Kawaiik logotype

Kawaiik - Quake 1 redesign project


Quake 1 is one of my favourite first person shooters, now more than ever since I don't play much anymore. Perhaps I've come to treat games a bit like books, judging them by how I feel afterwards about the experience. Some books are a good read, but ultimately forgettable, whilst others are memorable more because they connected with something in you.

In a way I'm sort of happy that there has been no real Quake 1 sequel. I think, when Quake was new I probably envisioned how the game might look if it was just "better looking", but nowadays we're used to stuff like Doom III, Dead Space, Gears of War and whathaveyou. (Edit: this text is old.) I'm just not interested in seeing a HD Shambler anymore. I feel like it can only disappoint me, like a grand book turned into a movie.

The low resolution of the game and flickering of undecided pixels (I do prefer software render) leaves room for imagination. I really don't know how to port that into HD. HD stuff tends to be too clean, lacking grit and hue.

But, this page is not here to solve that problem. Instead I wanted to see what happens if Quake meets its opposite, super cute manga! I'm sure the mere thought of it will induce rage in some, as it would in me if Quake was given an urban vinyl style presentation.

I started drawing things for Kawaiik back in 2007, but the general concept was developed in 2001 when I was using Quake C to do silly little mods. I had the monsters sorted into factions (Demons, Medieval, Tech), forcing them to locate and fight members of other factions. It was great fun to watch even though the monsters were kind of stupid and had no battle plans.

I also changed several weapons, and how the monsters aimed. The Zombies threw their gibs like grenades and and army off them almost looked like a group of archers. They got regenerating health instead of gib-to-kill. I think hit-scan weapons are too one-sided skill wise, so the Grunts got nail pistols. The Enforcers got rocket launchers because I always wanted to fight something a little more deadly. The Shalrath's spiky missile got a mass so it would swing around targets rather than heading straight for them, making it a joy to dodge. Shub Niggurath became a high HP boss launching tons of spiky missiles.

Quake doesn't have a lot of enemy types so it didn't take long before I ran out of things to draw. I had to look to other id software titles to assimilate, as well as the Lovecraft mythos which inspired Quake. This page is now a bit of a Smörgåsbord of id stuff, and I'm not quite sure if it makes sense. Given the not so serious nature of the project, perhaps the crossover stuff is not out of place. Quake 3 Arena already did the meta thing.


Quake Iron Maiden Stroggos




In ancient times a terrible being (Quake?) gathered some of the most the most dangerous creatures of the many realms. Enhanced with a Demonic Aura and other powers, these creatures now form the bulk of the terrible being's ever growing forces.

kawaiik demons thumbnails

I think that the strength of the Shalrath and Shambler design in Quake 1 in particular is that they are cool + odd. Just cool doesn't do much for me. A designer can be awesome at drawing cool stuff, but if the odd bit isn't in there, the design isn't memorable. It doesn't mean that everything needs to be odd, but I think for Lovecraft style monsters (and Quake borrowed ideas from there), odd is good.

Kawaiik Shoggoth rider

Inspired by the Slime Knight from DQ, I thought it would be fun with a Shoggoth rider.

kawaiik demons bosses gug moonbeast lovecraft

I came up with some Cthulhu-style name ideas just to put me in the mood. and then proceeded to draw a few boss designs, although I have some designs even further below that might be better applicants.

kawaiik exotic demons

Here I wanted to try and do some more exotic monsters, in terms of game mechanics.

kawaiik gug moonbeast shoggoth lovecraft

kawaiik mi-go lovecraft

A Gug, Moonbeast and Shoggoth from Lovecraft's Cthulhu universe. These are more homages than careful interpretations.

The Mi-Go might have some kind of non-corporeal wings which pops out from the things on the back.

kawaiik cultist cacodemon dopefish

The Cultists are normally harmless in combat, but they 'feed' the demons with worship and rituals.

kawaiik demons exploration

I'm trying to explore various ideas here. I still haven't settled on a Succubus / Deamonette. I might approach it from the... cultist gets demonic mutation angle. I'm trying to avoid doing regular demons (humanoid bodies with horns and hooves) for the more otherworldly types of demons though.

kawaiik demons qtest

Some interpretations of unused enemies in QTest (an early test release of Quake 1).


