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Monday, April 14, 2014

Commander Keen 1-3 (Vorticons) source code found

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JOHN ROMERO, one of the developers of popular early 1990s PC game series Commander Keen, says he has found the source code for the Vorticons trilogy and will seek to release it under GPL.

Romero made the announcement in a discussion about four 3.5" floppy disks he had found, which included the compiled versions of Keen Dreams  and Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion.

"I just found the original Commander Keen source code for 1-3. :)," Mr Romero said.

He later added: "I'm sending it off to get GPL'd." 

The Vorticons trilogy consisted of Commander Keen 1-3. The game engine changed significantly for the subsequent Keen Dreams and Keen 4-6.

There are few details on when the code will be released and where it was found.

The source code for Commander Keen 4-6 was found by the game's creator, Tom Hall, last year on a still-readable (just) SyQuest cartridge.

The code for episodes 4 and 5 will be released as open source, but Keen 6 remains tied up in distribution issues. (If you downloaded the Keen pack on Steam you would have noticed it was missing.)

Why is the code important? A small community of fans has been modding the games for years, using patch files to reverse engineer the compiled game files and create entirely new Commander Keen games. The source code will allow those developers to make even more changes more easily and port the game to modern operating systems.

Click here to explore the fan-made Vorticons mods.

Click here to explore fan-made Galaxy (Keen 4-6) mods.

You will probably need DOSBox to run the mods.

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