I've found quite a lot "mods" on http://quaddicted.com, and I've tried some open-source Quake engines (QuakeSpasm, DirectQ), but they all seem to complain in this way or other, that I haven't got the original game contents.

Is it possible to play any quality, free content with some of the free Quake 1 engines, without the original game?

Trying to clarify: initially, I was left with an impression that some of the mods are actually "total conversions" (e.g. from Quoth description: "The intention is to provide quality custom content for Q1 mappers and players in a single pak file."), but now from the partial answers below, I'm starting to believe that it's not so, and they all (?) still expect some of the original Quake contents present?

That said, my overall intent in the question remains the same, but I'll try to reformulate it in other words, then. So:

Is there any:

  • free, quality (although that's subjective, so can be skipped), full replacement ("total conversion"?) of contents for Quake 1 engine, fully independent from original paks/wads;
  • plus a free engine for running it, that won't try to detect & complain that I don't have "a registered version of Quake 1"?

As a runner-up question, could I somehow (and if yes, then how?) detect the full list of missing assets for some given mod, and maybe try to then build some substitutes by myself, to complete the picture?


  • Doom (made by ID Software as well) uses WADs to hold all texture and monster details, I'm not certain if this is the same for Quake or not, but if this is so then you'd more than likely just need the WAD file to run with the open source engines. All open source Doom engines seem to use the Wad files only for example Doom.wad will run with ZDoom without Doom.exe.
    – Ryan
    Dec 10, 2013 at 21:49

4 Answers 4


Is it possible to play any quality, free content with some of the free Quake 1 engines, without the original game?

Quake epsilon includes the first quarter (original shareware portion) of the game, but other than that, no.


The answer to this is (unsurprisingly) very similar to the answer for Quake 2.

The engine is open source, but the original WAD files (which contain the music, art, levels, etc) are still copyrighted and must be paid for.

There is a shareware version of Quake, but the license specifically prohibits modding, see licinfo.txt from the shareware install:

User-developed/user-modified maps & utilities can only work with the registered version. (Just to be crystal clear on this point: user-developed/user-modified maps & utilities cannot work with the shareware version of Quake.)

You can buy the original version of Quake from Steam, which would give you the required files to play the game, although you might have to jump through some hoops in order to use mods with the Steam version.


It Depends(TM), but the general answer is no.

Quake handles game assets in a manner similar to an "overlay" filesystem. The .pak files contain a directory tree of files (similar to ZIP files). Quake mods typically contain only updated/additional map geometry, textures, and monster logic, with the remaining textures and logic being furnished by the original .pak files. The search order is generally (from my ageing memory):

  • Files in the actual filesystem,
  • PAK files named on the command line,
  • pakN.pak files in the ID1 directory, searched in reverse alphanumeric order (e.g pak1.pak gets searched before pak0.pak).

Some "total conversion" mods might work, since they purport to replace all the original Quake assets. But you'd have to actually try it to find out.

  • That (a "total conversion") would be exactly what I'm interested in, then. But the other problem is, that from what I see, the "free engines" seem to try to detect if I have the original Quake, and if not then complain, and I don't know if that's based only on missing contents, or some additional "originality checks" too, and these I'd like to overcome.
    – akavel
    Dec 11, 2013 at 11:04
  • Without actually trying it myself or looking at the source code, I think these warnings are there for users who naively installed just the engine expecting everything to magically work. The only way you find out if you have missing assets is when the game tries to load them and fails. -- You might be able to squelch these warnings by creating a zero-length file in the id1 subdirectory named pak1.pak which contained "the rest of the game" (pak0.pak contained all the shareware assets and most of the game UI).
    – ewhac
    Dec 11, 2013 at 21:27

There is a project called Freedoom (I like how this name is a wordplay), that aims at creating a complete free replacement of the basic Doom II's WAD file. And it's a pretty nice open source game on it's own. It also allows one to play virtually any Doom modification that relies on the original game content, it'll look and sound different, but it'll work - but that's just theory, I haven't tried any 3rd party WADs with Freedoom.

I haven't however seen a similar project for Quake I.

Maybe such a project could be established?

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