What is OpenArena?[]

OpenArena is an open-source content package for Quake III Arena licensed under the GNU General Public License v2 (GPLv2), effectively creating a free stand-alone game. You do not need Quake III Arena to play this game.

Where can I get the game?[]

What are the system requirements?[]

These are the minimum:

  • Pentium II 233MHz / AMD K6-2 300MHz or equally powerful processor
  • 64MB of system memory
  • OpenGL supported video card with 16MB of video memory. (Voodoo Banshee, TNT and up)
  • 300MB of hard drive space

The game in theory can run on Pentium 100's with a Voodoo2, but don't expect much performance over 20fps and the loading time to be less than a minute.

For some infos about compatibility with some GPUs, you may take a look to the VidCompat page.

Is there a manual for the game? Can I help expanding it?[]

Yes. Check this wiki site. In particular, there is a section called "Manual", look there.

This is a wiki, so you can contribute to expand this site! Everyone can! You can edit the pages, even without registering a username! Anyway, registration will give you a single username to use also in many other wikis hosted by You can read the definition of a Wiki on Wikipedia, if you wish. If you want to read some suggestions about how you could help this site, take a look to the WikiWorks page: you will find a list of pages that should be created and of pages that should be updated.

It exists also an optional in-game manual, that you can install if you wish: take a look to Manual#In-game help.

Can I make the game less violent, showing no blood?[]

Type this in the console (pull it down with Shift+Esc):

/com_blood 0

Default value is 1. Please read Manual/Graphic options#Blood and gibs for more infos, as it has got some drawbacks and differences depending whether it is set on client or on server!.
Also, you may set

/cg_gibs 0

(default value is 1) to have a some less gibs shown when someone gets "gibbed".

This game is 'adult'. That means it's restricted to age 18+ right? I can't play these filthy porn games![]

The TIGRS rating system, when it once existed in 2007, has no 'mature' rating and has nothing between 'teen' and 'adult'. Claims of it being 'adults only' are pure misinformation. It's more of a 15+ game. There is no explicit nudity, no female nipples, and no sexual activity. This applies to the OA3 reboot as well.

Configuration files and automatic downloaded files path[]

By default, the original Quake III Arena placed the configuration and autodownloaded files (using a separate subfolder for each mod) under its own installation folder (although the +set fs_homepath <path> OS command line parameter allowed to use a different folder). ioquake3 changed the default behavior, automatically using a different folder for each user of the machine, and OpenArena follows this.

For short, in the documentation we may simply call this folder "your homepath folder".
Note: while fs_homepath variable contains your "homepath" folder (configuration and autodownload folder), fs_basepath variable contains your "basepath" folder (your OpenArena installation folder, that contains OA binaries).

Mod-specific subfolders inside your "homepath" folder are also the place where your screenshots and demos are saved (into apposite subfolders).

Continue reading the following sections for more info about homepath.

Where are the configuration files saved?[]

The exact location of the "homepath" folder differs from operating system.

Linux and the like: ~/.openarena/

Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/OpenArena/
/Users/youruser/Library/Application Support/OpenArena/
Hint: if the "Library" folder is invisible you can still reach it going to your home folder, then selecting the menu item Go > Go to Folder and entering "Library" in the field.

Windows: %APPDATA%\OpenArena\ (just use "Run" and copy it in) (under Windows XP it brings to C:\Documents and settings\username\Application data\OpenArena\ and under Windows Vista or Windows 7, to C:\Users\username\Appdata\Roaming\OpenArena).
Hint: "%appdata%" is just an environment variable that can be used as a shortcut to reach the real folder. "Application data" (WinXP) or "Appdata" (WinVista/7) folder is usually an "hidden" folder: you may need to set Windows to show hidden folders, or to use the %appdata% shortcut, in order to reach it.

Note: q3config.cfg (main configuration file) and some other configuration/log files are stored in a separate subfolder for each mod (for example, %APPDATA%\OpenArena\missionpack for The Mission Pack, or %APPDATA%\OpenArena\baseoa for the "normal" OpenArena). See also Manual/Using Mods.
Screenshots and demos are stored in subfolders under each mod's folder, automatically created when needed.

Where are autodownloaded files saved?[]

Only .pk3 files can be autodownloaded (thus, no server configuration or mod help files) and they will be stored in subfolders of the following ("homepath" folder):

Linux and the like: ~/.openarena/

Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/OpenArena/

Windows: %APPDATA%\OpenArena\

For example, autodownloaded files related to the main game will be stored in a subfolder called "baseoa". There will be a separate folder for each mod, the same as for your configuration files for that mod. Notice that, even if playing with a mod, it could autodownload some files also to "baseoa" folder, for example additional maps.

OpenArena searches for files in both your installation and configuration folders, thus, if you wish, (when the program is closed) you can manually move autodownloaded pk3s from the autodownload path to the same path under the installation directory, to make them available to all the users of the machine.

If you begin to autodownload a file, but abort the operation (ESC key), then you will find a .tmp file that contains the partially downloaded file (example: OpenArena\baseoa\newmap.pk3.tmp)... you should be able to delete it with no problem, even without closing OpenArena. Even if you don't delete it, if it will be needed in future, its download will re-start from the beginning anyway (download resuming is not supported).

