QuakeC is a scripting language developed in 1996 by John Carmack of id Software to program parts of the computer game Quake. Using QuakeC, a programmer is able to customize Quake to great extents by adding weapons, changing game logic and physics, and programming complex scenarios. It can be used to control many aspects of the game itself.



The QuakeC source to the original id Software Quake game logic was published in 1996 and used as the basis for modifications like capture the flag and others. QuakeC source code is compiled using a tool called qcc into a bytecode kept in a file called progs.dat. The programmers of Quake modifications could then publish their progs.dat bytecode without revealing their source code. Most Quake mods were published this way.

Despite poor reviews by many of the leading magazines, and despite a public favoring of Duke Nukem 3D, QuakeC allowed the Quake engine to dominate the direction of the first-person shooter genre. Thanks to Carmack's idea of extending computer game life by adding unlimited expandability, an enormous Internet community of gamers and programmers alike has arisen and nearly every modern multiplayer game is completely expandable. While modern games don't use QuakeC, QuakeC was the first to truly popularize game modifications.


QuakeC syntax is quite similar to the C programming language, explaining its name, although it is much more limited. For example QuakeC does not allow the implementation of new types through either structures or objects. QuakeC also suffers from the fact that many builtin functions (functions prototyped in the QuakeC code but actually defined within the game engine written in C) that return strings return a temporary string in a string buffer, which only held one string. In other words, you could not do something such as this:

SomeFunction (ftos (num1), ftos (num2));

because the second call to ftos (which converts a floating-point value to a string) would overwrite the string returned by the first call before SomeFunction could do something with it. Other rather prominent examples of these quirks include the fact that QuakeC did not contain any string handling functions or file handling functions, which were simply not needed by the original game. Although other programmers certainly could have used them, APIs for things like file manipulation were purposefully left out to prevent security concerns when downloading a precompiled progs.dat bytecode. These minor limitations aside the QuakeC scripting language was one of the most powerful of its type for the time and defined a sub-style of game design that is still employed today.

Modified compilers and syntaxes

As is their custom to do with nearly everything they make, id Software released the source of qcc, their QuakeC compiler, along with the original QuakeC code in 1996. Modified versions soon sprung up, including Jonathan Roy's fastqcc and Ryan "FrikaC" Smith's FrikQCC. These added functionality, optimizations, and compiling speed boosts.

In 1999 when id Software released the code from Quake's engine under the GPL, the workings of the bytecode interpreter were examined and new QuakeC compilers were released, such as J.P. Grossman's qccx and a new version of FrikQCC. These compilers took advantage of newly discovered features in a backwards-compatible way so that the bytecode could still be properly interpreted by unmodified Quake engines. New features include arrays, pointers, integers, for loops and string manipulation.

With the Quake engine source code now able to be changed, further features were added to QuakeC in the form of new builtin functions. Features long yearned for by QuakeC coders finally reached realization as QuakeC now had file and string handling functions, enlarged string buffers, more math functions, and so on. However, programmers taking advantage of these changes lost backwards compatibility with the unmodified Quake engine.

See also: Computer programming

External links



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