Complete darkness. Wait, there's a single faint red light pulsing slowly. To the sudden sound of relays, bars of red lights appear, each one etching the shape of a monolithic slipgate out of the darkness. With a hum, the lights intensify, illuminating a large tomb-like room.

With a fizzing, almost melodic sound, the slipgate activates and a party of conquistadors emerge out of nowhere. The air crackles with energy around them. Their lantern which illuminates the room further. Finding no way back, begin to explore, finding a shrivelled alien corpse resting against a wall. Shocked, one of the conquistadors steps back bumping into something which deactivates the slipgate. THere's only the firelight now.

One of the walls appears to be a very large door. Strange glyphs and buttons are found nearby. It appears to be some kind of combination lock. The conquistadors can't make heads or tails of it.

The lantern burns out. Darkness, again.

Centuries pass before the slipgate activates once again. This time a group of perhaps 20 soldiers wearing what appears to be World War 1 uniforms emerge out of the slipgate. They are escorting a group of scientists.

They carry electrical lights and soon notice the remains of the alien and the conquistadors. Again, someone steps on the floor panel, deactivating the slipgate. The scientists begin to struggle with the puzzle to open the door, hoping that it will also reactivate the slipgate. It appears to be hopeless.

Everyone takes cover as an explosive expert attaches a charge to the door. It goes off, but upon inspection of the results, it appears to have done no damage to the door whatsoever.

The explorers begins to show signs of anxiety. To make the situation worse, suddenly strange noises and alien growls are heard outside of the room. It escalates to shrieks and weapons fire. One of the soldiers panics, pushing himself against a wall, bumping his head into one of the regularly occurring protrusions. It slides upwards with a click. A rumbling noise fills the room as the large door slowly slides up, catching everyone's attention. Apparently the button puzzle near the door was a red herring.

The view right outside isn't pretty. Groups of knights and undead charge into a line of demonic creatures, taking heavy casualties. Two tripod Shalraths lob spiky projectiles into ranks of the undead, who explode in a cascade of bodyparts showering the shocked soldiers. One of the knights takes notice of the soldiers and charges right into them. The Soldiers fire on it, but even the shots which hit appear to be ineffective. The knight is protected by some kind of magical armour or force field.

The knight's magical sword cuts through the soldiers with ease. One of the scientists notices that the slipgate is active. About ten survivors hastily retreats towards the slipgate, but at the same moment a Shalrath appears in the doorway and throws another spiky projectile. It hits the knight, but the explosion also takes out the soldiers nearby. A lone scientist makes it back through the slipgate.

The Shalrath moves back into the hallway to face new assailants. A group of knights is seen ganging up on it as the door slides back down again. In moments, as the slipgate room returns to darkness, the realm of Quake has already forgotten about the explorers.

kawaiik quake, human soldier and tank.

But the explorers are persistent. Six months later, the slipgate activates once again, a hard-ass soldier comes through, and then calmly pushes the secret switch to open the door.

The large hallway outside is now empty. Once the door has retracted fully, there are sounds of slipgate use from inside of the slipgate room. With a mechanical clattering and shrieking, a tank rolls out of the door. It's followed by an endless stream of soldiers and more tanks.

The goal of this story is to:

Timeline and factions

As I'm reading 40K novels at the moment and always liked that setting, I'm thinking of... borrowing from it. The Emperor is replaced by a computer (MULTIVAC?), and the Warp becomes the Quake realm. The various Chaos powers are replaced with Lovecraftian entities. For the human faction, the timeline looks something like this:


The realm of Quake is a gathering point for many universes. Humans visited the Quake realm at some point in ancient history (World War 1?), and found an ancient, powerful computer / mind. This entity used the humans to build itself an army. Many thousands of years have passed, and the war has been raging endlessly in the Quake realm, and outside.

The engineered rely on advanced technology and biological enhancements. Their superhuman stamina, force fields and big fine guns makes them a potent force. They were built by the MULTIVAC (a large enigmatic computer) as a form of self defence against the Demons, Knights and other hazards. The Multivac is in some sort of trouble now, perhaps needing power cells or replacement parts. It's only active for short periods of times. The Engineered worship it.

kawaiik engineered thumbnails

Boring side views here. I need to redo the proportions of the humans too.

kawaiik quake, Ranger and Enforcer.

