June 11, 2021

Quake Console Tutorial


Author: JakFrost
Email: jakfrost(at)planetquake(dot)com
Web Site: http://www.planetquake.com/console/
Created: May 2, 1997
Last Modified: May 18, 2000
Based On: WinQuake v1.09
Source: http://www.planetquake.com/console/tutorials/quake.html

Copyright (C) 1997-2000 JakFrost, All Rights Reserved

This document is a tutorial for the Quake console. It describes all aspects of the console; such as the syntax, the usage of commands and variables, the creation of aliases and bindings, and script. There is a great amount of information contained in this tutorial which should help anybody who is willing to read it and learn from it.

Table Of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Console
  3. Commands
    1. Action
    2. Command
    3. Toggle
    4. Variable
  4. Syntax
    1. Space
    2. Semicolon
    3. Double-Quote
    4. Double-Slash
  5. Bindings
  6. Aliases
  7. Scripts
    1. Filename
    2. Location
    3. Execution
    4. Head and Tail
    6. Aliases and Bindings
    7. A Script
  8. Version Information
  9. Legal
    1. Copyright
    2. License
    3. Trademarks and Servicemarks
    4. Warranty Disclaimer

1. Introduction

This tutorial will try to explain all the details and procedures necesarry for the creation of scripts and aliases. Every aspect of script making is explained in great detail. Ample examples are provided for each topic. After reading this tutorial you will have a complete understanding of aliases, console commands, and scripts. You will be able to create your own custom scripts from scratch and you will understand other scripts just by looking at them.

The Quake engine is revolutionary in may ways to any previous game engine, but one of the most useful advances is the availability of the console. The console allows the player to have direct influence on the game engine by using commands to alter different aspects of the engine. These commands can be grouped together into aliases to perform complex functions. Just like commands can be grouped in aliases, aliases can be grouped in scripts to produce an even larger library of functions available to the player. These functions might be as complex as a script with many modules, each one containing complex aliases to perform different functions, or as simple as a single alias which sends text to other players. The console allows great freedom for the players to design and implement complex scripts and aliases which will in turn enable them to use the game engine to it’s fullest potential and gain an edge over their enemy. Just like technology is used in modern warfare to gain an edge, aliases and scripts are used in Quake.

2. Console

The console is the interface between the player and the Quake engine. The player is allowed to enter and execute commands in the console which in some form or another alter the functionality of the Quake engine. The console consists of two parts; the output display, and the command line. The display shows textual information about the commands that have been executed or any information that the commands show to the user. The command line is a single empty line below the display which serves as the place where the player enters commands or information. Basically, the player enters information on the command line and sees the output on the display.

The access to the console is quite easy. The default key to access the console is the ~ (tilde) key located on the left of the 1 key. There is also a command associated to that key which in turn pulls down the console also, the command is toggleconsole. When in a game, this command will bring the console down when executed, and will pull the console up when executed again.

3. Commands

The console accepts input in the form of commands which the user types in. The commands are the base of any type of script or alias. There is a very large number of commands which are available to the player and each command performs a different action. The lists of all available commands for different implementations of the Quake engine are available at the Documents section of this site. These lists will become very important to any script maker and everybody who is interested in learning about scripts must become very familiar with those documents. I recommend that if you are unfamiliar with certain commands which are shown in the examples in this tutorial, you should look them up in the documents so that you may gain a complete understanding of the examples.

There are so many different commands available to the Quake engine that they had to be classified into seperate types by their syntax. There are currently four different types of commands classified, which cover all the current console commands. It is very important to understand each of the four types of commands and their functions.

3.1 Action

This type is very unique and very different from the other types in it’s own sense. Commands of this type usually control the actions of the player in the game. These commands also have a very unique characteristic, they have a command to turn the feature on and then to turn it off.

An example of a function for one of these commands is the control of the player’s forward movement. A command is executed that makes the player move forward, this is the command +forward. There is also a counter-command which stops the player from moving forward, this is the command -forward. Another set of examples are the commands +attack and -attack, which control if the player is firing the currently selected weapon or not. As you notice each action command has a + (plus) and - (minus) part to it. The + part initiates the action and the - terminates the action.

As you see from the example above, the action commands have a very simple syntax. They just have an initiating part of the command which is preceided by the + character, and a terminating part which is preceided by the - character. The default syntax looks something like this “+action” or “-action“. Also action commands have no parameters.