Can I change the directory to where configuration and autodownloaded files are saved?[]

Yes, you can specify a different "homepath" folder.

Start the game with "+set fs_homepath PATH" from the OS command line to select where the game may write files. Replace PATH with the location to store in. Please be sure your user has got write permissions for the chosen folder. An example, under Microsoft Windows, could be "openarena.exe +set fs_homepath c:\test\oaconf": in this example, your configuration file will be created as c:\test\oaconf\baseoa\q3config.cfg. You cannot change fs_homepath after starting the program, you have to set it at launch.
Tip: you can create a shortcut/batch file/shell script that automatically launches the game with that option at the end of the command line (please refer to your Operating System documentation, if you need help). If you launch the game again without the fs_homepath parameter, it will return to use default path again. In other words, you will need to use the command line option each time because it is not a permanent change: fs_homepath is not stored into q3config.cfg file, and if you think about it for a while, it's perfectly logic, because the program cannot read q3config.cfg before knowing what's its path. Thus, a customized shortcut would then be useful.

You can use PATH = ./ to store in subfolders directly under the install directory (like the original Quake III Arena did). This means that all the users of the computer will share the same configuration and autodownloaded files, unless they have completely separate installation folders. The autodownloaded pk3 files will be put _together_ with the original and manually downloaded files. This allows for a sort of "portable" install, using the same folder acting as both homepath and basepath. Usage: "+set fs_homepath ./". .

It is also possible to have the settings folder "nested" inside the installation folder, instead of fused with it like in the original Q3A. Also this allows for a sort of "portable" install, plus it allows different users to have their own profile, just starting the game with a different command line each one. Usage example: "+set fs_homepath ./profilename", where "profilename" is a name of your choice (try to avoid the names of known mods); of course, also "+set fs_homepath ./profiles/profilename" is doable.

How do I install it under Linux?[]

See LinuxInstall page. Well, you may just download the official package, extract it somewhere and run the game, or get if from some Linux repository, or from Desura.

Manual download from official site is advisable, as some Linux distro repos do include some changes which may cause weird bugs.

How do I install it under FreeBSD?[]

Use the port (check its page on, or search for it within BSD ports). OpenArena is available through the FreeBSD ports system at games/openarena. Configuration for things like SMP support, SDL, OpenAL, choosing which binaries you want built and other options is handled through an ncurses-based menu.

Note that the OpenArena binaries have different names under FreeBSD. The binaries were renamed from their IOQuake3-derived names in order to prevent conflicts with other ports (namely, games/ioquake3). The binaries are now openarena for the base client, openarena-smp for the SMP client and openarenaded for the dedicated server.

The port uses the pak files from the Windows/Linux distribution, so there shouldn't be any problems playing online.

If you desire to play OpenArena under FreeBSD without using the port, it is possible to run the Linux OpenArena binaries using FreeBSD's Linux ABI. The information provided about it in the FreeBSD Handbook should be sufficient to install and run OA but here's a more OA-specific walkthrough.

The first steps are identical than for Linux. First, grab the tarball and exract it :

sudo mkdir /usr/games/openarena
sudo mv /usr/games/openarena
cd /usr/games/openarena
sudo unzip
sudo rm

However, when you try to run it :

$ /usr/games/openarena/ioquake3-smp.i386
/usr/games/openarena/ioquake3-smp.i386: error while loading shared
libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such
file or directory

So you need to get libSDL (and a few other libs too). There are two methods for that. You can either copy them from an existing Linux system or download the Debian or Ubuntu (or any other Linux distro) packages for them and extract the libraries (*.so.*) files from them. Alternatively, I've put all of them online. I've also written a shell script to automate the installation of the libs, if you want to use it, do :

chmod +x
sudo ./

Otherwise, you can do it manually. Whatever the method you used to get the libs was, when you have your SO file, you need to copy it to the correct place, in the file hierarchy under the /compat/linux directory. For example, in Linux (Debian Etch), the libSDL file is located at /usr/lib/ and /usr/lib/ is a symlink to it, so we do :

sudo cp /compat/linux/usr/lib
cd /compat/linux/usr/lib
sudo ln -s

And the same goes for each other library OA asks for when you try to run it. Optionnally, you can make a symlink to the game binary somewhere in your $PATH, for example :

sudo ln -s /usr/games/openarena/ioquake3-smp.i386 /usr/local/bin/openarena

Which will let you run the game by just typing


How to change the video resolution to widescreen 1680x1050, 1280x800 or anything else?[]

See also: Manual/Graphic options#Resolution

Since 0.7.6 you should be able to pick any resolution your hardware supports. The information here is for 0.7.1 and older.

Edit the config file (it is created after first launch) : Linux users:

vi ~/.openarena/baseoa/q3config.cfg

Mac users:

~/Library/Application Support/OpenArena/baseoa/q3config.cfg

Windows users:

notepad %APPDATA%\OpenArena\baseoa\q3config.cfg

You need to find and modify these lines (resolution may vary) :

seta r_customheight "1024"
seta r_customwidth "1600"
seta r_mode "3"

And change them to (adapt resolution) :

seta r_customheight "1050"
seta r_customwidth "1680"
seta r_mode "-1"

Here r_mode "-1" stands for "custom settings", whereas the default value depends on your system and stands for the performance level.