I often called my engineered human designs RELF or ELF, as in (Reverse) Engineered Life Form, but I'm not sure if I should re-use that term again. Regardless, these guys are a mix of the Quake and Doom characters. I might try to explain why they have all gathered, when I can think of something which works. The Doomguy's helmet looks a little off. Oh, the Ogres go here too. If the Imperial Guard (40K) can have them, so can these guys.


The Humans, while initially great in numbers, posed no real threat to the current inhabitants of the Quake realm. However, they stumble upon MULTIVAC's odd "sister" (a quirky computer). The computer quickly turns a sizable amount of humans into a new race of powerful Stroggos-like cyborgs. I might tone down the horror a bit (or not), and focus more on cybernetic augmentation and skeletal shapes.

kawaiik quake stroggos and doom, revenant and iron maiden. Pain Hulk.

Since they have the Revenant from Doom, maybe they also should have a stroggified cacodemon.


The knights come for the realm of magic. Protective charms and Fire Ball spells aid them on their quests.

kawaiik knights thumbnails

kawaiik quake, Sorceress, knight, hellknight, zombie.

Antecedents, primogenitors, elders, ancients, precursors, progenitors.

I might combine the Great Race of Yith and the Elder Things into one race, which I'm gonna call Old Guys until I've settled on a name. The Old Guys lived many thousands of years ago, and were very powerful - almost godlike.

For reasons initially unknown to the player, the Old Guys abandoned their vast cities long ago (or did they? The ancient race concept is overused, perhaps I should have them present instead?). The current factions have based their technology/magic/demonology on artifacts left behind by the Old Guys. This is why there's some degree of compatibility between the factions.

I like the idea of the enemies being more competent and playable. If the game is too difficult with competent enemies, the player could have a handicap, such as 'character shields'. While this breaks fourth wall, I'd rather see that than making the enemies into incompetent fools in-character so to speak.

Actually character shields might not break fourth wall. Quake has an occult Lovecraftian undertone, and the Great Race of Yith were capable of transferring their soul in time and space to new bodies. Early in the game, the Old Guys could grab a soul (the player), look all fuzzy and make a cryptic speech in a fatherly voice. They then 'power up' the player's soul, giving it the ability to enter new bodies (extra lives). The power could also give the player a handicap (sufficiently advanced technology in indistinguishable from magic). The Old Guys do this to settle some issue, regarding the skirmishes on the planet and their own fate. It clearly involves getting the player to go places, grab stuff and shoot things.

Wildlife and horrors

Not belonging to any faction, these untamable horrors now inhabit the vast abandoned cities of the Old Guys. (Shoggoths and Polyps?). Those who dare to venture too deep into the cities hunting for artifacts, are likely to fall prey to something nasty.

Thoughts on game design

Weapons (of the Engineered)

Being able to carry many weapons and quickly switch between them provides some variation. Other games took it further, giving the weapons alternative fire modes. In PainKiller the alt fire modes are pretty diverse. A favorite of mine the the Pulse Rifle in Unreal Tournament, which allows you to combine the two fire modes (pop the bubble thing).

That said, I don't really like being able to carry around everything with one guy. I like to be able to approach a game from different angles, so ending up with a complete set of weapons every time works against that a bit. This doesn't mean that I like 'classes' though, such as heavies magically being unable to hold a sniper rifle because it belongs to light guy. I can accept that light guy can't pick up a heavy mortar.

I could see myself liking a system where you can only carry a certain number (or weight) of stuff. This means that you'd have to pick a few weapons which compliment each other. Perhaps the concept of alt fire could be represented in being able to fire any of the weapons quickly (dual wielding + two mouse buttons?). So, if you carry a Grenade Launcher and a Nail Gun, you have an M16 with an auxiliary grenade launcher, of sorts. In Q1, the weapon inventory sort of function as alt fire for experienced players, since weapon switching was swift.

kawaiik weapon concepts, nailgun, plasma, grenade, rocket launcher, railgun...

