Site History
DemoOctober 11, 2005
A new tech demo is up. Check it out. Updated the project progress a bit too. I'd hate to let anyone down, so take this with a grain of salt, hopefully a one level fully playable demo will be ready in 2006. But there's a lot of work to be done.
TitleJune 21, 2005
The game now has a title, Commander Keen in the Cosmic Heist Enigma. When the story is finalized and public, this title will begin to make sense. has been registered and for now redirects here. The game will get it's own web site when it is closer to being done.
Some ChangesMay 4, 2005
Added the current status box to the home page to give everyone a look into the development progress. That way you can see whats happening even when it doesn't produce any new site content for a long time. (And if you pay attention, I'll give away secret game details that aren't necessarily available until the game is finished.)
Theres a new semi-hidden page with some creature sketches. (Creatures.aspx) These are mostly "work-in-progress" creatures, but those displayed here have their behavior pretty much finished on paper.
Here It Is!April 11, 2005
A brand new tech demo is available. This one is published as a request for comments and criticism from the community. Notwithstanding, it does have a few new features. The heads up display is working in an early stage, including your score and weapons. Points and ammo items are in, time dilation is included too.
New Stuff SoonApril 8, 2005
The last few weeks went without an update because of a road trip across a large portion of North America. Fortunately, some of that trip allowed time for working on the game. Point items and ammo items have been implemented, as well as the beginning of the HUD. Also, I've been playing around with a time dilation system. Because of how the engine works, it was very easy to implement something of a bullet-time engine that can speed up or slow down everything in the game. Or just speed up and slow down particular objects.
Hope to have a new demo available soon!
Happy Keen Day!March 14, 2005
In honor of Commander Keen day (3/14), there are some new downloads available!
A new tech demo, including the use of a couple weapons, is ready for download. The current Level and Sprite editors are available.
Right On ScheduleMarch 2, 2005
Of course, the plan to "update more often" is followed by nearly two months of silence. Got sidetracked on another project. If you're interested in a free budget tool, check it out at its website.
But don't worry, the Keen project has not been abandoned!
I've spent a good deal of time working on a tool to convert large images to tiles, and an improvement to the level editor to use these blocks.
Additionally, a lot of work has gone into a more efficient object collision detection system so the game will not get slowed down when a large number of objects or actors are in the level.
There has been more work done on the edge detection system. I think I will have the game engine generate a key point map when the level is loaded, that way it will be very fast to find out if an actor is at the corner of a surface. With this in place, level designers will only need to set properties on the actors such as "dont walk off edges", rather than setting a confined area for each actor to remain within. (Of course, that sort of control should be provided as well!)
The Game ContinuesJanuary 10, 2005
Going to try to update more often now, so here's a new one.
Put the Bounder and Yellow Blob back in the development test, and utilizing a new ActorEvents system. This subsystem is designed to make adding new actors even easier by allowing for automatic notification of common events. Those used now are when the actor runs into a wall. It's used by the YellowBlob to turn around. In the past, it would turn around if it didn't succeed in moving during the current frame, which could be problematic if a frame rendered fast enough that it didn't move an entire pixel.
Also fixed the "riding" code. If you are on top of another actor, you ride along smoothly, instead of the "bouncy" movement of before.
Last but not least, the world no longer renders with the player exactly centered, it just makes sure that the player is within a certain area of the center of the screen, just like the original games.
Still Here!January 7, 2005
Wow, sure haven't updated the site in a while!
Good news though, have been busy during the last couple months. A lot more code has been written. Cool things happen now. The biggest change is that the player can use weapons! There are two implemented so far. Both are "projectile" launchers. One, of course, is the Neural Stunner. I'll probably release a demo soon.
What is next? Time to add actors back in, and then have them affected by the weapons.
The sprite editor, although not yet available on the website, has been updated a lot to create Tiles and Projectiles.
Projectiles are animated. They are even set up to animate differently depending on how they collide with something.
The Project page has been restructured a little. There's even a cool screen shots page with brand new screens!
Level EditorNovember 1, 2004
Go get the level from the project page. If you haven't already, make sure to pick up the sprite editor too!
New DemoOctober 29, 2004
Real quick. New tech demo available. Level editor VERY soon!
Tools and FeaturesOctober 1, 2004
A lot of work has gone into the level editor, so the project page reflects further progress. Also the potential final version of the Sprite Editor will be ready in a few days!
There is a new tech demo on the project page that is really cool! The level and tiles are now loaded from a level file created with the level editor and tile/sprite files created in the sprite editor. Plus it rains in the game now, which is cool.
A Real SiteSeptember 20, 2004
The site is now completely moved here to Now it has a "real" address and is a .NET application behind the scenes. One of the benefits of running as an application is simplifying status updates.
This history list and the project status detail are now generated from xml data files. All I have to do is update the xml and the page gets updated. No more "oops I forgot to add the style sheet to that table cell..."
Also the game progress status has been updated. Work has begun on a level editor.
A New LevelAugust 25, 2004
A new tech demo is up, it contains a highly simplified version of a familiar villiage. Plus there is a new actor to interact with. Other than the graphics, this one is easily recognized.
Some of the progress details have been updated as well, some of the recent developments are now reflected in the progress indicators.
