First Keen mod you played

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Syllypryde
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Syllypryde »

Somehow it doesn't surprise me that Ceilick's TUIT trilogy, or at least Keen 7 are the first mods many here have played. Other Keeners like myself who have been around a lot longer our first mods will mostly be Vorticon mods or early attempts at Galaxy mods.
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Quillax »

Yeah, I figured a lot of people would say Ceilick's unofficial TUIT trilogy. I thought it would be fun to see how big that majority is and what would the odd ones out say. I'm actually surprised that a few said they played Dead in the Desert before The Keys of Krodacia! A lot of the mods people have posted here bring back so many fond memories -- Yorphius II, Episode X, Norp the Yorp (I remember taking so long to figure out how to get Norp 2 working, not understanding UNLZEXE and stuff :lol ), XMAS 2010, The Ruin of Roib (this one confused me too at first, but overtime I understood the point and found it enjoyable and even impressive), and CK Guy's Keen 5 Levelpack. Speaking of the latter, another Keen 5 levelpack I remember playing a lot back then was Keen Asylum -- that rocket level in particular is pretty iconic! Pretty much all of Ceilick's mods (minus Return to the Shadowlands -- I still have to play that one! And Keen Dreams Plus didn't get much attention due to a weird crash I once came upon long ago, although I didn't get any crashes when I played it a few years ago.) were frequently replayed. He was like my modding role model back then (my old mods drew heavy inspiration from his works!), and I still have a lot of respect for him today! :)
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Soul Monster »

Syllypryde wrote: Tue Oct 19, 2021 14:15 Somehow it doesn't surprise me that Ceilick's TUIT trilogy, or at least Keen 7 are the first mods many here have played. Other Keeners like myself who have been around a lot longer our first mods will mostly be Vorticon mods or early attempts at Galaxy mods.
I'm not surprised either. A trilogy of mods bearing the name "The Universe Is Toast" is guaranteed to get a lot of people's attention, it certainly got mine. Not only did they provide (albeit and unofficial) closure to fans who had wanted to see the series finale for a long time, but I feel like it breathed new life into the Commander Keen community and inspired others to take up modding. I feel like if Ceilick had never stepped up to create these mods, we may not have gotten the incredible mods we've seen in the past decade like Atroxian Realm and Operation Ocflore, just to name a few. Like I said in another thread, by playing these mods now, we're creating nostalgic memories all over again.
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Hisymak »

For me, it was indeed TUIT trilogy, the very first mod I played (as I can remember) was Keen7 and probably also the Birdman at the same time.
I was not very impressed by Keen7 (The Keys of Krodacia) as I did not really much like the graphics due to lack of natural green color, and most of the world being in blue and purple (and brown) color. And the monsters were just facelifted Keen4 monsters with exactly same behavior, and the early version I played was lacking built-in custom music (and I did not much like the actual custom music anyway).
Then Keen8 (Dead in the Desert) followed, I remember liking it a bit better, as it was more adventure-style progression and the monsters behavior was at least slightly altered. Keen9 was the most advanced game in my opinion, with colourful palette of different worlds, and it was really hard.

EDIT: Not sure if that even counts, but many years ago (around 2000's) I played some custom Commander Keen 1 level pack of poor quality which I found on a Czech website related to Commander Keen.
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Pandakeen »

Hisymak wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 18:38 EDIT: Not sure if that even counts, but many years ago (around 2000's) I played some custom Commander Keen 1 level pack of poor quality which I found on a Czech website related to Commander Keen.
Do you still have the levelpack or remember the name of the website? I'm just a bit curious if this is something that's already on KeenWiki or not.
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Hisymak »

Pandakeen wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 18:49
Hisymak wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 18:38 EDIT: Not sure if that even counts, but many years ago (around 2000's) I played some custom Commander Keen 1 level pack of poor quality which I found on a Czech website related to Commander Keen.
Do you still have the levelpack or remember the name of the website? I'm just a bit curious if this is something that's already on KeenWiki or not.
Here it is: https://web.archive.org/web/20090119115 ... uroven.htm
Unfortunately only one of the download links is available in the archive.
I don't believe this is something that got into Keen Wiki, it looks rather like somebody random has just toyed with the CK1 level editor.
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Pandakeen »

