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.
Jackhammer currently supports the following games/engines:
- Half-Life (GoldSource)
- Quake (Quake engine)
- Quake II (id Tech 2)
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 create 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!