Foray in the Forest

Here is where to post about the latest Commander Keen fangame or modification you've finished, a new website you've made, or another Keen-related creation.
User avatar
Quillax
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 574
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 14:41
Location: Quillax Ship
Contact:

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Quillax »

Congratulations on finally releasing this mod, Nisaba! I'm sure that feels really good! And I bet Mr. M is very proud!

I've tried this out a couple times; I started on Normal (my usual difficulty of choice), but then I switched to Easy (having an ammo limit makes it harder). So far, I've beaten 6 levels and collected all points in them (the Outpost shows the K flag, even though I'm certain I didn't miss any points; I saw Levellass in the sky by the way ;)). Now, I hate to play devil's advocate here, but... I felt a bit letdown in my first time playing. In my second time, I was fairly enjoying it, although I'm not really blown away.

It's kinda weird, because this is a very ambitious mod indeed. There's so many new features, creatures, tile types, and quality-of-life improvements, among which I quite like the item radar (it made me re-explore a couple levels to look for the points I missed). The way you enter the mushroom level is kinda cool, the various palettes are neat, the increased frame rate is cool (although I can't decide if I like it more than the regular frame rate), it's neat how the levels change depending on the difficulty, the sound test is noble, and I really enjoyed reading the Game Over messages (I laughed at the first two :lol). Some of the creatures are kinda impressive, such as the Scrub-like hermit crabs, the chameleons that teleport to different goplats, and the red balls that get mad when shot; their unique behaviors and quirks make the game feel new in a way that few patched mods have achieved. Also, the exploding cats crack me up! :lol Are the Zibblinx supposed to hurt you when hiding, though? They threw me off the first time. AND I LOVE THE SKYPEST EATERS!!!

Note the key phrase "few patched mods have achieved", though. I think what makes it hard for me to be very impressed is that source code modding seems to be easier and less limited than patch modding, and yet I've already seen a lot of this stuff in patched mods. Like, Sunset has new tile types, different gameplay modes, more enemies than the original Keen 1 (and all of them have new behaviors), and some very cool features (like swimming). Extinction also has completely new creatures, as well as a new core gameplay mechanic (i.e. the auto-scrolling). Skater Squirrel has different spawn points for the player depending on the difficulty selected. There's a Vorticons patch that lets each level have its own palette, although no one ever used it as far as I know. Lemm and Levellass made a patch for Keens 1 and 3 that can increase the frame rate, although I believe it was only used in Mura and maybe Prelude. And I think we all know how ambitious Bernie's mods are. Maybe the checkpoints and item radar are only possible in source code modding (although with extensive patching I'm sure it could be done, even if it takes huge sacrifices), but they're already in Atroxian Realm. I'm sorry, but I've yet to find myself thinking "WHAT? The engine can do THIS!?" :O although the sound test is perhaps close.

Also, I'm kinda mixed on the fact that so much of this mod's assets and content is recycled from previous efforts. On one hand, I've always liked the idea of making a collage of graphics from abandoned mods. I was secretly worried that it would end up becoming an incongruous mess, but after playing and giving some thought, they're well-used and integrated together nicely for the most part (at least you stuck to the nature theme). I'm not so sure about the levels on the other hand, though. I was disappointed to find out that a good chunk of the level design is just ripped from previous levelpacks/games with only some changes, it almost feels like an AI generated some of the levels. Like, I was excited to see Mark the Candyjunk in the credits because I thought you actually recruited him, only to see that instead it's for a level from KeenMark 4 that's edited to include lots of spikes along with new house interiors (which were pretty inventive, I'll say). You gave the reused levels some twists to make them feel new to some degree (nice to see that the "dry well" idea didn't go to waste ;)), but yet a part of me says that it's rather amateurish for what I was expecting to be the next Atroxian Realm. It might seem ironic that I'd say this, considering how much inspiration my levels and artwork take (especially the Revenge of Mortimer trilogy, which is nearly a decade ago :O), but I think there's a difference between inspiration and outright reusing level design. Okay, the SMB3 level in The Mortrix is pretty much a 1:1 recreation, but I think it's justified by coming from a non-Keen game (sort of...) and being the only level like that in the mod. Should there be a thread here on whether borrowing and editing level design is a good practice (Prelude also did this stuff)? By the way, I immediately recognized my level design in the first chamber of the Pyramid of Doors. It felt pretty surreal playing that, although it somehow felt a bit out of place, but maybe that's all because it's based on my work. I wasn't expecting you to borrow nearly the whole top half, though, I thought you were going to just take a smaller part.

