Foray in the Forest (development thread)

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Nisaba
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Nisaba »

no promises, but I might go the extra mile and provide two download options, one with XkyKeen and the with our beloved classic sprite style... we'll see
Foray in the Forest progress:
92% Programming || 95% GFX || 92% Levels || 98% Creatures || 90% Story || 94% Music || 95% SFX || 96% Extras

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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Soul Monster »

Wow. This has come a really long way since that demo you released on Keen Day 2017. This barely even resembles that demo. Either way, it looks incredible! I've been looking forward to this mod for some time now, and I can see why it's taking so long (in a good way).
Nisaba wrote: Sun Oct 10, 2021 8:31 no promises, but I might go the extra mile and provide two download options, one with XkyKeen and the with our beloved classic sprite style... we'll see
That's actually a great idea. I'm with Roobar on this one, I do prefer the classic Keen skin as well, and changing the sprites on Keen does feel like it came out of left field, as I'm sure a lot of people like myself were expecting the classic look this whole time given the updates we've had over the past few years.

But hey, it's your mod, do what you want with it. I do hope that you decide to give people the option for which skins we prefer, though.
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by DoomJedi »

Roobar wrote: Sun Oct 10, 2021 8:08 cool, but honestly, I prefer the old school keen skin
Exactly what I wanted to say, even before reading your post.
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Nisaba »

I do understand your skepticism. And believe me, I was struggling quite a bit to make a decision. And yes, of course this will takes some getting used to. But honestly I think you should give it a shot as it works so perfectly fine in-game. I'm sure you will like it if you're just willing enough to give it a try. (besides, there are also some logic reasons concerning the timeline of the story that require a younger looking Keen)

But hey, if you guys insist, I think I have to hold both options available...

EDIT:
I'm curious. can you explain to me, why you favour the original Keen sprites over some new and updated graphics? is it more than nostalgia?
Last edited by Nisaba on Mon Oct 11, 2021 21:12, edited 1 time in total.
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: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Pandakeen »

I like the XkyKeen4 sprite, and I think it deserves to be used in a finished mod for once. I'm all for it,
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Syllypryde »

Pandakeen wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 18:42 I like the XkyKeen4 sprite, and I think it deserves to be used in a finished mod for once. I'm all for it,
If I remember correctly it was already used in Keen X and maybe 1 or 2 other Vorticon mods. This would be the first time it would be used in a Galaxy mod.
What is Directive X_M?
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Quillax »

Wow, Bernie's ground tiles looks really good with the color orange! I also like the XkyKeen4 sprite and would love to see it used in a full mod for once, although it might take some time getting used to after expecting the classic sprite for so long. (By the way, Syllypryde, you're thinking of a different and smaller sprite, although it's pretty similar to the XkyKeen4 sprite, so I understand the confusion.) I wonder if some people prefer the classic sprite because it looks a little more realistic and not as cutesy as the XkyKeen4 sprite. It kind of reminds me of what happened with Zelda: I know some people weren't too happy with the cartoon style of The Wind Waker after previous Zelda games came with a more realistic style. After a while, however, people seem to have gotten used to The Wind Waker's unusual style (at least most people) -- maybe that could happen here as well?

There's one question I've been wanting to ask for a long time now: Is Mr. M still involved with this mod? Did he even agree with any of these recent decisions? I remember reading about the mod on KeenWiki before you revived the project. Back then, it looked like it was going to be a Keen 4 levelpack with some new graphics, like The Eight Accumulators. Lately, however, the mod seems to be going beyond that concept and I'm not sure if this is still following Mr. M's vision. Does this even take place in Gnositucs IV anymore? I like how the mod looks, but honestly, if Mr. M didn't have anything to do with the mod's recent development, then I think the mod's name should be changed.
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Nisaba »

Quillax wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 7:17 There's one question I've been wanting to ask for a long time now: Is Mr. M still involved with this mod? Did he even agree with any of these recent decisions? [...]
That is a fair question.

as you all know _mr_m_ lost most of the project files due to a hard drive fail back in 2012. so the project was literally dead.
I then decided to recreate all the things (blurry screenshots, low res video recordings) that I could lay my fingers on from scratch, cause I loved and still love the initial vision of this mod so much.
Behind the scenes _mr_m_ and talked about the project for a while and discussed some of his ideas and plans. eventually he was even able to recover at least some material that was intact from early-to-mod 2010. He then sent me the dumped files which contained 4 versions of the mod and some more or less intakt IMF files as well as some WIP sketch sheets to curate and prepare for my use.
Next to that I was searching the forums and digging through each and every old IRC post (literally thousands) I could find (shoutouts to NY00123 for providing most of them!).

that all said, I revived what I could and worked as close as possible to the original sources. Every now and then _mr_m_ was so kind to answer my questions and gave me feedback on my progress.

