which I get paid real money. I need that because CG is not a base from which I can live from.

I will be developing on it in some days of a month but I might be less and more carefully. That's doesn't mean, it will be slower, my quality standards just got higher and I hope other can follow with that stream.
Having fun developing stuff...

User avatar
Roobar
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 3080
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 16:12
Contact:

Post by Roobar »

Good retrospective.

Yeah, it's a bit sad to see the lack of interest in your project. But the forum also seems a bit abandoned recently. After the big peak when Keen 9, Christmas and other mods and stuff were released, as well as other stuff was going on, now it's much more quiet here. Either people have other real life businesses on their own or they are working on their projects silently.

I agree about installing Keens on new pc. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass finding all keens, installing them, making them working etc.. With CG hopefully, when windows 8 comes out, this won't be the case anymore :).

I didn't knew about Caitlin Shaw, neither knew she was releasing Clone Keen new versions. Do you happened to know what she is up to now? Is she registered to this forum?

I think when the enemies are implemented, the interest to this project will begun to increase again. For me, personally as a tester, testing the same thing over and over is not quite a fun thing. So maybe the 3 month period is not that bad thing. Maybe that way more changes will be introduced in each version, thus keeping the project more interesting.

However, I hope the release period won't surpass much more the 3 months period. Small tip: I suggest you to increase version numbers more often. Google chrome is releasing new versions like crazy! The users using it are also rapidly increasing. There is a version 13 already out. Now Firefox is also following this rapid speed number increase, expecting Firefox 6 to be released till the end of this year. IE also speeding up with IE10. So after all these years, CG is still version 3.x. This shows the average Joe that this project isn't moving a bit. My point is, release next version with number 4 and see increasing interest in you project again ;).

Well, that was just my point of view :).

User avatar
tulip
Flower Pot
Posts: 2520
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:50
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Contact:

Post by tulip »

Thanks for the detailed layout of the whole project (don't give me too much credit, gerstrong, I haven't done nearly as much as I could have.)
I'm still interested in the project as well, but most of you know I'm a vorticons keener, so I'm not as helpful with the galaxy progress. I have no plans of ever quitting to work on this, although as with everything in my life my motivation will follow a wave pattern of declining and rising interest.
Image You crack me up little buddy!

pizza2004
Vortininja
Posts: 266
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:22

Post by pizza2004 »

Yeah, don't give me too much credit either, I didn't do too much of the coding, I just handled some of the logistics of getting people's opinions, and managed the trac mostly. I do release the Mac version, but I don't get much time to do anything lately.

In other news, I'll be graduating from High School on June 1. Now that summer is coming up, I'll try to see if I can't get back into trying to help out where I can!

User avatar
BlueGasMask
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 379
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:56
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post by BlueGasMask »

i really do apologise for letting you down. i guess i'm getting a bit too caught up in other fandoms.
Paramultart wrote:We are all lesbians

User avatar
DaVince
lazy/busy Keener
Posts: 1476
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 15:34
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contact:

Post by DaVince »

I, too, feel that I have let you down. I try to do too much and then don't deliver... :( You may still see some songs from me here and there, but you already know you can't really count on me to give you anything quickly.
Wow look at me I'm lurking

User avatar
MOM4Evr
Vortininja
Posts: 300
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 23:47
Location: Online, at least at the moment
Contact:

Post by MOM4Evr »

Hey, man.
I think I gave you that one song I made, right?

I haven't had much time for anything Keen-related recently, sadly. I finished school this past semester... and got a full-time job. I'm not really getting much at all done this summer that I'd hoped.

I'm on the CG IRC chat fairly often, though, so if you need anything, like a couple songs or something, let me know. :)

User avatar
The Keen Commander
Vortininja
Posts: 199
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 18:42
Location: Atchison, KS (hometown: Olympia, WA)

Post by The Keen Commander »

Ok, speaking for myself only here, I was VERY excited about this project when I first learned of it. That excitement has waned due to the fact that the last three versions I have downloaded simply do not work on my computer. I open the program and it freezes on the startup screen and also makes it so I have to reboot to use my mouse again. I brought this up once previously and couldn't get any help with it, so since then I naturally haven't been as interested\supportive, since I can't use it until my issue is resolved somehow. I do think it's a fantastic project and I like where it's headed, but it's hard to be all that interested when I can't use it myself.
I'd like to get a Futurama mod going. Here's what I've got so far:
Image
http://www.pckf.com/viewtopic.php?t=2152

gerstrong
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 1220
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 14:44
Location: Frankfurt - Germany
Contact:

Post by gerstrong »

@The Keen Commander: I really don't remember you complained about that issue. It would be nice if you could give me your log file to check for the bug. I really want to help getting that project is awesome and neat fro everybody. It just crashes is something that cannot help me. Did you report this on Trac, because I really haven't seen it?

@MOM4Evr: Thanks for the song. I'm well aware of that contribution and it's in the latest HQP. :)
Having fun developing stuff...

User avatar
The Keen Commander
Vortininja
Posts: 199
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 18:42
Location: Atchison, KS (hometown: Olympia, WA)

Post by The Keen Commander »

I posted about it somewhere else on this forum, maybe as long as 6 months ago; don't remember exactly where. Where would I find the log file?
I'd like to get a Futurama mod going. Here's what I've got so far:
Image
http://www.pckf.com/viewtopic.php?t=2152

gerstrong
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 1220
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 14:44
Location: Frankfurt - Germany
Contact:

Post by gerstrong »

Under linux you find it under ~/.CommanderGenius

Under Windows it's generally in the same directory as the Game itself.

It is called: CGLog.html

let's me help you with your bug. Now Keen 4 is working pretty well and getting mature. Let's do this and fill CG with a lot of awesomeness!
Having fun developing stuff...

User avatar
The Keen Commander
Vortininja
Posts: 199
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 18:42
Location: Atchison, KS (hometown: Olympia, WA)

Post by The Keen Commander »

Ok, I'll try to get that to you asap. If you pm me your email I can send you the file.
I'd like to get a Futurama mod going. Here's what I've got so far:
Image
http://www.pckf.com/viewtopic.php?t=2152

Post Reply