Since the GB bar was crossed with crash around the year 2000, it is an understatement to say if the weight of video games has taken off. Since then, AAA studios have regularly given birth to gigantic games, capable of devouring your disk space; the latest addition to the Call franchise of Duty weighs for example nearly 240 GB…
The 2021 edition, whose theme was space, has just ended yesterday, and one of the participants did really hard. Within a month, developer Dominic Szablewski, aka Phoboslab, created a mini-clone of the famous Quake which takes up the basics of the game: floating movements, speed, absence of reticle ... “Q1K3” thus features three enemies, five weapons, sound effects, a surprisingly robust collision system and even dynamic lighting! And all fits in less than 13kB, as required by the regulations.
It's all in the texture
In all case, that leaves songeur on games to several hundred GB. When you see the amount of stuff an ingenious developer is capable of squeezing into so little space, one might legitimately wonder what justifies these mind-boggling volumes. But unfortunately, it is often impossible to do otherwise. Today, the weight of games comes mainly from the textures that make up the visual environment; the more there are, and the better they are, the heavier the game will weigh.
Obviously, there is always room to optimize this aspect. To some extent, artists can also “cheat” with a good dose of post-processing and algorithmic magic. But on a global scale, this is a virtually invariable rule. This partly explains the weight of visual jewelry like Microsoft Flight Simulator or Red Dead Redemption 2. For his Q1K3, Szablewski therefore had to be extremely economical in terms of textures. To be sure to stay in his memory budget, it had to develop its own generation tool, now available as open source on GitHub .
You will understand, it is not tomorrow that we will squeeze a title like Cyberpunk in a few kilobytes. But Q1K3 at least has the merit of reminding us that you don't need 250 GB of 4K textures to produce a real game!
Q1K3 is playable directly in your web browser at this address . The source code is available in full on GitHub .