This is the developer FAQ for everyone who wants to contribute to OpenArena. Regular users/players can get info from the default FAQ.

Be sure to also check NOTTODO and the GoodPractices pages.

General Questions Edit

Anything I need to know before I contribute? Edit

Although OpenArena is a Quake III Arena content replacement project, we aren't bound to a certain style. Concepts would be loose, so don't expect a remake of Klesk in his original Klesk form, or any direct remakes of any map/weapon/model.

What about licensing? Edit

In general, GNU General Public License v2 a.k.a. GPLv2 (NOT GPLv3) is the law here, but truly Public Domain (non copyrighted) stuff counts too. Licenses clashing with both of them aren't allowed. Please take take this in consideration before contributing.[1]

Reasons for GPLv2 adoption include distribution and maintenance. GPLv2 allows a wider distribution, and allows others to copy, change and redistribute your contributed work, like it is done in GNU/Linux. None of us in OA are making money from it, but the GPL allows OA to be mirrored without any legal risk or included as instalable in many commercial Linux distros, for example.

Other licenses like Creative Commons respect some of these points, but have restrictions for distribution, such as CC-NC and CC-BY, or creation, such as CC-ND and CC-SA. Hence, they are not suitable for official OpenArena stuff. The exception is CC0, which is allowed instead.

If you release something under the GPLv2 license, you must release also the "source" which you've used to make that asset. What the sources are, are listed below. Also, ALWAYS include the license file. And YOU must be the one who submit what you've done, no one else, unless there's a wrote authorization for it.

It shouldn't be needed to say, but just to clarify: Don't add content from commercial games. No matter the reason. It's copyright infringement, which is followed by lawsuits and C&D letters. Don't insist.

How can I contribute? Edit

The following list tells you the ways in which you can contribute with the game:

  • First, it's suggested for development to grab the latest SVN build of OA. For this, do a checkout on and You can't play online with the SVN build, but it contains all the stuff which will be included in future versions of OA.
  • If you know about image editing, you can help by creating some of the missing textures/GFX replacements, or by helping the mappers with the needed textures/GFX.
  • If you know about modelling, mapobjects and character assitance is appreciated. If you want to rework some of the already done work, (for example, player & item/weapon models) fine. The sources, in this area, are the .blend files from Blender. You can use other programs, as long as their license doesn't clash with GPLv2. (As in, imposing restrictions over derivatives or distribution) At any doubt, just check the forums.
  • If you know about sound creating/editing, then your help on, for example, weapon/item/ambiental sounds and voices is more than welcome. Here's a list of missing sounds, so far. Here's a sort of guide about missionpack audio lines.
  • If you're a coder, then you can help the people working on OpenArena eXpanded (the game-logic portion of OA, topic), or with the binaries.
  • If you're a mapper, then your help is appreciated. There're some maps on OA's SVN waiting to be retexturized or reworked. If you want to do work on existing maps, that's nice too.
  • Or, even if you have or not any of the previously mentioned skills, you can throw your own suggestions/help on how to improve the existing stuff of OA, on the development forums. Just remember to read NOTTODO for stuff which won't be part of the game.

Once you feel something you've created for the game it's done, you can post it in this thread on the Development forum, and fromhell will integrate it into OpenArena, if it meets the criteria needed. Just remember again: license file and the sources along with the finished work.

Another way to help the community is to contribute expanding this wiki site: take a look to the WikiWorks page, where you will find a list of pages that should be created and of pages that should be updated.

Who should I contact for more info? Edit

If you have some more detailed questions regarding specific areas of contribution, here's a list of experienced members you should contact on the boards:

Textures/Graphics Edit

See also: Graphics resources & tutorials

The art direction of Open Arena is about "double" as Quake III Arena:

  • Double texture resolution, i.e. 512x512 as opposed to a 256x256.
  • The triangle limit is between 1500 and 2250, with an average of 1600/2000 triangles max. 1400 triangles maximum total for highest LoD.
  • Sound is mixed in 44khz rather than 22khz. Music is also 44khz.

The detail should still be scalable with texture resolution and LoD's for slower computers.

DO NOT use "progressive encoding" in JPG files for OA, because some versions of the engine are not capable of loading maps containing them.