The story is pretty cute and even Keenish. The fact that it takes places in Dream Nebula seems to explain the reused graphics and level design, but it feels like an excuse when the Star Wars scrolling text suggests that it occurs between Keen 3 and Keen 4 and yet there's reused Keen 4 level design and Keen somehow has a Robo Red in the BWB Megarocket. Or is Dream Nebula a gateway into a parallel universe? And did Keen storm into VitaCorp? Also, I laughed when Keen said "aliens ate my toast"! :lol I'm quite liking the music, with some of my favorites being the theme in the grassy huts level and that jazzy and laidback song (I think it was either in the outpost or bridge level). I'm pretty happy to see the Yoshi mashup get used! :)

I'm sorry for being so critical; this is a good mod and it gives a little taste of what source code modding could be capable of, although I think I'd miss patch modding. I was really hoping to be blown away, but maybe I set my expectations too high for what I thought was going to be the Keen mod equivalent to the Sistine Chapel. Maybe I'm not in the right mood. Maybe I'm suffering a case of Hype Backlash. Maybe it's a case of getting older and thus harder to get excited. Maybe I should've contributed some level design (part of the reason why I declined your offers is because I thought the quality and originality wouldn't match up with the rest of the mod's level design). Or maybe I need to lighten up a bit.

I'll definitely play more of this; hopefully I'll like it more as I get further. Merry Christmas, and have a happy new year! :christmas
Quillax Ship - Where you can download all of my cool, keen mods and super-marvelous fangames!
User avatar
Syllypryde
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 1049
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 18:33
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Syllypryde »

Quillax wrote: Sat Dec 30, 2023 9:14 Congratulations on finally releasing this mod, Nisaba! I'm sure that feels really good! And I bet Mr. M is very proud!......

......Also, I'm kinda mixed on the fact that so much of this mod's assets and content is recycled from previous efforts. On one hand, I've always liked the idea of making a collage of graphics from abandoned mods. I was secretly worried that it would end up becoming an incongruous mess, but after playing and giving some thought, they're well-used and integrated together nicely for the most part (at least you stuck to the nature theme). I'm not so sure about the levels on the other hand, though. I was disappointed to find out that a good chunk of the level design is just ripped from previous levelpacks/games with only some changes, it almost feels like an AI generated some of the levels. Like, I was excited to see Mark the Candyjunk in the credits because I thought you actually recruited him, only to see that instead it's for a level from KeenMark 4 that's edited to include lots of spikes along with new house interiors (which were pretty inventive, I'll say). You gave the reused levels some twists to make them feel new to some degree (nice to see that the "dry well" idea didn't go to waste ;)), but yet a part of me says that it's rather amateurish for what I was expecting to be the next Atroxian Realm. It might seem ironic that I'd say this, considering how much inspiration my levels and artwork take (especially the Revenge of Mortimer trilogy, which is nearly a decade ago :O), but I think there's a difference between inspiration and outright reusing level design. Okay, the SMB3 level in The Mortrix is pretty much a 1:1 recreation, but I think it's justified by coming from a non-Keen game (sort of...) and being the only level like that in the mod. Should there be a thread here on whether borrowing and editing level design is a good practice (Prelude also did this stuff)? By the way, I immediately recognized my level design in the first chamber of the Pyramid of Doors. It felt pretty surreal playing that, although it somehow felt a bit out of place, but maybe that's all because it's based on my work. I wasn't expecting you to borrow nearly the whole top half, though, I thought you were going to just take a smaller part.
When I playtested I did mention to Nisaba the criticism of borrowing too much of other people's level designs and graphics, though I did say that she added enough of her own creativity that the previous criticism could be forgiven. When she asked me for suggestions for her next mod I said to make it more original. She most definitely has the drive and imagination to do great things in modding.
The story is pretty cute and even Keenish. The fact that it takes places in Dream Nebula seems to explain the reused graphics and level design, but it feels like an excuse when the Star Wars scrolling text suggests that it occurs between Keen 3 and Keen 4 and yet there's reused Keen 4 level design and Keen somehow has a Robo Red in the BWB Megarocket. Or is Dream Nebula a gateway into a parallel universe? And did Keen storm into VitaCorp? Also, I laughed when Keen said "aliens ate my toast"! :lol I'm quite liking the music, with some of my favorites being the theme in the grassy huts level and that jazzy and laidback song (I think it was either in the outpost or bridge level). I'm pretty happy to see the Yoshi mashup get used! :)
Mr_M originally intended Foray in the Forest to take place between Keen Dreams and Keen 4. Due to Keen Dreams being an official game where its story fits absolutely nowhere whatsoever in the timeline of the other two series, it basically comes out of left field with a hockey stick. Nisaba decided to change this and put the timeline of this game between Keen 3 and Keen Dreams. You will see why soon enough.
I'm sorry for being so critical; this is a good mod and it gives a little taste of what source code modding could be capable of, although I think I'd miss patch modding. I was really hoping to be blown away, but maybe I set my expectations too high for what I thought was going to be the Keen mod equivalent to the Sistine Chapel. Maybe I'm not in the right mood. Maybe I'm suffering a case of Hype Backlash. Maybe it's a case of getting older and thus harder to get excited. Maybe I should've contributed some level design (part of the reason why I declined your offers is because I thought the quality and originality wouldn't match up with the rest of the mod's level design). Or maybe I need to lighten up a bit.

