Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by stayfrosty »

Keen 6 has always been my favourite of the original bunch, so it's not hard to please me with B2FX!
Damn it's hard though... Bloogclubs Inc. I cannot complete on easy without saving twice in game, it's a massive restart otherwise when those ceiling hammers nail me or the wall cannons fry me.
Starting with Bloogarrison, there's plenty of chances for extra goodies or you can just settle for beating the level.
...so I'm just doing things EASY for now, trying to just get thru and complete the game...
Just grabbed the sandwich...

One error did occur on my playthrough. Bloog Workshop Industries. After falling to my death, the level restarted and then completed, which was annoying because I hadn't saved up to that point and lost my true iron man status as I never did actually complete the level.

I was wondering as someone posted before they used God mode. The F10-G and F10-J don't seem to work when I activate the debug keys.

Anyhoo great stuff! Was up extra late last night playing this which has burnt me for work today lol
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Alopex »

stayfrosty wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 3:41 Keen 6 has always been my favourite of the original bunch, so it's not hard to please me with B2FX!
Damn it's hard though... Bloogclubs Inc. I cannot complete on easy without saving twice in game, it's a massive restart otherwise when those ceiling hammers nail me or the wall cannons fry me.
Starting with Bloogarrison, there's plenty of chances for extra goodies or you can just settle for beating the level.
...so I'm just doing things EASY for now, trying to just get thru and complete the game...
Just grabbed the sandwich...

One error did occur on my playthrough. Bloog Workshop Industries. After falling to my death, the level restarted and then completed, which was annoying because I hadn't saved up to that point and lost my true iron man status as I never did actually complete the level.

I was wondering as someone posted before they used God mode. The F10-G and F10-J don't seem to work when I activate the debug keys.

Anyhoo great stuff! Was up extra late last night playing this which has burnt me for work today lol
Thanks for playing and enjoying my mod so much! I appreciate it a lot! :)
For the problem you pointed out, that's a bug that sometimes seemed to happen to me too, but I was unable to replicate it.
I take this opportunity to ask more experienced users like @Fleexy if they know the possible cause of this bug.
Besides, the debug keys are disabled to make the player enjoy the entire gameplay without being tempted to cheat precisely because this mod is a little bit tricky. :P

I hope you continue playing it! Let me know every other of your feedback! :)
Check out my Commander Keen 6 Mod, Back to Fribbulus Xax: viewtopic.php?t=13913.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Fleexy »

Looks like I'm getting to the tougher levels! The Underground Dome took me a few dozen tries, but I did eventually get through it without in-level saving. The main tricky parts were the cannon/Orbatrix/spike pit near the top, the last platform ride past the cannons, and (when low on ammo) the Nospike hallway. I might suggest reducing the length of required switchable goplat rides so the player can see what they changed. I saw some secret areas and I even got the yellow key, though I didn't use it on this playthrough since I'm not using ILS. I learned in this level that Orbatrices are only deadly when bouncing - I had always assumed they were constitutively dangerous - so thanks for that knowledge!

By ducking, sticking to the wall past the cannons, and maybe some luck, I managed to finish Workshop Industries and Bloogclubs with much less trouble, though I definitely didn't find all the optional areas. In Bloogclubs, I did run into the problem of Keen's shots not spawning due to many sprites in play - you might want to reduce the number of cannons or replace infoplane point items with foreground items. (I might need to recalibrate Abiathar's Level Inspector for Keen 6.)

The Outer Guard Post was a nice relaxing smaller level after those three. And again, I like that the level matches its appearance/story on the world map. :)
stayfrosty wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 3:41 One error did occur on my playthrough. Bloog Workshop Industries. After falling to my death, the level restarted and then completed, which was annoying because I hadn't saved up to that point and lost my true iron man status as I never did actually complete the level.
If you dodged the fireballs in the trap door by sticking to the left wall, you ran into the "bottom of map" blocks, which are fall-through on the top but solid on both sides. This probably glitched you through the map bottom border all the way past the left edge, which completes the level.

Alopex, you can fix this by removing those blocks from where the level bottom should be lethal.
stayfrosty wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 3:41 I was wondering as someone posted before they used God mode. The F10-G and F10-J don't seem to work when I activate the debug keys.
It's disabled in the patch file, but since I just needed cheats for testing I deleted the relevant patch from my copy. ;)
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by stayfrosty »

What's with the Black Hole level? It appears I can only fall hard right to the exit. There's got to be more to this, right?
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by proYorp »

Fleexy wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 23:55
stayfrosty wrote: Sun Sep 11, 2022 3:41 I was wondering as someone posted before they used God mode. The F10-G and F10-J don't seem to work when I activate the debug keys.
It's disabled in the patch file, but since I just needed cheats for testing I deleted the relevant patch from my copy. ;)
?!

