Dave Gnukem

[New Oct 2016] Join our livestream and watch development on this project being live-streamed on LiveEdu.tv as well as on our YouTube Channel and Twitch Channel
RoadMap: We are on track to a 'version 1' release of this game by October 2017 *

About: Dave Gnukem is an open source retro-style 2D scrolling platform shooter, inspired by and similar to Duke Nukem 1 (a famous original 1991 game that launched the Duke Nukem series). It currently runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and various other platforms. It is written in C++ and uses LibSDL libraries. It features an integrated level editor.

See the ReadMe on the github page for more information, or if you are looking for the source code.

Download latest release (binary)

Let me know if you are interested in contributing to this project.

Please donate, or else I'll make more games like this.

Mini Video Demo

News (2016 -)

13 Aug 2017 Release 0.81 Added big jumping monsters, rockets, basic Dr Proetton and basics of end-game sequence, water, a new Level Editor command to create new blank levels, and several bugfixes and sprite improvements

5 Aug 2017 Release 0.72 New 'sort of looks like a cannon on wheels' monster type; New 'approximate equivalent of DN1 rabbits' monster type; New special objects 'antivirus floppy disk' and 'master computer' (see plot); New type of floor that auto-crumbles after hero walks or jumps twice on it; New high-voltage barrier; Fix the falling Acme blocks implementation; Level updates; Add draft storyline/plot; Bugfixes.
Also: OpenPandora port v0.72 available

30 Jun 2017 Release 0.71 (Windows): Add new 'flying robot' monster type; Implemented access card and access card 'door' and door activator; Added special molecule pickup that gives you full health; Level Editor: Add unsaved-changes indication; Level Editor: Add level statistics page (Ctrl+F6); Improve character control: Make vertical jumping/falling movement a bit smoother (more similar to the original DN1); Improve viewport vertical auto-scrolling; New keyboard shortcuts: Shift+F6/F7: Dec/Inc speed (framerate); Fix soda can not animating; Bugfixes »

22 Jun 2017 Release 0.70 (Windows): Fix keypolling bug that slightly improves the character control, especially if trying to move left/right one block only; New instructions option on in-game menu; New "-scale N" command line option; Minor sprite and level improvements; New/better sounds; Increase gameplay viewport from 12 to 13 blocks; Bugfixes »

29 Oct 2016 Release 0.66 (Windows): Add shortcut key to toggle sounds on/off (Insert); Fix: On Windows, game window often starts slightly off bottom of screen; Some save/restore game fixes; improvements to some of the sounds and game menu appearance »

22 Oct 2016 Release 0.65: Add volume controls (PgUp/PgDn), some basic background music, and new level editor 'hold in ctrl+alt and click to start level here' function »

16 Oct 2016 Release 0.62. A Mac OS X release is now available »

10 Oct 2016 Release 0.61. Several bugfixes, and added semi-experimental 'big viewport mode' (Backspace + B in game to toggle) to assist with level creation/testing.

9 Oct 2016 Release 0.60. Some Linux compile fixes, a few other improvements (e.g. window size starts larger by default, improvement to default keys, etc.), and create new project source code repo at github.com/davidjoffe/dave_gnukem

8 Oct 2016 Decided to 'un-abandon' the project and try create some sort of 'realistic' +/- 12-month 'roadmap to version 1'. Embarking from the last 2008 release by EMH.

Sample Live-streaming Game Development Video
As of Oct 2016, you can watch development on this project being live-streamed here (you can also watch live on Twitch and YouTube)
Level Editor How-to Video [New Jul 2017]
Old News
14 August 2004 Release 0.55. Replacement of the hero sprite, some new levels, a move to SourceForge, and some code modifications.

25 September 2002 Release 0.54e. A few small code cleanups, a few new tileset additions from Evil Mr Henry, and some new cheat keys in game to assist development.

24 September 2002 Release 0.54d. Fixed level editor crashing when at bottom of map. Added a few new tiles from Evil Mr Henry and a few other new tiles.

22 September 2002 Release 0.54c. Started integrating new integrated level editor from Vytautas Shaltenis (rtfb). Fixed a TGA loading bug; fixed a bug in the Linux version (CR/LF text file loading problem); added a few new sprites from Evil Mr Henry. A few other small bugfixes from rtfb.

9 September 2002 I will, for now, probably be continuing with Dave Gnukem. I have added some levels contributed by T.O.G of SpookWare. To get to them, select "missions" from the game main menu, and select them.

31 January 2002 I will, for now, no longer working on Dave Gnukem. This may or may not be permanent, I don't know yet. If you are interested in taking over this project, please let me know.

23 September 2001 Release 0.54. Sound support is back (thanks to Kent Mein) (although the sounds themselves still suck), implemented a high score list, redefinable keys, rudimentary load/save game support, monsters can now shoot, and, as usual, miscellaneous bugfixes and improvements. The SDL_mixer library is now required.

