Quake, Meet GPL; GPL, Meet Quake

What has spiders, bubble gum, rocket launchers and camo pants? Quake 3, of course!
Open Arena

This first game is basically an attempt to re-create Quake 3 Arena, but with free graphics, models and so on. If you ever played Quake 3 Arena, Open Arena will look very familiar. Because it uses the new-and-improved engine (ioQuake3, based on the original Quake 3 engine), I think it's actually more fun than the original. Don't tell id.

For Ubuntu users, simply type the following to install Open Arena:

# sudo apt-get install openarena

If you are using a distribution that doesn't have a package available, you can download the zip file from www.openarena.ws, and follow the simple directions for installation. (Basically, unzip the files, and start the executable for your architecture. It's pretty simple.)

Once you start the game, you first need to configure things. Because my video card is on the slow side of pokey, I set my resolution to 640x480, and most of the other details to low. Unlike some of the other games, Open Arena has a single-player version. That's great news for me, because on the “I Can Win” setting, I actually can do fairly well. Figure 1 shows a screenshot of me dying (note that most of the screenshots in this article are of me dying—I'll pretend it's on purpose).

Figure 1. Shawn Dying in Open Arena

Open Arena is fun. It's fast, simple and you get to blow stuff up. Even though the game says it requires 16MB of video RAM, Open Arena ran extremely well on my 8MB system. It's the kind of game you can actually play during a television commercial and frag 20 people (or get fragged 20 times) before the show starts again.

Urban Terror

Urban Terror started as a game mod for the original Quake 3. I actually played it back when it required Quake 3, and apart from being more mature, the game play is very similar. The difference, of course, is that now it runs on the open-source ioQuake3 engine, so it's completely free. Urban Terror is designed to take the first-person-shooter-type game into an urban landscape. As creepy as that sounds, it actually makes for some interesting maps and allows for realistic firearms.

Urban Terror has the least-friendly Linux installer. If you read the installation instructions closely enough, it's not too difficult, but my suggestion is to use the handy-dandy installation script available on the forums (see Resources). One important installation note is that if you run the installer as root, the game will be accessible by all the users on your computer. It's also important to follow the directions on the forum post. If you do so, it will download all the needed files, create icons and download some common maps.

Urban Terror is a multiplayer game. Generally, this means you play on-line or set up a server and play on your local network. It is possible (although unsupported) to add bots to your server, so in theory, you could play alone. Not all maps support bots, and bots tend to cause random crashes. If you're like me, however, and can't hack it against real people on the Internet, it might be worth the effort. Because bots aren't officially supported, I'll leave it to the reader to add them (see Resources).

It's a little more complicated to jump into an Urban Terror game than playing a quick game of Open Arena. The weapon selection is done at the beginning of a round, and without doing some research, it's hard to tell which guns are best. I tend to stick with the default choice. I also tend to get shot a lot, so the default weapons might not be the best bet. Figure 2 shows an example of the realistic maps in Urban Terror.

Figure 2. Urban Terror's Realistic Maps


Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.


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Nexuiz is not quake3-based

David Watzke's picture

Kosh: Nexuiz is not based on the Quake3 engine. It uses improved Quake1 engine called "DarkPlaces".

+1 for Nexuiz

Anonymous's picture

+1 for Nexuiz

Open Arena

Anonymous's picture

If you are an Ubuntu user you best get Open Arena from www.openareana.ws It's the current 0.8.1 version, the one supplied with Ubuntu is two versions behind the times. There are not many online servers left using the old version. Just unzip in your home directory and you are ready to frag.

Forgot the best one.

Kosh's picture

I have played all of the games you mentioned except for Padman and you forgot the best of them all - Nexiuz. The game is very easy to install, straight forward to customize , has single and multi-player games. The only issues I have had is I can not see were I can turn on the grappling hook in single player mode and I am a terrible shot. But I can move fast so watch out when I am in the capture the flag maps.


John Hardin's picture

More grep nitpicking:

glxinfo | grep -i rendering

The "-i" switch makes grep case-insensitive.

-- "Sgt. Bothari" in Urban Terror


Anonymous's picture

The pipeline
glxinfo | grep '[Rr]endering'
would have
a) captured the information you wanted from the glxinfo report,
b) been more readable to your audience,
c) accomodated both the capitalized and the lowercased word, and
c) needed no explanation about why you left off the R

Just a thought

Quake 3 Arena

David Watzke's picture

Well, I am familiar with Open Arena, Urban Terror and Tremulous and I think that even though these games are good, they just can't compete with good ol' Quake III. Also, Quake III engine under GPL is IMHO a great thing even if one isn't a game developer. Think of the compatibility, if not anything else.

-- Proud owner of Quake III Gold.