Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

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Excuses
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Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Excuses »

Hello everyone,

My brother and I have been working on a mod (on and off) for a while now. I'm pleased to announce that it is finally ready to relaeas to the public.

It's a skiing themed mod for Keen 1. And given that it's still officially winter for a few more days I hope we're not too late :)

Notable features include:
* Skiing (Extensive use of slippery ice blocks)
* 16 original levels and world map
* Originl graphics

Check out the official trailer on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAOP7scq1B4

If you'd like to give it a try, you can download a zip file straight from GitHub here:
https://github.com/SleepingColossus/kee ... s/releases

Simply mount as normal and run via play.bat

I hope you enjoy it

Thanks,
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55Aavenue
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by 55Aavenue »

What a cool idea! The trailer looks great! I'll try this out for sure when I have some time.
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Excuses »

Thanks, 55Aavenue! I hope you like it. Feedback is very welcome :)

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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Benvolio »

So far I just watched the Youtube and this looks like a fun project. The title screen is beautiful, real classic 80s EGA look. The levels look full of life and bring what looks like a unique fusion of original game art. I always lament over-reliance on original game art and encourage you to consider increasing the amount of custom art you put in your next mod. I can see feom the title screen you're more than capable of good EGA pixel art. Thanks for helping keeping Vorticons modding alive!
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Excuses »

Benvolio wrote: Sat Mar 20, 2021 10:22 So far I just watched the Youtube and this looks like a fun project. The title screen is beautiful, real classic 80s EGA look. The levels look full of life and bring what looks like a unique fusion of original game art. I always lament over-reliance on original game art and encourage you to consider increasing the amount of custom art you put in your next mod. I can see feom the title screen you're more than capable of good EGA pixel art. Thanks for helping keeping Vorticons modding alive!
Thank you for the kind comment, Benvolio!

Making the art was very fun. Also challenging, too. We had to get creative to work around the 16x16 px tile sizes
However, I did borrow some sprites from Keen 3 & 4 as you will undoubtedly recognize.

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Nisaba
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Nisaba »

an atmospheric trailer that is. kudos to the editor. nice job!
and what a surprising debut feature. this one looks really promising
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
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Excuses »

Nisaba wrote: Mon Mar 22, 2021 13:06 an atmospheric trailer that is. kudos to the editor. nice job!
and what a surprising debut feature. this one looks really promising
Thanks, Nisaba!

My brother worked on the trailer. (He also did some artwork and level design)
He spent 2-3 hours meticulously editing the video to make sure Keen's movement between scenes was seamless.
I'm glad that feedback for the trailer has been so positive.

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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Benvolio »

Alright so I've given this mod a good play and it definitely deserves to be played for real. I find this really enjoyable. Snow-themed levels have always been to my taste and this delivers on this bigtime. The "keenishness" factor is through the roof - this is real classic keening. The levels are actually really stimulating in their design: you've nicely struck a good difficulty balance for enjoyment. Copious usage of sliding ice tiles allows for fast paced levels but the implementation is not "sadistic" like some of my own or KeenRush's work. I like your usage of point items - quite original - they're in effect functioning as more of an Extra Life power-up than the traditional small-value Keen point items. Honestly if I was doing a full rating system and breaking things down in that kind of critical detail, I'd give your levels a 9 or 10 out of 10. Your sprites too are great fun and well drawn. I think this project shows huge modding ability and I'd love to see you bring more modding work to fruition.

The game itself feels quite polished and well rounded, at least from what I've seen so far. I like the transition from non-pogoing gameplay to pogoing gameplay, it's quite seamless and really lets you enjoy the lease of life and sense of control that the pogo gives in the Vorticons Keen engine.

Of course there are some criticisms, which are levelled more at your decision-making than at the quality of the project or at your talent as a modder.

Firstly as I think I mentioned with regards the trailer, there's a lot of recoloured original game art here and while it is really nicely done and well integrated into the visual world of the mod, I would still encourage you to explore increasing the amount of custom art. Just to be clear, there is definitely enough graphical work done here for me to call this a "mod"/"total conversion" - I'm not debating that. I just personally find more custom graphics to be more pleasing and exciting.

Secondly, I would regard the mod as unfinished, because although the in-game world including text patches has been brought to completion, the menus and other auxiliary texts have not been altered. This is obviously something you decided not to do - but I encourage you to do this - perhaps even release a "remastered" edition or something. To be fair, in your original post you labelled the mod "ready to [release]", not "finished". But anyway this is not a major criticism because I love the mod. Personally, I find writing a storytext and other bits to be reasonably good fun whilst making a mod, so don't shy away from it in future.