Alternatively, you can type the following in the game's console (adapt your resolution) :

r_customheight 1050
r_customwidth 1680
r_mode -1

How can I use maps, models, mods made for Quake 3 Arena?[]

The installation is nearly the same as in Q3A. Simply copy the .pk3 files (of the map/model/etc) to your OpenArena/baseoa/ directory. Mods don't go under OpenArena/baseoa/: they must have their own folder, like OpenArena/modname/. Anyway, you could experience some compatibility problems: please read the following sections.

Maps designed for Quake 3[]

Maps designed for Quake 3 and Team Arena should work. Their custom textures should appear exactly like under Q3, while they will look a bit different where they used original Quake 3 textures (that have been replaced with "free" ones in OpenArena, that can be similar but not identical, for copyright reasons). Total Quake 3 texture replacement work is not completed yet (it is a goal expected for OA 0.9.0), thus some textures are still missing (you will see black and white squares instead); in the meanwhile, they exist unofficial third-party "q3a2oa" texture compatibility packs (not created by the OA team) that add more textures, some of them with nice quality and some with low quality (just to not have the black and white squares). Some "black and white squares" may also be caused by incompatible or missing shaders.

These maps would lack support for some of the extra game modes, due to missing gametype-specific items (e.g. Domination points for Domination mode). Anyway, you can happily use them in the other gametypes.

You can find many maps designed for Quake 3 and Team Arena around the web: for example, LvL - Q3A Custom Maps is a big archive of them.

For some third-party maps that have been tested with OpenArena, take a look to Quality maps and Third Party Maps pages. And Map compatibility page is especially thought for that.

You can find Q3A2OA texture compatibility packs, searching the net with a search engine. Please notice: they are third-party stuff and we are not related with them. Also notice that you may have already autodownloaded one of them when you connected to some server. Here there is one, for your commodity:

Future OA versions (hopefully 0.9.0) should not need such third-party texture fixes anymore.

Such packs are not required to play official OpenArena maps. It should be noticed that current OA version may already have got replacements for a few of the textures included in those packs, hence using those packs may cause a few OA textures appear somehow differently than what they look like in "clean" OA (e.g. differently colored blocks).

Mods designed for Quake 3[]

Mods need a subfolder at "OpenArena/" instead of "Quake 3 Arena/".
Sometimes, mods include a Windows batch file (.bat) to start them instead of using the "mods" menu: in this case, you can modify the batch file to launch openarena.exe instead of quake3.exe.

Please read Manual/Using Mods and ModCompat for more information and the sub-pages of the latter to know about the results of compatibily tests done with each mod and tips on how to troubleshoot some problems (while some general mod troubleshooting infos -e.g. "Too many CVARs, cannot create a new one!" errors- are available at Manual/Using Mods#Troubleshooting).
If you experience a "no sound at all" problem while using a mod, take a look to this section.

Some mods include their own maps... in that case you may need a Q3A2OA texture compatibily pack, as mentioned in the Maps designed for Quake 3 section above.

Models and bots designed for Quake 3[]

To be able to successfully use a model it must come complete with all graphics, skin files and animations and not depend on using Quake 3 Arena model resources. As a rough guide any .pk3 model file over 1 Mb may be compliant. If it does comply then you will probably have a character you can then access. A simple "skin" designed to fit around a baseq3 model, instead, may be shown if there is an OpenArena model with the right name, but the graphics may be more or less messed up.

Up to OpenArena 0.8.5, a problem comes with bots desiged for Quake 3. Often, player models come with related bots, and you may be able to use a character model for yourself with no problem, but having many error messages in console (like "Weapon number out of range") or strange behaviors (like it not moving when it does not see you, or having it using only the machinegun and no other weapon) if its related bot enters the game (if you add it manually or it is automatically added by bot_minplayers feature). The problem is that Quake 3 bot files aren't fully compatible with OpenArena up to 0.8.5, so you should get a patch from this link (to be placed in your "baseoa" folder) to fix these errors. With this pk3, almost every error will be fixed, only some chat messages will result with an error. If you are using OA 0.8.8, instead, that fix is already included, so you can happily use third-party bots designed for Quake3 (in 0.8.8, you do not need q3botcomp.pk3 file: delete it, if you have it).

If a bot searches for a model name that is not included in OpenArena, the default model (Sarge/Grism) will be used instead.

I want to contribute![]

Attention, this project needs open content! Your contribution must be public domain or GPLv2. Please take a look at the Developer FAQ for more information on how to contribute.

PS: You can also help OpenArena by promoting it: play it online, talk of it with your friends, add reviews and/or links to it on your site/blog. You can find some banners in the Artwork page. You can really help OpenArena!

