Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

All discussion about the Commander Genius project (a Keen interpreter + more).
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Gagster
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Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

Post by Gagster »

Using Commander Genius has now become my preferred way of enjoying these game on modern systems (I used variants of DOSBox before), and playing especially Episode 4-6 it's easy to see that the developers of these games where somewhat limited by that 16 color palette from back in the day.

To achieve more colors than the 16 color palette allowed, many of the level maps and levels placed two shades of the same color between each other, creating a checkerboard effect where light green and dark green became another shade of green by blending the colors together. If I download the High Quality Pack, I find improved tiles to Keen 4 and the earlier games (not Keen 5 & 6), and the included tilesets allows me to further edit each tile of the games that have improved tilesets included (Keen 1-4).

What I would appreciate was if we had the original tilesets for Keen 1-6 available as bmp or png files, so that the user could customize each tile of all the games in their own preferred way. I would personally like to play with good old MS Paint with original tilesets from Keen 4-6, and improve the tiles in the way I imagine the tiles would look originally without that 16 color limitation.

I suppose Keen Dreams is out of the question; Keen Dreams is running through some kind of emulator within Commander Genius right, unlike the rest of the games (hence identical menus to the DOS version)?

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Re: Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

Post by gerstrong »

That is no problem, you can extract these tiles and much more using ModKeen:

http://www.shikadi.net/keenwiki/ModKeen

I would recommend converting the bmp files you want to modify into png, for faster loading later on. You can change the properties of these as you like using more colors and then load them into Commander Genius.

If you need more help on this, don't hesitate to ask.

On Keen Dreams it is not supported currently, but not because of emulation, there is no emulation. The code is a bit messy, that is the real reason and I had no time to integrate it better into the CG ecosystem. That and Dreams is not so much my favorite, but still if you want to improve something I will always happy to help you.

Is it legal to just upload those tilesets? I have my doubts...
Having fun developing stuff...

Benvolio
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Re: Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

Post by Benvolio »

I often wonder about this. We're so focused on under no circumstances sharing keen2/3/5/6 exe. But surely the bulk of the IP lies in the graphics. Anyway I'm sure it's not going to be of consequence to share these images. I remember when I downloadrd KeenWright making Keen2 and 3 levels because I thought they looked cool, even though I didn't even have those episodes... the full tile imagery was included in the editor.

Gagster
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Re: Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

Post by Gagster »

Thanks for the replies.

I have now successfully extracted all the necessary bmp-files from Keen 4,5 & 6 by using ModKeen (I also had to use DOSBox to get ModKeen to function; my 64 bit Windows 10 doesn't like 16 bit apps apparently). Now I'm searching the web for a good bitmap software to edit bmp/png files and such in 8 bit color mode, 256 colors like the VGA games from the DOS era (I will try to emulate the MS-DOS VGA look with an 8 bit color palette).

I didn't know that Keen Dreams also is a port like the other games in CGenius; it does however run way smoother in CGenius than in DOSBox.

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Re: Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

Post by Benvolio »

Sounds like a great project. I have mixed feelings about 2D VGA graphics in general. However that's because the platform is a whole lot less forgiving of poor quality art than EGA (especially the standard 16 colour palette) is. I'd be interested in knowing what software you end up using for the pixel art.

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Re: Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

Post by Gagster »

I'm now using Aseprite for editing sprites and such; I bought this some time ago but haven't really used it before now.

Using Aseprite I can choose predefined color-palettes, and those color-palettes ranges from the more common ones used on old game consoles and in my case VGA MS-DOS machines (VGA 13h). I'm not aiming to do anything big with this, but just to play around with colors and see where it gets from here.

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Gridlock
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Re: Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

Post by Gridlock »

I'd be curious to see the results of doing a recolor with more than 16 colors. I feel like maybe I've seen something like this before, but I can't remember anything specific. It seems like Keen art tends to look a bit weird and fangamey when done with more than 16 colors, but I'm curious if there's a stylistic way to make it work. I'll be interested to see what you come up with.
I'm now using Aseprite for editing sprites and such; I bought this some time ago but haven't really used it before now.
Kind of a tangent from the discussion, but that's interesting to hear. Several artists at my indie studio have used Aesprite for pixel art. I used Windows XP MSPaint for most graphics I made in my mods, and while it love its simplicity, it does leave a lot to be desired. I've also figured out how to do 16 color art in Photoshop using indexed color mode, but that breaks basic features like layers. Annoyingly, Photoshop also has a glitchy pixel grid and sometimes paints to the wrong pixel compared to what the cursor is over. I'd be interested in hearing about your experience using Aesprite for tileset editing. Seems like something I might consider buying since I could really use a better program.
Is it legal to just upload those tilesets? I have my doubts...
I'm curious about this too, though I don't know that anyone would actually care. In a perfect world, I wish there was a way for us to have a common sprite/tileset repository. I sometimes find myself wanting a specific graphic, then I realize I don't have the files and have to throw together a setup to get them extracted.
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Re: Original tilesets for Keen 1-6, so that users can modify each original tile for each game

Post by Benvolio »

Frankly I have surely mentioned this software a thousand times but Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7 (from back in 2000) is still the gold standard for me. It makes dealing with palettes effortless. And though it doesnt allow layers except for 16.7 million colour mode, you can very easily work in a layered true colour file, taking care to be meticulous about what colours you actually use, then later merge/flatten the image and apply the desired palette. This works for EGA and I am sure it would work just fine in EGA too. Despite being set in my ways with a 20 year old programme, I would take an interest if a modern package actually improved on the PSP7 experience. Most ideally in a way that facilitates a versatile range of uses, beyond 2D video game pixel art. Even present day computing (especially internet related stuff) still relies heavily on skilled bitmap art/design.

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