Modeling Edit

See also: Models, Modeling, Making a player model

How do I export md3s in Blender? Edit

See also: MD3 format

You can use the script found here for 2.49. A few notes:
  • All scripts must be copied to the scripts folder.
  • To export an animated md3 you MUST load the md3 export script in the text editor then run it. Also you must select the last frame of animation your model has too.
  • Tags are made from empties.
  • Work with your objects in 0,0,0 origin as much as possible. Moving them will cause the tags to be misaligned in export.

Mapping Edit

See also: Mapping resources & tutorials

How do I setup GtkRadiant for OpenArena? Edit

Here are articles to setup GTKRadiant on Windows & Linux, and MacRadiant on Mac.


See also: Coding resources & tutorials

Engine differences compared to ioquake3Edit

The engine is close to ioquake3 but the following changes have been done:

  • Bloom support
  • GLSL shader support
  • Changed defines in q_shared.h (PRODUCT_NAME etc.)
  • Removed pak0 check from files.c
  • Changed defines in qcommon.h (PROTOCOL, AUTH server, UPDATE server and MASTER server)
  • Added extra protocols to common.c
  • Increased DEF_COMHUNKMEGS (56 is not enough for bloom)
  • Patched snd_codec.c so the engine will look for ogg files if no wav is found
  • Added g_humanplayers + g_needpass in client* and removed g_punkbuster from the same places
  • Changed default sound from sound/feedback/hit.wav to sound/misc/silence.wav (so missing sounds are not too annoying)
  • Changed the save path in sys/*. Replace "Quake3" with "OpenArena" and ".q3a" with ".openarena"

How do I compile the sourcecode?Edit

Where to get the source Edit

Linux/Mac Edit

To extract the files enter 'tar -xvf <filename>.tar.bz2' That will extract all the files to two directories named 'oa-0.8.8' (game logic) and 'openarena-engine-source-0.8.8' (engine).

On Debian, check for following dependencies :

  • build-essential
  • libsdl-1.2.15-dev
  • libopenal-dev
  • libvorbis-dev
  • libcurl-dev (there are different versions, they should all work)

The compiling under Linux is as easy as typing 'make'. Change to the specific directory (e.g. ioquake3svn148) and enter the command 'make'. Provided you have all the required libraries the binary openarena.i386 (or openarena.x86_64) will be created in a subdirectory (e.g. ioquake3svn1438/build/release-linux-i386$ ). You may have to change the mode of the executable by entering the command 'chmod +x openarena.i386'

Windows userEdit

Change export WINDRES=i586-mingw32msvc-windres to export WINDRES=windres.exe.

  1. Download the source you want.
  2. Download and install MinGW and MSys with the installer found here.
  3. In the installer, check:
    1. Under MinGW Compiler Suite: check C Compiler and C++ Compiler[2]
    2. MSYS Basic System
    3. MinGW Developer Toolkit
  4. Start the MSys Terminal (Start/Programs/MinGW/MSYS/MSYS) or in Startup Menu: MinGW > MinGW Shell.
    1. If the installer hasn't created a Start Menu item, then search in the MinGW folder for the file msys.bat. It's usually located at <MinGW>/msys/1.0.
  5. Change to the directory where the source code is located (you can copy it to your MSYS user folder located at x:\MinGW\msys\1.0\home\username\)
  6. Edit the file
  7. Run make clean
  8. Run sh A new directory named build should appear.
  9. If everything goes well, the build folder will contain either the qvm files that can be placed in vm/*.qvm inside a pk3 file or the binaries depending on source package used.

Troubleshooting Edit

If you have problems compiling the game check this page. If there were errors, look the errors in the terminal and try to google them. If nothing helps visit the forums.


Please keep in mind that we want to create content under the GPLv2. This means you have to provide a source of your work. The only format OpenArena currently accepts for music therefor is a tracker-format. For more information please use the forum.


  1. "GPLv3 only" and "GPLv3+" alone are not allowed, while "GPLv2+" is. Sometimes a work may be multi-licensed, e.g. GPLv2 plus CC-BY, or GPLv2 plus GFDL... if one of them is GPLv2, that's ok. CC0 license is a "public domain" license and thus is allowed, unlike other Creative Commons licenses.
  2. Later versions of MinGW ship with GCC older than 4.6.3, which fail at building the engine. You need to use a version of MinGW with GCC 4.6.3 or fix it yourself as suggested here.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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