DownloadsAugust 18, 2004
There is a brand new tech demo available on the project page. It's pretty cool, check it out!
An updated beta sprite editor is available as well. This includes both a new feature and a small change in file format.
Newness AboundsAugust 16, 2004
A beta version of the sprite editor is now available! Pick it up here. It is really intended to be a simple tool to make sprite building faster, so it's not quite user friendly. If you are interested in making it better, modify the source and let me know!
The graphics system has been updated a lot. The actors now use a sprite file generated by the sprite editor to get their graphics. Also there is now a bitmap file manager. This takes care of loading a bitmap file once and then re-using the same file from memory when other objects want to copy part of that bitmap. This will improve memory usage and load time.
Just last night I finished modifying the player walking code so the player doesn't seem to be falling a lot. (In the tech demos, this caused the animation to look funky because it was constantly switch to the "falling" frame.) This also fixed the problem where the player could get "stuck" trying to go up a hill.
Finally I decided to post a few screenshots taken from the tech demo. Check out the project page for details!
Still WorkingJuly 16, 2004
It's been over half a year now and you probably thought the project was dead. Stop worrying, it's still going.
Unfortunately not very much progress has been made as far as the game itself is concerned, mostly due to the fact that between the last update and the middle of May, I was busy finishing my final semester at college.
Some more time was spent working on the architectural design of the system. But here's the good news: I'm nearly finished with a working sprite editor! It's a nice windows application which allows you to select bitmaps and then specify frames within the bitmaps. I want to build an animated preview feature so you can see what your sprites will look like in the game right there in the editor, and want to put a little more thought into the file format before I release the program here.
Also when I was getting ready to update this, I noticed that the previous update said it was from January 10, 2003, instead of 2004. Oops!
More ProgressJanuary 10, 2004
Over the past month I've spent a lot of time putting the system architecture down on paper. This means documenting all the different modules and interactions that are in my head. The result is that I can proceed with better focus and more quickly discover architectural problems and fix them before writing a bunch of code.
Having this documentation will be incredibly helpful for anyone interested in working with the source code. Therefore I have begun transcribing it in digital content. Once it is finished there will be a whole new section to this website.
Check out the new tech demo on the project page, I think you'll like it!
While getting the project to this point, I discovered a HUGE memory leak that has existed in the system since the first tech demo. Much of the code to clean up the memory used by the graphics has been in the engine since the beginning, but I only recently noticed that I simply wasn't using it. When the game ends, the game simply left all of its graphics data in memory. Fortunately newer versions of Windows and DirectX probably clean this up for me. But that is bad, BAD programming!
Now I'm planning to re-work the collision detection code. I want to use a much different set of methods that will result in much more accurate and precise behavior.
Happy Thanksgiving!November 27, 2003
Besides the nice holiday wishes, there's a quick update. The big overhaul to the new architecture is essentially complete. Meaning I can get right back into adding features after finals.
Infinite loops ... As I was trying to get the system to work, it kept stalling on me. I had one of those "what was I thinking?!" moments, as I discovered that the real basic loop that makes sure something doesn't just fall through the floor was very susceptible to never exiting. Oops!
So I rewrote some of the collision checking code, it's much cleaner. This will be helpful once the source code is released.
The real reason for this posting is something I forgot to mention a couple days ago. I have half of the graphics done for one of the bad guys!
Held UpNovember 25, 2003
I should probably try to keep some sort of a development journal up here to supplement the occasional update to the project page.
It may seem that this project has become yet another good idea without that has just been forgotten. But never fear! I am merely forced to set the project aside during school. Luckily, this is my senior year. On one hand, that may mean a busier life after school, but it also means that my free weeknights will no longer be filled with studying. In other words, hopefully beginning next summer, I will be able to concentrate "full-time" on Keen.
However, that isn't an update. The following is.
Since the time of the last tech demo update (July), I have made substantial changes to the code. I'm in the process, near the end in fact, of using an entirely new architecture. The engine itself hasn't changed at all, what I'm doing is changing what you could call the "Direct-X wrapper". This means changing all the code that does the initial setup and initialization. From a player's perspective, there is no difference. But this architecture has sound and input systems implemented, so once I'm done we can begin doing the input code and adding sound effects. Additionally, the new architecture is more stable, it is much easier to create a custom error report if something crashes.
Another small development has been the early designs for a new collision detection system. Not a new technology, but new to the Keen project.
A rather huge development is the fact that I've come up with almost all of the story, and even have a few ideas for levels sketched out! And they will be surprises, so I can't tell you anything other than a level from Goodbye Galaxy will be in the game and the story takes place shortly after Aliens Ate my Babysitter.
Christmas break is coming up, hopefully I'll get some work done then!
Finally, we're having trouble coming up with a title. Current ideas include: "Unseen Danger", "The Dark Caper" and "Mortimer's Quagmire"
- Zach
The beginningJuly 12, 2002
Just started this site today. A bit of an introduction is in order.
KeenKoncepts is a "temporary" name for a computer game company. Due to current lack of a better name, Keen Koncepts was adopted because the user name happened to be available on Yahoo, and it reflected our first major game project.
Our first game project is the yet to be named, Commander Keen sequel. (The Universe is Toast could get us into a bit of trouble.)