I’m only making business card sized games now


Over the years I’ve worked on many games, some big, some small. I’ve found that the smaller the game, the more fun I seem to have making it. So I set out to make the smallest game I possibly could, and it was a blast.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the smallest game I’ve ever released. I call it “Tiny Ski!”, and it’s 960 bytes of pure magic. Please watch this short demonstration and continue reading for more info and source code.

Tiny Games, Big Ideas

We all know that modern games have become bloated, weighed down by useless features, achievements, anti piracy measures, piles of assets, and other junk. Not only that but developers are constantly taken advantage of, made to crunch for no pay, mass layoffs, etc. Lives have been ruined, and for what? So you could watch your horse poop or play dominoes in an open world game?

To quote the great Ian Malcolm, “They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

There has to be another way. That’s why I say, instead of thinking big, we need to think small. So today, I am proposing a bold new direction. Imagine games so small that you can literally fit one in the palm of your hand.

Actual Tiny Ski code printed on a business card.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you: Business Card Games. (Also, does my hand look weird?)

I’m not the first to create something that touched on this concept. You may have also heard about Andrew Kensler’s “Business Card Ray Tracer” Though his work isn’t a game, maybe we can use it as a size guideline for the format: 40 characters wide by 35 characters tall, or 1400 bytes.

There is of course the JS1K competition, which is has similar restraints but using JavaScript. People have created many amazing works, some of them games. However I don’t believe most of them work as well in this format. First of all the contest provides a shim which sets up the environment and many entries use unicode characters which would not work well in a printable format. That by itself might be ok, but many entries are compressed using a tool called RegPack, which works almost like zipping a javascript file. Nikhil wrote a nice explanation of how it works. It’s amazing tech but it has the side effect of making the code completely unreadable. I did submit a javascript version of Tiny Ski to the contest though, you can play the 1k version of Tiny Ski in your browser.

I did some research to find more past works that fit the bill, but there are surprising few. Of course many smaller games exist in binary format. Like BootChess for example, a chess game that is only 487 bytes. Of course there are many older roms like Atari 2600 games that are less than 2k. Also there are some really cool 1k intros. However that’s not really what we are looking for here. Only the source code size matters and the final binary will likely end up being much larger.

Jon Trump’s “An obfuscated tertis” is nearly small enough as are some other IOCCC winners, but usually they are larger then ideal. However they do explore what I believe to be another key component: the code itself should look interesting. Unlike most other games, players are intended to view the actual code. And because the code is so highly compressed into a confusing blob, it’s better to focus on aesthetics over a futile attempt to improve readability.

For my first entry into the genera I chose a style of game that I am very familiar with. I’ve programmed variants of ski on many different platforms, starting with the TI-82 when I was in highschool. Last year even released an html5 version called Super Aspen. For this version, I boiled down the concept down to its essence, hopeful leaving something that is still fun and visually appealing. I even sacrificed some space to make it compile without warnings and work in older versions of visual studio using just a few standard include files.

So, without further ado, weighing in at 960 bytes, I present my first entry into the business card game format, “Tiny Ski”!

Tiny Ski Code

#include<windows.h>// -+TINY SKI+-  
#include<iostream>// By Frank Force 
#include<ctime>   //  ski.3d2k.com  
#define S SetConsoleCursorPosition  
#define K GetStdHandle(-11)//  O....
#define I U.dwCursorPosition//  O...
#define GO S(K,I)//..O           O..
#define D E(K,&U);//..O    ^    O.
#define A std::cout<<//O           O
#define N(o)!(rand()%(o))//       O.
#define G(o)(1&GetKeyState(o)>>16)  
#define E GetConsoleScreenBufferInfo
#define R COORD i={o-1,I.Y-11};S(K,i
void O(int _){while(_--)A(N(9)?'*': 
'.');}int main(){_:short s=72,k=1,i=
;A'O';for(m=i;m--;)A(w%100?' ':'-');
s-k-i);if(w%10==0)A' '<<w/10;D{R);}A
". .";GO;A'n';o+=m=G(39)-G(37);D{R)
<<" meters!";while(!G(13));goto _;}


  • Real time skiing simulation with state of the art ASCII graphics.
  • Fast and challenging arcade action gameplay.
  • Realistic player movement animation with snow deformation.
  • Procedural track generation that’s different every time you play!
  • Accurate metric system measurement with distance markers.

