Post news Report article RSS Feed Jackhammer: new cross-platform level editor (public alpha)

Jackhammer is a brand new level editor for games with a quake-style BSP architecture (Half-Life, Quake, Quake II). The aim is to develop a convenient cross-platform tool capable of incorporating the best features of existing editors, such as Valve Hammer Editor, Q3Radiant and others. The list of supported games will be extended, the current milestone is Quake III support. Today you can try it, get taste of it and express your opinion which is very important for us!

Posted by XaeroX on Jan 23rd, 2014

Greetings to ModDB community!

I am proud to present Jackhammer, my project that is being developed since August 2013. And finally there is a release of both Windows and Linux versions. Linux version of Jackhammer is fully compatible with the official Linux version of Steam Half-Life. Just set things up, make a map and play it under your lovely operating system!

What is Jackhammer?

Jackhammer is a brand new level editor for games with a quake-style BSP architecture. The aim is to develop a convenient cross-platform tool capable of incorporating the best features of existing editors, such as Valve Hammer Editor, Q3Radiant and others. Despite Quake and Half-Life having been released a long time ago, the large community have arisen around, still developing mods and games on their bases. However the existing editors suffer from fundamental disadvantages their users are well familiar with. Jackhammer does aspire to be the universal level design tool for classic games. But not only the classics! The editor shall become a key development tool for the Volatile3D II engine, that is why its second name is Volatile Development Kit.

We present you the latest public alpha - version 1.0.155. Despite not all the functions being implemented, not all the planned games being supported and only a small extent of the new ideas being realized, today you are able to download, install and evaluate Jackhammer in action. Please don't forget that alpha is the first, quite a raw version, and may contain some issues. We are interested in a vast testing of the editor and grateful in advance for your comments and suggestions! In addition, you can provide Jackhammer with financial support, donating funds for the further development.

Supported Games

Jackhammer currently supports the following games/engines:

  • Half-Life (GoldSource)
  • Quake (Quake engine)
  • Quake II (id Tech 2)
Win32 Jackhammer 1.0.155 (Win32 Version)
Linux Jackhammer 1.0.155 (Linux Version)



Here is a list of the most important editor's features. The list of new abilities is far from being complete, therefore don't hesitate to look through the habitual menus and dialogs thoroughly!

  • Cross-Platform Editing: the editor is being developed on a cross-platform Qt framework and is available both for Windows and Linux users. We do our best to provide the same level of comfort to Linux users, revealing them finally a convenient level editor!
  • Extensibility: the editor supports plugins to extend its abilities. Plugins can be very versatile: from new brush primitives, texture and model formats to new game configurations with their own import and export formats. Plugins can share the functionality with each-other: so that WAD3 texture format used by Half-Life can be easily "plugged" into Quake and used along with its "native" WAD2 format, certainly with compilers that also support it.
  • Game Formats Support: because of flexible plugin system the editor supports many formats of game resources and correctly displays them. They are models of different formats(Quake MDL, Half-Life MDL, Quake2 MD2), sprites (Quake SPR, Half-Life SPR, Quake2 SP2), map sources (MAP, RMF). There is an ability of import and export in RMF format preserving most of its specific features (object colors, grouping, visgroups), so that Jackhammer can be used along with VHE.
  • Color Schemes: the editor's look-and-feel can be easily customized using the color schemes, both predefined and user-created. Almost all colors in viewports are customizable - from a background color to a color of Vertex Tool bullet's frame. Besides a general color of the application's window can be altered. In addition one can define his own presets in a configuration file.
  • Entity & Texture Transparency: transparency support promotes a higher grade of perception of a level under development. Now one can estimate translucency of windows not only in a game, but also in the editor. Along with that, special rendermodes of textures in Half-Life models are supported.
  • Large Map Support: the editor enables working with levels of large size, up to 262144 x 262144 units, now it is simply set up in the Preferences. Now one can easily crate levels for mods with a support of large outdoors.
  • Multiple VisGroups per Object: hence an object can exist in several visgroups. In Jackhammer, VisGroups are never created automatically upon hiding a level fragment: hide/show mechanism doesn't rely on grouping anymore. However VisGroups allow to hide certain logical groups of objects along with color coding, in other words, act as a regulation tool.
  • Textures Bound to Game Configurations: one more important innovation is texture binding to game configurations instead of a global texture list. This feature allows, for example, address different WAD files in different mods and work with them independently.
  • Loading Resources on Demand: to speed things up, the editor precaches the resources on startup. However within a considerable amount of game configurations this process may take a long time. To deal with this issue, there is an option to precache only the resources needed in the immediate work. Working with a Half-Life level, the editor precaches only models and textures for this game, saving system's memory. Upon loading a Quake level, Jackhammer will add its resources to the load.
  • Additional Instruments: along with Worldcraft/Valve Hammer Editor instruments one got used to, the editor supports some specific features: either original or adopted from Radiant's ideology. For example, there are such new functions, as brush merging, scaling texture lock, validity restrictions in Vertex Manipulation mode, model rendition in 2D viewports (including the translation/rotation preview), scaling models with Alt key pressed. On a new level creation, the editor prompts for a basic room, which is very convenient for validation of a game configuration or, perhaps, testing specific entities.
  • Extended FGD Format: the file format describing game entities was extended for the specific needs of Jackhammer. For example, the new format enables displaying angles of entities using arrows, rendition of light sources as octahedrons, and introduces a help system for entities and their parameters. You can extend your own FGD per existing samples (e.g., halflife.fgd distributed with the editor).
  • Miscellaneous: the editor supports precise selection of models in 3D viewport, loading and rendition of portal files (*.prt), assigning a random yaw to entities, multiple texture fitting, texture replacement with scaling, context menus for entity creation and many other pleasant little things, and there is no good to enumerate them all. Just install the editor and look at your own!


