Make Quake With TrenchBroom

There’s dedication and there’s dedication. The second, slantier version means there’s been a bit more effort being put in. Let’s use Quake as an example: it’s the difference between someone still making Quake levels all these years later, and someone who has built a Quake editor for modern sensibilities, making it all wizzy. Handily for this analogy, that second someone exists, and has just released TrenchBroom, “A Modern Level Editor for Quake.”

What a statement! How does one define ‘modern’? TrenchBroom’s (I’d have called it “Quicker Quaker Maker Boobs Girls Bieber”, because I am an SEO ninja) definition, according to maker Kristian Duske, is all about the third dimension: “I believe that the traditional approach, where you work primarily in 2D views, forces you to think in 2D rather than in 3D. That is why this editor does not have 2D views at all – you do all work in one single 3D view.”

Watch the editor take Quake and make it bloom into life. Dragging walls! Creating *consults ‘Quake Editing For Dummies’* Trisoups? You can shape Quake like it’s some newly developed youngling game, out of polygonal clay and triangular Plasticine.

It’s cross-platform, so you can totally use it in your future Valve-Linux-Steam-Boxmajig, or a pod-person’s Apple Macintosh. Does that excite you? It excited me, and I’m not even going to make anything. I just love that someone out there can give 16 year-old game a new lease of life. There’s something very PC about it all. It’s like we’re helping a punch-drunk boxer go out in style.
What? No I’m not crying? I just have a condition where I get nostalgic and teary over silly things. The doctor said it was known as “feels”, and that it was a perfectly normal reaction to being human.


Here’s a tutorial for those interested in making some Quake.


  1. Ostymandias says:

    Now if someone would just do this with Source. Hammer is a mess.

    • Amstrad says:

      Well.. in theory if you were just working with geometry and possibly some of the entities, you /could/ use this for some rudimentary Source mapping, Worldcraft aka Hammer originally supported Quake and Quake II after all.

    • onetruepurple says:

      Kristian did release the source code, so in the unlikely event anybody wants to “port” this, they’re free to do so.

    • SleepwalkR says:

      Support for additional games is planned, but as this is just my hobby, it will take a while (unless someone wants to help *hint hint*).

      • callmeclean says:

        It looks great, probably the best 3D view navigation I have seen.

        How hard would it be to get this working for Quake 3 based games like Call of Duty 1 & 2? I have always wanted to make maps for them, but I have never been able to get into it because of the horrible 3D window navigation of the older version of radiant they use.

    • Mman says:

      The thing I find truly absurd about Hammer is the complete lack of a lighting preview in the editor; I could deal with other issues, but it’s ridiculous how a “modern” editor lacks such a basic feature that’s in editors for multiple far older and more dated engines.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        That’s mostly because Source (and GoldSource before it) uses radiosity lighting rather than something like vertex lighting or per-pixel lighting as CryEngine, Unreal Engine & the later iD engines do (one of the reasons why Source scales down to less powerful hardware far better than other engines).

    • Andy`` says:

      There is Microbrush 2, from a few years back: link to

      It’s no TrenchBroom, which looks amazing (I wish for the time to actually try it), but it seems Microbrush was on roughly the same trajectory.

      • SleepwalkR says:

        That looks awesome. Surprising that I haven’t found this before. I like how the 3D grid can be used to quickly create brushes (this is more clumsy in TrenchBroom).

    • Elevory says:

      Oh my god, yes. Hammer Editor is the clumsiest motherfucker I’ve ever had the displeasure of using.

  2. Deadly Habit says:

    gotta love that tag Quicker Quaker Maker Boobs Girls Bieber

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      It’s a bit like how Jasper Fforde released a book a few years ago called ‘Shades of Grey’, a little while before that other book with a number in the title.
      I can’t help but grin at the thought of people picking up what they thought was soft porn and getting a unlikely tale of colours and dystopia instead. Likewise I imagine Bieber fans finding this page and getting thoroughly confused.

  3. EstrangedManatee says:

    I remember messing around with Quark in my high school years, trying to make maps for games. Trying to make anything in it was just really annoying. Eventually I figured out that you could use Valve’s exporter for Google Sketchup to import things to Quark, so you could model and texture everything easily then import it back into a level editor hopelessly stuck in the 90s.

