Hi, and welcome to read this article. This is about Commander Keen modding. Please notice first that this article won't teach you how to mod or use those tools. This gives you maybe some tips, and gives you information about general Keen modding. Have fun reading this!
Well, what is mod? The actual word is modification. It means, at least in Keen circles, a bunch of files, that will replace original Keen graphics, levels and some other stuff. But mainly only graphics and levels. I count only as mods those that will replace graphics and levels. Just things that replace only levels, are level packs, and those that only graphs, are graphic patches.
When talking about mods, you usually see word modding. It means simply changing, modifying some stuff, and in this case it means modifying original Commander Keen files.
Remember, the main point in the whole modding, is to modify original Keen files, make a new episode with story, graphics and some patching. New adventure that only uses the engine of the "old" Keen game, and usually the main character is also Commander Keen. Mods are also pretty much about showing what good old engine can do, pushing it on the limits and maybe tweak it a bit; show it's potential. Also, it's pretty much sharing your Keen work with the others and letting them tell their opinions about your work of art.
To make a good mod, it has to look good, be playable, and to modding it affects pretty much all the other stuff that affects on the Keen fan game making too. You can read some about that important thing by checking out the article of previous monthâ€™s issue, written by xtraverse. Quick link is here: http://spatang.com/cknews/jul31_03.txt
Hmmm... Many people often want to modify something game, program or something like that. Usually the "target" of modding is something popular, or favourite game of the modder, or just a game that can offer good base/engine for your own adventure. I remember when I was small, I wanted always to change Keen levels, and sometimes I imagined doing own art; making new graphics in to game. And now that's all possible, and I'm modding too!
Modding is very popular in the Keen circles. Many mods have been made, and many are working on them. It's popularity very suprising, at least to me. Well... You maybe want to know when it all started? I think that modding started on the day that first graphic editing tool was released.
Adurdin released tool called modlatch. It had some bugs and it couldn't let you get Keen 1-3 sprites and some other pics extracted and that way edited and imported back. Soon adurdin fixed all that and released modkeen. Serious modding started.
Before modkeen was released, there was released a tool called CKPatch by Admiral Bob. It hadn't any really useful function on that time, but when the graphic editing tools came, it was really good that it was there. It lets Keeners modify and change texts and other stuff from the exe with quite simple patching. There are also some editing progs made that need CKPatch to work.
Some Keeners started to mod. I started as soon as I got my hands on modkeen, or actually I started to test stuff with modlatch before that, but due the some bugs of that prog, I didn't use it almost at all. It was awesome to get stuff extracted, see what there is, and then modify some and see the results in the game! Wow.
I have started many projects, stopped many and almost all those files are deleted now. But I managed to complete my first mod (or not actually first, I started before that Blade styled Keen mod, but it failed). Commander Keen in the Yorphius II...
It was the first Keen mod released (though not quite popular). Soon after that Xky released his mod Commander Keen: Episode X. It won the Keen Awards 2002 modding category. Soon after Xky's mod xtraverse released his first mod of his cool Norp the Yorp trilogy. On that trilogy you play as Keen's pet yorp Norp (that is actually Spot to be exact, but it has changed it's name on this trilogy). It was called Norp the Yorp in inside Mortimer's computer.
It has been quite busy on the modding scene, but seems that really boom started this month (August 2003). Many great mods started on this month, hope to see all of them finished! I'm already drooling if I even think about those...
How do I start? Well...
First of all, it really isn't hard at all. All you need is the correct tools and some imagination, and some art and level making skills. You need something Keen level editor, modkeen, CKPatch and Tileinfo. And unlzexe and something hex editor. You can find a lot info from the internet, the best place to ask questions is PCKF at http://p072.ezboard.com/bpubliccommanderkeenforum... I'm sure there are some Keeners that will answer your questions and help, at least should be. Also, remember to beta test your mod before releasing it! (This is must!)
Oh, and keep it clean and Keenish.
Notice that all this stuff I'm talking about, is Keen 1-3 modding. It isn't possible to mod Keen Dreams or 4-6 (at least yet), all you can do is levels and some patching.
So... Mod, and have fun! It's great and creative hobby, and who knows, maybe you can win the next Keen Awards mod category with your piece of Keen art.
Keep the Keen alive!