Commander Keen 1: Marooned on Mars Trivia (DOS)
DevelopmentTom Hall (via Classic Gaming):
The first game was actually a joke. It was called Dangerous Dave in 'Copyright Infringement.' (John) Carmack had just gotten a little guy to move around over a tile map, and I looked over at the Nintendo in the corner. I said, 'Wouldn't it be funny to make the first level of Super Mario 3...tonight?' Carmack smiled and said, 'Let's do it!' I copied the tiles pixel for pixel and made a map out of them while Carmack feverishly programmed the guy landing on ground tiles and getting coin tiles. At 5:30 in the morning, we dumped that on (John) Romero's desk and went home to crash. Romero played it all the next day, saying 'This could make so much money!' It was pitched to a friend of a friend at Nintendo, and they liked it so much, they wanted a demo. We added Mario graphics and Koopas and stuff, and sent it to them. It apparently got to the head guys at Nintendo, but they didn't want to enter the PC market.
Softdisk didn't want to use the smooth scrolling trick Carmack had discovered (since it didn't also work in CGA!), so we thought, well, if they don't want it, we could do something ourselves.... So we thought, hey, we'll make our own game. We needed a topic. I asked if they cared what topic-sci-fi, fantasy, whatever. I think Carmack mentioned a kid that saves the galaxy or something. I went off and fifteen minutes later, came back with the paragraph that you see in Keen 1. I read it in a Walter Winchell voice (he's a nasal 40s radio/newsreel announcer). Carmack clapped after I was finished, and we were off and running.
We got contacted by Scott Miller of Apogee, and once Keen was published, it was making enough for us to live on, so we quit and formed id.
ModsThere are some level packs and even mods (files changing the graphics in the games) circulating for this game.
ReferencesThroughout the game there are references to Keen's grandfather, whose name is William J. Blazkowicz. Interestingly, William J. Blazkowicz is the main character in Wolfenstein 3D, id's first person shooter made two years later.
SignsThe writings on the signs in the game actually make sense. Much like the runic writing in Ultima, you can translate it letter by letter and discover what they mean. There is a table to help you translate all those messages on 3drealm's website.
TrilogyMarooned on Mars is the first of three episodes of the series Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons.
Information also contributed by Accetone, Maw and Xa4