3.2 Command

The name might be a little confusing right now but I think that this is the best name to describe this type of commands. These commands are grouped together because they are left over from the other groups. These commands are usually very different in usage and functionality from the other command types. Basically each command in this group has it’s own syntax. Some of these commands have no parameters, some have a number of parameters, and some take in parameters as numbers and/or strings. There really is not much that I can say about this type of commands.

Sometimes the syntax “command” is available for commands which would either initiate the command, or display the status of that command. But sometimes the syntax is different for example “connect (IP address:port)“. An example of use would be “connect“.

3.3 Toggle

This type of commands have a very strict rule for inclusion into the group. The commands in this group must take in a single numeric value as the only parameter or take no value to report the current setting. The value for the command must be a selection from a list of known values. Each value must define a seperate function or rule.

An example of a toggle is the deathmatch command. There are three different values available, from 0 to 2, for this command, and each value defines different deathmatch rules. Another example of a toggle is the samelevel command which defines the rules for exiting the level. There are four different values available, from 0 to 3, and each value defines different rules for exiting the level. As you see, both of these commands are toggles because they use a solitary parameter which is a numeric value selected from a list of known values.

The syntax for all toggle commands is similar and it is “command (0|1)“. Usually toggle commands turn features on with the 1 parameter and off with the 0 parameter. Sometimes there are more features available so higher values are used. The syntax for the deathmatch command is “deathmatch (0|1|2)“. An example of use would be “deathmatch 1” or “deathmatch 2“.

3.4 Variable

This type of commands is very similar to the toggles in one sense, they only accept one parameter as a numerical value. The only difference between variables and toggles is that values used for toggles are picked from a list of all known values, where values for variables are not. Variables have an analog quality to them in that there are many different values available, where toggles have a more digital quality where there is a limited number of values and each one is clearly different from the next.

All variables share the same syntax which is “command (value)“. The (value) represents a solitary numeric parameter. And example of a variable is the command cl_forwardspeed which controls the speed for forward movement. An example of use would be “cl_forwardspeed 50” or “cl_forwardspeed 623“. Any value could be used as the parameter. Also remember that variables have the ability to have the value as a negative number, for example “cl_forwardspeed -100“.

4. Syntax

The syntax for the console is very simple to understand and use. There are only three special characters which are interpreted by the console to perform special tasks.

4.1 Space

The first character is the space. This character is used to seperate commands from their parameters. The examples below show the use of the space. This is a very basic character but should be noted nontheless.

command 150
command 100 50 64 150

4.2 Semicolon

The second character is the ; (semicolor). This character is used to seperate commands on the same line. The first example below is a simple implementation. This example will execute the first command and then the second command. The second example is more advanced and will execute those commands in order. So you see, if you want to use more then one command on a line, just seperate them with a semicolon.

command;command 150;+command;command;-command;command 3

4.3 Double-Quote

The third character is the " (double-quote). This character is used to encapsulate multiple commands to serve as a single entity. The double-quotes are mostly used with the bind and alias commands and sometimes with other commands to encapsulate their parameters. The use of the double-quotes is very basic and a little weird. One thing to remember is that double-quotes cannot be nested because the first instance of the character initiates the encapsulation and the next instance terminates it. This is very important to remember and will become useful with the introduction of bindings and aliases.

The first example shows the use of the double-quotes to encapsulate the paramter which contains spaces. The second example shows the encapsulation of multiple commands which were seperated by the ; (semicolon). The third example shows the encapsulation of multiple commands and the encapsulation of a command with it’s parameter.

name "The Foo Master!"
alias foo "command;commmand;+command"
alias foo "command 7;+command;command"

The example below shows the illegal use of double-quotes for encapsulation because of nesting. This is the impropper use of the double-quotes for encapsulation. The end result of this example would not work because the first double-quote opened the encapsulation, and the next double-quote after the command name closed the encapsulation, ignoring the rest of the command line. This is very important to remember.

alias foo "name "The Foo Master!";command;+command"

Basically, if you have a parameter which needs to have spaces or semicolons inside then you encapsulate it with double-quotes. When you want a series of commands to be treated and executed as a single command, you seperate each command with the semicolon and encapsulate them with double-quotes.