I... really don't think removing cheat codes from the game is a good idea. I know it's kind of a trend for some reason, but I really think it ultimately hinders everybody, both modders and players.

The short version is that all it truly accomplishes is preventing certain people from being able to play the game, e.g. little kids, people with disabilities, even some casual players. Also someone that knows what they're doing could just break open the cheats anyway, making the patch pointless, so all it does is create a barrier to entry. Not really in the best interest of modders that want a lot of people to play their games.

If I wasn't so tied down by real life this might've given me the push I needed to finally write that essay about why cheat codes are essential... if we could stop this trend I would be very happy. It just feels so condescending to block people from playing the way that's fun for them, or from playing at all. Cheats are a tool, and I mean, ID Software thought it was a good idea to have them for players to use.

Alopex if you do any more updates to this I sincerely petition you to reenable the cheat codes. (And sorry if I'm being a bit demanding... it's nothing against you, I'm moreso addressing this message to everyone in general, since no one has properly confronted this issue anywhere else yet. I just hate the idea of excluding people.)



Apologies if I've somehow completely misread this situation. I haven't played this mod yet but I've been trying to find a chance to ever since the release. Dang I want to though. It's been a good minute since there's been a Keen 6 levelpack. I think I might finally have some free time now, I hope.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Nisaba »

proYorp wrote: Sat Oct 08, 2022 9:04 I... really don't think removing cheat codes from the game is a good idea. [...]
I think the idea of disabling cheat codes makes perfect sense, as long as you're willing to switch perspectives for a moment. From a game developer's point of view, it can feel quite frustrating when all the effort regarding puzzle ideas, secret places and so on you've put in over weeks and even months of work are bypassed with a few clicks. Doing something about it, even if it's turning off the cheats, seems like a valid course of action to me.

Personally, I think it's presumptuous to set exclusivity for every conceivable level of accessibility as an expectation of developers. The service that is offered here has been created in one's own spare time with a lot of effort and extra work. I do not want to be misunderstood. Of course, such a desire may be expressed that mods and games guarantee more accessibility. In my opinion, however, such an expectation with the claim of implementation should not be set in a free product made by amateurs like this very mod. That does not seem appropriate to me.

With some certainty one does not reach a larger audience with such restriction, as you just mentioned. but perhaps that is not the underlying concern. Think of Kaizo-Mario, which is indeed very popular because of the enormous difficulty level. Exclusion seems to be the concept of choice in that case.

(Side note: cheat codes were originally a debugging feature, which followed completely different rules than to enable accessibility to the game)

But enough of the change of perspective. now I break with my own arguments and actually plead for keeping cheat codes available for the audience. Why, you might ask. Well, remember that you're dealing with a modding community that has an extensive wiki at hand to reactivate these cheat codes with ease. If, then you should go full scale, and hide the function so well that it becomes even a metagame to track them down. Levellass has proven how to archive this.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Ceilick »

Nisaba wrote: Sat Oct 08, 2022 20:09 From a game developer's point of view, it can feel quite frustrating when all the effort regarding puzzle ideas, secret places and so on you've put in over weeks and even months of work are bypassed with a few clicks. Doing something about it, even if it's turning off the cheats, seems like a valid course of action to me.
On the one hand, it sucks to develop something and have it played the wrong way, the way you didn't intend it to be experienced, or skipped altogether. I can understand this motivation to remove cheats, I've done it myself.

On the other hand, though, I've come to feel that if the gameplay is good then the intended audience probably won't cheat, and it isn't necessary to disable cheats. In fact, if the intended audience does cheat it's probably indicative of bad design.

There's an argument to be made about whether you can force someone to be the intended audience by disabling cheats. This may work in some cases.

In the case of Alopex's 'Back to Fribbulus Xax!', I'm sorry to say, it didn't for me. I played two levels and didn't like either, feeling that they were too hard (sorry, Alopex). I tried to cheat to move on see what else was there, saw I couldn't, and felt rather deflated by the whole thing.

I'd like to give this levelpack another shot when I have time to provide better feedback, and it's entirely possible I'm not the intended audience and it's meant for those who prefer a greater challenge.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Nisaba »

Ceilick wrote: Sun Oct 09, 2022 20:23 On the other hand, though, I've come to feel that if the gameplay is good then the intended audience probably won't cheat, and it isn't necessary to disable cheats. In fact, if the intended audience does cheat it's probably indicative of bad design.
good point!

