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Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:47
by Gagster
I've played through both Keen 4 & 5 via CGenius this month, and while doing so I've been thinking about quality of life features that maybe could enhance the gameplay according to modern standards (in my personal opinion).

I viewed one video from a guy reviewing the Commander Keen Galaxy Series on YouTube, Pixelmusement (link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaWMgbWut9w), and he did in my opinion have a few good points regarding the games difficulty. He thought the games might have played better if you could have 3 lifebars instead on 1 hit death because of the games difficulty level (I'm not sure about that one), but could a checkpoint like system be made, where the game sets a checkpoint each time you open a door with a key?

In that way once you lose a life, you could be prompted "resume by last checkpoint" or something like that beside the options to "try again" and "exit level". A feature such as this could be toggle-able in the options menu (if some people prefer old-school Keen and would like this to be disabled).

It would be nice to also have a toggle-able hardcore mode, where you can only save your game on the overworld map. Having a hardcore mode option combined with a checkpoint mode option could in my opinion make it a new experience, where you can no longer cheese the save/load buttons to complete a game in a set difficulty level. Maybe have a hardcore option when you start a game, and when a new game is started in hardcore mode, in that particular game there's no possibility to use cheats or save inside levels?

CGenius also has a run button for the game that wasn't present in the original games. Like various source ports of Doom, some of them have a jump button you can activate in the options/gameplay menu (jump in Doom makes some levels very easy), so my question is if the run button should have a section to enable/disable it in the options menu in CGenius?

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2020 15:29
by gerstrong
He has a good point and it also was a consequence of implementing the quick save functionality. I wanted to add that for a long time anyways.

The run button can be set to any other button if you don't want to use. You think it should an option to disable it?

I still am not sure if we already have options already. On the other hand doom ports have many more options...

We also could have some more options become part of mods using some Lua, maybe.

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2020 23:12
by Gagster
I have now disabled the run button by editing the cgenius.cfg file and deleted the value of the input0 run button (afterwards it defaulted to Left Shift).

One suggestion could be to have a new section under Configure named Gameplay, with settings there that makes CGenius differentiate from the vanilla experience gameplay wise (idea taken directly from the multiplayer Doom port Zandronum, which is very heavy in terms of customization).

In this section one could do such things as enable or disable the Run button, and eventually have the option to change savegame behavior: Default mode, which is how it it now without any restrictions, Vorticons mode which limits saving to the overworld map only (like Keen 1 to Keen 3 originally), and maybe even a Hardcore mode which autosaves wherever you are in the game, and every-time you make progress here either good or bad the game autosaves once you close the game. A game started in Hardcore mode would remain in Hardcore mode even after changing settings, no Cheats available in a game started in Hardcore mode, and after getting a Game Over in Hardcore mode the savegame itself would be auto deleted. In the Load Game menu a savegame started in Hardcore mode would be listed as Hardcore Mode and the date of the last autosave.

Maybe have a Checkpoint mode option under Gameplay also, which creates checkpoints every-time you open a door with a key, which is off by default. Once you die you could be prompted by a message which tells you "restart from last checkpoint" next to "try again" and "exit level". If you haven't yet reached a checkpoint after you die, then make "restart from last checkpoint" behave just the same as the "try again" option by restarting at the beginning of the level.

I love the inclusion of Trophies, which makes the Commander Keen series feel a bit more modern. It would be cool to have some kind of way to view the current Trophies you got for your current game somehow (maybe a Trophies menu section of the main menu that appears once a game is started or loaded).

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 5:28
by gerstrong
The Trophies system is an unfinished idea of a person who wished that and gave some nice graphics for that.

Having a list of those displayed would be nice, but I have no idea how to display them yet. Maybe you want to come with an idea aka mockup. I mean some graphics in how this should look like and how you think it should be triggered (Within the game at press of a button or only if you get a game over, etc.?).

Let me know your thoughts.

EDIT: About the other ideas, we should collect them and may pass by pieces as Gitlab issues.

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 23:04
by Gagster
Regarding Throphies and the way that they could be displayed, I'm personally used with the minimalist approach of the Steam Achievments; not too fancy in other words.

The way I imagined that they could be display that would fit the Galaxy Engine games art style and behavior in my opinion, is to have a section on the main menu called Trophies right between Save and Configure (not anywhere near the End Game button in case of ending the game because of missing the right button).

Like the End Game button that appears after you start or load an actual game, the Trophies section appears after doing so also (it's hidden before starting a game).

Here's some of my mockups:

Image

Image

Image

The last image is an edit from a Keen 4 screenshot running through DOSBox, where a submenu appears when you try press the End Game button. This box could potentially be used for showing the description of the actual Trophy.

Maybe Trophies itself also should be a toggle-able option; even though I personally like it included, other may just want the vanilla experience of running the Commander Keen series natively through either Windows, Mac or Linux without the hassle of using DOSBox.

I can post all my suggestion in the GitLab issue tracker to make it more organized.

Edit: I have now posted all these suggestions in the GitLab issue tracker.

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 19:39
by damageinc86
Gagster wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:47
He thought the games might have played better if you could have 3 lifebars instead on 1 hit death because of the games difficulty level (I'm not sure about that one), but could a checkpoint like system be made, where the game sets a checkpoint each time you open a door with a key?