It's hard to tell from these small images, but I tried to include some light baroque decor here and there, and runes. I'm not sure about throwing Jugend in there... some elements of it might fit. The Quake weapons should feel a bit like they were crafted by some Cthulhoid in ancient times. I quite liked what Pain Killer did in terms of weapon design.

I redesigned the Nailgun and Super Nailgun, but tried to keep the general color feel. I made the muzzle triangular to work with a triangular nail, and it allowed me to bring the design of the 'snail' closer to that of the 'nail'. Also, in my mod I made the snail into a gatlin shotgun, so I wanted to take that route here as well. The snail doesn't use the a standard gatlin principle. It fires through one barrel until it's heated red, then rotates to next.

Serious Sam has a big cannon, and I thought that the primitive feel of a cannon would fit into Quake, if toned down a bit, and rune'd up.

Also, I don't like 'hitscan' (infinite speed) weapons. I feel that they degrade the game to whack-a-mole. In traditional RPGs you often get to roll a saving throw when attacked, so you feel like you're participating. Similarly, in an FPS, I like being able to get a chance to dodge. If I fail, I'm less frustrated than I would be if I just die the second I pop up my head. I also like the gameplay of predicting lead a lot more than just aiming where the stuff is.


Armor pickups could show on the player model, but that creates problems where every type of creature needs an armour which fit. Normally in Quake, armor symbols are abstractions. I could explain this abstraction.


My Engineered troops have force fields, and the Knights and Demons could have their magical equivalents. So, instead of solid physical armors, all factions could use some kind of artifacts which they use to power their shields. The engineered could use a HUD which draws a holographic armor symbol over the artifact where it lies. The Knights have some kind of magical equivalent, etc. A Demon might see some kind of pentagram or rune symbol where the knights see a shield symbol.


I've mostly been focusing on just drawing a bunch of characters so far. I've thought about game mechanics too of course, but haven't felt the need to settle on anything specific. It would be fun to do all sort of game modes. I imagine that the Old Guys (ancients) have unclear motives which seem to coincide with yours (save Earth, and/or them?). After disembodying and twinking you, they toss you into the intro level where you choose a path, each presenting you with a different type of game. This way the game can cater to different tastes.

Solution 1: Classic Quake

A few episodes (themed by faction), each consisting of a few maps and a boss fight. Ability to progress through episodes in parallel (you play as different bodies). Dying resets the map, but if you're stuck you can play a parallel episode.

I can see the appeal of predictable enemies on patrol paths, always armed with the same weapon, being unable to hit circle strafers. It's fun to feel skilled as a player, being able to read the state of the game and find a solution. Speedrunning would work differently if there was a random element to the enemies' placement and behavior. If the enemies were suddenly competent and unpredictable, acting more like bots roaming about, the element of memorization would partially go away.

On the other hand, I'd love to play E1M1 and get a new challenge each time. You'd have to start learning that even Grunts can be dangerous because there's a chance they stumbled upon the RL. Seeing silhouette of a Grunt would not be enough to be informed about the threat situation. If the game is lowrez, you probably won't be able to spot the handheld weapon.

Solution 2: Adventure

A Pathways into Darkness / System Shock / Nethack style narrative (but somewhat random) adventure where you have to conserve resources as you descend down a maze towards the ancient evil one. A military research installation was built on top of a temple, but everyone died. You find the bodies of soldiers and researchers as you descend. It would be fun to write a story generator which weaves prefab micro stories and maps into the macro story, a bit like Diablo 1 did with the alternative quests, but with some more depth.

To provide contrast against the more shooty game modes, I think each enemy encounter should be a real danger. Death immediately results in a scoring tombstone (placed in the intro level). There are no lives or save scumming. Perhaps loading or dying deletes any save.

Solution 3: Warzone

Ever since the early Quake days I've wanted to see some kind of RTS-Quake with lots of monsters fighting each other. Something like the Battlezone games perhaps. Finite resources and persistence rather than respawn mayhem and disappearing corpses like you see in node-camping type game modes. Serious Sam is quite shooty, but there's an appeal to the larger scope of the battles in that game. Each of the factions have a set of maps (territories) which they populate. You infiltrate one of the factions and play the maps of the opposing factions. There could also be defensive maps (set in the territory of your own faction). Losing would be allowed as the goal is simply to tip some sort of power balance meter until the Old Guys are happy with the result (some kind of diversion).


