DISCUSSION: Keen 6 level design.

Discussion and analysis of graphics, story, levels, and so on.
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XkyRauh
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Re: DISCUSSION: Keen 6 level design.

Post by XkyRauh » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:48 pm

Now that we've finally made it to the rocket and used our Keycard to access the satellite base (which, for whatever reason, was inaccessible via the Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket) we are presented with two levels! Let's visit the Bloogbase Management District first (also on Abiathar) since it's the one I always skipped as a kid.

Of all the Keen6 levels, this is the one I'm least familiar with. It was simply too hard for young me. Given that only one of the two satellite levels was required to gain access to the Bloog Control Center, that meant this level was hardly ever visited, unless I was feeling particularly deft at dispensing justice with an iron hand. :)

I don't think I ever made it past the gun room in the middle of the map without cheating. Looking at the map in Abiathar reveals that those falling platforms couldn't actually fall into the goo, which is news to me--I always panicked and jumped as quickly as I could when they began sinking, making the timing of jumps around the shooting guns even more complicated. I remember feeling overwhelmed in that room. (Looking at the map, though, is there any reason to ascend the poles near the guns, other than the pizza slices? I suppose on Hard, the static platforms wouldn't be present, so a trip around the top would be necessary..?)

The background elements in this level, particularly the large electrified structure, are pretty cool--it's a shame the level blocks out whatever is casting a shadow on the far right. (What other reason would there be for those specific background tiles there near the edge and the sodas?)

This is one of the first levels that comes to mind when I think of points being laid out in a way that makes completionists gnash their teeth. Many of the points are placed inconveniently here, requiring slower or more methodical player movement to obtain them all. I always appreciate when a mapper makes points in arcs and trails that encourage player movement in a particular direction, or guide the player toward a goal. By comparison, many of the point shapes in this level seem intentionally difficult to collect rapidly.

The prospect of backtracking through the slimy gun room to get two additional pizza slices and a handful of other goodies is laughably weak--especially given the three hidden sundaes in the same room as the switch. I don't think I've EVER bothered. At least that secret is on par with the optional platform ride in Bloogwaters Crossing...

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Ceilick
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Re: DISCUSSION: Keen 6 level design.

Post by Ceilick » Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:54 am

I've always seen this level as super amateur, like this was someone who had maybe made some platformer levels before (or at least had a vague idea of how they should be) and kind of made a trail from one side to the other with some hazards along the way, maybe tried for something intricate in the middle, and then threw out some piles of points, all while ignoring the backdrop behind the foreground (or maybe it was dropped in at the end) resulting in an absolutely terrible aesthetic and lacking visual integration. I don't have access to the game so can't play this level to be sure, but judging by looking at the level alone, it seems that designer was unaware of the pogo stick mechanic and how it can be used to access items without using certain goplats and how the first goplat switch doesn't seem even necessary.

There is way too much solid cyan foreground at the start of this level. The secret areas don't justify or make it interesting, it's just poorly used space. If there aren't tiles to make the foreground interesting, at least raise the 'roof' of the level so we have more of the blue sky and vertical exploration (the goplat ride would be far more interesting if it took us up where we couldn't see from the platforms) and get rid of the stupid hazard tile ceiling.

In general I think this level would be more interesting if more of it were in the sky rather than in pits sunken into the background. This would help with improving the visual aesthetic and depth of field, and the sky is just more interesting and a unique place to explore in respect to the rest of the game.

The gun room seems overly difficult, particularly because on hard it looks like some goplats don't spawn and it is essential to ride the Gik? Is there anywhere else in the game where riding the Gik is essential? Between the radioactive floor, the wall guns, the gik, and having to jump to navigate, it's all kind of a huge spike in difficulty.
The prospect of backtracking through the slimy gun room to get two additional pizza slices and a handful of other goodies is laughably weak--especially given the three hidden sundaes in the same room as the switch. I don't think I've EVER bothered.
Absolutely this. Don't make me backtrack from the end of the level to the beginning. I'm not sure any reward is worth the tedium.

levellass
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Re: DISCUSSION: Keen 6 level design.

Post by levellass » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:07 am

This level is a nostalgic one for me, not particularly out of any intrinsic goodness, it's just that it's associated with memories of the first time I got Keen 6, trading floppy disks with classmates back before the dawn of the 'net. It took months of planning to arrange or someone I hardly knew to copy the game and bring it to school so that I could myself copy it to my (friend's) 50MB hard drive. Then it was more planning to be able to play the game. At the time there was an awards ceremony going on across the street, I declined to go because I wanted to enjoy the game. I streaked through it on the first playthrough, not really completing anything but just enjoying the atmosphere. I randomly chose this level over Recreational, not knowing either. (Rec is another nostalgic favorite of mine.) The rocket, the space theme, the stuff in the background...all was fresh and new that summer as the sun slowly set through the window. When I got to this level someone set off fireworks. It was perfect.

The level itself... eh. It's ok, but it makes some rookie mistakes. Not much else to say other than what's already been said. I have always hated the little grey boxes in the game... what are they? Why are they there? They just don't fit!

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XkyRauh
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Re: DISCUSSION: Keen 6 level design.

Post by XkyRauh » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:59 am

You mean the "OK" blocks? Yeah, they seem like an odd design choice.

Benvolio
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Re: DISCUSSION: Keen 6 level design.

Post by Benvolio » Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:05 pm

The OK blocks remind me a bit of some of the (many) really crappy looking details from my own mods, and I can understand to some extent how they end up in the game. They probably drew that tile relatively early in the production of the game, and probably got used to its presence to they point that their minds ceased to take note of it and eventually didn't occur to them to remove or review. The graphical quality of the level otherwise is excellent as was the case for the whole of Keen6, with the blue gradiented background particularly appealing. I definitely agree that the level design is poor, whereas for the most part I would consider Keen6 to have had good level design. The important thing is that, given its relatively uninspired design, it is a reassuringly short level that doesn't add tedium to the game.

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