Checklist for Beginning Modders (Vorticons)

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This is a tutorial for Keen: Vorticons modding written by Xky Rauh in 2005.


1) make a copy of your Keen1 folder, and rename the folder "mymod" and move all the tools you've got into the mymod folder.

2) drag Keen1.exe over UNLZEXE.exe. This will create a little Keen1.olz file, which is decompression information. The reason you do this is to decompress the Keen1.exe, to make patching possible.

3) open up a command prompt / dos prompt. navigate to the mymod directory, and type the following:

modkeen -export -episode=1

4) create a new text file and name it mymod.pat (yes, change the extention to .pat, not .txt.) This is your game's patch file, and will be used for changing almost everything you can imagine. For now, open the file and just put the following:

%ext ck1


This tells ck1patch that you're using Keen1 (extention .ck1) and defines the End of the patch process--very important! For now, we won't patch anything--we just need this for testing purposes.

5) Now, create a new batch file and name it testmymod.bat. put the following in there:

modkeen -import -episode=1
ck1patch mymod.pat

This tells ModKeen to import all the graphics (which you just unloaded, but haven't edited YET) and then runs Keen1 with your patch file (which doesn't have anything in it YET). Lastly, it puases at the end, to give your slow human eyes time to read any error messages that may pop up (happens a lot with patching errors).

If you run testmymod.bat right now, you should get a completely vanilla game of Keen1. Now it's time to start modding!!


Really, these "modding" steps can be done in any order and at any time--they're just divided into a few different categories:

1) Open and modify 1TIL0000.bmp. This file is the tileset for your entire mod. Be sure NOT to change the location of the 'done' tiles, the 4 ship parts, or the 2 blank 'sky' tiles (light grey and black). Anything else you can modify and alter with the "TILEINFO" program, if you wish. For easiest results, make direct changes--i.e., a block becomes a block, points become points, map screen tiles become map screen tiles. Don't try anything fancy unless you're prepared to TILEINFO for it.

Feel free to run testmymod.bat to look at your handiwork.

2) Open and modify the 1SPR00xx.bmp files. These are all the sprites used to animate the monsters, Keen, map-Keen, and bullets/explosions. Try not to change the size of these very much--you'll run out of memory and recieve the "Try unloading your TSRs!" error when trying to run your mod.

Feel free to run testmymod.bat to look at your handiwork.

3) Open and modify any LEVEL**.ck1 files with your level editor--be it KeenWright, iKeen, KeenEdit, KMO, whatever. Make new levels, a new mapscreen, etc. Place enemies and points and ship parts, and save.

Feel free to run testmymod.bat to look at your handiwork.

4) Open and modify the text files for the game--these are STORYTXT.ck1, ENDTEXT.ck1, PREVIEWS.ck1, HELPTEXT.ck1. Be glad they are simple text files--for Keen2 and 3 editing, you actually have to fish around in a hex editor for this stuff!

Be sure to playtest these changed files a lot--be sure you get the spacing, word-wrap, and word lengths pleasing to your eyes.

5) Open and modify your .pat file, adding in patches to do whatever it is you want to do. For a basic Keen1 mod, all you need to use this for is changing the Yorp Statue messages, and the Game End messages. You can use the Patchotron to do this, or open an already-built mod and see how they did it. You can add other patches too--check out Keen:Modding for more help.

Feel free to run testmymod.bat to look at your handiwork.

The Ending Sequence

Okay, you've got your mod's graphics, levels, and tiles done... but there's that whole fin2bmp thing to deal with now.

1) Jump back into your command prompt, and navigate to your mymod directory, then run:

fin2bmp -b finale.ck1 ending.bmp

2) Open up your newly exported Ending.bmp and change it however you like--keeping in mind that the story's text will occupy the lower left corner of this bitmap.

3) Head back into the command prompt and import your work:

fin2bmp -f ending.bmp finale.ck1

4) Be sure to do any text patching for your ending sequence, too, and then playtest this extensively.

This is really the slowest part of testing a mod--making sure the end sequence works well. It's really a bad deal to see a great mod with a terrible ending sequence; a player should feel at least minimally rewarded for their accomplishments!


1) Finished already? Make a duplicate (backup) of your mod's folder, and call it mymodbackup or whatever you wish to call it. We do this as a safety precaution--wouldn't want to lose anything vital!

2) Return to your original mymod directory, and run your "final" compile of the game (run testmymod.bat one last time, and quit out of Keen1.)

3) delete testmymod.bat. make a new batch file, playmymod.bat, and put just two simple words in there: ck1patch mymod.pat

4) delete everything in your mymod directory, EXCEPT:

  • Keen1.exe
  • ck1patch.exe
  • any files with the extention .ck1
  • mymod.pat
  • playmymod.bat

Be sure to run playmymod.bat to be sure the whole mod works well in this final form--if something's not right, refer to your backup and start over again. Chances are Xky screwed this part of the release tutorial up. lol...

5) ZIP or RAR your folder into an archive, and email it to xtraverse, adurdin, KeenRush, or anybody else who's hosting mods.

There, wasn't that easy? 19 'simple' steps to make your very own mod!