2 August 2001 A BeOS port of 0.53 is now available at http://www.bebits.com/app/2428. Thanks to David Marshman for that! Now if someone would just offer to do a Mac port ...

24 July 2001 Release 0.53. Ported to SDL, finally! Not only is the SDL implementation of the graphics/input are about half the number of lines of code as the DirectX version (DirectX is a pretty clunky API) but the SDL code works on Linux too, eliminating the need for extra Linux code (previously I used GGI).

15 July 2001 Release 0.52. Minor improvements and cleanups (graphics, new features e.g. fans, dynamite, level background image) and rewrites of some sections of code (monsters, lifts, conveyors, bullets)

4 July 2001 Release 0.51c. More minor updates (balloon, ACME falling block, disk, a few graphics improvements) and some reasonable code cleanups.

21 June 2001 Release 0.51b. Minor updates (new pickup types, spikes, GNUKEM letter bonus, a few graphics improvements).

17 June 2001 Release 0.51. Added an object factory. Rewrote the door/key code. Can now pick up letters. Added shootable solid blocks. Can now shoot security cameras. Added green crawly things. Added purple flags. Added shootable banana. Added high score list (almost).

16 June 2001 Got rid of djGameLib, made a number of other cleanups, added a spiky bouncing ball. No sign of the Linux version yet :)

13 June 2001 Uploaded a new version, Windows changes only. Minor cleanups and graphics changes. I don't think the Linux version compiles anymore. This is a temporary situation, I would like to fix it sometime. I have general plans to try port this game to SDL, and phase out all my own library stuff. Added some doxygen documentation for the source code. Fixed some problems that prevented the Windows version from compiling and running at all.

GPL (GNU General Public License) version 2. See http://www.gnu.org/ for more info on GNU, or the COPYING file included in the download for the full license.

Supported platforms

A version for BeOS, compiled by David Marshman, can be downloaded at http://www.bebits.com/app/2428.

End-user documentation

New readme (2016) »

readme-en.html (Old) End-user readme for game and editor (English)
readme-de.html (Old) End-user readme for game and editor (German - NB: This is old and outdated)

Source code documentation (generated by doxygen)

davedox/index.html Online
davedox.zip Zipped (189 KB)

Other miscellaneous odds and ends: some messy commentary about sprite collision detection.

Linking to Dave Gnukem
If you want to link to Dave Gnukem, or if you are adding Dave Gnukem to an online software database, please use this information:

New source code home (Oct 2016):
github.com/davidjoffe/dave_gnukem (source code 'official master')
Home page:
sourceforge.net/projects/gnukem/ (binary releases)
File download:
sourceforge.net direct download link
Email contact information: david at scorpioncity dot com

NB: It is important to use the above links! Some software sites are linking to specific versions of the download file (e.g. ending in 0.53.zip), and this results in broken or outdated links when I upload a new version. The above URLs map to the latest version.

If you want, you can also use this 88x31 banner for your link: (Right-click/save-as in most browsers)
Dave Gnukem

Help out
There is a lot to be done still. Although I have fairly limited time available to work on Dave Gnukem, I do plan to finish it, even if it takes a few years still. Help is wanted on the following:

See the github issue list for more possible ideas. Let me know if you want to help.


More (newer) screenshots here [New 2016] »

Version 0.55 game screenshot:

Dave Gnukem screenshot 1

Version 0.52 game screenshots:

Dave Gnukem screenshot 2

Dave Gnukem screenshot 3

Version 0.52 level editor screenshot:

Dave Gnukem level editor screenshot 1


I started writing this back in 1995 in my first year at university (actually it goes back longer than that, before that there was a pascal/assembly version), and work on it intermittently whenever I get time and inspiration. It was originally a DOS-based 16 color EGA game; I then converted it to Linux/GGI, then I did a DirectX-based Windows port, and then I converted it to SDL. The code is a bit messy due to it's colourful history, I was slowly trying to clean it up but gave up.


The original Duke Nukem 1 (shareware version) can be downloaded here: 1duke.zip (Approx 300 KB). (The official web page is at http://www.3drealms.com/duke1/index.html, but don't even bother unless you feel like being put through the hell of trying to download something from GameSpy/FilePlanet.)

Note: I am not trying to write a clone of Duke Nukem 1. Although currently very similar, I have no interest in importing the actual DN maps or graphics, which belong to 3DRealms.

The name is a pun on 'Duke Nukem' and 'Gnu' as a sort of 'hat-tip'/reference to the open source license/model.

* This wasn't a retro game when I started on it (~1994ish), but it's taken so long it's now 'de facto' retro genre. So we are copying also the Duke Nukem Forever model of taking forever to be released.

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