HEY I recognize some of these maps from... Quake![]

They are probably direct conversions of the .MAP files released under GNU GPL v2 by John Romero in October 2006. [1]

I have no 3D card / No OpenGL acceleration ![]

Try running the game with this added in the command line (remove backslash and carriage return) :

+set r_allowSoftwareGL 1 +set r_mode 0 +set r_lodbias 4 \
+set r_textureMode GL_NEAREST_MIPMAP_NEAREST +set r_picmip 2 +set r_vertexLight 1

Beware, it'll require some beefy processor for it to be playable though

What version am I running[]

In Debian based systems like Ubuntu and Freespire the openarena command may not tell you the version number. You may want to try this and observer the file name:

sudo apt-cache show openarena |grep ^Filename

How can I find a friend of mine that is currently playing online?[]

The integrated server browser (see Manual/Multiplayer), at the moment does not include a "search friend" feature. But this is not a big problem, since there are some external tools (external server browsers) that allow to search for a certain nickname (or part of it, for example a clan tag) over all the active internet servers (those servers that are published on master server, correctly running "dedicated 2" mode). Please take a look to Servers#Tools.

What are framerate dependent/fixed framerate/accurate physics? What are Vanilla and CPM physics? How can I change gravity/speed/knockback?[]

They are different aspects, but have some relationships.

Framerate dependent physics, fixed framerate physics and accurate physics are different methods used by the game to manage players' positions, that affect gravity and movement. The server admin selects what kind of physics apply. Since OpenArena 0.8.5, "accurate" physics is the default one. Please read Game physics page for more info; Tweak#Tweaking online gaming parameters, and Manual/Graphic options#Framerate are related, too.

Vanilla is a term sometimes used to refer to the classic physics and control responses provided by the standard game. CPM physics (the name comes from a Q3 mod) are modified physics rules and control responses provided by some mods. See also Game physics#Vanilla and CPM physics.

To manually change gravity, knockback and players' speed, there are the server-side g_gravity, g_knockback and g_speed variables. Since OA 0.8.8, g_gravitymodifier is available, too. For more info, see Special game options#Game physics.

How can I organize matches with my friends all around the world? How can I talk with them?[]

Nowadays you have many ways to communicate with your friends (including your own Clan) all around the world. You may schedule appointments and chat with them using email, IRC services (for some OA-dedicated IRC channels, see IRC), web chats, social networks, forums, instant messaging and/or VoIP (Voice over IP) softwares (from ICQ to Skype or Paltalk, just to mention a few). Discord has become a very popular communication system among players: this is the invite link for the most "official" OpenArena Discord server, while this is the invite link for "OpenArena Competitive" unofficial OA Discord server for organizing tournaments. And various external server browser tools allow to search for a certain player name currently playing in any OA internet server.

Worldwide appointments have to deal with different timezones, hence you may wish to make reference to dates using UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) or GMT (Greenwich Mean Time): you can find a couple of UTC/GMT online time converters here and here, plus a "World Meeting Planner" (that shows tables with times in countries you select, for the selected day) here. Another "Meeting Planner to schedule best time across time zones" is here. Another "World Clock" is here, with "Event Time Announcer" feature here (useful for organizing events such as "FragFests" and "ClanWars"). An alternative may even be Swatch Internet Time (a system that divides a day into 1000 slices called ".beats", without using timezones): you can find it out on (some infos here).

You may use third party VoIP software such as Mumble, Roger Wilco or TeamSpeak to actually speak with your friends also while playing (e.g. talking with all of your team-mates at the same time, to coordinate your actions). You can join the OpenArena server for Discord (also works from web browser) using this invite link (this invite link is required the first time only, then you can launch Discord directly from - And there is also the OpenArena Competitive (OAC) Discord server (third party) which mostly focuses on organizing tournaments. OpenArena also includes a built-in VoIP feature (see Manual/Voice chat), but keep in mind that its availability depends from the server you are currently connected to (it does not work outside OpenArena).

Of course, OA allows to send text chat messages when you are playing. By default, you can press "t" key, type your message and hit ENTER key to send it. All people in the server will hear a beep and see your text in the upper part of the screen for a short time (if you did not have enough time to read a specific message, you may pull down command console for a while, and read it again from there). It is also possible to send text messages to your team-mates only (those messages would also mention your location in the map, if available): you have to "bind" a specific key for that feature, from SETUP->CONTROLS->MISC menu. Bots do only recognize orders that come from "team chat", not from public chat. ESC menu includes a "team orders" section with pre-defined team orders.

For informations about online play, you can refer to Manual/Multiplayer page. You may even create your own server, and password-protect it.

What are the size limits of arenas.txt and .arena files?[]

Important note: arenas.txt is the file which sets the "base" list of maps to be shown in the GUI. Map authors usually do not have to edit it, they instead create .arena files for their own maps, to add them to the map list instead of replacing the whole list as an arenas.txt would do.
This said...

Since Q3A, arenas.txt file limit is 8192 bytes, including comments (what's after //).
In OpenArena (baseoa), the total size is increased to 20*1024 (20480 bytes) for all arena files (and they are stored without comments). There is still a 8192 size limit per arena file for backward compatibility (e.g. to do not break old mods).

<TODO: Find out the original "total size" supported in Q3A (and thus, in old mods). I haven't get if that's 8192 or something between it and 20480.... and that probably included comments.>


Error message "Client/Server mismatch BaseOA-1/BaseQ3-1"[]

Enable automatic downloading by going to Setup then Game Options and clicking to turn Automatic Downloading to on.

