What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

You can discuss anything about fan-made Commander Keen games here.
Post Reply
Hisymak
Vortininja
Posts: 98
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2016 20:13

What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by Hisymak »

Not because I would want to make my own mod... but just out of curiosity, what you think is the best Keen Galaxy episode to base your mod on? And I'm talking about completely original mod (with new graphics, world, monsters, mechanics...) rather than a level pack, where you just obviously pick the game you want to make your level pack for.
On Keen Wiki I can see that there are the most mods for Keen 4, still a lot (but less) mods for Keen 5, and just a few mods for Keen 6. I also have feeling (not sure if it's really like that) that Keen 5 is becoming more popular game to base mods on lately, but that's maybe because recently I played many Keen5 mods.
So... What are the reasons for (not) choosing a specific episode to make your "total conversion" mod? I can clearly see the main role plays the available feature set (available gameplay mechanics, monsters and their behavior), for example Keen 5 (and 6) offers platforms which can follow a defined path, while Keen4 doesn't. On the other hand, the available graphics, levels, music, sounds don't matter, as these are actually the main subject of modding and you change them to anything you want.
It's also important to note, that nowadays, with reconstructed source code available, it's possible to just do source code modding and implement your own mechanics and add a monster with specific original behavior you like (or isn't it?). So I guess there would be mods that just barely resemble the original base game.
But still, I'd like to know what's behind choosing specific episode as base for your mods. And why Keen6 has that much less mods than 4 and 5?
User avatar
Nisaba
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 1453
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 23:34
Location: The Outpost
Contact:

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by Nisaba »

Hisymak wrote: Mon Feb 28, 2022 7:14[...] nowadays, with reconstructed source code available, it's possible to just do source code modding and implement your own mechanics and add a monster with specific original behavior you like [...]
!
Foray in the Forest progress:
92% Programming || 95% GFX || 92% Levels || 98% Creatures || 90% Story || 94% Music || 95% SFX || 96% Extras

Other projects:
- Play Commander Keen on a GameBoy
- The Lynx Nyx
User avatar
Pandakeen
Vortininja
Posts: 88
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2021 9:54
Location: pckf,
Contact:

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by Pandakeen »

Great topic!
I think the reasons Keen 6 isn't modded very much is because:
1, It's incredibly difficult to get a legal copy of it to play the mod. Sometimes people deliberately leave in the KEEN6.EXE file because of this.
2, it doesn't have a built-in Help. Dead in the Desert worked around this by having an external .chm file act as the help, and Mirror Menace had a hacky help that was based on the ending (you could only go forward and all sections were lumped together).
3, a lot of the mechanics are just different from the other episodes, e.g. the switches work differently.

Conversely, one reason Keen 4 is modded the most (out of the Galaxy episodes) is that it's shareware so you can simply leave the Keen 4 executable in.
User avatar
Nospike
Keen Minecrafter
Posts: 1360
Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 13:56
Location: Czech Republic

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by Nospike »

I think the thing about Keen 6 is that it's the odd one of the bunch in many ways which pose minor obstacles to modding, but they add up. It has bugs that 4 and 5 don't have, it has copy protection, it isn't shareware and difficult to obtain an .exe legally, and it's probably the least popular Galaxy game. These issues were probably more of a problem in the past, so Keen 6 would historically have had less modding support, fewer existing patches etc, which further stifled its popularity among modders as a base.

Pandakeen made another great point before I could post this, the missing help section kinda hurts, I love reading that in mods. Especially in Keen 5 mods where it has music. :)
Benvolio
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 858
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 12:43
Location: Ireland
Contact:

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by Benvolio »

The legality thing (taken very srriously by this community) as well as the ease of obtaining Keen4 goes in its favour. This of course is analagous to the Vorticons world where Keen1 has always predominated.

In the Galaxy context, Keen4 stands side by side with the others in terms of capability and implemented features in the original. Of course 5 and 6 are crammed with novel features but they are not necessary features of a higher calibre than Keen4. This goes further in favour of Keen4.

I think being able to leave the keen4e.exe in the zip goes a long way towards broadening ones audience. The casual player who is just scratching the surface will probably give up trying to find 5 or 6 after a cursory google so your mod won't get played as much.
Ceilick
The Dude
Posts: 1605
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 20:10
Location: Seattle

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by Ceilick »

When selecting an episode in the case of traditional, non source code modding:

Creature mechanics are a huge factor. Creature behaviors can be patched, but it's always nice to work with a creature that already mostly behaves how you want it to, or it's convenient when you can simply swap one behavior with that of another (Krodacian overlords are Shikadi Masters with Robo Red shooting patterns, for example).