    Unfortunately it tended to make quite a few broken brushes so you’d end up spending all the time you saved fixing everything.

    Now I’ve quit the level design world altogether and stick to CAD. I still have nightmares about brushes, entities, portals, and errors about concave shapes and leaks. I think the problem with all these design packages is that map editor programmers design levels the way a programmer would or the way a computer would break it up to render it – not necessarily the way people think about spaces. “The level should be modeled as a bunch of convex cubes because that’s an easy way to develop collision meshes and figure out rendering,” as opposed to “The level should be modeled as walls, floors, ceilings, and objects, because that’s what makes sense to me as an artist.”

    TrenchBoom looks fantastic and maybe I’ll give it a shot.

    • PAK-9 says:

      Hah, I remember QuArK. I also remember it blew my mind when I started using QeRadiant and it only had one view which switched between X,Y,Z rather than the screen divided into panels for X,Y,Z views.

    • SleepwalkR says:

      TrenchBroom will not let you create invalid brushes. It’s as simple as that ;-)

    • Snids says:

      Wow. Programmers are clever.
      I make typey typey an do shootybangs on my screen.

  4. Barberetti says:

    I prefer using two 2d views on the left (top and side views), and a large 3d view on the right. Still, I’m always open to trying out a new Quake editor!


  5. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    Does it do sound editing too, they sounded reet alien those chaingun wielding baddies, in a bad way.

  6. SleepwalkR says:

    So if any of this sparks any interest in Quake 1, you guys should check out the awesome Quaddicted Quake Single Player Level Archive. The Quake 1 community has released some incredible maps over the years such as

    In the Shadows – A thief-like stealth mod for Quake.
    Honey – Two cleverly designed maps with massive scale and thick atmosphere.
    Rubicon 2 – Three large maps plus a custom mod.

    Also, if anyone needs help getting their maps into Quake (or with TrenchBroom), you should go over to the func messageboard. We like to help everyone.

    Finally, if you’re looking for a Quake engine to try the maps, I personally recommend QuakeSpasm. It’s cross-platform, and it’s the closest you will get to the look and feel of classic Software Quake.

  7. cronach says:

    This makes me wish for a modern Quake remake even more :|

  8. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’m definitely going to take a look at this for editing the maps for my game. Using a custom tool chain with hammer right now but hammer is so crusty/buggy/infuriating. Will donate ofc. if I go with it.

  9. Azazel says:

    I used to have so much fun in BSP. Misspent youth!

    I will be downloading this, because I tried to remake e4m3 in at least two other game engines. AND I’D DO IT AGAIN.

  10. cunningmunki says:

    Would you care for some brown with that brown, sir?

  11. H-Hour says:

    Nice to see this get coverage. Here’s another just recently developed item: Radiant for your browser (Radiant’s another q*-based mapping software).

  12. Grey_Ghost says:

    I miss the old Quake days, played the hell out of Threewave CTF for it. I miss vQuake for the Rendition(REACTOR 3D?), GLQuake is quite ugly by comparison.

  13. ShockLobster says:

    Why did you have to point out Quake is 16 years old. I feel as though I’ve been slid a bit closer to my own grave.

  14. Thants says:

    Bah, you kids and your fancy 3D. It’s all been downhill since Marathon.

    • Farcelet says:

      Someone ought to introduce them to the magic of orbital bombardment.

  15. Derppy says:

    Edit: Replyfail (related to the Valve Hammer discussion above)

    While this is pretty awesome, I think Valve has to go far beyond this if they want to keep a huge modding and game development scene around their engine.

    Full real-time rendering, changing properties on the fly and instantly switching between game and editor mode would be a start. It doesn’t have to reach the level of Unreal Engine 4 tools, but right now Source tools feel extremely ancient and clumsy.

    Most likely they’ll just release a new set tools when their new engine and Half Life 3 come out.

  16. craftworkgames says:

    From a game developers point of view this is actually really cool. Lots of indie games still use the old Quake map formats and good level editors are hard to come by.