The Quake Singleplayer Starter Pack

  • easily start playing Quake, with custom singleplayer content
  • version 3.9.0 released February 2023
  • you can also reach this page with the URL quakestarter.com

While this still works fine, it is not being updated, so the included Quake engine versions and lists of installables are somewhat outdated. Various developments in the ecosystem of Quake tools and websites have ablated away the value of this project while also making it more difficult to maintain, so it is mothballed at least for now.

This is a (Windows only) package with tools for setting up a playable Quake installation and downloading/playing/managing many highly-regarded addons. This includes any necessary patching and recommended configurations for the addons! It's menu-driven, super easy to use, and has an optional autoupdate feature to help keep everything current.

This package also contains quite a bit of documentation on configuring Quake and exploring other user-created content.

New players can use Quakestarter as a quick way to get going with Quake and the many amazing things created for it since 1996.

Veteran players can use it as a nice way to bootstrap "yet another Quake installation", or to discover overlooked gems -- since no one can keep up with every single piece of custom content released.

Downloads & Things

• Latest Version

• "Quake Engine Not Included" Variant for Power Users

• More Info

• Source (not required)


I recorded a how-to video for the 3.0.0 release; it doesn't show some of the current features like Quake engine selection and autoupdate, but it still covers the basics:


Over 20 years after Quake's release, there's still an amazing amount of creativity being put into maintaining and improving "Quake engines" (Quake-playing programs), content authoring tools, and new maps and mods. If you haven't been keeping up with developments over the years though, it can be difficult to get up to speed to the point where you are actually playing fun new stuff.

I spent some time writing guides to collect relevant info, but that doesn't really lower the entrance bar very much, especially when it comes to figuring out how to play custom content. A true "Quake for dummies" installer would be a great thing to have and be able to give to newbies. This isn't quite that, but it's getting closer.


Here's what this package includes:

  • the vkQuake and Ironwail Quake engines
  • the Simple Quake Launcher 2 front-end
  • the Quakestarter utility that can find pak files on your local system, install soundtrack music files, and install & launch a selection of maps and mods
  • documentation about configuring and running Quake
  • documentation about finding/installing/launching maps and mods
  • even more info on other Quake topics
  • an optional autoupdater for all of the above

The documentation is there as a fallback if something doesn't work, or if you want to learn more about a topic. The actual process of getting up and running is fairly simple as seen in the video above, and described in the "How to use this" section of the first page of the docs.

Why vkQuake/Ironwail?

It's fair to ask why any Quake engine should be included in this package, and why vkQuake and Ironwail are the ones I chose.

To answer that first part: I'm trying as much as possible to provide an all-in-one solution that doesn't tell folks to first go download something else.

As to why choose vkQuake/Ironwail in particular:

Currently Quakespasm is a sort of "reference standard" for playing new singleplayer map releases, but there are other engines that build on Quakespasm to offer new useful features without sacrificing that basic level of compatibility. vkQuake and Ironwail are two excellent choices in that field. The Quake Engines chapter of the docs has more detail about what vkQuake and Ironwail add to the Quakespasm baseline, and how they differ from each other.

Why not the "enhanced" Quake rerelease?

The recent rerelease/remaster of Quake is a cool project, and it's a great way to (re)play the original campaign and official missionpacks. It's compatible with some custom map releases as well... but not all. So for the foreseeable future, the best way to play custom singleplayer maps will still be by using a community-developed Quake engine.