This project could probably use a cuter and cleaner (but still dirty) look, but I have not decided. Low poly can be clean and cute in its own way, but fancy outlines and cel shading is delicious too.

I still think Quake 1 looks awesome in 400*300 software render (or even lower). It's enough for presenting most types of gameplay relevant information, like where stuff is, what it is and how it's moving. Producing art assets is significantly easier for something like the original Quake. We have more CPU power nowadays, so the engine could still have advanced features and the maps could perhaps use geometry to provide textures with a little more depth (some walls, pillars and doorways could be specially textured prefab chunks).

Dwarf Fortress is less hindered in it's feature implementation because of the lack of graphical bottlenecks, and I think, though to a much lesser degree, a lowrez Quake would feel the same benefit.

Textures needs to be in context with the shape they're on as well as the adjacent textures. For example, a floor and wall can use borders which serve as a handshake of sorts, or perhaps to hide the point of transition. If you an "HD" version of quake, the misaligned textures and hard edges really stand out. It's less of a problem in lowrez software render, perhaps because the big chunky pixels naturally align and are vague in detail.

Shadows and highlights can help to soften corners. Quake did that a little with the biege borders on the thinner walking platforms for example. Nowadays we might do real bevels to soften 90 degree corners, but it's surprising how much a good texture can do.


A chibi model done in Blender 2.5.1 alpha 1

Having failed too many times at learning a 3D modeling program, I finally grabbed the bull by the horns. I downloaded Blender 2.5 alpha 1 and... at first I didn't understand anything as usual. 2 hours in, still a cube. Where is the stuff that do stuff? Lost in menus and strange names.

Then, suddenly, I learned a few keyboard shortcuts, and that's really the key since you don't want to break work flow by getting lost in a maze of menus and mystery icons.

Afaik, Q1 used around 300 tris for humanoid models. Q2 was... a few hundred more. Mine is over 700, although 400 as quads which make modeling with 'edge loops' convenient. Another thing of convenience is the texture (very sloppy atm.) which is just a front and back projection. There's some stretch here and there on the sides, but optimizing the geometry could do away with some of it, and I could perhaps cut out the part under the chin and so.

Many of the Quake models have a plain front + back texture. Aside from the obvious drawbacks, but there are some wins too: It's very easy for the texture artist to understand what he's doing (although nowadays you can paint directly in the 3D program of course). The textures look nice on their own (many of the q1 textures are little pixel art masterpieces). You can remodel the whole thing and the texture can easily be made to fit as long as the general silhouette and shapes match.

Anyways, I could perhaps save time and use the same model for many characters, and just slap on some armour bits as separate objects to make new characters (dressup doll style), the texture map has plenty of space over for little shoulder pads and stuff. I've rigged it using a generic human armature that came with the program, and took care to add triangles (rather than quads) at the fold of the joints to help with deformation... but I probably didn't do a very good job since it's my first model and rig. Vertex groups are tricky to get to work with the mirror modifier.

DrPetter (sfxr/sculptris) wrote an UV map translation thing for me. It might come in handy when I have a rough texture and need to redo the UV map without having to repaint the thing from scratch... also, I can use my front orthos as initial textures. The texture and UV map here is a sloppy test.


What's QTest?

I found something called QTest1 which was an early test release of Quake. It only had multiplayer DM, but there were some unused, untextured and partly animated monsters hidden in the PAK files. Here's the prototype Shalrath which I textured. Since we already have a Shalrath now, I took it in a different direction in terms of color and detailing. This is a painting which I just downscaled. No pixel optimization yet. It looks alright in QME though.

Quake QTest Shalrath texture

These early Shalraths had a skirt instead of legs.

Quake QTest Serpent texture

I think this might be a dragon but the model is all wrinkled up.

Quake QTest Vomitus texture

A pile of goo which vomits copies of itself?

Quake 1 Fiend demon

A screenshot which I painted over, trying to retain subtle hues and pointedness. I think some thick hairs here and there fits both the Fiend and Shambler. It adds variation to the otherwise hard silhouette.

