It's pretty clear that enough people are interested in skin mods that we should include them, so I'm more than happy to do this. I have always said that I don't consider myself the boss of the KeenWiki, it's a community effort, so proYorp (and everyone else) you are welcome to start other forum threads about other KeenWiki rules you don't like if you think they should be changed.
I do agree that complete graphical changes can be fun, and perhaps the reason we haven't seen many of these is because those modders know about the KeenWiki's policy rather than skin mods being unpopular - that's a possibility I hadn't considered.
To be clear, when I refer to graphical mods as low effort I am referring to things like recolouring and only changing the player sprite. If the graphics are completely redone I don't consider that low effort, but until now I did wonder at the appeal. I have been assuming non-modders go to the KeenWiki to find "new" games to play and wouldn't want to replay the same thing with different sprites, but some good points have been made about a familiar game being easier to play than an unfamiliar one - a point I can certainly empathise with as someone who finds a lot of mods quite difficult.
So I think we can take it as given that we will open the KeenWiki up to graphical mods, the question is just where do we draw the line. I really want to have clear guidelines to avoid people being disappointed if their mod does not make the grade. Having a discussion/vote on the forum about whether the mod should be included is a great idea for the difficult ones, however if we can make the guidelines clear enough, hopefully it won't come to that too often.
Now that I think about it, I wonder whether we could address player skin mods (where only the main character sprite is changed) differently to other mods. proYorp said Pandakeen's Keen 1 Redrawn could be compatible with other mods if they don't change the graphics. This layering of multiple mods together is something we haven't really seen much of. I would be much more open to a larger variation of player skin mods if they weren't standalone mods, but they instead had to be loaded with another mod (or the original game) in order to work. If you could download Commander Kylie and then run it on top of any mod you wanted (including the original games) then I would be much more comfortable with the idea. It would mean we could create a new section in the KeenWiki for alternate player sprites, separate to the other mods so as not to clutter the list, and people could pick their preferred character and use it for whatever version of the games they wanted.
Along that note I wonder whether we could isolate graphics mods and level packs similarly? So you can select any player sprite, any graphics pack and any level pack and play them all together at the same time?
Part of the reason why I've been against these "partial" mods is because of the amount of unmodified game you are forced to play. But if you could combine these parts arbitrarily then the decision is up to the player. If they don't want to have to play the original levels again with your graphics pack, or see the original graphics with your new level pack, they can just load another pack at the same time. I really like this idea as it would allow us to create separate sections in the KeenWiki for level packs, graphics packs and player sprites so they wouldn't clutter the list of full mods.
Although getting back to the guidelines, here are some thoughts:
- How many graphics should change before a mod makes it across the line? Can you replace a single sprite with a pumpkin and call it a Halloween mod? Perhaps a better question is, aside from player-only skin changes, are there any good cases where a graphical mod would *not* want to change the majority of graphics? If we said graphical mods must change at least 90% of the in-level graphics, would that mean we would exclude a mod we might want to have listed?
- Do we exclude "simple" mods, such as those that only change the palette or recolour the graphics? This would mean CGA Keen Episode 1 would get removed (except that it has some new levels so it will stay, but I couldn't find a better example).
- I foresee some modders who've made complete mods extracting their graphics and re-releasing it as a graphics-only mod. I was originally thinking this should be treated as one mod, however if we go down the path of mixing and matching level/graphics packs then it might make more sense to actually have it listed twice, as both a graphics-only mod and a full mod. That would make it easier for players to pull in your graphics for a new level pack they want to try out, for example.
- Commander Kylie should be re-added based on it being popular and well known, but do we have a rule for future player-sprite-only mods? If we list player skin mods in a separate section on the KeenWiki (so they can be used with any mod) then there's no worry about them cluttering the list of full mods. However I still think we need some guidelines, like we don't include mods that only change colours (eye colour, shirt colour) with an exception made for the first few unique skin colour changes.