4.4 Double-Slash

This pair of characters signify a comment. It is usually found inside script files where authors chose to leave comments on their work inside the files. Anything after the pair of characters is ignored as a comment, execpt for the ; (semicolon) which terminates the comment. It is not necessary to terminate comments with the semicolor, I just included the information because it is possible. I recommend that you do not terminate comments with the semicolor. I also recommend that comments should appear on a seperate line which does not include any commands.

Below is the correct use of comments, this is the recommened way and should be used to make comments inside script files.

//The commands below initiate The Foo maneuver.


5. Bindings

This secion will deal with the bind command. This command allows the player to bind a command or a series of commands to a key or a button. This is very useful for a number of reasons. Because of this command, you will be able to hit a key and have a single command executed or a whole bunch of commands. This command also allows the input devices such as the keyboard and mouse to serve as an interface to the console.

The first example is a very simple binding which will show the string “Hi Foo!” to the player when the H key is pressed. The second example is a little more advanced example where multiple commands are used. Every time the MOUSE1 button is pressed the player will jump, shoot the gun, and display the message “Foo!” to the player.

bind h "echo Hi Foo!"
bind mouse1 "+attack;+jump;wait;-jump;-attack;echo Foo!"

Bindings also have a very special relationship with action commands. When a key is bound to the + (plus) part of the action command that key now has a new feature. When the key is pressed the + (plus) part of the action command is executed, as long as the key is held down that action is in progress, when the key is released the - (minus) part of the action is executed automatically. This only works if the + (plus) part of the action command is the first command bound. I recommend that if you want to take advantage of this special feature, you should only bind that command to the key and no other action commands.

bind x +attack

You should be aware that Quake keeps all the binding information inside the QUAKE\ID1\CONFIG.CFG file. This file is automatically generated by Quake with all he bindings that were set inside the game. You are free to edit the bindings inside that file. That file also contains some commands which set some settings necessary for the engine.

6. Aliases

This section will deal with the alias command. This command is very important because it allows the grouping of multiple commands into a single command. This grouping of commands serves many functions and is the basis of scripts. A lot of functions can be accomplished through aliases and even the most complex of functions can be accoplished with the use of multiple aliases. Aliases impersonate commands in every way, they can be nested within other aliases, they can be bound, except that they cannot take parameters.

Aliases have a very simple syntax but are very powerful. The syntax for the alias command is ‘alias (name) “(commands)”‘. The (name) field stands for the name of the alias and the name servers as the command to initiate that alias. The (commands) field stands for the commands that will be executed when the alias is called. Now if you want to initiate that alias you just have to type it’s name foo in the console. You can also bind that alias name to a key.

alias foo "command;command;+command;command 231"

The first example is a very simple alias that when executed it will broadcast the message “Hi foo!” to the other players on the server. The second alias is a little more advanced because it aliases serveral commands to serve as the Quick Axe function.

alias sayhi "say Hi foo!"
alias quickaxe "impulse 1;wait;+attack;wait;-attack"

Aliases can be nested very easily. The example below shows that you can create two seperate aliases and have them called from inside another alias.

alias foo "foo1;foo2"
alias foo1 "echo foo one"
alias foo2 "echo foo two"

Aliases also have a very feature that they can immitate action commands. You can create an alias which will start with the + (plus) character and will act like an action command. Now you can bind a key to that alias and when the key is pressed the + (plus) alias will be executed, when it it released the - (minus) alias will be executed. Also remember that you can and should make the - (minus) part of that alias so that when you do not get an invalid command message.

alias +foo "+attack;+jump"
alias -foo "-attack;-jump"

The alias command also has a very useful feature. When it is executed without parameters it will show a list of all aliases that have been created. The alias command also has a shortcoming, you can only create aliases, but you can never really destroy them. You can make an alias blank, but you can’t remove it totally.

There is one very important thing that you should remember. If you create an alias with the same name as a command, that alias will not work because all commands take precidence over aliases.

7. Scripts

Now that you have basic understanding of what you can do with aliases and bindings it’s time to learn about combining them into a whole which is called the script. Basically a script is a text file which contrains aliases, bindings, and comments. Most of the time scripts are a single file, but sometimes they are composed of multiple files because of size or design.

