Commander Keen Newsletter

Issue 28, "3/14 Extravaganza!"
(c) 2002-2004 all rights reserved.
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WARNING: This document may not be distributed without permission.

[1.0] Articles
 [1.1] Round-up of One Level Mods
 [1.2] The Fribble
 [1.3] The Newsletter Oracle
 [1.4] Xky's Modding Corner
[2.0] ReviewCorner
 [2.1] None this Issue
[3.0] KeenFiction
 [3.1] None this Issue
[4.0] Keen news
 [4.1] Shadowlands III probably won't be seen :(
 [4.2] New mods
 [4.3] Bush = Mort
 [4.4] New newsletter site!
 [4.5] The Keen Awards
 [4.6] Some Keen art
 [4.7] Drawin' Keen
 [4.8] Interesting theory...
 [4.9] New Gnosticus VII
[5.0] Miscellaneous
 [5.1] Announcements
 [5.2] Credits

>> [1.0] Articles <<

---- [1.1] Round-up of One Level Mods

Ah, another Commander Keen day! 14 of March (3). This year we got some pretty cool stuff as last year. We got as much as five modifications! :) Though, the mods were one-level mods, but it doesn't matter, since the stuff is still high quality and interesting. The one-level mod idea was made up by Ilsoap. You can read more about it from this topic:

The mods here should be in somekind of time order, starting from the first.

Xky's One Level Mod
Pretty cool stuff made up by Xky, once again. In this one-level mod you just have to walk through one awesome scenery, including waterfall, caves etc.. The art is pure Xky, and it has some Keen 4-6 feeling in it as well. Hopefully we'll see this kind of cool stuff in XkyKeen4. :)

Newsletter team comments:
Yorpy: The environment in this mod is great!
KeenRush: l33t w00t!
xtra: This was an awesome preview of the amazing art I hope to see in XkyKeen 4
Xky: Thanks to the community for the helpful feedback!

More info here:

Oracle Janitor 2
Ceilick's newest mod, Oracle Janitor 2, is one pretty cool one-level mod. In this you'll play as Oracle Janitor that this time needs to rescue Keen from evil monks. Hehe. The atmosphere in the mod is quite creepy, but very skilled artwork. Ceilick has done great work again.

Newsletter team comments:
Yorpy: Awesome mod, it's cool to play as an oracle member.
KeenRush: Yikes!
xtra: This is an incredibly seamless mod. Everything, the tiles, sprites, and everything else works perfectly to create a spooky atmosphere.
Xky: Ceilick has quickly been becoming one of my favorite authors, and the speed he can produce these things is truly impressive.

More info here:

Benvolio has done pretty nice one-level mod for Keen 4! The mod looks pretty good, and has Keen 1-3 feeling in it visually. That works pretty well and makes player wishing there were more levels. :) Good job.

Newsletter team comments:
Yorpy: Fun mod! But it was hard to tell what I could grab.
KeenRush: Tasty!
xtra: A mod that should be played very casually, there is a lot of fun art that's easy to miss should you go to fast.
Xky: A cute but brief venture into the realm of Keen4 modding--Benvolio deserves a hand for his efforts. It's the little details that really make this interesting.

More info here:

The Generic Mod
LevelLord has done some cool mod again. I have no idea how much is ripped, but I guess not much! The art looks really tasty, and the level is droolable. There are some annoying features, but you'll get used to those easily. This is one of the best mods by LL this far. :)

Newsletter team comments:
Yorpy: The yorp replacements are cute.
KeenRush: Vorticon replacement doesn't care much about gravity!
xtra: A crazy mod full of wonderful experimental patches and cleverly used ripped artwork. A mod true to LL's style, and dastardly fun and challenging to complete.
Xky: LevelLord must be upset that KeenRush's Episode Smile made me cry--this level is dastardly, but well constructed... almost like an old puzzle game!

More info here:

The Generic Sequel
Hehe, this mod wasn't actually released 14th, but naturally we can count it in since it became 15th. This mod is a sequel to The Generic Mod. This mod is pretty cool, and has some interesting tweaking on pogo. Pogo works now as somekind of jetpack that is somewhat possible to control. This is creative stuff. Visually it has Keen 4-6 style elements, and the graphics look nice overall.

Newsletter team comments:
Yorpy: The rocket pack instead of the pogostick is cool.
KeenRush: LL, you lucky patchstard! :p
xtra: Generic 1 + more experimental patches + more confusion + Jetboy sprite = LL's crazy Generic Sequel

More info here:

Norp 3.5: The Maze of Doom
xtraverse's continuation of the Norp series.