I'm telling this to give you an idea what efforts I've made and how how true I'm trying to stay to _mr_m_'s plans & ideas. And yet projects evolve over time. So there will be quite a number of things that are new and clearly show my handwriting. This is of course due to the circumstances. we were able recover 5 level maps whereas only two of them were in their final stage. this wouldn't make a full mod, would it?
So I decided to study the genuine spirit of those existing maps and took this as a base for the rest of the project. Staying true to the idea of requicken lost or abandoned modding attempts and other Keen related creative pieces I also included left over stuff from other community remembers that are worth presenting (a bit like what I did with Buried in Oblivion).

all in all, this mod stays true to it's origins and of course aims to represent the look and feel of it's roots.
And yes, this mod takes place on Gnositucs IV even-though there will be a twist that I can't spoil just yet. And no, it was always planned to be more then a simple levelpack, but yes it should feel very much Keen 4 vibe like and I think it will.

let me just share two quotes to give you an better understanding:
_mr_m_ (IRC Aug 19, 2010) wrote:[...] i feel like ive diverged away from the keenish-ness of my levels
in an effort to make more 'realistic' enviroments [...]
_mr_m_ (IRC Aug 20, 2010) wrote:[...] i'd rather have 8-10 quality levels than 15 crappy ones [...]
We will now have 20 quality and extensively tested levels. Each and every map comes with special designed graphics and something unique which will only be featured in this very location. A lot (!) of sweat went into this and I think I can say that Foray in the Forest will be an exciting place to explore.
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: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Quillax »

Thanks for the clarification, Nisaba! Now I understand! This looks like it'll be quite fun!

I know it was always going to be more than a simple levelpack, but I didn't expect it to reach this far in non-level alterations. Or was it always intended to go that far? Though, I agree that projects tend to evolve through time. Just look at how Ceilick's UTUIT started with a simple, but fun Keen 4 mod and ended with a very advanced Keen 5 mod that was even more ambitious than any of the official Keen games! Looking back, your screenshots seem to convey that Keen 4 spirit nicely -- the sense of exploration and discovery in natural, organic environments that look familiar but also a bit alien at the same time. I guess it's just a little weird to see things you don't see in the original game, which is normal and I'm sure I'll get used to it.

I looked back through previous posts, and I found this:
Nisaba wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:14 a hand full of levels are designed by Mr. M., a couple were made by The Shifted One, one by Ceilick, one by Mark the Candy Junk, one by tulip. everything else is sketched by me on paper, mostly when I take a ride with the train... I'm really hoping to get Gridlock aboard, as soon as the tileset is set in stone.
Looks like Mr. M indeed still plays a big role in this project! And wow, you got Mark the Candy Junk to join in!? I love his levels!
Last edited by Quillax on Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by DoomJedi »

I'm curious. can you explain to me, why you favour the original Keen sprites over some new and updated graphics? is it more than nostalgia?
I will start by honestly admitting there is no chance I can be objective about original Keen sprite, be it Vorticons or Galaxy.
So you could be right about it being pure nostalgia - or not.
Also I noticed while writing the post - that what I will say - could be said about Vorticon Keen, donnow why that one was okay for me...maybe because he looked younger but not "cute".

I just less connect with too young Keen. It doesn't look as...capable - IQ-wise of physics-wise to do the usual Keen stuff, it's like a baby in a suit. Instead of him looking neat/cool in what he does - you just worry about him - not in a good way, something about us is naturally against putting such young child at risk. It's beyond logic. Parental instincts.
Also for grownup - it's easier to connect with more...sentient ages of children. Children closer to age we were ourselves playing it back then. Part of gaming experience is immersion to the character, and it's harder to self-reflect his mind.

Artise - he just looks too cute, too fragile and lacks character of the original sprite. Lack of detail - nose for once.
Last edited by DoomJedi on Wed Oct 20, 2021 19:28, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Soul Monster »

Nisaba wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:07 EDIT:
I'm curious. can you explain to me, why you favour the original Keen sprites over some new and updated graphics? is it more than nostalgia?
I think the surface level answer is that we're afraid of change. For a lot of people like myself who were expecting the original Keen sprites to be used, this change seems pretty sudden. I think it may just take some time to let it sink in, and realize that this game could be a little different than what we initially expected.

DoomJedi worded my other reasons better than I ever could. Like he said, Keen just doesn't look as heroic and strong using the new sprites as he does with the originals. He also mentioned something that I wasn't even thinking about, in that it's easier to connect with the original sprites, and adding to the reasons DoomJedi mentioned, while the original sprites are cartoonish, they have a more grounded and realistic look to them compared to the new ones, which I think also plays a part in being immersed in the character, and because we're not used to this new look, it's harder to establish that connection.

Maybe part of it has to do with my increasing annoyance with the cute/chibi trend, but that's what the new sprites remind me of with the big head and the smaller, more cutesy look. I get that this last one is merely a difference in styles between us, but against a realistic environment, it just comes off as jarring and out of place to me.

Perhaps I just need to see it in motion before I can really say if it would work or not.
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by Nisaba »

Thank you guys for responding so transparently. I think I can better understand your concerns by now. Accordingly - if everything goes well - I will keep two versions for you. One classic and one more progressive styled main character. Costs some extra work, but hey, we all do it for the love of it, don't we

At the same time, I think you should give the new design a chance. Of course there will be a noticeable change and things will feel slightly different throughout the whole, that's clear. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that the feeling for some minor and a few major changes can only be experienced in the game . A screenshot can certainly stir up false expectations or ideas. I mean, you do have some valid points. But still, I'm sure you will rate the chanced design choices much more positively while testing them first hand in-game. Furthermore things should also make quite a bit of sense story wise... I'd say, just give it a try!