If the server is running a mod, you may need to change in your mod-specific configuration file.

I get the error message "Invalid Game Folder"[]

There are two possibilities: You do not run the same version as the server. This error should rarely happen with 0.7.7 or later.

Other possibility: Either you or the server has modified files in the pk3 file.

The game crashed, and it left my screen too bright![]

You can try solving this by using LordHavoc's setgamma tool to reset the brightness to normal (for Microsoft Windows). You can find it here.

Another workaround could be going into NVIDIA settings and set "Choose how color is set" --> "Use NVIDIA settings" (as opposed to "Other applications control color settings").

Brightness controls do not work/I cannot change gamma/The game is too dark[]

There may be various reasons and workarounds for the game looking too dark, some of them are common with other games as due to third party libraries/drivers/subsystems.

  • First of all, did you already try to use the brightness controls in the GUI (Setup -> System -> Display menu)? Default setting often results too dark. Usually, you should immediately notice a change as you move the slider, however in some cases (such as Pelya's Android Port) a map change or \vid_restart may be required to make the change effective.
    • The command console equivalent of the brightness controls is \r_gamma <number.dec> (default value is 1.0). You may try to set it higher, such as 1.2 or 1.3 or 1.4. Usually, there shouldn't be need to follow the change with \vid_restart or a map change, but in some cases (e.g. Android Port) that may be necessary.

In case the above doesn't work, let's list possible fixes/workarounds:

  • You may try to change \r_ignorehwgamma <0 or 1> value (default value is 0), then \vid_restart.
  • If the problem occurs in fullscreen mode, try in windowed mode or vice-versa (ALT+ENTER or \r_fullscreen <0 or 1>). You may also quit the game and launch it again after the change.
    See Brightness controls do not work in windowed mode section for infos about a bug which causes brightness controls stop working after switching to windowed mode.
  • Your OS/display card drivers may allow you to change brightness/gamma. Try digging into Advanced Options of your graphic settings in your OS.
    • Under GNU/Linux, there is the xgamma -gamma <number.dec> command (it's NOT an OA Console Command: it's a Linux Terminal command) to manage the "gamma" (brightness) of the OS. You may set it to an high value, such as 1.5, from a Linux terminal console, then launch and play the game, and after you finished, go back to the terminal and set it back to 1.0 or whatever you prefer.
    • You may want to make the above Linux trick through a shell script which automatically sets gamma, launches the game and restores gamma at the end.
Expand this box for infos about creating a such GNU/Linux shell script.
  • Create a plain text file named like or whatever you wish.
  • Enter the following inside the file:
xgamma -gamma 1.5
sh /home/user/openarena/openarena
wait $!
xgamma -gamma 1.0
  • Change /home/user/openarena/openarena with your real location of OpenArena executable and save the file.
  • Right click file, go to Properties, go to Permissions tab, enable "Allow Executing" and close (the same may have be done via terminal using chmod +x command).
  • Run the script by double click (or with ./ from terminal). If everything is okay, it should change your Linux brightness, then launch the game and then restore your brightness after you quit the game.
  • You may try to change \r_intensity <number.dec> value (default value is 1.0), e.g. to 1.3 or 1.5, and then \vid_restart. However this is not recommended, as it may cause some problems to some textures and effects (including making it hard to read the command conosole with high values).
  • You may try to change \r_overBrightBits (e.g. setting it to 0 - default value is 1) and/or \r_mapOverBrightBits (default value is 2) and/or in conjunction with \r_intensity (default value is 1), then \vid_restart. These are fine-tuning values that usually you shouldn't need to tweak, but you can of course reset them to their defaults if you feel something is going off.
  • You may try to set r_alternateBrightness <number> (default value is 0), which is expressily thought as workaround for some problems which prevent to change brightness. Important - This CVAR is NOT available in official OA 0.8.8 binaries, as it has been added to engine after such release: this only works with more recent engine builds, which you may need to compile yourself ("Nightly builds" for Windows should be available here... otherwise, engine source code is available on Github here)!
  • Are you sure the brightness isn't set too low on your monitor? Try finding the physical buttons near to the edge of your monitor to access its OSD (on-screen-display) menu and try changing brightness from there...
  • Other options which may influence the lighting/brightness of the map, which may give some more visibility in exchange of worse, "flat" looking maps, are vertex lighting (r_vertexlight) and fullbright (r_fullbright), but they are usually disabled for fairness reasons. For more infos, see Manual/Graphic options#Lighting and Manual/Graphic options#Brightness, respectively.

Brightness controls do not work in windowed mode[]

Note: this section is about one specifc problem with brightness controls... for more problems with brightness/gamma control, please check Brightness controls do not work/I cannot change gamma/The game is too dark section.

If you switch from fullscreen to windowed mode, brightness controls stop working in windowed mode (while continue working in fullscreen mode). If you start the game directly in windowed mode, brightess controls will work (until you switch to fullscreen and then to windowed mode again). Thus, the workaround is to switch to windowed mode, then completely quit OpenArena (e.g. using \quit command) and launch the game again: it will start in windowed mode, with brightness controls working.