Newsletter team comments:
Yorpy: Great mod, but a very confusing maze.
KeenRush: Pretty neat mod with some cool patching! Interesting Norp the Yorp adventure.
xtra: umm...this is my mod, play it!
Xky: Probably the most organized of the one-level mods, Xtraverse shows us a few crafty ways to tinker with the Keen engine. Fun and challenging--just watch out for the teleport maze.

More info here:

---- [1.2] The Fribble

Standard Galactic News -- The annual West Fribbulus Xax Soccer Tournament was arranged this year a week earlier the usual time because of the approaching big sand storm. The best game according the audience was, as usually, Blooguards versus Bobbas. The game had interesting twist when a herd of angry giks attacked the players. The giks claimed the game was arranged on top of their underground city and that it suffered small damages because of the happenings on the surface couple of feet above. Blooguards won the game, after being beated by Bobbas the past three years on a row. The bloog crowd went wild. Congratulations!

Standard Galactic News -- A ceilick, 291, from the north side of Fribbulus Xax got his tonque twisted in a mixer early this week (Standard Galactic Time) while making his award winning raisin cookies in the annual FX cooking contest. Thankfully, he wasn't hurt. The local blooguard managed to get the tongue out in a few hours. Ceilicks' tonques are extremely flexible and can't be harmed with sharp and spinning objects. Despite the set back he was able to place second in the contest with a Bloog taking first with a viva cake.

---- [1.3] The Newsletter Oracle

This is a new section where you can ask the newsletter team a question and we will answer it to the best of our abilities!

Our first question, from Superadammario: What is the best modding program for Keen 1-3 thats easy to use for people who have never made a mod before?


Xky: That's a great question; unfortunately, there's no simple answer. Modding is really divided into 4 parts: Graphics, Levels, Text, and Patches. For importing/exporting Graphics, there's really only one choice: modkeen! This program is pretty well documented and easy to use, and really should be the least of your worries. For Patches and Text editing, you can use the Patch-o-Tron from Spatang to cover the basic necessities, and you can always drop by Keen:Modding for a little help with more complicated stuff. The Level design part is really where the choices come in: You can use the DOS-based KeenWright, the Windows beta of KeenWright, iKeen, KMO, and a host of other level editors. The only time you're limited in options is if you're doing a Keen4-6 mod, in which case you've got to use TED5. So really, if you're looking to get started modding, I'd recommend picking up iKeen, modkeen, and the Patch-o-Tron. Those tools together can step you through the basics of modding, and from there you can go nuts and try new things. :-) Kudos!
KeenRush: Hmmm, lets see. As Xky pointed out, modding is divided in different parts that require different tools. For a basic mod you need a level editor and modkeen. Modkeen will extract out the graphics from those Keen files, and import the changed graphics back into the form the game reads them. Level editor lets you to edit levels. :) I recommend adurdin's KeenWright (DOS version), since I have good experiences with that program and so on. It's really good. If you want to change texts and other things, you will need some patching. You need CKpatch tools and some knowledge about them. That can be acquired by practice, the basic level I mean, but making a patch to change the actual code, requires a lot more. Although there are other people that can do that for you. With patching and help of Tileinfo you can change the tile properties (which is pretty much needed). For changing those 320x200 pictures you will need a tool called fin2bmp. Also, there are some miscellaneous tools for example changing high scores.. :p
Yorpy: While I have never personally done any modding, I have checked out some of these programs out of curiousity. I would recommend modkeen like xky and keenrush, I remember messing around importing and extracting graphics pretty easily. For editing, I haven't used most of the programs out these days but I remember trying TED out and it seemed easy to use and I was able to figure out how the place tiles and such without much trouble.
xtraverse: Xky and KR really covered the basics well here, but I'll go a little more in depth on the various level editors. You can immediately rule out KMO2 and the text-based KeenEdit, they're both obselete, buggy, and difficult to use. The DOS version of KeenWright is a good choice for a simple level editor that will do what you want reliably. iKeen has a ton of features that make level editing easier (selections, copy/paste, built in bridge sprite support), however it has a tendency to lock up. This can be avoiding by following the guidelines I posted here Also note that there are some great modding tutorials available here

Second question, from SpikeNexus: O, Oracle, Whenever I change even a single tile or whatnot in TED (while editing Keen 4, 5 or 6's original levels), I can no longer play the level anymore. It gives a 'Map Too Tall' error. (This happens even after I've Carmacized the map) Share with me your wisdom, Oracle.


xtraverse: None of us at the newsletter are TED experts, so we asked local guru Br1ck, creator of the famous Keen Asylum level pack, for advice.
Br1ck: Um, are you running the batch file, or running the executable? (Note that you should always run the batch file when you mod Keen.) If that's not the problem, then you're doing something wrong in the memory patching process, which should normally be handled properly by adurdin's TEDSETUP.

