Character Development In Gaming: Billy Blaze’s Evolution From Commander Keen

I grew up playing Commander Keen, and Wolfenstein 3D, then later Doom and it’s variations. But most people don’t realize that Billy Blaze was part of each of those games. From William “B.J.” Blazkowicz to the Doom Guy, you can trace the lineage back (and forwards) to Billy Blaze.

For those of you whom don’t remember Commander Keen here’s a little back round. The series focused on the adventures of Billy Blaze, an 8-year old boy who travels through space and assumes the identity “Commander Keen”. It was great at replicating the side-scrolling action of Super Mario Brothers games in DOS. The cartoon-style platform games are notable for their pioneering use of EGA graphics and shareware distribution, and they were some of the first games by id Software (which went on to develop Doom and Quake). The games were also exciting to the PC gaming community of the time. Although developed by id, most of the Commander Keen games were published by Apogee Software, an already established DOS shareware game publisher. Tom Hall is Commander Keen‘s designer and the creator of its universe.