This problem has been confirmed to be still present in OA 0.8.8, at least for Windows.

It does not start at all, no error message either.[]

  • Windows, Mac OS X 10.3 : install OpenAL libraries
  • Linux : install libopenal0
  • MacOS X: ZIP file extraction may the openarena.ub executable (this will be apparent if you don't even see an icon popup on your Dock):
    • open up terminal:
      • change directory to where you installed
        • Shortcut: type cd and drag your to the command line
      • cd Contents/MacOS
      • chmod 755 openarena.ub 

The game switches from fullscreen to windowed mode and the mouse becomes unusable[]

Problem noticed using Linux. See "fifth" solution in case of strange behavior on Windows. "Seventh solution" may work on both Windows and Linux. See also I can't look around using my mouse section below.

  • 1) First Solution: Make certain that you have disabled your screen saver.
  • 2) Second solution: If OA switches to windowed mode after a few minutes of gameplay. Try to disable Compiz or any 3D environment if you use one. (see fourth solution)
  • 3) Third solution: If you can't get your mouse working correctly after OA switched to windowed mode for whatever reason, try to follow these steps:
  1. stay in windowed mode
  2. make OA window active with alt+tab if necessary
  3. show the console (with Shift+Esc or the needed keys according to your system)
  4. click outside OA to have focus on a window different than the OA one
  5. click back in OA to make it active
  6. switch to fullscreen with ALT+Enter
  7. mask the console, your mouse should work ;)
  • 4) Fourth Solution: (if you find that Compiz is causing the issue) Write a script to disable Compiz, start OpenArena, then re-enable Compiz once OA is shut down, so you can continue to have the cool effects for the rest of your session. To do so, open any text editor (such as gedit) and type the following:
metacity --replace &
cd /{directory of installation}/
compiz --replace &

The above is only an example, and will need to be modified to fit your configuration. Where is says {directory of installation}, type the path from the root of your Filesystem, to, and including, the openarena directory. For example: /home/mark/Documents/openarena-0.8.1/ The line below may also need to be modified IF you use a 64 bit system. If you do, the second last line should read: ./openarena.x86_64

If you have a 32 bit system, leave it as: ./openarena.i386

Save the document anywhere. It should be recognized as a shell script. If you use an operating system that supports running scripts as executables, (such as Ubuntu), simply right click the file, click properties, go to the permissions tab, and check 'run as executable'. Then all you have to do is run the script, and OA will run like the issue never existed in the first place. You can also create a launcher for the script. Then all you need to do, is click the launcher, and OA runs perfectly! ;) Note: If you cannot set the file to run as an executable, then you need to run it in a terminal. Slight performance increases have also been noted with Compiz off.

  • 5) Fifth solution: A mouse response problem might also occur on Windows, in case the DPI (dots per inch) setting is modified to change the font sizes. This causes the mouse to move a LOT in a weird direction every milimeter you carefully move it, making it totally unplayable. To change this under Windows XP, click start, then Run, type desk.cpl and hit enter (alternatively, you can simply right-click in an empty section of your desktop and then select "properties"), goto the settings tab, click advanced and set the DPI to 96. You might need to reboot for this to take effect. In Windows Vista and 7 you have to go to your desktop, rightclick some empty space, click graphical options or preferences (not sure), and click the DPI setting on the left of the window. This should also be the default 96DPI.
  • 6) Sixth solution: check your settings in Setup -> Controls -> Look menu (e.g "free look", "mouse speed", "invert mouse" options).
  • 7) Seventh solution: use command console to enter /in_restart command.

*** If you are using Microsoft Windows 8.1 and you are experiencing "mouse lag" problems (mouse lag and unresponsiveness of player view and cursor in menus at slow speed), please read here for a specific workaround. ***

I can't look around using my mouse[]

See also The game switches from fullscreen to windowed mode and the mouse becomes unusable section above.

Sometimes you get in the game (maybe after changing some video settings) and experiece that you cannot look around with the mouse anymore (moving it only makes you "strafe" a bit): in this case, you can try pressing the ESC/ESCAPE key (to open the ESC menu) and then again to close it. If that does not work, try pressing control keys on mouse and keyboard (jump, zoom, fire...). Or you may use command console and enter /in_restart command.

You can also try the "third solution" above: something similar (alt-tabbing away and then returning to OpenArena) may help you also under a Microsoft Windows environment.

Another thing: be sure you have "free look" option enabled (in Setup -> Controls -> Look menu): if it is disabled, you will be able to use the mouse to look up and down only when pressing the "mouse look" key, too.

Another way to fix mouse prolems, including "non smooth mouse movement", can be to try setting /in_mouse -1, to switch to "raw mouse input mode". That cvar is set to 1 by default (standard mouse input mode) and can even be set to 0 to completely disable the mouse (even in menus). An /in_restart is required to make the change effective.

*** If you are using Microsoft Windows 8.1 and you are experiencing "mouse lag" problems (mouse lag and unresponsiveness of player view and cursor in menus at slow speed), please read here for a specific workaround. ***

Messages are overflowing in my console and they're about bots ![]

Try typing :

seta bot_enable 0

And restart the level.