I'll definitely play more of this; hopefully I'll like it more as I get further. Merry Christmas, and have a happy new year! :christmas
Be as critical as you need to be and most importantly be honest. Nisaba I believe prefers brutal reality to sugar coated byllshyt!
.niarb ym fo
snoitulovnoc eht tuaba
selbbarcs ssensuoicsnoc
rehgih a ekil smees
User avatar
Dave216
Vortininja
Posts: 101
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2022 15:37
Location: Croatia

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Dave216 »

Congrats on the release, Nisaba! It's truly remarkable. The music, visual style, enemy designs, and their behaviors are nothing short of fascinating. The creatures make the world feel so lively. The fact that there are custom death animations when falling in the water shows how much love and effort went into this. Each level is fun to explore. I sometimes get lost, but this time I think it's entirely on me. Also, the game over screen made me laugh out loud :lol

Also, the whole checkpoint/lives system is brilliant. It adds challenge without substracting all the fun and making it tedious. A lot of thought and balancing went into this, I can tell. There was a place, however, where I managed to farm lives by dying and restarting on a checkpoint where there was +2 near the checkpoint.

I am playing really slowly due to stuff IRL and simultaneously balancing working on my own project and having some time to myself.
I will comment more once I get further in the game, but I am really enjoying it so far!
 
"I don’t care what model it was! No vacuum cleaner should give a human being a double polaroid!"
User avatar
Multimania
Vortininja
Posts: 86
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 8:10
Location: Hiding in a small, cramped corner of the BwB megarocket.
Contact:

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Multimania »

Wow — this looks awesome!

I've been away, so have only had the opportunity to play the first couple of levels on Easy on the Hand386's terrible membrane keyboard, but it works a treat, and I particularly love the interior of the BwB, as well as all of the little touches that make the world feel 'alive'.

Also, I'm really impressed that this worked out-of-the-box on my actual DOS machines: fitting all of this into memory can't have been easy. (I'm looking forward to stealing some of the ideas there, like the external strings, for future projects. Also, to see how several other new features are implemented…)

And the 'scanned in' manual is brilliant.

Looking forward to playing it some more…
Matsu
Meep
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2023 12:36

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Matsu »

So excited this finally came out! have been looking forward to this for such a long time.
Just one question, is the gravis gamepad not supported? I can't seem to configure it as a 4 button controller like in other galaxy mods.
User avatar
Nisaba
Janitress
Posts: 1638
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 23:34
Location: The Outpost
Contact:

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Nisaba »

Thank you guys for your warm and enthusiastic words!

I am very pleased that you're enjoying the game in one way or another. It also makes my developer heart very happy to hear what (details) you have already noticed and what you like or dislike about it. That's always a thrilling process, over which I no longer have any influence. The theory and my visions now have to be measured against your perceptions and assessments, which I find totally exciting.

Thanks for all the thoughts everyone. Keep at it.
out now (link) : Image
User avatar
Nisaba
Janitress
Posts: 1638
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 23:34
Location: The Outpost
Contact:

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Nisaba »

