A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

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shikadi
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A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by shikadi »

It's been a while, but i've finally completed a new project. It's a keen 3 mod. Add keen3.exe to the map and start using "start.bat".

This was a lockdown project, I started from multimania's keen 1 randomizer and expanded it a bit, then made a mod around it. For keenday 2023 I tried to do the finishing, but I underestimated the amount of work. :spot

Click here to download

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Warning: Due to the random nature of the levels, not every level is solvable. Feel free to use cheats or skip levels as neccesary.
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Benvolio
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by Benvolio »

Wow a new Vorticons release!! Delighted to see this and well done for your work!

Now this experience is pure craziness. I've never played randomly generated Keen levels before but wow are they a strange experience. Multimania's program definitely does a great job. I feel myself feeling personally involved in the struggle to defeat some of the more unfair scenarios that are generated! Which was an odd situation when it's not the modder's brain itself I feel I'm battling with, like it would be with, for example, a KeenRush mod!

I love the atmosphere of this mod, real classic modding stuff. The jacks are terrifying and frankly that code could be used to generate some fascinating situations in a mod with pre-made levels.

The yorps and gargs are hilarious and the other sprites are well drawn.

I managed to beat the game without cheating so I feel satisfied with that!

Nothing for me to complain of. However one disappointment was that I couldn't find those cool looking green background tiles from your second screenshot anywhere. Are they supposed to be part of the level generation? Or is there a secret level that I'm missing (you can ignore the question if that's the case!) :p
shikadi
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by shikadi »

Benvolio wrote: Wed Mar 22, 2023 16:44
Nothing for me to complain of. However one disappointment was that I couldn't find those cool looking green background tiles from your second screenshot anywhere. Are they supposed to be part of the level generation? Or is there a secret level that I'm missing (you can ignore the question if that's the case!) :p
They're part of the underground tunnels, maybe I should've marked them better?

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Benvolio
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by Benvolio »

Ah yes right you are! Yeah those levels definitely need to be made more obvious on the map. My instinct is to just walk through the arch. Given the "high tech" appearance of the level, some sort of technological imagery is appropriate to make them look like levels. Also I think levels that you "walk through" on the map are not ideal. Fine to have non-blocking levels that are detached from side-walls - this is standard practice. But probably should avoid non blocking levels in a tight space. You have been considerate enough to leave the map wide open apart from the very first level, which probably suits the random nature of the levels.

I can now comment on those levels and confirm that they look really cool and are probably amongst the best generations. I am impressed at the generator making meaningful pathways for moving platforms. The levels do seem to rely on very lengthy platform paths but thankfully the engine seems to be able to keep those sprites in existence. (I can't remember if original Keen3 did this for platforms; the vorticon engine certainly didn't for many sprites off-screen).

Further to my above post, I realised that the jacks aren't as devastating as I thought, because (spoiler in selectable text ahead) you can shoot them! I still think that (if they were invincible) they're one of the most horrifying sprites I've ever encountered in a Keen mod and would do well implemented into non-randomised levels.
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by Multimania »

Wow! This is neat!

It definitely nails that half-remembered game from a dream vibe: the use of Keen 1 enemies which aren't quite right really make you question yourself a bit.

Also, I'm really impressed by the level generation, especially the early linear/horizontal levels, which remind me a bit of the early Yorphius II levels in a good way. I had a couple of levels (I think ice ones) which caused a crash (which required a reboot on my 486), and there were a few impossible jumps and once case where I constantly got pushed into a pit by a moving platform at the start. Otherwise, I'm very impressed: these levels feel surprisingly thought-out at times.

I'm glad the Keen 1 randomiser code was useful: you've definitely taken it further than I could've imagined. Not only is it neat to have all of the different level "styles" (which gives this mod much more structure and progression than most of the other randomly-generated mods), but it's also neat to see the code ported to C++. (I'm kinda shocked to see it work so well under DOS, though the filesize got quite big!)
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by shikadi »

Also I think levels that you "walk through" on the map are not ideal. Fine to have non-blocking levels that are detached from side-walls - this is standard practice. But probably should avoid non blocking levels in a tight space. You have been considerate enough to leave the map wide open apart from the very first level, which probably suits the random nature of the levels.
I changed it now so that the first tunnel level is blocking, so that people who will download it from now on will not just walk through and miss them. I made the map really open because some levels aren't possible, and I don't want a blocking impossible level (let's pray for level 5 now). The first level had simple and relaxed parameters and I haven't seen an impossible level generated for that.
I had a couple of levels (I think ice ones) which caused a crash (which required a reboot on my 486), and there were a few impossible jumps and once case where I constantly got pushed into a pit by a moving platform at the start.
Yeah, Sometimes I get a level that somehow aren't actually compatible with keen. Can't open those levels in editors either. I have no clue what happens in those cases.