@proYorp simply for look the following line in your patchfile and comment it
#%patch $784B $90 $90
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by proYorp »

I understand why someone may want to disable cheats. I've read the reasons before. I'm saying it sounds like a good idea on paper, but in practice it achieves the opposite of what you want. Someone can still try to follow the puzzles with God Mode. If someone is not able to solve a segment at all they're likely to drop the mod completely. Removing cheats hurts modders as well.

I really believe most players will try to go through what they feel is the legitimate or intended way, and someone that just wants to explore and enjoy it in their own way should be allowed that option. What's the point of playing mods if not to have fun?

I also understand that not everyone would want to spend the effort to add accessibility. But removing cheats is an extra action to deliberately take away accessibility that was already there.

If this was Kaizo that would be a different type of game and thus a different discussion to have. OG-style Keen mods and levelpacks are exactly where cheats fit in.

I don't think this should be a "rule" either, otherwise that would make me a hypocrite. I don't want to control anybody. My main issue was that I didn't see anyone else making enough of a fuss to balance against the assumptions that some big modders seemed to assert as fact, which have not been my experience at all. (And one of those was Ceilick... good to see he's learned from that. P.S. I already had written all this before I saw his post. :o I also agree that quote is a solid point.)



Here's one recent example of why someone may want cheats, so they can play the game (without cheats later as well!).
https://keenmodding.org/viewtopic.php?p=39435#p39435

Note the manuals for the original games explain the cheats as relief for difficulty, regardless of their original purpose.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Ceilick »

I think I'm being misunderstood, because while I agree that removing cheats doesn’t address the suggested motivation for doing so, I completely disagree with what it sounds like you’re saying, that every modder's motivation is, or should be, that people get to enjoy their work by any means.
Modders should get to decide how their work will be experienced and who the intended audience is, and that audience may be exclusive to those who don’t cheat—I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, it's just not the same design philosophy as the original games.
proYorp wrote: Mon Oct 10, 2022 22:40 Someone can still try to follow the puzzles with God Mode.
I understand what you're saying, but it is a different experience than the one designed and intended to be played if done this way. Same with passing a part via cheating and then passing it without cheats another time; the experience as it was meant to be experienced has been spoiled and is no longer the same experience.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Alopex »

Sorry for the late reply!
I've been busy for the last few weeks and have had no time to reply to the new messages.
stayfrosty wrote: Fri Sep 23, 2022 1:31 What's with the Black Hole level? It appears I can only fall hard right to the exit. There's got to be more to this, right?
:scary SPOILER ALERT! :scary

The Black Hole is just that. I created it as a simple, quick level in which everything the player has to do is to "fall properly". However, Syllypryde gave one clever and outstanding piece of advice to make it more complex than it currently is, like making it teleporting Keen to another dimension and the only way to exit it is to pass a level. It's something that I would highly have taken into account during the development of this level pack, but now, due to my lack of time, I think I will not be able to implement it.
Anyways, the Black Hole level is a core thing in BTFX. I don't want to spoil too much, but I'm planning to make it the heart of the story of my next mode (the sequel of this one), as I already said in a previous post.
proYorp wrote: Sat Oct 08, 2022 9:04 Alopex if you do any more updates to this I sincerely petition you to reenable the cheat codes. (And sorry if I'm being a bit demanding... it's nothing against you, I'm moreso addressing this message to everyone in general, since no one has properly confronted this issue anywhere else yet. I just hate the idea of excluding people.)
I hear you, and I think your point of view is a valid one. As somebody has already said, for now, I'd prefer to keep cheats disabled in this level pack to let it as a great challenge to crack, considering the remarkable level of difficulty that BTFX comes with. Still, what you pointed out is something I'll deeply think about to maybe someday decide to reactive cheats to make the mod more "accessible" to anyone.
Thanks for sharing this important thought!
Ceilick wrote: Sun Oct 09, 2022 20:23 In the case of Alopex's 'Back to Fribbulus Xax!', I'm sorry to say, it didn't for me. I played two levels and didn't like either, feeling that they were too hard (sorry, Alopex). I tried to cheat to move on see what else was there, saw I couldn't, and felt rather deflated by the whole thing.
I'm sorry that my level pack didn't meet your expectations! You are right, I made almost all the levels very hard. My thought was to create a more challenging "version" of Keen 6 that was more enjoyable than the original chapter since most of the players didn't like it.
I agree with you when you say that when a player feels the need to activate the cheats, maybe something is not working in the mod, but I think this is not always a synonym for a bad mod, at least in my humble opinion.
Anyways, thanks for taking the time to play BTFX, even if you didn't like it! I appreciate it!