In that way once you lose a life, you could be prompted "resume by last checkpoint" or something like that beside the options to "try again" and "exit level". A feature such as this could be toggle-able in the options menu (if some people prefer old-school Keen and would like this to be disabled).
I've wanted a lifebar since the early 90s. It is insane that keen has always been one hit death. Every time I think about playing keen again I remember that and don't play it. Sure, you CAN get through it, and you eventually memorize everything. But it would just make it a tad bit more enjoyable to at least have a Three hit life bar. Door checkpoint is a good idea as well. Going through and finding all the keys again once you die is very time consuming.

Is there no mod out there that gives Keen a life bar? I would have thought that by now that could have been figured out. I'd love it if that became a reality.

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:05
by Quillax
The Fastest Gun In The Universe is the only mod that has a lifebar as far as I know. Atroxian Realm has a good checkpoint system, where checkpoints are in specific locations, kind of like the door idea. You can activate them only once and you'll only return to the last checkpoint you activated. The idea of having a checkpoint for each door you open with a gem sounds like a good idea. My only concern with that is they aren't always spread so evenly. Just compare Pyramid of the Forbidden (Keen 4) to Bloog Control Center (Keen 6). With a lifebar, however, checkpoints may not be necessary. Cosmo has some big levels but they weren't much of a problem since that game has a lifebar.

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 16:09
by gerstrong
Cosmo oh yeah... :-)

Still thinking about adding life bar to Commander Keen in CG... It would change the gameplay a lot, but maybe as option...

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2020 1:49
by Quillax
I think it's alright to have a life bar as long as it's optional. More options are always nice! You could even add an option for marking the gem doors as checkpoints!

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2020 23:43
by Gagster
Good points / analysis regarding the checkpoints by door Quillax; some levels like the last level of Keen 6 have all the gem doors stacked by the very end of the level which could be a huge flaw in this case. In a scenario with a supposed checkpoint by opening locked doors setting, maybe levels such as Bloog Control Center could have checkpoints be applied on the doors to the different rooms itself, as an exception to the rule?

Maybe a system for checkpoints by collecting gems / keycards instead of checkpoints by opening locked door could be a more suitable idea in general because of this? It could be kind of bad if a gem is collected mid-air while collecting it right above some spikes / enemies, resulting in a sudden death few seconds after a hypothetical "resume by checkpoint" option is selected.

The blue gem in Guard Post One in Keen 6 comes to mind, this could be a tricky one to use that blue gem as a checkpoint with the spikes underneath. This yellow key in the Keen 6 level Second Dome of Darkness is also a tricky one since it resides between two poles with spikes underneath. Maybe a 1 second delay for a gem collected checkpoint system could fix this potential issue in most cases?

The last level of Keen 5 The Quantum Explosion Dynamo also has the same issue as Bloog Control Center where all the doors are stacked in one place, where a gem collected checkpoint system probably could be more suitable than the gem door one. Maybe the gems / keycards are more evenly distributed than the locked doors itself in the Keen games?

Re: Just some feedback & thoughts from one user

Posted: Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:56
by Gagster
I have & can now complete Keen 4-6 without saving once in CGenius. I have also played CGenius with a friend in multiplayer, in Keen 4 with him being inexperienced with older platforming games such as the Commander Keen series. Here are some of my newer found personal experience with those games that I gained this year:

When I complete Keen 4 & Keen 5 without saving once I often have a lot of extra lives left. I suppose I can to a certain degree thank the secret rooms in the very first levels of those two games for the comfy amount of lives I have left by the end of both games, but in general I think those games are generous enough when it comes to the possibility of getting extra lives.

Keen 6 on the other hand is a game I have only completed once without using the save function because it's very easy to get the Game Over screen here compared to Keen 4 & 5 in my opinion. Keen 6 seems greedy when it comes to extra lives compared to the other two games, most of the lives I gained are through the scoring system, but even with that system I have to be extra careful in this game. Maybe having an option to get 1ups without that many points could balance the difficulty even more in Keen 6 because of the absence of 1ups in the levels itself (in my opinion)?

When I had a short playsession with a friend in Keen 4 multiplayer using CGenius (a friend of mine that is decent enough at 2D platforming games in general, he grew up playing Mario 64 at the N64 as his first game), he did have a hard time playing Keen 4 with me as he didn't experience Keen 4 in his youth. He soon got a Game Over screen. In some modern coop multiplayer games, there's a revive system in place when a player is down, so as long as you're able to revive the fallen player he/she doesn't actually lose a life.

Maybe that could be a neat thing to have as an option in CGenius, with the first fallen player(s) in a multiplayer session activating the stunned animation (found in Keen 6 after being stunned by the yellow shield guy in a level such as First Dome of Darkness) instead of the standard bouncy death animation, making it possible to revive the fallen player once an alive player touches him/her? With that as a possibility, I wouldn't recommend reviving a fallen player resting on some spikes however.

An option that also could supplement the revive option as I described above could be to have an option of a shared life system in multiplayer, making it so that no life is lost as long as there's at least one player alive. Having that option enabled without a revive system option selected would make the fallen player inactive before either the alive player(s) complete the level or dies, disabling the respawn functionality for the fallen player(s).

This is just some brainstorming / ideas I had this night after thinking about the Keen games (Keen 4-6) and CGenius in general, how I imagine the Keen games potentially could feel difficulty & gameplay wise for newer players (players born after the DOS era of gaming in particular), and systems that are common in games now that wasn't common in games way back then. Just some feedback & thoughts from one user, as the title of this topic is named.