If you get pushed by a platform at the start, try to do an impossible pogo. When I got that, I got out quick enough doing that.

but it's also neat to see the code ported to C++. (I'm kinda shocked to see it work so well under DOS, though the filesize got quite big!)
I am now shocked the exe is 15 times bigger than the keen exe. :lol I didn't do anything to optimize either speed or size of the program. I am not sure why it's weird that it works under DOS. I used the DOS compiler you linked me 2 years ago.
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by Nisaba »

He doesn't even remember how he got here? What are vorticons again? Blue mars doesn't have them. So how can they steal ship parts of a ship that's not here... Sometimes, when Keen looks away and then focuses again, things don't quite appear as he remembered...
I love the premise of this mod! this game has this certain "Twilight Zone" kind of vibe. Spooky in a sense. And confusing at times. A bit nightmareish, but in the best possible sense.
Great job!
I'm also really impressed by the random level generator. the results are really neat.
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by Nisaba »

shikadi wrote: Tue Mar 21, 2023 23:45
Multimania wrote: Fri Mar 24, 2023 13:18
This is off-topic now, but I have a feeling that the right people are following this thread here who have the interest and technical understanding to implement the following idea.

There is this Super Mario World hack called Super Mario Logic. The main premise is to solve one-room-mini-puzzles at the time in order to proceed. Each level consists of only one room that exactly fills the screen, just like seen in the example screens down below.

Image Image Image

I always wondered if a radomizer could be used for this idea. I imagine it would be exciting to always have the same rigid setting of a single room with fixed dimensions, which in turn would have different arrangements of wall structures, hazards, enemies, puzzles and the like.

The advantage would be that you can start a game and always find new challenges in a familiar setting, which increases the replay value. Randomly generated small levels, sometimes tricky, sometimes very simple structured, may gain a satisfying sense of achievement. And if a level should be impossible to solve, you can always skip to the next randomly generated one.
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shikadi
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by shikadi »

If you want to randomly generate tricky puzzles, you'll probably be hardcoding the possible puzzles themself. The more difficult and/or complex you want the generated levels, the higher probability that they'll be either unsolvable or start to look very alike. Not sure how doable this idea is.
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Re: A week after keenday release: Simulator keen

Post by Quillax »

Wow, what a neat surprise, shikadi!

I tried this a while ago and from what I remember, it was kind of interesting. The generated levels can be a bit fun (some of them definitely have that Yorphius II feel Multimania mentioned), although I've dealt with some that felt frustrating (those darn Mine Layers) or structure-less (it could be just blocks scattered all over in the air). I appreciate the different archetypes, but even then the output generated can sometimes feel a little samey, although I think the programming would have to be VERY complicated to minimize that (even Fleexy & Markeen's Keen 5 Levelpack seems to get that same sort of criticism anyway). All in all, it's a fun experiment and I'd recommended it those looking for a fun novelty, although I wouldn't give it a grade of an A, which is okay. (Not everything has to be perfect to be fun.)

Also, Nisaba and I set up a KeenWiki article for this mod. Feel free to let us know what you think! If you don't mind, it'd be great if you could offer names for the items and the tiny fireball that launches itself.
shikadi wrote: Fri Mar 24, 2023 23:19
Multimania wrote: Fri Mar 24, 2023 13:18 I had a couple of levels (I think ice ones) which caused a crash (which required a reboot on my 486), and there were a few impossible jumps and once case where I constantly got pushed into a pit by a moving platform at the start.
Yeah, Sometimes I get a level that somehow aren't actually compatible with keen. Can't open those levels in editors either. I have no clue what happens in those cases.
I kept shuffling the levels to see if I could get one of those, and eventually I did! Luckily, it can be opened with VorticonView, so I used that and what I saw is a level entirely filled with sprites. Each sprite is D901, nothing else, not even an FF (255) for Keen. Without the sprites, the level seems normal. So, somewhere in the program's code, there's something that tells it to flood a level with non-usable sprites in a rare circumstance. Perhaps something went wrong with the sprite placement?
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