Post news RSS Jackhammer 1.1.855: Merry Christmas!

Jackhammer is a brand new level editor for games with a quake-style BSP architecture (Half-Life, Quake, Quake II, Quake III, Gunman Chronicles). 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. Today we finally moved to beta status, which means that the editor became more reliable. Remember that your feedback is always welcome!

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Greetings to ModDB community!

Our development team wishes you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! As a Christmas gift, we decided to release a new version of our level editor, Jackhammer 1.1.855, both for Windows and Linux. Again, there are not so many features added, but we believe that all of them are of vital usefulness! As usual, we did our best to improve stability and functionality of the editor, fixing lots of errors and granting your requests. If you experienced critical problems with older versions, don't hesitate to update!

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 beta - version 1.1.855. Despite not all the ideas being implemented and not all the functions being completely error-free, you are already able to download almost fully functional version of the editor, install and evaluate Jackhammer in action. Please don't forget that beta 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)
  • Gunman Chronicles (GoldSource)
  • Quake (Quake engine)
  • Quake II (id Tech 2)
  • Quake III (id Tech 3)
Win32 Jackhammer 1.1.855 (Win32 Version)
Linux Jackhammer 1.1.855 (Linux Version, 32-bit)
Linux Jackhammer 1.1.855 (Linux Version, 64-bit)


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

  • Dynamic Sky Rendition: Jackhammer renders skyboxes in the same way games do. In addition, there are layered clouds in Quake, rotating skybox in Quake II, and shader effects in Quake III supported. To facilitate the choice of a certain sky in map properties, a drop-down combo with icons was added.
  • Improved Arch Tool: arch creation instrument got new abilities. Now it allows triangulation upon creation, fitting arches to selection box, estimation of proportions using a grid. Also it is possible to create smooth ramps.
  • Keep Internal Connections: option to preserve internal connections (targetname-target links) in entities during copypaste and cloning (i.e. dragging with Shift pressed) operations.
  • Snap to Grid Revised: subsequent calls to it change anchor point, looping through all eight bounding box points (previously only the lower bounding box point was used as an anchor). In Vertex Manipulation mode this instrument snaps using selected vertices, thus enabling alignment of the whole object that ensures the certain vertex on the grid. In addition, VHE-style snapping to grid during movement of the selection was added.
  • Texture Repeats: added special mode to draw borders of repeating (tiling) textures in a 3D-View.
  • New Curve Types: now it is possible to create for Quake3 such primitives as Exact Cone, Exact Cylinder, Exact Sphere - correct round variants of cones, columns and spheres.
  • Additional Instruments: ability to connect logically two entities using their target and targetname fields using Ctrl+K, separate tie to entities function. Upon automatic creation of the default room, the editor now can paint invisible faces with NULL or caulk texture. Improved Paste function - now it preserves an original third coordinate in a 2D-view.
  • Multilingual Support: switch to your native language when using the editor! Now there is no need to consult a dictionary to find out what either menu command does, or to understand a reason for an error. Presently there are English, Russian and Ukrainian languages supported. Languages can even be switched dynamically without restarting the editor.
  • Lots of Improvements: the new version traditionally contains lots of bugfixes and improvements in comparison with the previous release. The editor became much more stable and functional, and now it is a beta. You can read the detailed changelog here.
Skybox selection & rendition Connect Entities

This video demonstrates dynamic Quake III sky rendition in the editor:

And more new features that were also present in the previous versions of the editor:

  • 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!
  • Large memory addressing support: 64-bit version on the editor overcomes the 2 Gb memory limit. Now you can store more history items and undo more recent actions.
  • 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, Quake3 MDL and ASE), 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.
  • Archive Support: Jackhammer can load models and sprites from game archives (PAK, PK3). This is useful if you open other's map which uses models, and your game resources are not unpacked.
  • 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.
  • Realtime Texture Effects: transparency, texture animation and scrolling 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. You will be able to see your Quake III shader scripts almost the same as in the game! Along with that, special rendermodes of textures in Half-Life models are supported.
  • Improved Decal Rendition: you can preview Half-Life decals (colors and transparency) in a 3D-View just the same as in the game.
  • Embedded Shader Editor: now the creation process of shaders for Quake III and other games based on its engine becomes delightful. You can not only preview effect changes in real time, but also utilize such convenient features, as automatic source code formatting, syntax highlighting and keyword auto-completion.
  • 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.
  • Curved surfaces: the editor supports curved surfaces (patches) used in games based on Quake III engine, and also contains instruments making work with them easier: rotating around a control point, randomizing control points, and other.
  • Path Tool: a new instrument considerably facilitates the process of creating paths for trains, mosters and other objects. You can copy and paste paths in a map, join and split them, invert and convert to linked set of entities.
  • UV-Lock: the new feature emulates 3D model editor functionality where texture coordinates are bound to vertices. Although such emulation is not completely possible, the editor sometimes allows to achieve previously almost impossible ways to texture faces, e.g. skewing a texture along with a brush side.
  • New Texture Application Modes: "NULL to Selected" (applying NULL or caulk texture to selection), "NULL to Unselected" (same as the previous mode, but texture is applied to the other brush faces; handy fast removal of backfaces), "Apply (texture + values + axes)" (copying texture axes information, simplifying texture application to complex objects and landscapes, especially when combined with "Align to View" mode).
  • 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.
  • Compiling in Editor: now it is much more convenient to compile maps in the editor, because the compile process doesn't block it. You can continue editing the map while the long compilation takes place. You can also terminate it at any time simply by closing the Process Window.
  • Automatic Selection in 3D: you can select multiple objects by pressing mouse button in a 3D-View and then dragging a cursor. This mode is convenient for quick selection of lots of nearby objects (e.g. landscape brushes), when clicking can become annoying.
  • Model View: you can specify an external model viewer (e.g. HLMV) and open any model simply by a context menu command. Also it is now possible to reload a model from disk without restarting the editor.
  • 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).
  • Autosave: you can setup autosave function to protect your project from editor crashes or own design errors.
  • Update Check: the editor can automatically check for new version available and notify you, so you can immediately download and install the update.
  • 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!

