id Tech

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Quake family tree, showing engines and a selection of games based on the Quake engine.

id Tech is a series of separate game engines designed and developed by id Software. Prior to the presentation of the id Tech 5-based game Rage in 2011, the engines lacked official designation and as such were simply referred to as the Doom and Quake engines, from the name of the main game series the engines had been developed for. "id Tech" has been released as free software under the GNU General Public License. id Tech versions 0, 1, 2 and 3 (Quake III) were released under GPL-2.0-or-later. id Tech 3 (RTCW) and 4 were released under GPL-3.0-or-later. id Tech 7 is currently the latest utilized engine.

According to, "id Software has been synonymous with PC game engines since the concept of a detached game engine was first popularised." However id Tech 4 had far fewer licensees than the Unreal Engine from Epic Games, and id planned to regain the momentum with id Tech 5,[1] until they were bought by ZeniMax Media which intends to keep the id Tech engines exclusively for id's sister studios.


id Software had developed 3D engines for several games before Wolfenstein 3D. Each engine had progressively more advanced 3D technology.

  • Hovertank 3D (1991) used solid-color drawn polygonal walls and scalable sprites. The source code was released by Flat Rock Software in June 2014 under GPL-2.0-or-later.
  • Catacomb 3-D (1991) added texture mapping to the walls. The source code was released by Flat Rock Software in June 2014 under GPL-2.0-or-later.

id Tech 0[edit]

Wolfenstein 3D (1992) increased the color palette from 16-color EGA to 256-color VGA and also adopted raycasting. The game engine was also licensed out to other companies. The source code was released on the 21st of July 1995 under a proprietary license, and then later under GPL-2.0-or-later.[2][3]

ShadowCaster (1993) was built upon the Wolfenstein 3D engine and was licensed out to Raven Software. It features diminished lighting, texture mapped floors and ceilings, walls with variable heights, and sloped floors.[4]

id Tech 1[edit]

Originally known as the "Doom engine", this engine powers the id Software games Doom (1993) and Doom II: Hell on Earth (1994). It was created by John Carmack, with auxiliary functions written by John Romero, Dave Taylor, and Paul Radek. Initially developed on NeXT computers, it was ported to MS-DOS for Doom's release and was later ported to several game consoles and operating systems. The source code was released on the 23rd of December 1997 under a proprietary license, and then later on the 3rd of October 1999 under GPL-2.0-or-later.[5]

The code was also reused for other titles, such as Heretic and Hexen: Beyond Heretic (both by Raven Software), and Strife: Quest for the Sigil (Rogue Entertainment).

id Tech 2[edit]

Previously known as "Quake engine" with its successor "Quake II engine", it was originally written to power 1996's Quake. It featured true 3D real-time rendering and is the first id Tech engine to use the client–server model. The source code was released on the 21st of December 1999 under GPL-2.0-or-later.

The Quake engine was updated with a new executable titled QuakeWorld that contained code to enhance the networking capabilities of Quake in response to the demand for across-internet network games that arose as a result of Quake's usage of UDP for networking.

It was later updated again for the release of Quake II in 1997, with enhancements such as colored lighting and a new MD2 model format.[6] By way of Half-Life, it was also adapted into the GoldSrc engine and its successors, the Source engine and Source 2. The source code was released on the 22nd of December 2001 under GPL-2.0-or-later.

id Tech 3[edit]

Previously known as the "Quake III Arena engine", it was used to power id Software's Quake III Arena in 1999. The Quake III Arena engine was updated to patch 1.26 and later versions are called "Quake III Team Arena engine" with a new MD4 skeletal model format and huge outdoor areas. The source code was released on the 19th of August 2005 under GPL-2.0-or-later.

It was updated again with the 2001 release of Return To Castle Wolfenstein which included a single-player scripting system, and was eventually used to power the first Call of Duty title in 2003, ultimately spawning the IW engine. The source code was released on the 12th of August 2010 under GPL-3.0-or-later.

id Tech 4[edit]

Commonly known as the "Doom 3 engine" which was used to power Doom 3 as it released in 2004, id Tech 4 began as an enhancement to id Tech 3. During development, it was initially just a complete rewrite of the engine's renderer, while still retaining other subsystems, such as file access, and memory management. The decision to switch from C to the C++ programming language necessitated a restructuring and rewrite of the rest of the engine; today, while id Tech 4 contains code from id Tech 3, much of it has been rewritten.[7] The source code was released on the 22nd of November 2011 under GPL-3.0-or-later.

Other games using this engine were Raven Software's Quake 4 (2005) and Wolfenstein (2009), Human Head Studios' Prey (2006), Splash Damage's Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (2007) and Brink (2011).

id Tech 5[edit]

Used for id Software's Rage, the engine is based on the file system frameworks. Some technologies included are the GUI system from id Tech 4, including a new renderer, MegaTexture 2.0 technology, soft shadows and more. id is requiring companies that use the engine to publish their games through id's sister company, Bethesda Softworks.[8]

The engine has since been used to power MachineGames' first two Wolfenstein titles; The New Order in 2014 with its standalone expansion The Old Blood, which released in 2015. It was also used for Tango Gameworks' The Evil Within (2014).

id Tech 6[edit]

Used for Doom released on May 13, 2016. While the engine uses some of the features from id Tech 5, id has also added support for Vulkan rendering. Development of the renderer is led by Tiago Sousa, who had previously worked on CryEngine, following previous technical director John Carmack's resignation in 2013. id Tech 6 was also used in Wolfenstein: Youngblood (2019) and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017), again by MachineGames. It was not used for Quake Champions however, which combined id Tech features with the Saber3D Engine.

id Tech 7[edit]

The latest release of id tech released alongside Doom Eternal on March 20, 2020. At QuakeCon 2018 id Software announced a new game in the Doom franchise called Doom Eternal which is powered by the id Tech 7 engine.[9] The new engine is capable of delivering increase in geometric detail without drops in frame-rate vs. id Tech 6.[10] On PC, id Tech 7 supports Vulkan rendering only.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bramwell, Tom (2007-09-08). "id Tech 5 - Steve Nix on the growth of id's next engine". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Shadowcaster at". Raven Software. Archived from the original on 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "id Tech 2 page". id Software. Archived from the original on 2008-09-17.
  7. ^ "Q&A with John Carmack, E3 2002". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2012-01-24.
  8. ^ Bramwell, Tom (2010-12-08). "id Tech 5 only for Bethesda titles". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  9. ^ "Doom Eternal ushers in idTech 7, bloody new powers". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  10. ^ Birch, Nathan (2018-08-10). "Doom Eternal Unleashes Bloody Debut Gameplay at QuakeCon". Wccftech. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  11. ^ "Billy Khan on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-08-12.

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