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Sourceport Guide

Quake and it's Sourceports:

Quake has had many different official and community sourceports released over the years since it's retail launch on DOS. All of them were designed to improve upon the original DOS experience in one way or another, but more importantly, to make Quake compatible with newer computers. When choosing a sourceport, you'll need to understand which one suits your needs. In this guide we will talk about our favorite sourceports which will help prime you for optimal sessions.

QuakeWorld Sourceports:

QuakeWorld is the updated netcode that introduced client-side prediction which helped innovate how players frag each other over high-bandwidth networks. It's essentially the standard way to enjoy Quake multiplayer and the most popular multiplayer mods have been updated to use it. Keep in mind that most QuakeWorld sourceports do work for singleplayer, but there are sourceports much better suited which will be talked about later.

Historical Info:

Strictly for historical purposes I will talk about QWCL and GLQWCL. QWSV is the dedicated server counterpart. Avoid using these sourceports to host public access servers as there are known exploits that are dangerous to your computer's security.


QWCL and GLQWCL are the official legacy QuakeWorld clients built to work natively on Win32 systems such as Win95 or WinXP and later. These executables cannot be used to host a server, only connect to one. They are presumably only compatible with servers running QWSV but you are welcome to experiment. Players using hardware with OpenGL support will benefit the most when using GLQWCL since it can use the advanced rendering instructions on your GPU.


QWSV is the official legacy QuakeWorld server binary used to host dedicated servers. Most installs from CD-ROM or digital distributors typically include all necessary QuakeWorld 2.30 files. Due to security concerns, QWSV is only recommended to be used for historical curiosity rather than for hosting public QW servers.

Onto the Sourceports:

ezQuake is a community sourceport for QuakeWorld multiplayer and does offer an extensive suite of options to optimize it to your personal liking. Most new players will be overwhelmed by the amount of tweaking options that are built into the menu, but some of the more advanced settings might require adding commands to the autoexec.cfg.


nQuake is an all-in-one QuakeWorld installer that provides you with a pre-configured ezQuake installation. The installation process is all-inclusive, meaining that you get a proper description of everything as you install nQuake. You have the option of only installing the essentials like ezQuake and a shareware copy of Quake. But while going through the installer menus, you are given full control over what content and settings are installed for you. Also available at is the nQuakeSV installer which is the same concept. It installs a ready-to-go MVDSV server with KTX that you hardly have to configure yourself.


MVDSV is strictly a QuakeWorld dedicated server binary. The most unique feature it provides are the recorded demos that give viewers the ability to see from the perspective of each player in that match. It is also the standard used for KTX servers.


FTEQW is a richly featured sourceport that has built-in repositories for mods and other custom content that allow you to deeply customize your Quake experience. Almost everything can be configured from within the menus without having to see your desktop throughout your session. It supports both NetQuake and QuakeWorld internally and also includes local multiplayer splitscreen.


NetQuake Sourceports:

NetQuake is what the original DOS Quake is based on and was designed when low-bandwidth local network connections were common. As soon as broadband became commonplace, NetQuake was no longer optimal for multiplayer when players were connecting from long distances. Sourceports based on NetQuake are more commonly used for singleplayer content because they retain the original DOS Quake physics.

Historical Info:

WinQuake and GLQuake are the official sourceports that come packed in with every retail CD-ROM copy of Quake. They offer the exact same experience as DOS Quake, only designed to bring the game to Win32 machines and improved performance. GLQuake will take advantage of machines with OpenGL support providing hardware acceleration for more stable rendering. These are still perfectly servicable sourceports to use for singelpayer and LAN multiplayer/COOP, but it will only be compatible with maps that don't require extended engine limitations.

The Sourceports:

ironwail is a mega-sourceport for Quake. The list of features is extensive, but the main selling point is that it offers superior performance compared to other sourceports. If you own Quake Remastered by Nightdive Studios, you can use it's PAK files with ironwail instead for a much better experience. The vast amount of in-game options gives classic Quake an unprecendented amount of flexibility. If you plan to play on massive maps, you will experience faster loading times and improved rendering stability. Because of these incredible updates, the minimum GPU requirements have increased. More information is available at the Github.


vkQuake started out as a demonstration of basic rendering features in Quake powered by the Vulkan API. It was also Initially an improved version of QuakeSpasm, but it later added features from QuakeSpasm Spiked as well so you can enjoy all of the latest maps with sharper graphics.


Quakespasm Spiked Multiplayer; or QSS-M for short, can be considered the culmination of the community's efforts to make NetQuake multiplayer the best that it can be. Much like ezQuake, it can be used for singleplayer, but just stick to vkQuake or ironwail. There are two options for installing QSS-M which are 'Engine Only' and 'Package Install'. Engine Only is the cleanest way to get an installation going and only requires your id1 PAK files. Package Install will include the Shareware game and a ton of eye candy that gives Quake a high res look and aesthetic. If you were a fan of ProQuake; the classic community multiplayer focused sourceport for NetQuake, you will feel right at home using QSS-M.


As an honorable mention, DarkPlaces is a sourceport built with the aim of providing insane amounts of post-processing effects as well as including many other engine enhancing changes that allowed modders to do crazy stuff with Quake. It has been used as the basis for standalone games such as Nexuiz Classic, Xonotic, and WRATH: Aeon of Ruin. Keep in mind that DarkPlaces is only playable on machines with OpenGL support. The crazy amount of post processing options will quickly slow down a toaster if you don't know what you are changing.


Now that you have an idea of where you want to go with Quake, you may be wondering how to get these sourceports working. The following guide will teach you how to prepare a sourceport the clean way.

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