There are no servers in the server list![]

Possible because there are no servers running for your version. If there are any servers listed here and you do not see any in the server list in the game and you are using the latest version of the game (current version is 0.8.8), you may need to configure certain firewall settings to allow OpenArena (see also Manual/Multiplayer).

The game isn't as pretty as the screenshots :([]

See also: Manual/Graphic options

I enabled some extra detail settings in the console; some of them may not be available in the menu:

  • r_ext_texture_filter_anisotropic 4 - Enables anistropic filter. It's VERY noticable if you use high resolutions and view detailed characters (especially Kyonshi). Makes things a lot less blurry.
  • r_flares 1 - Enables flares, which glow around map's light sources. Maps compiled with q3map2 with -flares may have flares as do maps compiled with q3map.
  • cg_shadows 2 - Enables stencil shadows. r_stencilBits needs to be set to 8 for it to show up properly. See Manual/Graphic options#Shadows.
  • r_detailTextures 1 - Enables detail texturing, which scatter maps and such adding a convincing texture effect to rid some of the filtering blur. This is usually enabled by default, but for some odd reason you don't have it set to 1, set it to 1.

Be warned that these options require a much beefier system with a fourth-generation video card (Geforce, Radeon) to run well.

I get the error message "could not load OpenGL subsystem"[]

  • be sure you installed your video card driver correctly
  • some current settings in OpenArena may be incompatible with your graphics card. Make a backup of the file q3config.cfg and delete it in your OpenArena folder.
  • if you are executing it under Windows, be sure not to use Microsoft graphic drivers. Use drivers from your vendor. ATI NVIDIA

Error message "error while loading shared libraries: ..."[]

You need to install the libraries for OpenAL / OpenAudio Language. In Debian/Ubuntu you can do this with the command: sudo apt-get install libopenal0 else apt-get install libopenal0a. If there is none of those libraries, use sudo apt-get install libopenal1, go to the command console and type s_alDriver = ""

Error message "error while loading shared libraries:"[]

debian: sudo apt-get install libvorbisfile3

be sure you have unstable repository in your sources.list.

OpenArena starts fine but the graphics will sporadically become distorted and the text may be garbled[]

The walls and ceilings, for example, will become discoloured though the game will still be playable. When this happens you may also noticed that distorted graphics will "seep" out of OA and appear on your desktop.

If you know why this happens and/or have a workaround please explain it here. Thanks!

Something like this (walls were black, text was unreadable) happens to me. I solved it by turning Compiz off.


Response: You could try /vid_restart if it happens. I have that bound to a key in case something goes awry.

When I launch a Mod, the sound stops working[]

This problem has been noticed with OpenArena 0.8.5/0.8.8 and Microsoft Windows, but more versions could be affected. It happens that, if you start OpenArena and then use the "Mods" menù and launch any mod, the sound stops working at all. You can workaround in various ways:

  • Launch the mod from the menu (the sound will probably go away), then type \snd_restart in your console (the sound should return).


  • Launch the mod from command console, using /game_restart <modfolder> command (e.g. /game_restart missionpack). Trivia: this command is not part of original Quake 3 game, but has been introduced by ioquake3.


  • Launch the mod directly from OS' command prompt, batch file or modified link (for example openarena.exe +set fs_game missionpack), not from the "Mods" menù.


  • Install and enable OpenAL sound library. Note: it may seem enabled from the "Sound" menù, but it could be not installed (please read here). This problem seems to occur only with the standard "SDL" sound driver (the one which is used if OpenAL is not installed or is disabled). Note: if you start the mod for the first time with OpenAL disabled, this setting will be saved into the mod's configuration file, so enabling it from OpenArena may not be enough; in that case, enable OpenAL also in the mod (use /s_useopenal 1 from console; many old mods may not have its option in the menu, so you have to use the console), quit to the Operating System and then launch OpenArena and the mod again.

Voice chat (VoIP) not working[]

Please check if you have OpenAL installed and enabled. Please read Voice chat to check if you have set the right settings.

I cannot find any or some of the servers running inside my LAN[]

Some basic tips:

  • Are you sure you selected "Local" from "Servers" option in "Multiplayer" menu?
  • Are you sure you selected the right filters, there? Try to set gametype "all", to enable "show full" and "show empty", and to disable "only humans" and "hide private"...
  • Are you sure your firewalls aren't blocking the needed processes/UDP ports on your clients or servers?
  • "Local" network scan finds only servers using UDP ports 27960, 27961, 27962 or 27963 (so, it will find max 4 OA server processes for each IP). However, if you know that there is a server within your LAN that uses a different port, you can still connect to it, manually specifing its IP and port using "Specify" button or \connect command (for example \connect

Fore more informations, please read Manual/Multiplayer.

Yesterday everything worked correctly, but today I experience strange problems[]

Note: "Yesterday" is just an example, it could also be "two days ago" or "this morning". "Problems" is quite generic, so search in this page for more specific problems. Remember to scroll the command console log (with pageup/pagedwn keys), and search for errors. The log should be also in the file "stderr.txt" in your installation folder (see also console log).

If the game begins to stop working in the right way, obviously you can try to close it (\quit command or terminate the process from your operating system) and start it again, or to reboot you machine.

