Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Games that fit in under seven megabytes

One project I do is fitting as much useful stuff as I can on one of those business card CDs. A business card CD is a credit-card-sized CD that fits in a wallet; because of the small size of the CD, only 50 megabytes of data can be stored.

After adding the entire text of the Bible, some music I like listening to, a few applications (most notably 7zip for decompressing files), as well as having it be a bootable CD with a memory tester, I'm left with about seven megabytes (7,000,000 bytes) for games.

What compelling games fit in this very small space? Quite a few. Last time I mastered a Desert Island CD, in June, I added Doom with a random map generator, as well as a small game for playing Gin Rummy. However, since my fiancée doesn't like seeing me play Doom, there are a number of other games I am considering for the next release of the CD. Here's a list of some of the more compelling tiny games out there; I'm looking for games with a high replay value (random map generators are a must for anything using a map):
  • Doom, as mentioned before. 5,692,780 bytes in size with a modern engine using 3d acceleration (Doomsday 1.8.6) and the Doom1 wad file (7zip compressed); 6,203,357 bytes if we include a random map generator.Pros: The first-person shooter that created an entire genre of games. It's all here: Single player, deathmatch, cooperative play. Even a random map generator.Cons: Violent and disturbing imagery in the game; a mouse is needed to fully enjoy the game.
  • David Teach's Gin Rummy. 1,643,935 bytes if we include the full installer, 108,886 bytes for a 7zip compressed minimal version of it; however it's not possible to change the game settings in the smaller version of the program.Pros: Classic card game in a tiny package. Cons: Dated looking user-interface
  • FreeCiv 1.14.2. This is an older version of FreeCiv; newer versions use GTK-Win32, which is a bloated pig. A 7zip compressed copy of the full version of FreeCiv 1.14.2 is 1,872,461 bytes in size; it's only 906,762 bytes in size if we remove all of the languages except English and Spanish.Pros: Network play; highly customizable using the server command line.Cons: No diplomacy at all with AI; no full-screen mode; outdated version of game
  • C-Evo, another open-source (public domain) Civilization clone, has IMHO more compelling gameplay than the older FreeCiv. It's a little bigger, however: 2,521,088 bytes for the most recent version (self-extracting archive)Pros: Fullscreen mode; Good graphics; compelling play.Cons: No network play: the only multiplayer mode supported is hotseat and play-by-email is difficult because only the first player can save the game.
  • Chess variant-playing engines. Engines that can play Chess variants are remarkably small and lightweight if I minimize the number of games supported; if only Capablanca-type variants are supported (8x10 board, rook + knight and knight + bishop added to the standard array of pieces), the tiny version of ChessV 0.9.0 is 174,059 bytes (7zip compressed, as well as all other Chess variant playing engines), Winboard Fairy can be squeezed down to 386,278 bytes, and Zillions can fit in only 394,318 bytes. Zillions needs a registration key; the other two are open-source programs (and play Capablanca chess better than Zillions).
  • People's Tactics is a very enjoyable free war simulation strategy game with a random map generator, play-by-email, hotseat, and single-player support. The binary weights in at 6,083,408 bytes.Pros: Excellent tiny little empire-building hex-based wargame. Cons: Can't be played on netbooks; 1024x768 or better resolution needed to play.
  • Another idea: Including an emulator and a number of games for a 1980s game console. Pros: Lots of different games in a small package Cons: There are serious legal issues with most game image files
  • No list of small games is complete without Kkrieger. More a proof-of-concept than a playable game, Kkrieger is a complete first-person-shooter in only 100,185 bytes (yes, a tenth of a megabyte). The executable is 96k in size, but the zip file also includes directions for playing the game. Pros: Beautiful graphics. A full First-Person-Shooter with a number of different weapons, monsters to zap, and compelling music in a fraction of the size of even Doom. Cons: More a proof-of-concept than a real game; the only supported mode is single player and the game can be finished in 15 minutes. The game also has a low framerate on anything but the highest-end computers.