Checked the working download, and I identified it as this one: https://keenwiki.shikadi.net/wiki/Airef ... _Levelpack So it's nothing new, but it's still interesting.
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Hisymak »

Pandakeen wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 19:55 Checked the working download, and I identified it as this one: https://keenwiki.shikadi.net/wiki/Airef ... _Levelpack So it's nothing new, but it's still interesting.
Eh, I even did not try searching for something of poor quality like this on Keen Wiki. I hoped I would reveal a small new piece of Keen modding history, but nope.
Too bad the first link is not available, it was a level pack of the author of the website. I remember it had just one or two new levels, and it was quite better than the second level pack.
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Syllypryde »

Soul Monster wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 1:59 I'm not surprised either. A trilogy of mods bearing the name "The Universe Is Toast" is guaranteed to get a lot of people's attention, it certainly got mine. Not only did they provide (albeit and unofficial) closure to fans who had wanted to see the series finale for a long time, but I feel like it breathed new life into the Commander Keen community and inspired others to take up modding. I feel like if Ceilick had never stepped up to create these mods, we may not have gotten the incredible mods we've seen in the past decade like Atroxian Realm and Operation Ocflore, just to name a few. Like I said in another thread, by playing these mods now, we're creating nostalgic memories all over again.
Back in the day of the TUIT trilogy, Ceilick and I spoke a lot in private message about Keening especially the evolution of Galaxy modding. When Gridlock first hit the scene, I was one of the first, most likely one of the very few who played his abandoned Keen 4 level pack and actually liked it for the most part. Though it was quite sloppy, I saw potential in it and found a way to enjoy it. When 4 of his levels were included in the Keen 8 Community level pack, Gridlock's levels for the most part were the ones highly praised by the community. 3 out of the 4 (Stalagburn Caverns, Spikard Tank and The Volcano) were my all-time favorite levels up to that point. Coincidentally, Ceilick and I were talking at that time, debating if someone would finally come along and topple "The Dude" off his Galaxy modding throne. I correctly predicted that it would happen one day and it would be Gridlock that did it. Sure enough when Gridlock asked me to playtest Atroxian Realm I was convinced more than ever this would be the mod to finally put someone past Ceilick. Once it was released in full back in January 2016 (doesn't seem like it was that long ago), the community was up in arms excited.

It is cool to see that Ceilick is still participating in the community. I liked his Return to the Shadowlands. As the modders continue to compete (friendly competition) to see who is the best, that brings better and better mods for us to play. Everybody wins!
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by XkyRauh »

Ceilick wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 13:34 Yorphius II for me! I remember what really astounded me about that mod was the color scheme, and the art style (a lack of black outlining) being so different from Keens 1-3; it really made it feel alien and new! The level design was great as well; the difficulty felt on par with the original games. Discovering Yorpohius II, after playing a lot of Keen fan games, holds a similar 'legendary' place in my memory as discovering Keen Dreams. It might as well have been an official title for young me.
Yorphius II was the very first actual KeenMod, wasn't it? Before that, it was only level packs and a few graphical alterations--Yorphius II was the first one that changed in-game text and stuff, I believe. (I remember being disappointed because I wanted XkyKeen1 to be the very first complete mod lol)
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Soul Monster »

Syllypryde wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 22:19
Wow. That's cool that your prediction came true. I have yet to play Gridlock's Keen 4 levels, but I can see why they'd be so highly regarded. I still remember the first time I heard about Atroxian Realm was back in 2013 through some videos Gridlock uploaded on Youtube. I was really excited about this mod, and I could tell this was above and beyond anything that predated it, with its complex, textured graphics, the dark atmosphere, and that wonderful score (which I still listen to often). For a while it felt like the game was never going to come out. I remember anticipating the release of the game for some time, and I eventually dropped off. Then, on Keen Day 2016, I was browsing Keenwiki and discovered it had been released, and I immediately downloaded it and played through it over several days. I knew it would be worth the wait, but this was above and beyond what I expected, with everything I mentioned in the sentence above, along with its dark, gritty, immersive environments, story and enemies. Also, isn't that crazy? How has it been 5 years already?!