Victory conditions are a factor, whether it's collect X amount of something, destroy whatever things, collect item X. I imagine there are all kinds of options with patching though.

World map features. Keen 6's items and Teleporters, Keen 4's swimming feature, Keen 5's elevators, etc.

General gameplay features. Go-plat routing, Keen 6 switches, and conveyor belts, off the top of my head.

I think the two biggest reasons Keen 6 might be considered unpopular for modding is because of the lack of help menu, and simply because it's the least popular/familiar Galaxy episode. It is otherwise a great episode for modding with it's large tile sets, cast of creatures, interesting world map features, and flexible victory condition.

I think the number one reason Keen 4 is popular for modding, especially as a first mod, is because of how approachable and well understood it is, technically speaking and otherwise. Of all the Keen Galaxy games, it easily has the most intelligible tile set; for a first time modder this makes understanding the Galaxy graphical perspective easier and aids in graphic design. When tile sets are intelligible, level design is easier to learn. To my knowledge, Keen 4 has the most available patches and patch documentation, which is great for first time modders and experienced modders alike.

An aspect that's a little hard to explain, and perhaps this is just me, but I feel there's a familiarity to Keen 4, likely from playing it more than the other Galaxy episodes, that makes it easier to mod (and I imagine most people have played Keen 4 more than other episodes, due to being shareware).
User avatar
Syllypryde
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 931
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 18:33
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by Syllypryde »

Due to it being shareware I believe Keen 4 was the very first Galaxy Keen game most of us have played, so I think choosing it to mod falls under nostalgia and even sentimental value. Though I have never made any attempts to mod, I agree with pretty much everything Ceilick has said. The schematics of each episode would definitely be a factor in which game someone would decide to mod. Of course, it also depends on which episode fits best with what type of mod you wanna make.

I know I have the minority opinion here, but I never considered the "legality" issue to ever really be an issue. I would agree that at the time the original games were released had we been modding back then it would have been a genuine issue. However, since the ones who now own the rights to Keen, Hall and Romero have long abandoned this game because it is no longer profitable, I doubt they could care less whether or not any of us actually had illegal copies of the games. I also seriously doubt any of them are trolling on this forum looking for people to admit they have pirated copies of any of the original games. Copyright infringement usually applies to people taking others' copyrighted property and selling it for a profit, claiming it as their own under any circumstance, or when freely distributing their product results in significant lose of revenue for them. We all know neither of these things are happening in this community.

Those of you who have been members of the Keen community either since the beginning or in the 2000's, copies of Keens 2-3, Keens 5-6 and Keen Dreams were available for free all over the Internet. By the time any cracking down was done and these games were no longer available, any of us who were prominent members of this community would have had our own copies of Keen by then, legal or illegal. In fact, that is how I got my first copies of each of these other games. I never realized they were illegal copies until after the non-shareware games were removed completely for download from the Net. Because my love for the game, I didn't see any reason why I couldn't seek out legitimate copies of each of the original games. When modders release a new game, whether or not they include the executable is mute in my opinion because most likely 98% of forum members already have copies of all the executables, legal or illegal.

Since I am a Galaxy Keener (though I have played most of the Vorticon mods and have completed a good portion of them), my first mod would probably be Keen 4, due to it being my favorite, though Keen 5 is the only game of the 3 I was able to complete on normal and hard without in-level saving.
What is Directive X_M?
Benvolio
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 858
Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 12:43
Location: Ireland
Contact:

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by Benvolio »

I actually largely agree with Syllypryde with regards to legality and all the relevant points made.

However I still think it is relevant to picking an episode because of how important it's perceived to be - and how respecting the legality has been adopted as a part of the community's culture. But also, the very unavailability of free copies of the non shareware episodes causes those episodes to be less favourable to release mods for.
IplayGOG
Meep
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2022 1:04

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by IplayGOG »

What's about Keen Dreams?
User avatar
DoomJedi
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 846
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:22
Location: Israel

Re: What is the best Keen Galaxy game as a base for creating mods (and why)?

Post by DoomJedi »

Agree about Keen 4, for legal reasons and for nostalgy reason - being free shareware at the time - it was first Galaxy Keen most of us played and the most played Galaxy Keen in general.

I didn't need to redownload Keens as I still have mine from the 90s, just moved or copied harddrives into new comp each time I bought a new comp :) And even have 1.2" Floppy Disks with them still :)

Also in general - spaceship Keen mods (both 2 and 5) are not my favorite as the theme, I prefer Keen in more natural environments.
Post Reply