By the way, I fixed the bug regarding the trap door of Bloog Workshop Industries! Thanks to stayfrosty for reporting it and to Fleexy for the clever solution!
Check out my Commander Keen 6 Mod, Back to Fribbulus Xax: viewtopic.php?t=13913.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by proYorp »

(response is late because lagging in real life :stoned)


Ceilick wrote: Tue Oct 11, 2022 3:47 I think I'm being misunderstood, because while I agree that removing cheats doesn’t address the suggested motivation for doing so, I completely disagree with what it sounds like you’re saying, that every modder's motivation is, or should be, that people get to enjoy their work by any means.
Sorry. I'm not the best at communication. :foot I did not mean to frame it as if you agreed with everything I was saying, and I don't think that's the case either. :p I think I've gotten a lot of my points mixed together and tried to imply things without context. Since Alopex has already responded I don't want to derail this thread further so for now I will just try to give the proper foundation for what I've already said. This'll probably come up again some other time...

I will clarify, I'm not trying to assert every modder's personal goals. Again, I don't want to control anyone; that's exactly what I'm trying to debate against. One of my main points that I should probably specify out loud is that two of the goals a modder can have, "I want a lot of people to play my mod" and "they have to do it how I want" are opposites and they work against each other. The more people you bring in, the more variance in play styles there will be. The more demanding a mod is, the more niche it will be. I think you had a good way of phrasing this niche as the "intended audience." Modders should absolutely choose who they want to cater to, and I want them to be aware of the actual cause/effect of what they do and whether that will work with their own goals, so they can actually choose. (Because that's a whole other can of worms about if a modder's intent lines up with what will realistically happen.)


Ceilick wrote: Tue Oct 11, 2022 3:47
proYorp wrote: Mon Oct 10, 2022 22:40 Someone can still try to follow the puzzles with God Mode.
I understand what you're saying, but it is a different experience than the one designed and intended to be played if done this way. Same with passing a part via cheating and then passing it without cheats another time; the experience as it was meant to be experienced has been spoiled and is no longer the same experience.
Another key point of mine that I probably should have laid out at the start: it's not possible to control someone's exact experience. "Experience" is such a fleeting, fragile, changeable, subjective thing. Every variable cannot be accounted for. That same experience can be altered or "spoiled" by watching videos of the gameplay, reading the forum thread, even playing as a group with friends. (These things are also what may hook a potential player into the game -- I've bought and played games because I liked what I saw in a video.) If someone wants to avoid spoilers like this, they will do so on their own, and some people really do try. At that point, it is outside of the control of the modder. Unfortunately, there is only ever one first-time experience, but if a mod is done well it can be replayed and still be enjoyed. A different experience, of course, but a valuable one and one to strive for. Putting 100% of focus on the first time at the expense of anything else doesn't seem like the best plan.

The other important part of that is that everyone is different. No two people will have the exact same experience, and even the same person at different times in life will react differently to something. The individual thoughts that drive them are too distinct. I'm really struggling to put into words how impossible it is to even imagine how many types of people there are. Maybe a good image would be Xky's Level Test. There are common patterns that maybe even most people fall in line with, but some people completely break the mold. Having too much expectation that some or all people are going to approach or experience the level in a certain way will only lead to disappointment. (I should know -- I am great at setting myself up to have unrealistic expectations. :crazy)

My point is that there is a 100% chance that someone is going to play in a way that isn't how the author intended. It doesn't seem worth it to put effort into trying to keep those few people out. It's ultimately an exercise in futility; humans cannot be completely controlled. The intended audience will play as intended. (At least, they will if the mod is executed well. The other can of worms.)

And that's probably all the points I should give for now. I will give the floor back to Ceilick, if you have anything else you want to clarify.


Alopex wrote: Sat Oct 15, 2022 9:56
proYorp wrote: Sat Oct 08, 2022 9:04 Alopex if you do any more updates to this I sincerely petition you to reenable the cheat codes. (And sorry if I'm being a bit demanding... it's nothing against you, I'm moreso addressing this message to everyone in general, since no one has properly confronted this issue anywhere else yet. I just hate the idea of excluding people.)
I hear you, and I think your point of view is a valid one. As somebody has already said, for now, I'd prefer to keep cheats disabled in this level pack to let it as a great challenge to crack, considering the remarkable level of difficulty that BTFX comes with. Still, what you pointed out is something I'll deeply think about to maybe someday decide to reactive cheats to make the mod more "accessible" to anyone.
Thanks for sharing this important thought!
Thank you for listening. :) This is something I feel strongly about, and I hope I was able to do it justice.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Ceilick »