Finally, so far I have seen few glitches. But beware the tile overwriting that the exit doors cause - the wooden background is replaced by cyan tiles to the right of the door when you go into it. This problem is usually easily avoided by reshuffling some tiles in the tileset, or alternatively can be patched. If these options fail, the exit can be put at the edge of the level instead to overcome these issues.

In the most ideal world, a skiing mod could be made with the V2 modifications, allowing sloped tiles for even more authentic piste action. Your enactment of the skiing environment is definitely great so this is not a criticism in the slightest. I also believe V2 to be quite difficult - I certainly never got the hang of it. But perhaps if ambitious you or someone else could make a sequel using these sloped tiles that V2 offers - it could be quite cool.

Addendum: just noticed the "package" bat file. Whilst nice to have an installer, you could theoretically annoy someone by overwriting their copy of Keen1. (For example in my orignal childhood setup, my only copy of Keen1 was a not completely reliable 5 1/4 disk and loss of the game was a constant fear). Maybe the batch file should have a warning message and a "would you like to proceed Y/N" prompt.
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by proYorp »

+1 trailer = neat

Yeah, just from those clips I can tell this is very well put together! The graphics are clean and nice to look at, and the levels look well-structured and open (it can be easy to make things too cramped).

This is one I'll have to give a good play sometime! Though at my current rate that might be in like... a few months. :dopekeen Looking forward to it though!
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Excuses »

Benvolio wrote: Thu Mar 25, 2021 11:25 Alright so I've given this mod a good play and it definitely deserves to be played for real. I find this really enjoyable. Snow-themed levels have always been to my taste and this delivers on this bigtime. The "keenishness" factor is through the roof - this is real classic keening. The levels are actually really stimulating in their design: you've nicely struck a good difficulty balance for enjoyment. Copious usage of sliding ice tiles allows for fast paced levels but the implementation is not "sadistic" like some of my own or KeenRush's work. I like your usage of point items - quite original - they're in effect functioning as more of an Extra Life power-up than the traditional small-value Keen point items. Honestly if I was doing a full rating system and breaking things down in that kind of critical detail, I'd give your levels a 9 or 10 out of 10. Your sprites too are great fun and well drawn. I think this project shows huge modding ability and I'd love to see you bring more modding work to fruition.

The game itself feels quite polished and well rounded, at least from what I've seen so far. I like the transition from non-pogoing gameplay to pogoing gameplay, it's quite seamless and really lets you enjoy the lease of life and sense of control that the pogo gives in the Vorticons Keen engine.

Of course there are some criticisms, which are levelled more at your decision-making than at the quality of the project or at your talent as a modder.

Firstly as I think I mentioned with regards the trailer, there's a lot of recoloured original game art here and while it is really nicely done and well integrated into the visual world of the mod, I would still encourage you to explore increasing the amount of custom art. Just to be clear, there is definitely enough graphical work done here for me to call this a "mod"/"total conversion" - I'm not debating that. I just personally find more custom graphics to be more pleasing and exciting.

Secondly, I would regard the mod as unfinished, because although the in-game world including text patches has been brought to completion, the menus and other auxiliary texts have not been altered. This is obviously something you decided not to do - but I encourage you to do this - perhaps even release a "remastered" edition or something. To be fair, in your original post you labelled the mod "ready to [release]", not "finished". But anyway this is not a major criticism because I love the mod. Personally, I find writing a storytext and other bits to be reasonably good fun whilst making a mod, so don't shy away from it in future.

Finally, so far I have seen few glitches. But beware the tile overwriting that the exit doors cause - the wooden background is replaced by cyan tiles to the right of the door when you go into it. This problem is usually easily avoided by reshuffling some tiles in the tileset, or alternatively can be patched. If these options fail, the exit can be put at the edge of the level instead to overcome these issues.

In the most ideal world, a skiing mod could be made with the V2 modifications, allowing sloped tiles for even more authentic piste action. Your enactment of the skiing environment is definitely great so this is not a criticism in the slightest. I also believe V2 to be quite difficult - I certainly never got the hang of it. But perhaps if ambitious you or someone else could make a sequel using these sloped tiles that V2 offers - it could be quite cool.

Addendum: just noticed the "package" bat file. Whilst nice to have an installer, you could theoretically annoy someone by overwriting their copy of Keen1. (For example in my orignal childhood setup, my only copy of Keen1 was a not completely reliable 5 1/4 disk and loss of the game was a constant fear). Maybe the batch file should have a warning message and a "would you like to proceed Y/N" prompt.
Thanks again for the kind comments and feedback, Benvolio!