But again, the feedback from the community is always very important to me and is taken seriously. So I appreciate that you've shared your concerns
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: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by DoomJedi »

Thank you Soul Monster for support and being able to relate.
Indeed we wanted Keen back then and even now - to be "our cool neat pal" that we're worried about, schoolmate, and not to feel as his worrying parent trying to save a baby through obstacle path. He is always equal, a pal to us. Pal of our inner child who wants to explore the galaxy, save it and find new pals and adventures.
His "older fat self" (you know the mods I'm referring to) could relate to our older selfs, nowdays...child in a grownup body. Lazy modern body of couch potatoes watching netflix tired after work. So that worked well.
Baby - relates to none. We don't remember ourselves that age.

Yes, part of it is sure us getting older and feel more "parenting" towards Keen. But visual baby style just pressed extra buttons in that direction.
He lost his "cool" of a sort.
I understand that it fits the story (though breaks the timeline/canon, as Marooned on Mars was his first mission?), but...donnow.

Thanks for Nisaba for listening to us and respecting our feedback. Eventually it's up to the modder, and I respect and trust Nisaba much, moreso - admire. Nothing of her can be any less than great.
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by proYorp »

Pandakeen wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 18:42 I like the XkyKeen4 sprite, and I think it deserves to be used in a finished mod for once. I'm all for it,
For what it's worth, I agree. If I recall correctly, the player sprite in XkyKeen4 was unfinished. Did Xky come in to finish the sprite?


Soul Monster wrote: Tue Oct 19, 2021 4:04 I think the surface level answer is that we're afraid of change.
It does seem to me that sudden changes and divergance from expectations always draws a negative response at first, regardless of the actual quality of content. For me, I had already come to notice that Foray in the Forest seemed to be becoming quite a collage of (abandoned?) community assets, so I really wasn't all that surprised by the change (especially since some of these assets were already taken from XkyKeen4). Maybe that makes me less resistent to it, idk.

For me the main disconnect is that Xky's sprite seems very light and happy, and some of the environments in Foray look very dark and gloomy. That's the only thing I can really think of that would make it out of place, and maybe that is, in essence, what the issue is.


DoomJedi wrote: Wed Oct 20, 2021 19:41 Baby - relates to none. We don't remember ourselves that age.
I do! :) I have memories from when I was only 1 or 2 years old -- maybe younger too. I don't have any problem "connecting" with the Xky Keen sprite; I wonder if that could be a reason why. I suppose as with any psychological phenomenon, there's probably several reasons behind it. Perhaps one is that I know that I don't quite look like the age that I am, so maybe I have a more subconsious awareness that "looks can be deceiving." Point is, I guess, that I for one don't seem to have any trouble connecting with this avatar, for whatever reason. Conversely I don't connect with that "old Keen" character you refer to -- that particular portrayal is just disturbing for me.

It's fascinating what DoomJedi said about "parental instinct." I don't really think about worrying about Billy just based on how he looks, but for me reading mod stories, some of which get pretty dark, knowing that he's only eight or so years old, can tend to activate some sort of protective empathy and make me very concerned for the boy. The things he's had to face even just in the series canon is rather concerning. Like, there's no way this kid doesn't have some serious PTSD or something.

Marooned on Mars was his first mission?
Well, we don't know that for sure. ;) The story doesn't actually say anywhere that it was Keen's first mission. It could have been, or it could have been a cold open into his already-ongoing saga of space exploration. It's up to the imagination! :D


Nisaba wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 10:39 Behind the scenes _mr_m_ and talked about the project for a while and discussed some of his ideas and plans. eventually he was even able to recover at least some material [...] some more or less intakt IMF files
Ah! So you actually recovered the songs! Here I was all this time thinking that _mr_m_ just had such a mastery of the IMF format that he was able to make near-perfect recreations of the two songs (which were in that one demo video that was saved to YouTube) by ear.


Soul Monster wrote: Tue Oct 19, 2021 4:04 Maybe part of it has to do with my increasing annoyance with the cute/chibi trend
Ha, you would not want to see some things I've drawn recently. :p I've started to take a liking to the style, myself. I suppose with any trend there's always going to be plenty of shallow or soulless interpretations that don't properly capture whatever was good about the style (or, rather, maybe that's the only thing it captures). Anything can be done wrong, I suppose, but I also believe that anything can be done right.



TLDR I'm all for the XkyKeen. :dopekeen
I wonder what Xky thinks of all this debate.... :o
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Re: Foray in the Forest (development thread)

Post by DoomJedi »

The story doesn't actually say anywhere that it was Keen's first mission
This just begs for a thread :)
We need to look for all the hints :)
Last edited by DoomJedi on Tue Oct 26, 2021 11:06, edited 1 time in total.
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