We plan to add Quake III (id tech 3) support to the editor in the next prominent release.
Half-Life 2 (Source) support is under discussion, feel free to express your opinion!


Jackhammer is not based upon any existing level design software; it uses neither any proprietary code nor results of decompiling and/or reverse engineering of the proprietary software; reconstruction of design and functionality of VHE is intent because many modders got used to the familiar look and feel; any proprietary graphics incorporated into Jackhammer Alpha will be replaced ASAP and is provided only for introductory purposes (if you are eager for help - please don't hesitate to contact me!).

Please visit the official website for more information, F.A.Q., articles and manuals.
We are pleased to see you amongst the Jackhammer users!

Post comment Comments  (0 - 50 of 78)
Miia Jan 23 2014, 8:34am says:

If I ever learn to make maps for half life & quake one day I will definitely try this out! :D

+10 votes     reply to comment
medve Jan 26 2014, 5:10am says:

not too much work to extract those pak files with pakscape or something

+1 vote     reply to comment
MineGamesToffer Jan 23 2014, 8:39am says:

This is simular to amnesia level editor

+1 vote     reply to comment
Ogdred May 28 2014, 6:43am replied:

Not really,I enjoyed the amnesia editor because it was super easy to use.Took me 2 minutes to get to know how to use it.This one on the other hand is not just as simple.

0 votes     reply to comment
Dimebag_Darrell Jan 23 2014, 10:05am says:

Sounds Amazing! Unfortanly Im Not A Mapper.

+5 votes     reply to comment
TheOneMuffin Jan 23 2014, 10:22am says:

So this works for Half-Life and Quake?


+4 votes     reply to comment
Mirrorman95 Jan 23 2014, 11:39am says:

Mac OS X release please!

+4 votes     reply to comment
ChromeAngel Jan 23 2014, 1:14pm says:

This looks very promising. Oh I do hope you decide to support the Source game engine.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Magic_Nipples Jan 23 2014, 6:43pm says:

I really prefer this over hammer 3.5!! Great work!

+3 votes     reply to comment
HeadClot Jan 23 2014, 10:07pm says:

Very nice!

+3 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 24 2014, 1:56pm says:

Thanks for kind words! :)
You can also join this group if you have decided to use Jackhammer:

+3 votes   reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 26 2014, 3:02am says:

It does work with Quake and Quake2.
Pak files must be extracted, it is mentioned in the FAQ.
Textures must also be extracted. Quake2 textures are in paks, and for Quake, there is a nice plugin to do that, I don't understand why you decided to google wally or whatever.
It seems that you did not even read the FAQ:
Compile tools (our own version) are included for Quake and Quake2, since most of original tools don't support mapversion 220 output by the editor. But you are free to use any 220-compliant tools if you find some.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Z00L Jan 26 2014, 3:19am says:

I dont know ... hammer is nice too. just tell me it crash less often !