I've always considered Battle of the Brains to be my favorite mod, because it gave us closure after all these years, complete with all kinds of throwbacks, diverse environments, creatures and music, but Atroxian Realm is also my favorite for the same reasons. Atroxian Realm is also great for being a challenge even for the most seasoned Keen players. It's also cool that Gridlock continued the story with The Alphamatic, and hopefully one day Voyage To Veota will see the light of day if Gridlock decides to pursue it.

Yeah, it's great that Ceilick is still on here and continuing to make mods. Return to the Shadowlands was great, in fact my first post on here was a review for it, and it's exciting to know that he's got sequels in the works, because as I mentioned in the RTTS thread, there's times when it feels like you're playing lost id stages. There's also Sign of the Vool, which I'm not sure if it's in development at the moment or not, but I still think it looks pretty cool. If it does get released one day, I'm sure it'll turn out as amazing as it looks.

I feel like when bigger mods are released, it sparks new life in the community, and perhaps even inspires others to take up modding. Hell, I'm currently looking into learning how to use modding tools to hopefully release something myself one day, so thank you guys for taking my interest in Keening to the next level!
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Re: First Keen mod you played

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For me the first one was the Galaxy mod of "Marooned on Mars". I had an untypical path to become a Keen fan: while I'm a pixel graphics lover, the extremely simple, even primitive graphics of the Vorticon series put me off so much... that while I first tried them several years ago, I never finished any of them. I've been thinking about playing the Galaxy series because I saw that the graphics are much better... but never got around to it, I just regretted not knowing the whole chronologically, but the Vorticon series would put me off too much. ;)
I was inspired to try again by the "Secret Agent" remake, a game loosely tied to Keen through Apogee Software. I liked "Secret Agent" quite a lot - I first played the shareware episode 1 already in 1992 or 1993 and the rest some 13 years later, already in the "internet era". In fact I wouldn't have bothered to play the remake - EGA is fine for me (although I prefer the more detailed EGA of "Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure" and, first of all, adventure games such as "Quest for Glory" 1 and 2, "Loom", "The Colonel's Bequest", "Codename: Iceman"...) if not for the fact that the remake includes a fourth episode... This made me think that oh, it would be so fine if Keen games were remade too, and then I thought: and am I absolutely sure that there are no remakes already? This is how it started.
I'm still hoping that "The Earth Explodes" will be improved yet - it's not finished anyway and it's much simpler than "Marooned on Mars", and that a Galaxy mod of "Keen Must Die" happens one day...

After these ones, I started playing unofficial Keen games: I chose some mods I liked best and started with the less amazing ones such as "Suburb Shenanigans", then "Ruin of Roib" and "Underworld Ultimate" (because while the graphics are absolutely amazing, failed, drunk Keen is a little depressing...) and then proceeded to the best ones auch as "Atroxian Realm" and "Operation Orcflore".
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Snortimer »

It's really neat to read people's stories!

I'll share what I remember, and I hope I'm remembering it right because it was so long ago. So long that I get kind of sad just thinking of how long ago it was.

My very first "modified Keen" was actually Xky Rauh's "The Ice Factory" Keen 1 level from January 1998. People on the boards were so excited about it, and I thought it was great, if small (I'd always liked the ice-shooters in Keen 1, too). It was shortly followed by other levels and levelpacks, most of which I played. I also tried to make my own Keen 1 level, but the editor back then was buggy and it crashed, erasing what I had built).

I left the PCKF in the early 2000s for a while, before "modding" really got going. At least, I don't think I remember it really being a thing.