7.1 Filename

There are a couple of things that you should know about making a script. First, you want the filename of the script to have an informative name or just use the nick name that you use to play Quake as the filename for your script. Next, use the extension .RC for all your script files. The reason for that extension is that it signifies a script file in the Unix-like operating systems. You might be thinking why not use the extension .CFG, well the reason is that that extension signifes configuration files. The difference between configuration files and scripts is that, configurations include information necessary to set everything up such as the commands and bindings, scripts on the other hand include aliases which are just extra functions. But you should also remember that you can make the extension to your script files anything that you like, I just recommend that you use the .RC extension because it has been used by others and it has grown to signify scripts. An example of a filename of a script would be “foo.rc

7.2 Location

When you create a script file you should place it somewhere below the QUAKE\ID1 directory. Do not place the script file in the QUAKE directory because it will be inaccessible. You can also place the the script file in a special directory which was created for a Quake mod, such as Threewave Capture the Flag. In that case you can place a script in the QUAKE\CTF directory, but you will only have access to that script if you are currently playing that mod.

Most of the time you will create a single script file with all of you favorite aliases and their respective bindings. Although, if you are really into scripts you might decide to split up your scripts into multiple files. I recommend that if you do make more the one file for your scripts, you should create a seperate directory just for your scripts. I recommend that the directory be QUAKE\ID1\SCRIPTS, and you would place all of your scripts there. This will prevent clutter from forming in the QUAKE\ID1 directory because of extra files. This is just my recommendation, you are free to put all of your script files into the QUAKE\ID1 directory but you are risking mass clutter.

7.3 Execution

There are basically two ways of executing your script, manually or automatically. You could always execute your script manually with the exec command, by doing exec foo.rc in the console. Or you could have your script executed automatically everytime Quake starts. There is a sepecial script file that Quake executes everytime that it starts, the name of that file is autoexec.cfg. The location of this script file is QUAKE\ID1\AUTOEXEC.CFG. This file might not exist on your system, if it doesn’t you are free to create it. Now, if you want your script file executed every time that Quake starts all you have to do is create the autoexec.cfg file with the line “exec foo.rc” inside it. If you have more than one script file and you have created the QUAKE\ID1\SCRIPTS directory then you would create the autoexec.cfg according to the example below.

exec scripts\foo1.rc
exec scripts\foo2.rc
exec scripts\foo3.rc

One thing that you should remember is that the autoexec.cfg file is a regular script file. You are free to place your aliases and their respective bindings in that file. I just recommened that you create a script file seperate from the autoexec.cfg file and just have that file execute your script.

7.4 Head and Tail

There are a couple more things that you should do when creating script files. These things are not vital nor even necessary to the creation of scripts but should be done nontheless. As the first two lines of the script file you should make a comment with the name of the script file and the author information. It is also a good idea to include information about how to contract the author such as email address. The reason for this is that other people which might possibilly see your script file and are intersted know what this file does and how to contact the author. Just as you include information at the beginning of a script you should include a short line at the end of a script to signify the end. Since the information is presented to Quake in a form of a comment it is ignored.

Just recently I have discovered a bug with Quake which I have never experienced before since I always followed my own rules about commenting the end of the script file with the End of File marker. It seems that when I was writing a test script which was missing the marker the problem showed it’s ugly head. The problem is evident when the game is started with the command line which might resemble something like this “quake.exe +exec test.rc +command“. What will happen is that the last line in the test.rc file will be joined up with the command on the same line causing the last line never to execute properly. If the last line of the that file was “command;command” the end result would be “command;commandcommand” which would cause the error message ‘Unknown Command "commandcommand"‘. So, remember to put the tail on the file, or you might experience problems.

Below is an example of the first two lines of a script file.

// The Foo Script
// Author: Foo Master (foomaster@foo.com)

Below is an example of the last line that should appear in your script. The acronym EOF stands for “End of File”.

// EOF


It is possible to make extensive comments inside a script file to describe the aliases, bindings, and uses. I have to recommend against putting in detailed information into script files as comments for a number of reasons. Script files should be as small as possible, all detailed information should be provided in text files accompanying the scripts.

Although large comments have no place inside script files, it is appropriate and desirable to put a one line comment for each alias to describe it’s function, or a line comment to describe the general function of a group of aliases. I strongly recommend that in a large script, aliases should have comments which name the alias.

Below is an example of an alias along with it’s comment.

