Wow, This Quake Clone Is Smaller Than A Word Doc

Wow, This Quake Clone Is Smaller Than A Word Doc
Yeah, it's smaller than this image too. (Screenshot: Dominic Szablewski / Kotaku)

Games today are massive, taking up dozens of gigabytes. Some recent bigger games, like Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, cracked 250GB in total. That’s too big. But a new free mini-shooter out today, Q1K3, is a blast and only needs 13KB of JavaScript. It’s also part of a contest dedicated to devs making smaller games called Js13KGames.

Q1K3 was developed in one month by Dominic Szablewski, also known as Phoboslab on Twitter. It’s a direct homage to the original Quake, featuring two levels heavily inspired by Quake’s E1M1 and E1M3. It also includes three weapons, five enemy types, multiple sound effects, dynamic lighting, and custom music. All of this fits in a 13KB JavaScript package and can be run in your browser. Click here and you’ll be playing Q1K3 in seconds. Spiffy!

While it might be small, Q1K3 plays fast and feels great. Sure, these kinds of “retro shooters” are more common today, but that doesn’t diminish how good Q1K3 is. It also feels more “retro” considering the constraints this game was developed under. Also, the dogs in the game look more like oddly fleshy polygon monsters than pups. I both love and fear them greatly.

Over on Szablewski’s Twitter account, you can see how he developed Q1K3 and got it all to fit in such a tight package. The levels were built using TrenchBroom, a popular Quake mapping tool used to create custom levels for Quake-engine games. To help make this mini-FPS, he also created a tool that allowed him to more easily create tiny textures. He released this tool for free for anyone to download and use, though he does warn it’s a bit “quick and dirty.”

Q1K3 was developed for the Js13KGames contest. Started in 2012, the contest challenges devs to create tiny, 13KB or less games using JavaScript. You can check out all of the 2021 entries over on the contest’s official website. And you can play all the past entries too. This year’s theme was space. Winners can walk away with money, digital rewards, t-shirts, and other goodies. The contest wrapped up today on the perfect date of September 13.

While it’s true that Q1K3 and the other games featured in this contest might not be as big or graphically impressive as newer games that take up 200GB or more of space, it’s a nice reminder that a good, fun game doesn’t need to be huge. Even something as tiny as a dozen or so kilobytes can provide some enjoyment. I mean, Super Mario Bros. on NES was only 32KBs and I hear a lot of folks liked that game!


  • This reminds me of the original Elite that had to be crammed into 12k because of the limitations of computers at the time. Yet had 65,535 galaxies. In an interview a few years later, the interviewer was marvelling at how much game there was in that 12k, and asked about the number of galaxies.

    The question was misunderstood, and the maker (cant remember if it was Braben or Bell) apologised for there being “only” that many. The original plan would have given 4.3 billion galaxies but having to cram everything into 12k meant they had to cut corners, and that was one of them. And all it would have needed was a couple more bytes so they could use a 32 bit value.

    So much game and they felt they needed to apologise for not having more. An amount more that we might still be exploring today and finding new galaxies.

    Amazing what a programmer can do when they optimise well.

  • I remember some similar old demos that were doing insane stuff with various limits ranging from a hefty megabyte down to a stifling 4kb. There’s one which was doing fantastic lighting and bump mapping beyond what a lot of games were doing then, and kept the file size ridiculously low by temporarily generating procedural textures on demand.

    I always wondered what some bigger games could do with visuals and storage optimisations if they were able to use surface generation by seeded algorithm instead of needing multiple image files in various sizes and scopes for every type of dirt or rock variant. I suppose it could be similar to why raytracing wasn’t a thing for so long due to what was supported by hardware at the time.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!