CloneKeen - the free-software Commander Keen 1-3 clone

For Modders

The Commander Keen scene has produced some excellent fan-made mods and TC's, some are which are quite impressive. In 8.4, I've started trying to bring in some features for those interested in the modding scene.

This is intended as an advanced manual to document that these features exist - a lot of this stuff is still experimental or incomplete. Future versions may flesh it out further.


this file is an easy way to enable some neat options which wouldn't be available in the original game. It is located in the same directory as the keen executable. Available options are:
 DoorsOpenUpwards Set to 1, makes the keycard doors open up instead of down.
 ForcePlayers Set to 1 or 2 to autoselect # of players.
 VortDieDoFade Set to 0 to disable the screen flashing effect when a Vorticon dies in Episode 1.
 StartWithPogo Set to 1 or 0 to override the episode's default on whether the player starts with the pogo stick.
 pShotSpeed Affects how fast the player's raygun charges move. The normal setting is 20.
 StartWithCharges Set the amount of ammo the player has at startup.
 VGASprites Set to 1 to enable the VGA Sprites feature (see below)
 VGATiles Set to 1 to enable the VGA Tiles feature (see below)
 ForceEpisode Set the "base episode" (1, 2, or 3) to work off of, affects enemy types and tileset. Only has an effect which specified in the flags.ini of a custom episode (see below).

VGA Sprites

VGA Sprites is an experimental feature which lets you replace some or all of the original EGA sprites with your own 256 color sprites. To use, set VGASprites=1 in flags.ini, and then place the sprites you want to replace as TGA files in the "gfx" directory. For example, to replace sprite 2, create a file called "gfx/sprite2.tga". The palette is automatically generated for you from the 24-bit TGA file, but you cannot have more than 256 unique colors across all your replacement sprites.

VGA Tiles

VGA Tiles is an experimental feature which lets you replace some or all of the original EGA tileset with your own 256 color tiles. Set VGATiles=1, then create TGA files in the "gfx" directory as with VGA Sprites, for example to replace tile 50, create "gfx/tile50.tga".

Custom Episodes

The contents of CloneKeen's "custom" dir is where the user maps offered in the "Load User Map" menu are stored. However, if instead of a map file, you create a subdirectory inside of custom, the directory is treated as a "custom episode". When that directory is selected from the "Load User Map" menu, CloneKeen will start a new game, but when loading data files, it will look inside of your custom episode directory first before loading the original one. This allows you to replace any or all of the game files without affecting your normal gameplay.

For example, if you want to create a version of Episode 1 with a different first level and modified text, you could create a directory "custom/MyEpisode/". Then inside that you would place:

custom/MyEpisode/strings.dat - copy this from the normal strings.dat, then edit as you wish.
custom/MyEpisode/data/LEVEL01.CK1 - create in the level editor, then copy into position.

You can specify which of the 3 original episodes you want to "work off of" by creating a custom/MyEpisode/flags.ini file and specifying the setting ForceEpisode inside of it. If you don't have a flags.ini or have one but it doesn't contain a setting for ForceEpisode then the default is episode 1.

CloneKeen ©2003-2016 Caitlin Shaw