How to Build

  • Load up any version of Microsoft Visual Studio.
  • Create an empty project.
  • Add a new C++ file and paste in the code.
  • Build and run the project, or just press F5 to play in debug mode.
  • Once built the exe can be run on any windows machine.


For those that don’t have access to Visual Studio (or are just lazy), don’t fret! I went to the trouble of building the game for you at no extra charge.

  • Tiny Ski – Download the latest version here.


  • Left/Right – Move
  • Enter – Continue after dying
  • Pause – Pause the game
  • Maximize Button – Expand window for larger view of trail
  • Close Button – Exit game

Business Card FPS

In an unprecedented move I am also releasing a second example, what may be the worlds smallest FPS in C++. However, this time you’ll have to build it yourself. The full source code below includes a 3D raycasting engine, WASD movement, collision, procedural map generation, some fish, texturing, and distance shading. You can even resize the console window and shrink the font to get a high res image! Also check out OneLoneCoder who has an excellent video explaining how to write a basic raycasting engine (though my code works differently).

#include <windows.h>//BUSINESS CARD FPS
#include <cmath>    // By Frank Force
#define A return    //  2019 ><{{{*> 
typedef double O;typedef int e;struct f
{f(O h,O y){a=h;o=y;}f(O g){a=sin(g);o=
cos(g);}f operator+(f h){A f(a+h.a,o+h.
o);}O a,o;f operator*(O h){A f(h*a,h*o)
;}};O b(e y){A O(1&GetKeyState(y)>>16);
}const e i=1<<19,s=97;e h[i]={0};e l(f 
r){A h[e(r.o)*s+e(r.a)];}e main(){e a,L
;O u=7;for(L=9215;--L>s;)h[L+(rand()&1?
1:s)]=(2+L)%s>2;h[s+2]=1;f h(2,1);char 
F[i],N[]="#+. xDBxB2xB1xB0";void*_=
etConsoleScreenBufferInfo(_,&T);DWORD Y
;Sleep(16);f o=f(u+=(b(68)-b(65))/30)*(
,o.o*l(h+f(0,o.o)));e I=T.dwSize.X,S=T.
dwSize.Y;for(L=I;L--;){f n(u+atan2(L/O(
I)-.5,1)),Y(e(h.a),e(h.o));O s=n.a>0?1:
0)+Y.o-h.o);f i(s,H);while(!u){y<W?y+=E
(Y);}O d=u<2?(Y.a-h.a-i.a/2+.5)/n.a:(Y.
OutputCharacter(_,F,I*S,H,&Y);goto _;}

The Future is Tiny

This is only the beginning of our exploration into this new format. There is plenty of room for innovation. I look forward to seeing what you all can come up with! If you made or know of any games with source code that can fit on a business card, please post them below. I’m thinking about setting up a Business Card Game Jam on itch.io later this year, does that sound cool, let me know!

Thanks for reading all this. I also recently submitted a ton of really cool 1k programs to js1k, I will write much more about them in a future post. Until now, here are the best ones..

  • Queen’s Gambit– A mashup of Robotron:2018 and chess!
  • The Digit Dilemma– A seriously hard puzzle game with randomly generated levels.
  • ZzFX – A zmall open zource zound fx maker for your java zcript gamez.
  • One Thousand Free Cells– Freecell solitaire with cool randomly generated card art in 1k.
  • Infinite Yin Yangs– Based on my shadertoy shader, minified and wrapped in javascript using webgl.

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