Instead, Klik n Play, Click and Create, and The Games Factory Keen fan games were the big thing for a few years, and I played a lot of those, but most of them didn't feel right because they didn't have the right controls. I remember playing "Keen 2000" when it was released, the first finished Keen fangame. Even back then, nobody really considered it a masterpiece and it was buggy as heck, but it was still fun, which was more than could be said for most of them. Highlights for me were Bloog Sports: Soccer (a stupidly simple 2-player game which I used to often play against friends), Ilsoap's The Rule of a Yorp's Dinner (never finished, but a few great levels), and the Spork trilogy.

Anyway, when I got back TUIT #2 had just been released (Dead in the Desert). I was very pleasantly surprised that Galaxy modding was now possible, and proceeded to play through Krodacia (which I didn't like as much as I had hoped), then Dead in the Desert (which I REALLY liked). Since then I've played a bunch of others, and I tend to like the ones that still feel Keeny while having good level design. My current favourites are "Atroxian Realm", followed by "Dead in the Desert", followed by "Ruin of Roib" or "Alphamatic".
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by StupidBunny »

I don't remember exactly which mod was the first I played--it would've been so long ago now. It was probably either Norp the Yorp 1: Inside Mortimer's Computer or XkyKeen1. Either way one thing I for sure remember was how enchanted I was with the visuals, the creative repurposing of the original enemies and tiles, the novel level design, and really just the experience of playing the same old Vorticons controls but with a whole new art style and world to explore. I also played the Ice Factory and that old ice level compilation early on.

Like Snortimer, a lot of my earliest experience with unofficial Keen wasn't with mods but with K&P/TGF fangames, and in fact it was probably one of those that I played first, in my early, desperate attempts to find the official Keen 7-9 (I was sure they had to exist and I'd find them if I looked hard enough. And this was years before even Keys of Krodacia was a thing.) I remember one specifically, very incomplete, really terrible (the Bloogs would just stop when shot, not even entering a "stunned" animation frame, I recall), but something about it stuck firm in my mind. There was a graphic of a crate or something, that's about all I remember. I think Commander Keen: School's Out was another one I found very early on.

I don't remember where I found all of these, this was years before I actually engaged with the community at all. I think it was a while later that I found Beyond the Pogo, at which point the floodgates were opened for me.
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Re: First Keen mod you played

Post by Quillax »

Hisymak wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 19:48 Here it is: https://web.archive.org/web/20090119115 ... uroven.htm
Unfortunately only one of the download links is available in the archive.
Oh, that's interesting! I've never seen that site! It's too bad the other link doesn't work, for all we know it could be a levelpack not documented on KeenWiki! Speaking of missing levelpacks, anyone remember The Yellow Submarine? I remember that used to be on KeenWiki's Vorticon Mods list, and I could've sworn it's on DOS Classics, but now I don't see it over on the latter. When I saw it listed, the download link was broken. I wonder if anyone has a copy of that, or was the download always broken?
XkyRauh wrote: Mon Nov 08, 2021 4:17Yorphius II was the very first actual KeenMod, wasn't it? Before that, it was only level packs and a few graphical alterations--Yorphius II was the first one that changed in-game text and stuff, I believe. (I remember being disappointed because I wanted XkyKeen1 to be the very first complete mod lol)
That depends on what you consider to be a Keen mod. Many people (including me) think that a Keen mod must at least change most of the graphics, have all new levels, and have a new story. At some point, though, KeenWiki grouped the levelpacks with the Keen mods, so I imagine some people consider levelpacks to be Keen mods. Even I have a couple levelpacks in the mods page of my website, although I've considered making a levelpacks page if I make enough of those.