2021 idea

A Diablo-Quake might be interesting (to me, since I don't really care about competitive arena and I like progression). Go into a portal, play some levels, get some stuff, exit and save or die and lose session. Take on harder levels depending on skill and/or gear.

Old shooters with buttons and keys to search for don't work for me at all anymore. Really sucks getting stuck for 30 minutes because of detail your brain fail to register even walking past it ten times. Then you have to break immersion even more by visiting some ancient gamefaq.

Anyways, it also kind of sucks to lose loot, unless you don't know what it is, so I'd put all high tier loot in sealed (present) boxes which are opened once safe home (something to look forward to). It keeps the action play uninterrupted, and the inventory slow play to home base.

I like leisure session play games where I don't need to keep track of where I were, so the Diablo (&Minecraft) structure would work well for that. Progression/loot gives each session purpose. Could be played ironman speedrun, or grind with OP main, or a fun new side character.

I probably wouldn't do EXP. Maybe just a score counter. I don't like the idea of level requirements for FPS weapons and doing more damage depending on user level. I guess EXP could be used for health, movement, axe, but those could instead be augmented by loot/craft "runes".

Something like this I guess. I think the realms should have some random element to them to keep things interesting. Could be a mix, a familiar map to blast thru (the well designed face of the realm), a randomly picked map, and even a proc gen map (realms can be weird and shifty).

Maybe 1-3 minutes per map so not a huge commitment for a realm run (5-12 mins). Some of the maps have a mini-boss with some patterns to learn. They could have neat drops too and with the randomness you won't quite know which mini-bosses you'll be facing (maybe a new rare one). A change from "soldier mix" monotony. Might make speedruns more enjoyable/fresh. Lots of content to make tho. Some arcade games were more mini-boss heavy (Alien Soldier?).

Actually, while the player might have a choice in what enemies to engage, and when to activate runes, I think with an armour/weapon customization & loadout system, the player must also be able to sometimes pick maps to make use of the adaptations (Shambler killer builds, etc).

...so at the end of a map you're faced with two portals, Slime Ville and Shambler Town, and maybe you were hoping to see one of them. These random maps would be more heavily themed so the choice matters. Hellknight Hills, Pet Sematary.

Creating a new character (+colours) also allows picking a Home map (of some architecture and texture theme). Mappers could make their own but in would need to include the essential entities. The growth of the character could be dictated by opportunity and inherent qualities... I like how Diablo 1 did this, using shrines, random drops, and very soft classes (just some base stat variation really). The Ranger could start with 60-ish Health, reduced jump/run speed, the Axe and Shotgun.

I'm kind of fond of the Q1 software render aesthetic, but it doesn't have to be a hard limit. I'd probably model things like hard surfaces (e.g. torso armour) in a way which avoids the stretchy look of low poly. I'm also fine with having silhouette detail as the shrinkwrap look isn't very pleasant.

For the map engine, it would be interesting to have unreal features. No, I'm not talking about Unreal here, but unsettling otherwordly stuff, sometimes subtle, sometimes not (more severe further in). Impossible geometry, perhaps using portals to shift the player around. The player lost in a maze, seeing a past self (recorded playback). Distortions, such as rotation/tilt, FoV changes, tapering and quivering. Weird gravity. Textures could fade in and out of each other (Q1 had pulsing spherical lights which brought some life to the textures because of the 256 colour noise). Creatures/people stuck in walls Han-Solo carbonite style. Some enemies are just warping effects, particles, or can noclip. More advanced feature could include texture transitions/blending. It would particularly help with room corners / wall-floor intersections / dirt&grime. Perhaps some area of the level has otherworldly growths blending onto walls. Some walls are false and half transparent. Since there might be some procedural maps, it would help if to break up the static polygon qualities a bit with ethereal & changing features. Proc gen can be a bit bland, so perhaps lampshading it with a specific theme could help... like the movie "Cube" which has clear partitions as part of the architectural theme. Or SmashTV. Or an Alien monolith "city", Mountain's of Madness style... streets and bridges built from modules.

Use Doom/Wolfenstein human proportions?

Fan art and redesigns by Niklas Jansson, 2007 - 2010.
Quake is a game made by id Software of course.