---- [1.4] Xky's Modding Corner

Long time community member Ilsoap recently posted an incredibly good read on sprite design at the Keen:Modding forums. Check out the article itself, and put your two cents in here.

>> [2.0] Review Corner <<

>> [3.0] Keen Fiction <<

>> [4.0] Keen News <<

Hey. Seems that another Keen Day has passed once again! :) Here are some news about some other stuff. As well, sorry about this news section being so small; not much has happened, although the forums have been active. The stuff has been mainly questions and such... But fun as well! :)

---- [4.1] Shadowlands III probably won't be seen :(

Ilsoap has told that he probably won't ever finish the Shadowlands 3. There are many reasons, the top reasons being that the characters are copyrighted (to iD) and he's really busy and so on. Too bad, it would've been amazing. But, at least it is possible to see the script for episode 3! Check that out. Read more here

---- [4.2] New mods

There's been some nice mod released.

Surprisingly, I managed to release my Keen 2 mod, Commander Keen: Episode Smile. What I've heard the mod is really hard. Take a look at this topic

Benvolio and LevelLord have done a cooperative mod under alias Benvolilord. It's a Christmas mod. Check out this topic

Benvolio has released other mod, Thwarting Mort. Cool mod as well, with interesting weapon: blowtorch! Check it out

Ceilick has released Keen4-6ish Keen 1 mod, Perilous Pursuit. Really cool mod, check out this topic for more

CaptainKeen has released a mod, Hiding from the Sky. The mod is has Keen 3 feeling in it, in my Keen opinion. Here

Ceilick has released a one-level mod. In this mod you'll play as Oracle Janitor. The mod has really fun Keenish humour. Read more here

Ceilick has been productive: yet another mod! :) This one is called Return of the Gaurdians. The mod is really good as well, take a look

Anyways, be sure to play those all, they are worth of playing! Neat!

To mention, I didn't take the 314-day mod stuff into this list. You can read about those from other sections of this issue.

---- [4.3] Bush = Mort

Seems that there has been some pretty fun "political" stuff in Keen forums. Take a look at some nice pictures, showing the truth about the president of the US. Here (Don't take this too seriously!)

---- [4.4] New newsletter site!

Commander Keen Newsletter has gotten a brand new, double-neat website redesign! The design is made by Yorpy. Check out the cool design from our site

---- [4.5] The Keen Awards

The Keen Awards nominations have started! Be sure to nominate you favourite Keen stuff. Check out the topic here

---- [4.6] Some Keen art

Cool picture made by Too Much Spare Time: here

RocketJess has posted couple of cool sketches: here I love the picture with those yorps and a garg! :)

Take a look at this cool 3Dish version of yorp and garg sprite from Keen 1: here

RocketJess has made awesome, coloured picture of various Keeniverse characters! The picture has Keen, Jax (that is unofficial character), Princess Lindsey, Spot and Mortimer McMire! Check it out here

---- [4.7] Drawin' Keen

Keener alex87 posted a topic about somekind of site where you can draw some stuff, then save it and others can see it. The best thing is that others can see how you draw the stuff! It's pretty neat. See this topic to see some stuff Keeners have done: here Check especially the stuff made by Zorath, it's really artistic!

---- [4.8] Interesting theory...

...that has something to do with good ol' Christopher Columbus. Take a look (And yes, the author was actually drunk. I guess.)

---- [4.9] New Gnosticus VII

A mod review site Gnosticus VII has gone under complete redesign. The site looks better than before, and it looked good before as well. So now it's droolish. The site has interesting reviews and fun FAQ and so on. Be sure to visit! Here

>> [5.0] Miscellaneous <<

---- [5.1] Announcements

Hey, the issue is a little late but it has lots of stuff in it! Plus there's the new site! Check it out, most everything should be working.

---- [5.2] Credits

Yorpy - website, Fribble article, compostition
Marky - he's out there somewhere, I think?
KeenRush - news, Fribble article
xtraverse - hosting, Newsletter Oracle idea, general help
XkyRauh - modding article writer
-special thanks to Br1ck on the oracle question, and to Ilsoap for the Fribble pictures-