Quake Army Knife

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Quake Army Knife
Screenshot of QuArK's map editor
Screenshot of QuArK's map editor
Developer(s)QuArK Development Team
Stable release
6.6.0 Beta 6 / July 10, 2013; 5 years ago (2013-07-10)
Written inDelphi and Python
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
Available inEnglish
TypeLevel design tool

QuArK (aka Quake Army Knife), is a free and open-source program for developing 3D assets for a large variety of video games,[2] mostly first-person shooters using engines similar to or based on the Quake engine by id Software. QuArK runs on Microsoft Windows.


QuArK is released under the GNU General Public License[1] and has the ability to edit maps (either directly or through an intermediate compiler process), and can import, export, manipulate and convert models, sounds, textures and various other game assets, or create any of these assets from scratch.[3] It is also possible to move or change dynamic game objects without the need to recompile the whole map which makes the fine-tuning of details quicker. QuArK uses external compilers (like Q3Map2) to produce the actual level-file used by the game. These compilers can be fully configured using their command-line parameters, and once done, QuArK remembers these settings so they can be used every time.

QuArK features an interface similar to Windows with respect to selection and manipulation of items, with flyover hints and other forms of in-program documentation. It also offers multiple editor layouts, including 2D wireframe and 3D textured views, where it is possible to see how the map or model will look in-game. This view can be rendered with a built-in software, Glide, OpenGL or DirectX renderer. Views have three modes: wireframe, solid color and textured, and supports transparency and lighting in OpenGL mode.

QuArK is a brush-based editor, that works by adding brushes into an empty space, building the map block-by-block.[4] To assist, more advanced features are available, including constructive solid geometry functions such as brush-subtraction. Additionally, for engines that support it, Bézier surfaces can be used to create curved surfaces. QuArK also has a built-in leak finder in order to prevent holes in the map.[5] Items can be added to a map simply by selecting them from a list of available entities, and their properties can be edited once they are placed in the map.[6]

Along with support for most games based on engines developed by id Software, QuArK also has support for other game engines such as Source, Genesis3D, 6DX,[7] Crystal Space,[8] Torque,[4][9][10][11][12] and Sylphis 3D.[13]

It is possible to add plug-ins, written in Python, to extend the capabilities of the editor, or to make changes to the official Python files to alter the way QuArK's functions work. More information about this can be found in the QuArK Infobase.

QuArK itself has very low system requirements,[14] although a lot of additional resources are taken up by the loaded game data. That amount depends on the game-mode selected and the size and complexity of the map or model being edited. QuArK supports the Win32 platform, including Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000 and XP. It also runs on 64-bit operating systems (in 32-bit mode), Windows Vista and higher, and it can run under Unix-based platforms by using the Wine compatibility layer.[15]

Usage and popularity[edit]

QuArK is one of the two most popular editors for Quake II, GtkRadiant being the other.[3][16] QuArK is the most popular tool to access WAD files.[17] QuArK is probably the second most popular tool for level editing for Half-Life, after the official Valve Hammer Editor.[18] QuArK is also used as a mapping tool in scientific studies.[19][20][21]


QuArK started out as a Delphi program called "Quakemap", written by Armin Rigo in 1996. Initially it could only edit maps for Quake 1, but editing capabilities for models, sounds and compiled maps were added in version 2,[22] which was released in October 1996.[23] It soon expanded to support Quake 2 as well, and around 1998 Python support was added for plugin capabilities. At this point it was renamed to QuArK, which stands for "Quake Army Knife", named so in reference to the game engine series it supported, the Quake engines, and for Swiss Army knife, because it could not only edit maps, but included a model editor and texture browser as well.