// Quick Hook

bind x +qh
alias +qh "impulse 22;+attack;echo Quick Hook"
alias -qh "-attack"

7.6 Aliases and Bindings

I recommend that when you create you script file, you should include the binding for the alias inside your script file as opposed to it being inside the config.cfg file. The config.cfg file is usually edited by Quake and that binding that you made might be removed by Quake for some reason or another. You should look at the example above.

I recommend that you should create a neat structure inside your script file so it becomes easy for you to navigate the file and find what you need. Usually, it is a good idea to keep aliases which serve one function together in one bunch with the name of that function above all the aliases. If you have more aliases which serve different functions, you should group aliases together by their functions and name each function.

The example below shows two functions, each one having more than one alias. Each function is named by a comment.

7.7 A Script

Below is an example of what a script file should look like. The starting and ending comments for the script are present and they name the script and provide author information. There are multiple aliases which serve different functions, each function is seperated from the other functions, and each function is named throught a comment.

// The Foo Script
// Author: Foo Master (foomaster@foo.com)

// Quick Hook

bind z +qh
alias +qh "impulse 22;+attack;echo Quick Hook"
alias -qh "-attack"

// Rocket Jump

bind x +rj
alias +rj "cl_pitchspeed 100000;impulse 7;+lookdown;wait;-lookdown;cl_pitchspeed 150;+jump;+attack;echo Rocket Jump"
alias -rj "-attack;-jump;force_centerview"

// Zoom

bind c +zoom
alias +zoom "fov 22;m_pitch 0.005;m_yaw 0.005"
alias -zoom "fov 90;m_pitch 0.022;m_yaw 0.022"

// EOF

8. Version Information

May 18, 2000

  • Updated the legal and licensing terms of this document and it is now released under the Free Software Foundation’s GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1.
  • Removed the links to the Cascading Style Sheet file which was providing the stylistic markup for this document in order to solve an existing major problem with troublesome web serving software and to promote better accessibility and availability of this document for the future at the price of removing the coloring and formatting markup from this document.
  • Changed the format of my email address from URL format to a proprietary format in order to defeat the automatic gathering of my email address by web crawler software and to prevent the increasingly annoying barrage of unsolicited commercial advertisements that I have been receiving.
  • Removed all other HTML LINK tags to prevent future problems with web serving software.
  • Renamed the Index section to Table Of Contents to correct this long lasting mistake.

November 6, 1998

  • New legal terms for this document. It is now released under the Free Software Foundation’s GNU General Public License Version 2.

September 29, 1998

  • Updated the HTML markup in the document. This should be the last such update because I think I solved all of the previous problems with HTML and the correct display of this document.
  • Added my email address to the Abstract section. It was been removed long time ago because of too many emails, and I hope that this isn’t the case this time.
  • Updated the HTML 4.0 deceleration to include the URI of the DTD, as stated in the standard.
  • Added the MIME Content-Type and Content-Language fields to explicitly set the character set encoding and language information.
  • Added HTML meta information to each document to include all necessary header information to help search engines.
  • Changed the Modified: field to Last Modified:, and Location: to Source: to avoid ambiguity.
  • Changed the usage of bold and italic stylistic markup in order to facilitate better display of this document in browsers which do not support Cascading Style Sheets.

July 20, 1998

  • I have removed my email address from this document because I was getting unwanted emails. If you want to contact me, go to my web site.

July 16, 1998

  • Changed the internal HTML style for indentations and also to space out the fields for easier reading.
  • Added subsection 9.4. Trademarks in the 9. Legal section to take care of any trademark legalities.
  • Added a copyright notice to the Abstract section along with a short description about this document.

March 13, 1998

  • Made some formatting changes.

May 2, 1997

  • First release.

9. Legal

9.1. Copyright

This work is copyrighted pseudonymously by the author under all applicable laws. The author reserves all rights to this work. The copyright statement for this work is “Copyright (C) 1997-2000 JakFrost, All Rights Reserved”.

9.2. License

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. You can access the license at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html or you can write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA to request a copy. Please preserve all authorship and contact information when distributing or modifying this work. All derivative works or works containing parts of this work must be released under the same license or a later version of it.

9.3. Trademarks and Servicemarks

All trademarks and servicemarks used in this work are acknowledged and are the property of their rightful owners.

9.4. Warranty Disclaimer


Copyright (C) 1997-2000 JakFrost, All Rights Reserved