Jackhammer In Greenlight

Jackhammer was posted to Greenlight several months ago, and we need your support to promote it! Please vote for our project:

Jackhammer in Steam Greenlight


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 Valve Hammer Editor is intent because many modders got used to the familiar look and feel.

Useful Links

Complete changelog of version 1.1.855 can be found here. Please visit the official website for more information, F.A.Q., articles and manuals. Feel free to join our ModDB group to recieve minor news and updates, and to watch some videos showing the editor in action.

If you're already using the editor for your mod or game, let us know, and we'll probably feature you in the next release news!

Cellulo - - 12 comments

Thanks XaeroX and your team, very good release lot of stuff inside, Merry Christmas !

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XaeroX Author
XaeroX - - 455 comments

Thank you for your kind words! :)

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Stoof - - 116 comments

Brilliant! Thank you indeed, have a great festive season!
Seeing the skybox in the editor is a great tool to help visualise the level as you go.

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XaeroX Author
XaeroX - - 455 comments

Thanks for using Jackhammer!

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~X~ - - 555 comments

Support the author!
That jackhammer ain't gonna build itself! :)

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banan2288 - - 181 comments

As always wonderful job!

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HeadClot - - 461 comments

This is awesome :)

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dr_mabuse1981 - - 1,253 comments

the toolbar on the left side is gone in the new build...
how can i get it back?

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XaeroX Author
XaeroX - - 455 comments

This is a common problem when you keep old configs. Sometimes they become incompatible with newer versions of the editor.
Try to delete VDKLayout.dat (in editor's directory and in "Jackhammer" subdirectory under your home folder, where configs can also be stored).

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dr_mabuse1981 - - 1,253 comments

its still gone... also i noticed you changed arrow keys behaviour which i dont like.. im rolling back to the older version.

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XaeroX Author
XaeroX - - 455 comments

Old version is extremely buggy, I don't recommend it.
I did not change arrow key behavior in this version actually.

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dr_mabuse1981 - - 1,253 comments

weird, when i installed the new version the left toolbar is gone (which is needed for my workflow lol)and i can no longer move camera with arrowkeys when i selected a brush (it moves the brush instead), which also breaks my workflow :(

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XaeroX Author
XaeroX - - 455 comments

Have you tried to uncheck "Arrow keys nudge selected object vertex" in a 2D tab? This option also exists in VHE and has actually the same effect.
As for the toolbar, simply make a clean installation of JH, and then configure it from scratch. By the way nobody reported any disappearing toolbars so far.

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dr_mabuse1981 - - 1,253 comments

ok, thanks, it worked :D

I uninstalled the old build, deleted all config files and installed the new version clean.
Funny, i never noticed the "Arrow keys nudge selected object vertex" function, and im using the worldcraft editors for years xD

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Dynamite - - 22 comments

I ran into some bugs using this editor.
1. Grouped brush entities cannot have their properties changed. This works for point entities. Hammer 3.4 has this issue as well and I was hoping switching to Jackhammer would help.

Is there any way to have brushes in a group and still edit their properties with Jackhammer?

2. The 2d-view setting "show camera" will freeze the 3D window every time you stop moving. This can be reproduced by moving with WASD in the 3D window and then stopping while moving the mouse. The mouse input will freeze for about a second.

I also have a request. There doesn't seem to be a way to find out the position in the world of anything. Entity properties filter out the origin like Hammer does but Jackhammer doesn't show the mouse coordinates at the bottom or anywhere else that I can find. Can this be added?

These bugs were found on the 64-bit linux version of build 855. Although the first issue happened on Windows as well.

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XaeroX Author
XaeroX - - 455 comments

1. Not a bug, this is VHE-style behaviour.
2. Not reproducible, seems this is your system specific bug.
3. Use Entity tool, move the green cross and look at the status bar.

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Dynamite - - 22 comments

Thanks for the fast answers. That's unfortunate about the visgroups.

I couldn't see that there was a status bar. It was hidden behind my menu panel. Jackhammer goes too low and behind it. I cannot resize the editor height either for some reason.

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XaeroX Author
XaeroX - - 455 comments

Probably you have low screen resolution, seems that you use a netbook. Regroup side panels by dragndropping, so they become tabs, instead of being one-above-another (and therefore setting the minimum height limit).

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supremexdfull - - 2 comments

hello happened with arrows indicating for each entity which looks when I put a bone spawn something does not show the arrow next to spawn that indicates where looks .
Can you have ?

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