kvee wrote: Mon Dec 25, 2023 23:23... I've originally named it just "Hillville [Icy Hell Version] ..."
Yeah, unfortunately the original 28-character long name of the song wouldn't fit in the box, so I went with the "work in progress" version, which I actually quite like. But you're right, we should probably replace it with "Hillville [Icy Hell]" in the next update.
Benvolio wrote: Wed Dec 27, 2023 21:36... This is a soundtrack I would 100% buy on a vinyl if someone pressed it...
Don't do that. Now you've given me some ideas. I've already researched what an individual Vinyl pressing of the soundtrack would cost. The thought is really tempting. Stop it! The release has already taken ages... on the other hand. No, no, no... arrgg... Can we agree to put together a YouTube soundtrack first and then see what else we can do...
Quillax wrote: Sat Dec 30, 2023 9:14... I was really hoping to be blown away, but maybe I set my expectations too high ...
Thanks for sharing your honest feedback. I am honored that you have such high expectations of my work and that you would prefer to add it to the list of innovative works by other creative minds, all of whom I greatly admire.
Even if my goals for this project were different from the expectations raised in you, I can well understand your criticism and the points you make. I‘ll take them all into consideration.
As you know, my goal has always been to reactivate abandoned, unfinished or unreleased modding attempts on the one hand, and on the other hand to celebrate creative ideas of the community like your great level design.
As for new features and clever tricks, you're right that I should make a detailed list of all the many improvements and upgrades under the hood of this mod to make the effort that went into it more transparent.
Dave216 wrote: Sat Dec 30, 2023 13:40... A lot of thought and balancing went into this...
Re checkpoint/lives system: Damn, yeah. A whole lot if balancing went into this. I spend month readjusting things only to find out what side-effect this or that decision might have. As an listener of your podcast, I think you know how much effort it takes to balance such things, only to find out that your playtesters take a completely different path than you had anticipated. But it was a fun job and I learned a lot about level design and placing objects for a purpose. (BTW, the life farming spot you're referring to is an intended option)
c64cosmin (via discord) wrote:omg @Nisaba thank you for the most beautiful gift ever received. this is so beautiful, I cannot even start to describe how this makes me feel, it is amazing. I am all smiles, so happy the community grew in such a way that now we can modify the original source so we can make this amazing works, it feels incredibly modern, this is mind blowing. I hope Tom Hall gets to see this
I thought that the new Xky sprite might make me not like it, but it does give the proper modern feel to it. I think it fits well, while I am still fond of the older one, I think this really makes Keen more present and tied in the world.
you folks did amazing. this is so good by all means, the attention to the detail, you deserve all the appreciation and love for this hard work
Thanks for your kind words. We are very happy that you enjoy the game so much.
Multimania wrote: Sun Dec 31, 2023 7:00... I'm really impressed that this worked out-of-the-box on my actual DOS machines...
This was indeed a major challenge, which eventually could be mastered with a couple of nifty tricks. Despite all the addidtional code and the amount of extra things going on in the game, K1n9_Duk3 was able to find some pretty clever ways to greatly improve the memory management. Our goal was always to ensure the game would run via a 1.44MB floppy on original hardware, just as if it could have been released in the 90s. This was an artificially imposed limitation that forced us to come up with creative solutions. ATM we're still cleaning up the source code a bit. But at the latest when this is published, you'll be able to take a closer look at the many fine-tuning steps taken
Multimania wrote: Sun Dec 31, 2023 7:00... the 'scanned in' manual is brilliant...
Ah, I totally forgot to mention that: You can actually win a physical copy of the game including the manual plus a custom designed box as a prize, provided you discover the competition in the game itself. Good luck to everyone who sets out on their search! It is, of course, a limited edition for the first four people who manage to unlock "x".
out now (link) : Image
User avatar
Mobiethian
Vortininja
Posts: 245
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 17:36
Location: South Fribbulus Xax

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Mobiethian »

Congrats highly on finishing this! I am a lurker now.. but I used to help you out on this and am honored that you've put the graphics to use. Unfortunately, I cannot gain access to my old account, since I lost the password and no longer use the email associated with it. Perhaps you can help with that? I'll be glad to assist you further with FitF.

Amazing job as always, the work you've done is absolutely amazing. Thank you, Nisaba!
robertl81
Vortininja
Posts: 43
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 16:33
Location: Italy

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by robertl81 »

Well, what can I say?
At first, when I saw some photos of this new future project, I was a bit skeptical, and I feared that I wouldn't like the game.
Instead, now that I've tried it, I have to say that it was very interesting, innovative, and even playful.
The possibility of checkpoints is nice, as is the fact of continuing the game after exhausting all the lives.
Some music is very beautiful, as is the one not used on Bio Menace, from which the latter, I saw that the switches were taken. Some levels I have to say were a bit laborious, especially the ones with a lot of switches, but in the end, they were completed.
At one point, I couldn't make it out to the last level, but then I found the bridge to the switch.
I only completed the basic part of the game (the 18 levels), as I only found that one goodie.
A question. Did you create all the levels yourself, or did the old creator Mr. M also do something, thus recreating the same levels that he himself had designed, and then lost?
User avatar
Nisaba
Janitress
Posts: 1638
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 23:34
Location: The Outpost
Contact:

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Nisaba »

robertl81 wrote: Tue Jan 02, 2024 21:32 ...Did you create all the levels yourself, or did the old creator Mr. M also do something, thus recreating the same levels that he himself had designed, and then lost?
That's a valid question. And since there seems to be a lot of interest in this topic from others as well (dev-thread/discord/pm), I'll try to answer it without giving too much away for those who haven't played the games yet.
First of all, it should be mentioned that this is not an easy question to answer. Restoring the corrupted data was not entirely trivial. Thanks again to Fleex, NY00123 & Mr.M for their efforts. The more or less intact data consisted of 3 advanced levels, 8 rough map ideas, 10 screenshots, 2 low res videos, and over 500,000 lines of IRC chat conversations.
I analyzed the material with care and tried to extract the essence of it. And because pictures are worth a thousand words, I have selected three examples here that best illustrate my approach. Be warned, however, that the following interactive before-and-after screenshots contain spoilers.

This example clearly shows how closely I have tried to follow the initial ideas of Mr.M's original level designs:
https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/juxtapos ... 41531135b6

However, I also took the liberty of interpreting the material freely and used it more as a basic framework at times:
https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/juxtapos ... 41531135b6

And then that happened...
https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/juxtapos ... 41531135b6
out now (link) : Image
User avatar
Mort
Vortininja
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 19:24
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Contact:

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Mort »

Congratulations! This is totally awesome! After the hours and years of work, finally getting it out in the world has to be euphoric. I will be absolutely be checking this out and look forward to experiencing all the creativity and innovation that you packed into this. :)
User avatar
Syllypryde
Vorticon Elite
Posts: 1049
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 18:33
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Syllypryde »

Has anyone completed the game yet? Discovered how many of the alternate endings? ...other then those of us who playtested the game and most likely completed it again of course.
.niarb ym fo
snoitulovnoc eht tuaba
selbbarcs ssensuoicsnoc
rehgih a ekil smees
robertl81
Vortininja
Posts: 43
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 16:33
Location: Italy

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by robertl81 »

Just the basic part. However copying the files, the game of keen dreams, then is started regularly
Last edited by robertl81 on Wed Jan 17, 2024 17:15, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Frenkel
Vortininja
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2022 11:25

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by Frenkel »

I like the smooth palette fading between levels when a VGA card is detected.
User avatar
_mr_m_
Vortimaestro
Posts: 431
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 23:14
Location: Quetzalacatenango

Re: Foray in the Forest

Post by _mr_m_ »

My spidey-sense was tingling...something told me I had to return to PCKF.

Holy fucl, this is neat!

Underwhelming response, I know :mortlol ...but I need some time to take this mod in and compose my thoughts. This mod is different to me. Detailed review forthcoming...

I will say that, from the limited time I have had with it, FitF advances what can be accomplished through source modding. Each time a new source mod has been released, the Keen engine has been pushed in new and interesting ways. And FitF is no exception. A little example of something that I found to be a quirky source mod: placing a functional jukebox in the game--I won't say where it is for those who have not yet found it--that only plays music from levels that have been completed and also displays the title and composer, too!

When I first envisioned this project in 2009, we didn't have source modding, we didn't have the knowledge we have today, we didn't have Abiathar (I don't even think Fleex was a member here at that time, or at the very least hadn't developed Abiathar). We had patching, we had limited Windows-based modding tools (by the way, what ever happened to The Omegamatic, aka TOM, and more importantly, Mink?). Even though more efficient level editors existed at the time, I decided to design levels the way iD did, using TED5.

Unfortunately, many advancements in Keen modding, including the recreation of the Keen:Galaxy source code, came about too late and I was no longer a 19 year old full of ambition (maybe a little too much ambition) after contributing to Ceilick's Dead in the Desert mod. Life happens, and I no longer had the time I once had available to pursue this project. And losing all your work due to a hard drive failure is a major setback.

Then, Nisaba PM'd me back in 2016 about picking up this project. I could sense Nisaba was eager to bring the idea of FitF back to life, which was reinforced by Nisaba announcing the resurrection of the project in 2017. And now have a finished product. If the knowledge and resources we have today were available in 2009, I don't think my end product would be anywhere near the quality of what Nisaba and the numerous contributors (you know who you are!) released upon the Keen community.

Bravo. Nisaba, you're the real hero of Foray in the Forest. Thank you for realizing this. Thank you to everyone who contributed.

By the way, can someone confirm whether this mod was "in development" longer than DNF? :lol
"I just drew this stupid little fish." -- Tom Hall
Post Reply