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 26 2014, 3:41am replied:

This is an alpha version, it is obliged to crash sometimes. :)
However there are many new features and improvements.
Here are some highlights:
(the article is written about Quake, but also applies to HL)
And of course - the feature list above mentions the most important differences from VHE.

+2 votes   reply to comment
eukos Jan 26 2014, 7:05am says:

Are you going to release the source code to this so that modders and Linux users can take true advantage of this Hammer alternative?

+6 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 26 2014, 7:43am replied:

Yes, after the editor becomes stable and all planned features are implemented. I usually don't work with public repositories, so the source code release means that I won't support the project anymore.
Plugin SDK will be probably released earlier to allow users create their own plugins.

+6 votes   reply to comment
banan2288 Jan 26 2014, 8:12am says:

Finally someone made a better, newer and more functional editor! Mapping for new half-life mods, as much as for incoming mods (incoming Steam Version of Sven Coop for example) will be more pleasant. Like the multi-engines and linux support. Finally textures list for each mod configuration. Really nice entity placement and more accurate color schemes, plus render modes support makes mapping much clearer. That will speed up making levels with those new functions. Keep up the good work!

+4 votes     reply to comment
HewolF. Jan 26 2014, 11:29am says:

Can this in a future support call of duty???

0 votes     reply to comment
AGfury Jan 26 2014, 1:12pm buried:


I'd like to see CoD4 support :)

-6 votes     reply to comment
Gleb_AA-Gun Jan 26 2014, 1:14pm says:

Oh my beloved Quake 2.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Dr.Goupyl Jan 26 2014, 3:30pm says:

You should make a moddb page for it.

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 27 2014, 2:29am replied:

There is one:

+2 votes   reply to comment
Dr.Goupyl Jan 27 2014, 12:20pm replied:

I mean not as a group but yeah i guess this will do

+1 vote     reply to comment
mrthejoshmon Jan 26 2014, 3:35pm says:

I am expecting this to blow up my terrible laptop...

But other than that I cannot wait to get it working (on something more reliable) and start making my own maps for Half Life and Quake (and with my current experience with Valve Hammer Editor, Doombuilder and other utilities I should be right at home with this).

+2 votes     reply to comment
WeeGee9000 Jan 26 2014, 3:43pm says:

Going to try this with quake. looks very ******* awesome :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
mrthejoshmon Jan 26 2014, 3:59pm says:

When I try to use the editor, the screen in the middle (where you should be seeing 3D view and the editing grids) is completely blank (and will leave imprints of any window that is placed over it, like the void in Half Life), it does this with the texture browsing menu as well.

And if I attempt to change views, the whole application crashes...

Could be an error on my part (With not having a powerful machine and all) but I don't think that would normally happen.

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 27 2014, 2:31am replied:

Do you have display drivers installed? Jackhammer uses OpenGL renderer.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Ju[s]tice Jan 26 2014, 4:46pm says:

This is really awesome my friend! NZP team says thanks!

+3 votes     reply to comment
wazanator Jan 26 2014, 5:48pm says:

So it's like Sledge but not open source?

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 27 2014, 2:33am replied:

I'd prefer not to compare Jackhammer with Sledge until the latter gets Linux support. Also I'm not sure it supports Quakes.

+2 votes   reply to comment
banan2288 Oct 12 2014, 8:15am replied:

I tested both editor on PC version under GoldSrc engine.

Jackhammer supports more platforms and games. However sledge have more editor customization and texture organisation + more advanced brush types and vertex scale mode that jackhammer is missing.

Both are in alpha/beta testing, but jackhammer is way more stable. Sledge is way too slow(have 8GB ram and nvidia GTX 570 graphic card and it still is very slow- not only for me though), crashing too frequently and have some features broken like vertex editing.

Sledge does not support custom brush transparency but have transparent decals. Jackhammer have some new nice features and tools where Sledge have only new eye-candy icons. Also Sledge have no animated models, and you can't preview certain animation sequence.

Sledge have nice contextual menu with advanced tool options + , Jackhammer have quick entity drop-down list menu.

Both editors have better group management. No prefabs support in either Jackhammer and Sledge yet.

Normally when making brush in x/y view we can't really control what size it would be in z axis, and how tall the brush would be. In Sledge and Source VHE this brush will copy height of previously selected/created brush. So when you making a room you don't really need to set up the height of all the walls- just set up height of first wall, and the other walls will copy it's third size (working on x/y view copying z dimensions, working on x/z view copying y dimensions e.t.c.).

