Post news Report content RSS feed Clearing up confusions about Valve's engines.

Clearing up misconceptions about what GoldSRC and Source are based upon, etc.

Posted by ytres on Mar 12th, 2011

I have made this news post in an effort to clear up misconceptions about GoldSource and Source.

GoldSrc is based upon the Quake 1 engine, not the Quake 2 engine.
GoldSource is a heavily modified version of the Quake 1 engine. It has a few lines of code from the Quake 2 engine, to fix bugs, but at it's core, it's the Quake 1 engine. Ken Birdwell from Valve explains it in further detail:

"It is fundamentally just a heavily modified Quake 1 engine. There are about 50 lines of code from the Quake 2 engine, mostly bugs fixes to hard problems that Carmack found and fixed before we ran into them."

At its core, it's a Quake 1 engine. You can tell this by comparing Half-life's map compiling tools with those shipped with Quake1. You'll find very minor differences -- none of them are fundamental. The core rendering is architecturally identical to Quake1, the only "significant" change is removing the fixed palette, making map lighting RGB instead of 8 bit, and converting software rendering to be 16 bit color instead of 8 bit color, which was pretty easy and only required minor code changes. Our skeletal animation system is new, though it was heavily influenced by the existing model rendering code, as were a lot of our updated particle effects, though less so with our beam system. Decals are totally new, our audio system has some major additions to what already existed, and at ship time our networking was almost totally Quake1 / QuakeWorld networking but about a year later Yahn rewrote most of all of it to be very different in design. The most highly changed sections are the game logic; ours being written in C++ and Quake's being in written interpreted "Quake C". Our AI system is very very different from anything in Quake, and there's a lot of other significant architectural changes in the whole server and client implementations, though if you look hard enough you can find a few remnants of some nearly unmodified Quake1 era entities buried in places.

Jay Stelly adds, "We also took PAS from QW and/or Q2 and a couple of other minor routines I can remember (no more than 100-200 lines of code there). There was some feature overlap (as Ken mentions) like game code DLLs and colored lighting, but we developed our own solutions to those independent of Q2."

- Ken Birdwell, Valve

Source is a heavily modified version of GoldSource, with mostly new code. Also has Havok physics (albeit heavily tweaked) incorporated.
It's not based on the "Havok Engine", it has the Havok Physics Engine incorporated in it however.

Hopefully that will help clear up some things for our users.

Post comment Comments
Mkilbride Mar 13 2011 says:

Everything after Ken Birdwell, Valve, is false.

Good article besides that. They admit GoldSrc's base was Quake 1, no big deal, why wouldn't they admit that about Source?

They have denied time and time again it is a heavily tweaked version of GoldSource. They say almost nothing remains.It is literally 99% rebuilt, with a few tid bits left over, which most Engines do.

Of course quite a few mods are coming quite close to doing that, ESF, Cry of Fear, and Arrangement most notably.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Mkilbride Mar 13 2011 says:

Also, i can't wait for Source 2.

+2 votes     reply to comment
audryzas Mar 13 2011 replied:

How can you wait for source 2 if SOURCE 2007 is already Source Engine 14. Theres 2009, l4d, and l4d2 versions which are even bigger, and portal will be diffrent engine too. Yes it's same good ol' source but the fact is it's already beyond 2.

+5 votes     reply to comment
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hogsy Aug 17 2011 replied: +1 vote     reply to comment
Mkilbride Mar 13 2011 says:

But Valve calls Portal 2's Engine, Source 2.

So...just going by the Official name.

-3 votes     reply to comment
tschumann Mar 25 2011 replied:


+1 vote     reply to comment
Cyberpresident_CORE Mar 13 2011 says:

Source 1 --- Half Life 2 [FIRST VERSION RELASED]
Source 2 --- Half Life - Episode Two
Source 3 --- Left 4 Dead 2
Source 4 --- Portal
Source 5 --- Half Life 2 - Episode 3


Source 2 added particle support as well as other gameplay elements like shadows and so on.

Source 3 added more controll of the map area and a dynamic zombie-gore system (ZGS) , with a MasterAI controller.

Source 4 will be the revolution in Valves gaming productions , the ability to support multiple dynamic lights and a real-time object streching system will bring the hammer to a new era

Source 5 (Also called Source Platinuum) N/A

-1 votes     reply to comment
Sniper_LTU Mar 13 2011 replied:

Someone has a wide imagination.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Cyberpresident_CORE Mar 13 2011 replied:

Thank you :)

-1 votes     reply to comment
Mkilbride Mar 13 2011 replied:

Like I said, it's how how Valve said it, they said it'd be the next generation, and yes I know about Source 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010, but I'm just saying this is what Valve says. They labeled it as Source 2..

So yeah.

+1 vote     reply to comment
audryzas Mar 14 2011 replied:

It's the first time i hear valve saying anything like that. Proof? Plus it wouldn't be called Source 2. It would be probably something like AwesumSource, higly doubt they would do like every other developes andmake the engine look 1337 by adding number to it.

0 votes     reply to comment
Varsity Mar 13 2011 says:

Some parts of Source have persisted from GoldSrc, though sometimes in name only. Others are totally rewritten. It isn't fair to describe it as a modified GoldSrc.

+3 votes     reply to comment
PeacefulPatriot Mar 13 2011 replied:

Maybe not, but Valve seems content to downplay the Source engine in such a way. They've spoken quite a bit of how Source is rewritten from GoldSRC and how Source still has snippits of the original Quake code.

+3 votes     reply to comment
ytres Author
ytres Mar 13 2011 replied:

Slightly edited that section to make that clearer.

+1 vote   reply to comment
tschumann Mar 25 2011 replied:

When did Valve say it still has Quake code in it? I thought it was John Carmack who suggested that.

+1 vote     reply to comment
hogsy Aug 17 2011 replied:

And Carmack is right if you look at the leaked source code however most of it has been heavily modified (and most of it was passed along from GoldSrc). THE MOAR U KNOW.

+1 vote     reply to comment
PeacefulPatriot Mar 13 2011 says:

Nice job clearing this all up.

+1 vote     reply to comment
old_liquid Sep 14 2011 says:

HL2 Beta really may be called a modified GoldSrc game. It even wants its usual c0a0a map when you try to start new game =)

+1 vote     reply to comment
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