The latest final version of QuArK was 6.3, released in January 2003.[24] However, since then many new alpha and beta versions have been released that have many new features, and include support for many new games. A small (and incomplete) overview of the major releases since 6.3:[25]

Version Last Release Date Most Notable Changes
6.4.1 Alpha September 2003 Support for Doom 3 and Half-Life 2.
6.5.0 Alpha July 2006 Ability to display HL2 Materials.
Fixed light entity dependency for OpenGL transparency to work feature.
Added Quick Object Makers, to quickly create simple geometric shapes.
Support for Quake 4.
6.5.0 Beta December 2007 OpenGL rendering available in all editor windows.
Fixed the Software & Glide lock-up and smearing problems.
OpenGL lighting and transparency support.
Fixed a whole load of memory leaks.
Added QuArKSAS.
Initial support for Star Trek: Elite Force 2.
Ability to save .md3 models.
6.6.0 Beta July 2013 Support for Team Fortress 2, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.², Prey, Nexuiz, Warsow, Portal and American McGee's Alice.
Major support improvements for Star Trek: Elite Force 2.
Ability to load and save .ase, .md5 models, Half-Life 1 models and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault models, and load .gr2.


There were plans to make a C++ version of QuArK (called QuArK++) and plans to port the program to Mac OS (under the name of Trino), but development on both projects has stopped.


QuArK comes with several stand-alone utilities:

  • QuArKSAS: The QuArK Steam Access System, or QuArKSAS, is a command-line program that allows the user to extract files from the Steam filesystem.
  • grnreader.exe: Used to convert .gr2 files into QuArK-loadable .ms files.
  • NVDXT: Nvidia's DXT converter, used to create .dds files.


The official package can be downloaded from the main website.

There are several unofficial packages available:


  1. ^ a b c The version of QuArK used in this package is not up-to-date.


  1. ^ a b The Official QuArK website - Features
  2. ^ Pawel Lekki, Grzegorz Labuzek, Design and implementation of games based on existing graphics engines [1]
  3. ^ a b Summers, E, Getchell, K, Miller, A, Allison, C. In: Proc. 8th International Postgraduate Symposium on the Convergence of Telecommunications, Networking and Broadcasting, Liverpool John Moores University, UK. 2007. [2]
  4. ^ a b Finney, Kenneth V. 3D Game Programming All in One (Course Technology PTR Game Development Series). Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade. ISBN 1-59200-136-X.
  5. ^ "Quake Level Editing". Retrieved 2011-05-21.
  6. ^ Using entities
  7. ^ 6DX (engine) | Devmaster
  8. ^ "5.6.1 Step 1: Links to Required Tools and Data". Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  9. ^ Derek Nofsinger, Graphic Software Used in Game Design, April 11, 2006, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 30, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  10. ^ Jack Stenner, Andruid Kerne, Yauger Williams, Playas: Homeland Mirage, MM’05, November 6–11, 2005, Singapore, [3]
  11. ^ Murdock, Kelly. 3D Game Animation For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)). For Dummies. ISBN 0-7645-8789-7.
  12. ^ Mateevitsi, Victor; Sfakianos, Michael; Lepouras, George; Vassilakis, Costas (2008), "A game-engine based virtual museum authoring and presentation system", DIMEA '08 Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on Digital Interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts: 451–457, doi:10.1145/1413634.1413714
  13. ^ "About | Sylphis3D Game Engine Developer Network". Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  14. ^ The Official QuArK website - Features
  15. ^ QuArK's entry in the WineHQ AppDB
  16. ^ Chris Brown, Peter Barnum, Dave Costello, George Ferguson, Bo Hu, Mike Van Wie Quake II as a Robotic and Multi-Agent Platform [4]
  17. ^ W. Lecky-Thompson, Guy. Video Game Design Revealed (Revealed (Charles River Media)). Charles River Media. ISBN 1-58450-562-1.
  18. ^ Laukkanen, Tero (October 2005). Modding Scenes-Introduction to user-created content in computer gaming. ISBN 951-44-6448-6. [5]
  19. ^ Learning Plan Networks in Conversational Video Games
  20. ^ Science with Quark
  21. ^ Harvey CD, Collman F, Dombeck DA, Tank DW (2009). "Intracellular dynamics of hippocampal place cells during virtual navigation". Nature. 461 (7266): 941–6. doi:10.1038/nature08499. PMC 2771429. PMID 19829374.
  22. ^ Interview with Armin Rigo - Feb. 12th 1997
  23. ^ Blue's Quake News -- October 19-25, 1996
  24. ^ [6]
  25. ^ The Official QuArK website - Archived News

External links[edit]