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The Quake II engine is a game engine developed by id Software for use in their 1997 first-person shooter Quake II.[1] It is the successor to the Quake engine. Since its release, the Quake II engine has been licensed for use in several other games.[2]

Quake II engine
A screenshot of Quake II
A screenshot of Quake II
Developer(s)id Software, (John Carmack, John Cash, and Brian Hook)
Initial releaseDecember 9, 1997; 21 years ago (1997-12-09)
Stable release
3.21 / December 22, 2001; 17 years ago (2001-12-22)
Written inC, Assembly language (for software rendering)
Operating systemWindows, Mac OS 8, Linux
PlatformPC, PowerPC Macintosh, Amiga, Nintendo 64, Xbox, PlayStation 2,
TypeGame engine
LicenseGNU General Public License

One of the engine's most notable features was out-of-the-box support for hardware-accelerated graphics, specifically OpenGL, along with the traditional software renderer.[2] Another interesting feature was the subdivision of some of the components into dynamic-link libraries. This allowed both software and OpenGL renderers, which were selected by loading and unloading separate libraries. Libraries were also used for the game logic, for two reasons:[citation needed]

  • id could release the source code to allow modifications while keeping the remainder of the engine proprietary.
  • Since they were compiled for specific platforms, instead of an interpreter, they could run faster than Quake's solution, which was to run the game logic (QuakeC) in a limited interpreter.

The level format, as with previous id Software engines, used binary space partitioning. The level environments were lit using lightmaps, a method in which light data for each surface is precalculated (this time, via a radiosity method) and stored as an image, which is then used to determine the lighting intensity each 3D model should receive, but not its direction.[citation needed]

id Software released the source code on December 22, 2001 under the terms of the GNU General Public License.[3]


Games using the Quake II engineEdit

Games using a proprietary licenseEdit

Games based on the GPL source releaseEdit


Jake2 is a Java port of the Quake II engine's GPL release. It has since been used by Sun as an example of Java Web Start capabilities for games distribution over the Internet.[4] In 2006, it was used to experiment playing 3D games with eye tracking.[5] The performance of Jake2 is on par with the original C version.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Grant, Christopher (August 9, 2011). "id Software looking to shorten dev cycles, stop building new engines for every game". Joystiq. AOL. Archived from the original on August 28, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Technology Licensing: id Tech 2". Archived from the original on November 8, 2009. Retrieved September 17, 2008.
  3. ^ DiBona, Chris (December 22, 2011). "Quake 2 Source Code Released Under the GPL". Slashdot. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  4. ^ "JDK 6u10: Jake2: Quake II in Java". Sun Microsystems. Retrieved July 18, 2009. The Jake2 applet example shows the future of game distribution over the Internet. Jake2 is a port of id Software's Quake II to the Java platform developed by Bytonic Software. (...). With the new Java Plug-In, it is now possible to deploy the game directly into the web page with full hardware acceleration and rock-solid reliability.
  5. ^ "Play with your eyes". Joystiq. March 3, 2006. Retrieved July 18, 2009.
  6. ^ "Q24j: Jake and Java-gaming Viability". O'Reilly Media. November 28, 2005. Retrieved July 18, 2009. This is a great show of 3D prowess. Things like this, as well as the Narya 2D open source engine from ThreeRings really are starting to at least show Java can serve as a first-class gaming platform. More than that, just having seen all the… *cough* horrible code in games before, having things like Java’s threading model, network and database support might really make it a BETTER platform for a lot of forthcoming games than C.

External linksEdit