Speaking of levelpacks, some of the earliest levelpacks I remember playing were Keen Armageddon and pLeitorian's 1st Levelpack. I did NOT get very far in either levelpack; I probably didn't even get beyond the first level back then. I also remember playing I Am Frozen, and Ice Levels (from Neil McRae) seems very familiar to me for some reason. Or maybe I'm thinking of the ice levelpack KeenRush made several years ago.
Syllypryde wrote: Sat Nov 06, 2021 22:19 Back in the day of the TUIT trilogy, Ceilick and I spoke a lot in private message about Keening especially the evolution of Galaxy modding. When Gridlock first hit the scene, I was one of the first, most likely one of the very few who played his abandoned Keen 4 level pack and actually liked it for the most part. Though it was quite sloppy, I saw potential in it and found a way to enjoy it. When 4 of his levels were included in the Keen 8 Community level pack, Gridlock's levels for the most part were the ones highly praised by the community. 3 out of the 4 (Stalagburn Caverns, Spikard Tank and The Volcano) were my all-time favorite levels up to that point. Coincidentally, Ceilick and I were talking at that time, debating if someone would finally come along and topple "The Dude" off his Galaxy modding throne. I correctly predicted that it would happen one day and it would be Gridlock that did it. Sure enough when Gridlock asked me to playtest Atroxian Realm I was convinced more than ever this would be the mod to finally put someone past Ceilick. Once it was released in full back in January 2016 (doesn't seem like it was that long ago), the community was up in arms excited.

It is cool to see that Ceilick is still participating in the community. I liked his Return to the Shadowlands. As the modders continue to compete (friendly competition) to see who is the best, that brings better and better mods for us to play. Everybody wins!
I played Gridlock's Keen 4 levelpack many years ago, although I remember very little of it. All I remember is the BwB level, which was so hard for me back then, although it's also creative! I did play the levels from his pack that were included in Buried in Oblivion; those I do remember. His levels in the Dead in the Desert Community level pack are very good! I thought The Volcano had a very creative design! Well, okay, Gridlock's levels in general are very creative! Perhaps someday I'll reach that level of creativity too! You're right in that friendly competition makes us bring out our best!
Snortimer wrote: Thu Nov 18, 2021 9:12 Instead, Klik n Play, Click and Create, and The Games Factory Keen fan games were the big thing for a few years, and I played a lot of those, but most of them didn't feel right because they didn't have the right controls. I remember playing "Keen 2000" when it was released, the first finished Keen fangame. Even back then, nobody really considered it a masterpiece and it was buggy as heck, but it was still fun, which was more than could be said for most of them. Highlights for me were Bloog Sports: Soccer (a stupidly simple 2-player game which I used to often play against friends), Ilsoap's The Rule of a Yorp's Dinner (never finished, but a few great levels), and the Spork trilogy.

Anyway, when I got back TUIT #2 had just been released (Dead in the Desert). I was very pleasantly surprised that Galaxy modding was now possible, and proceeded to play through Krodacia (which I didn't like as much as I had hoped), then Dead in the Desert (which I REALLY liked). Since then I've played a bunch of others, and I tend to like the ones that still feel Keeny while having good level design. My current favourites are "Atroxian Realm", followed by "Dead in the Desert", followed by "Ruin of Roib" or "Alphamatic".
Oh yeah, the KNP/CNC/TGF Keen fangames! I used to play Keen 2000 a lot, one of the earliest memories I have of anything related to the Keen fan community. Like you said, it may not be a masterpiece nor is it the most Keenish, but it's still pretty fun! To this day, I make sure I play that fangame at least once a year! :) I also remembered playing Yorp Convention, Alpha Manhattan, NetKeen 2, and the one game where you can chat with Commander Keen. Out of curiosity, was Bloog Sports: Soccer any fun with friends? I've only played that alone. I played Ilsoap's The Rule of a Yorp's Dinner (and made a KeenWiki article about it) recently and it's actually very good! :yorp It recaptures the Keen humor and spirit very well! It's also pretty polished compared to the average Klik game! A shame it never got finished!

Out of curiosity, did you play Battle of the Brains? It's the sequel to Dead in the Desert and the conclusion to Ceilick's TUIT trilogy. It's quite a popular favorite among fans. You didn't mention it at all, so I wasn't sure if you really did play it or you somehow missed it. If it happens to be the latter, I absolutely recommended it! :)
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