Rest assured, that I am planning a follow up release in the near term future. I'm currently on annual leave for the first time since summer. I'll be back at it soon enough.

The next iteration will cover some of the following:


BROKEN SPRITES

Yes, the cyan blocks when collecting items and opening doors is a huge visual bug. I tried working around it as much as I could by placing keys over windows for example.
Alternatively, I could have chosen to not placed doors and collectables in indoor areas but that would have been too much of a design compromise, so I decided to keep the bug in despite breaking the immersion.

I assumed this was just a technicality of Keen 1. Since in the original game there are only two backgrounds - gray and black. All pickups happen to be on a gray background and get replaces by a blank gray (cyan in my case) tile on pickup. My assumption was that all pickups get replaces by the sane hardcoded tile

This V2 mod you linked appears to offer a solution with it's expanded tile sets. I'll see what I can do with it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


BORROWED SPRITES

During development I considered the usage of Keen 4's tiles in the overworld and Keen 3's tiles in the levels to be a homage/tribute to the original games (Not to mention to mask my lack of spriting ability :P). But I see your point. If most of the game uses custom sprites, I might as well go all the way. I will attempt to replace all borrowed sprites with originals.


AUXILIARY SCREENS

You're right. These have been completely overlooked. I apologize for that. They will be updated in the next release. I do like coming up with stories, but I'm not too good at actually putting them into writing. We'll see how it turns out.


USE OF POINTS

Good observation here as well. Points were a late addition to the game. I added them in when I started play testing the entire mod (as opposed to individual levels) and hit some frustrating points. They are, in fact, meant to help the player gain extra lives in case they haven't been saving. At best, I will only tweak the placement of teddys.

I believe the scoring system in all Keen games is a bit paradoxical. A player who dies a lot will repeat levels and collect more points, thus having a higher score than a player who beats the game in one try.

For this reason I decided to guide the player to collecting keys and not points.


PACKAGE.BAT FILE

The purpose of this batch file is to copy all the necessary files for distribution. I don't believe the data loss scenario you are describing is realistic, but nonetheless I will add a segment to the README to explain the folder structure and purpose of the various bat files. And make sure it's not in the final zip.


Thank you for the valuable feedback. It is very appreciated.

Also, since you're a seasoned modder yourself. Can you tell me how I'm supposed to get my game listed on keenwiki.shikadi.net? I have an account for the Wiki, but don't appear to be able to crate new pages. Or I could just be missing something?


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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Excuses »

proYorp wrote: Sat Mar 27, 2021 5:37 +1 trailer = neat

Yeah, just from those clips I can tell this is very well put together! The graphics are clean and nice to look at, and the levels look well-structured and open (it can be easy to make things too cramped).

This is one I'll have to give a good play sometime! Though at my current rate that might be in like... a few months. :dopekeen Looking forward to it though!
Thanks, proYorp!

I hope you like it!

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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Benvolio »

Excuses wrote:Also, since you're a seasoned modder yourself. Can you tell me how I'm supposed to get my game listed on keenwiki.shikadi.net? I have an account for the Wiki, but don't appear to be able to crate new pages. Or I could just be missing something?
I'm definitely not the best person to ask because although I do make articles for my games on Keenwiki, I don't think I've been doing this quite the way the guys who run the wiki would like.

However, what I can tell you is that the way I've found to create pages is that if you click any "red" link i.e. a link to a topic that does not exist, then as a registered user you're invited to make a page for that topic.

Code: Select all

[[example]]
So for instance you can edit your own page to contain a link (which is simply the text with double square brackets). The link could contain the text "Venture to Vorti Peaks". Once you've done this, you click the link and should be immediately brought to the page for creating an article with that precise title, and once you've saved it then that article exists on the wiki. However there is a precise template that you need to then use in your article, which some of the others might be best placed to tell you about. (A crude measure would be to copy template from another mod page and replace with your own content but I don't think this is what is correct.)
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by K1n9_Duk3 »

Or you can just type the name you want to use into the address bar of your browser (directly after the "/wiki/" part):

https://keenwiki.shikadi.net/wiki/Venture_to_Vorti_Peaks

A registered user should be able to create pages like this.
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Re: Commander Keen in Venture to Vorti Peaks

Post by Excuses »

Brilliant. Thanks for the tips!

I'll make one for the next release when the mod is more of a complete package, as advised by the guidelines.

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