Well, Alopex, let us know if we need to exit stage left from your thread here, I can try to clip out the unrelated discussion and start a new thread. I do hope our dialogue is helpful in your future level design though, whatever choices you make!
proYorp wrote:...it's not possible to control someone's exact experience...Every variable cannot be accounted for.... At that point, it is outside of the control of the modder...No two people will have the exact same experience, and even the same person at different times in life will react differently to something.
I think in an absolute sense you’re right, but there is plenty a modder can control, or at least strongly influence, when it comes to player experience, and I think designing with intention will always be an act of controlling the player to some extent.

One experience I recently designed was for players to be threatened by a sudden appearance of the Shikadi Master. Ideally, I want the player to feel surprise and danger, for them to focus on the Master, to experience a challenge but for them to overcome this challenge on the first encounter.

The ideal case is hard to achieve: I have to determine what is likely to cause surprise, judge danger relative to the rest of the game and according to what I think the average player feels, I have to design the room in a way that I believe will draw focus visually to the Master, I have to judge the average player’s skill level and what might be a challenge but also achievable on a first pass.

What can I more concretely control of the player’s experience? I can create a threat that takes place in a certain way that the player must have some kind of reaction to. I can define it so that the player must navigate Keen in certain ways to avoid the threat (possibly limiting it to one solution, or keeping it open ended). I can control for how much time the player has to react. I can control what the player is able to see on screen and hear when the threat takes place (although I can’t control what they actually see or how what they hear affects them).

Taking all of this into account, I feel I can reasonably control what players will experience. You’re right that some player probably won’t experience what I intend even if playing as intended (not cheating), but in the grand scheme of things, this is only one micro experience in what will be a host of micro experiences in a level. If my design is accurate (and if my intended experiences are more generalized that the Shikadi Master example), I can reasonably expect some of the experiences are going to hit as intended.

All this is to say, I think controlling player experience can be reasonably achievable, it is part of designing with intention, and it can be rewarding for both designer and player.
proYorp wrote:My point is that there is a 100% chance that someone is going to play in a way that isn't how the author intended. It doesn't seem worth it to put effort into trying to keep those few people out.
I'd argue that intentionality matters, that someone cheating is deliberately not experiencing the game as intended. I can see why preventing a player like that from experiencing one’s work might seem worth it; that disabling cheats seems to protect the designer’s work from being taken advantage of.

My previous argument, though, is that this type of player isn’t who we design for anyway, and that our audience is not going somehow become this type of player, so disabling cheats doesn’t really matter when it comes to protecting the experiences designers have crafted. It’s worth noting, though, that this would be different if we had to worry about the cheating player spoiling things for the intended audience (this was a worry for me with BotB, that someone would cheat to get to the ending and try to spoil it).

Its also worth mentioning that while I think protecting experiences isn’t a great argument for disabling cheats, a reason in that context to have cheats enabled is not readily obvious either (certainly, though, in the context of inclusivity). This has prompted me to consider my own actions recently in providing cheats to a player that asked for them for BotB. I realized that to me, when it comes to protecting experiences, that the case of the person who needs to cheat once just to pass a situation they can’t overcome, and then disable cheats again to continue the experiences as designed, makes keeping cheats worthwhile. This type of player is in my audience. For modders inclined to disable cheats to protect their designed experiences, I’d suggest putting cheats like god mode or jump cheat on a limited timer instead (not sure this can be patched, but certainly in source code modding).

------

This isn't intended as a conclusion, but I wanted to point out, I think both proYorp and I agree and stress that modders should know who their audience is and how their design choices will affect and/or restrict that audience. I believe, and I suspect proYorp as well, that it’s great that Alopex designed with intention; creating a challenge where victory is an achievement over difficulty, and that their design choice to disable cheats wasn't random but compliments their goal, and that they understand some players are barred from the intended achievement.
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Re: Commander Keen in Back to Fribbulus Xax!

Post by Alopex »

Ceilick wrote: Wed Nov 23, 2022 15:56 Well, Alopex, let us know if we need to exit stage left from your thread here, I can try to clip out the unrelated discussion and start a new thread. I do hope our dialogue is helpful in your future level design though, whatever choices you make!
No problem! You guys can continue the discussion in this thread. I'm enjoying reading your posts regarding this matter. I find it very interesting and helpful. Go ahead with no worries!
Check out my Commander Keen 6 Mod, Back to Fribbulus Xax: viewtopic.php?t=13913.
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