Even if Jackhammer wouldn't have mutli-platform and multi-engine support it's way better and more stable- and I would choose Jackhammer. Sledge have great potential but I't feels like it's more focused on new stunning features than stability and simpleness.

Also Jackhammer sure have even more features on new version, but unfortunately i can't test it for a moment <sad face>.

+1 vote     reply to comment
ModplanMan Jan 26 2014, 9:29pm says:

Will this be open sourced at all?

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 27 2014, 2:35am replied:

Please see my reply to eukos's question above.

+2 votes   reply to comment
TheOneMuffin Jan 27 2014, 12:14am says:

Just tried it.

It's definitely revolutionary, but obviously lacking MANY features.

One in particular is Prefabs.

Unless i'm blind, I couldn't find prefabs.

I know this is an Alpha of course, and will probably be added.

Would be great for quake though, which I have yet to try.

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 27 2014, 2:38am replied:

Yes, prefabs and path tool are missing for now.
But there are many features that the original VHE lacks for.
So, it's up to you to decide which editor to use. :)

+2 votes   reply to comment
Maestro_Fenix Jan 27 2014, 4:17am says:

You should merge with Sledge. It would be better at the end (more developers->less bugs and more features), and also, you would directly free his creator of having to develop the Quake support.

Both projects looks great, keep working on it!

+3 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 27 2014, 4:51am replied:

Thank you!
I don't see any advantages of merging with any of the existing editors. I'd prefer to leap Jackhammer forward as a unique project. :) Hope it will find its fans.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Guest Jan 27 2014, 4:53am says:

Orange box support for tf2 and cs go would be fantastic

+2 votes     reply to comment
tomfps Jan 27 2014, 12:36pm replied:


+1 vote     reply to comment
TheOneMuffin Jan 28 2014, 4:33pm replied:

Well there will be support for Source games, so TF2 will probably be a major possibility, but CSGO... probably not.

IDK, it's up to Xaerox

+1 vote     reply to comment
evil_squirrel Jan 27 2014, 10:54am says:

Any chance we can get the space bar to drag&scroll without re-centering the cursor... Like Hammer, every CAD and Adobe program since 1990? (At least the middle mouse kinda works, but it be sloppy with the cursor re- centering in the window and all, and rough on the index finger.)

Granted, configurable keys would be nice - even ye old Hammer violates the classic rule that shift+click = add to selection... And instead uses ctrl+click, for some dern reason.

+1 vote     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 27 2014, 11:09am replied:

Space+drag is likely to be implemented in the next public release, it was asked for many times since December 2013 (the first public release) :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
crystallize Feb 7 2014, 1:15am replied:

>And instead uses ctrl+click, for some dern reason.
This is how it works in 3DS MAX.

+1 vote     reply to comment
masquedios Jan 28 2014, 8:21am says:

Looks awesome! AN HAS SOME FEATURES THAT I ALWAYS WANT IN VHE!!! Many Thanks to developers!

One question:

To use large maps in this editor all you have to do is change the properties? and that is going to work directly with xash3d? or i have to change something else?.

Thanks in advance.

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Jan 28 2014, 8:31am replied:

Thanks! Yes, that's enough to change max world size in properties and compile a map for Xash3D. Please note that the larger world size is set, the less precision of brush operations is got, and the slower 2D viewport rendition is.

+1 vote   reply to comment
thejrm166 Jan 29 2014, 3:38pm says:

This is just brilliant. Jackhammer is hard to use for a beginner, But once you get used to it, You find it very interesting and easy to use. Its the next Valve Hammer editor. (Literally and verbally)

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Feb 7 2014, 2:25pm replied:

Thanks! We do our best.

+1 vote   reply to comment
reepblue Jan 30 2014, 3:42pm says:

Definitely gonna try the Linux build and make a HL1 mod just for fun to test it being that all my Goldsrc games are on my Linux machine. Thank you so much not only making an alternative, but also bringing a map development software to the Linux platform. I will definitely keep my eye on this! :)

I say yes to Source Support only because Hammer for Source got so broken over the years.

+2 votes     reply to comment
XaeroX Author
XaeroX Feb 7 2014, 2:27pm replied:

Thank you for the opinion! Linux support, and cross-platform development itself, is very important for us.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Z00L Feb 1 2014, 9:59am says:

how can I use the arrows to aim like in Hammer ? I WILL NOT USE IT IF I CAN'T ! :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
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