However, if the problem does not disappear, you have to know that common reasons that can make OpenArena no more working correctly, after having worked, include problems with the configuration files or with additional stuff (usually autodownloaded pk3 files).

So, things you could try include:

  • Check the files in your "baseoa" folder (and/or the folder of a specific mod, like "missionpack") under your "homepath" folder; show their creation/last modify dates, and check if there are some pk3 files added recently. If yes, temporarily move them somewhere else (like in a temp folder on your desktop), launch the game and check what happens. Problems with "autodownloaded" files (that are usually stored in a separate path than the installation folder) happen, but sometimes even new stuff you added "manually" may cause problems. Autodownload is a very useful feature, but sometimes some additional pk3 files may cause problems (people, especially server admins, should not place gameplay-modifying things in baseoa). See also: Where are autodownloaded files saved?, Manual/Automatic downloading, Manual/Using mods#Notes for Server Administrators
  • Check that your OA patches are loaded in the correct order: considering that pk3 files under your homepath folder (where your configuration and autodownloaded files are stored) are loaded after (so, "win" in case of conflict) than those in your basepath folder (your installation folder)... in case you have pak6-patch088.pk3 in basepath/baseoa and pak6-patch085.pk3 in homepath/baseoa folder, you will have problems (the opposite should work, instead), because some 0.8.5 stuff would be loaded after 0.8.8 stuff, overriding it. In this case, you may fix this simply moving both patches to the same folder.
    Note: this one is probable in case you just updated your OA version: you would get into this situation if you initially installed OA 0.8.1, then autodownloaded 0.8.5 patch, and then manually installed 0.8.8 patch. Or if you started from OA 0.8.1, then manually installed 0.8.8 patch without installing 0.8.5 patch before: since both patches are required, you would have autodownloaded 0.8.5 patch when connecting to a sever, with the same result.
  • If you did some try modifying some network-related variables and messed them up (now experiencing lags that you were not experiencing before), take a look to Tweak#Tweaking online gaming parameters to better learn what such variables do, and try modifying their values accordingly (you can restore a specific variable to its default value from command console, with /reset <variable> command).
  • Rename your q3config.cfg file, thus it will be recreated when you will launch the game again (losing your personal settings!), or restore it from a previous backup. So you should be able to identify if the problem is with that file, and then work in this direction. See also: Where are the configuration files saved?. Please remember that each mod has got its own q3config.cfg file, automatically created starting from the one you have in baseoa the first time you play a certain mod, then each mod config becomes (almost?) independent from baseoa config (hence, you may have to perform the renaming trick also in mods configurations, if necessary).
  • Maybe you have too many pk3 files installed, under basepath or homepath. The game can have major problems in case you you have more than a few hundreds of pk3 files; try temporarily remove part of them, moving them elsewhere.
  • Starting to become drastic: renaming your "homepath" folder (to something like "OpenArena.old"), that will be recreated from scratch when you will start the game again.
  • Downloading OpenArena package again, extracting it to a different folder, and launching the game from there. A completely "clean" OA installation is obtained by using "clean" OA basepath folder (e.g. extracting OA package to a new location), plus a "clean" homepath folder (e.g. renaming your game settings folder, causing the game to re-create it from scratch).

Function keys (F1-F12) don't work as expected[]

Function keys are the the keys from F1 to F12 in the upper side of your keyboard (e.g. F1 and F2 are usually used for voting: F1 votes "yes", F2 votes "no"); in OA you can bind any command you wish to a such key -as well as with any other key!- (e.g. /bind F12 screenshotjpeg in your command console).
But if nothing happens when you hit that function key, or your operating system does something completely different (e.g. changing system volume or brightness, or entering standby mode), you may try holding the "Fn" button (if existing on your keyboard -many keyboards do not have it-, usually on the bottom) while pressing the desired function button.
This may be useful, for example, on a Mac system.... but sometimes even on a Windows system (computer manufacturers may have inverted the function keys behavior, making maufacturer's functions enabled by default, instead of the classic "F" functions, thus requiring to hold the "Fn" key to use standard functions instead; in that case, keyboard drivers may include an option to restore function keys to standard behavior).

Note: some commands work when in-game only, and not while you are in a menu. Some function keys have no command binded by default.

Map rotation script stops working[]

A map rotation script may be "broken" by some error in the loop of variables, or by invoking some other script file which may do something wrong. Or the gametype may have been changed (by a vote, or manually by the admin), as changing gametype breaks map rotation scripts since the original Q3A game (unless it's changed directly by the script).

Possible workarounds at the moment include do not (allow to) change gametype, or to use "auto change map" feature (requires OpenArena 0.8.8 or later, not supported by old Q3A mods) instead of classic map rotation scripts. The script itself can change the gametype.

Also some methods for chaging map may break rotation scripts. See map rotation script page for additional infos.

I accidentally hit the Windows key in the wrong moment[]

If you hit the Windows key on the keyboard you will be brought to your desktop, so if you do it accidentally, you may lose focus and control of the game in the worst moments. So you may either:

  • Bind your controls to keys far from that one, so limit the chance of pressing it by error.


  • Temporarily remove the key from your keyboard physically. Take in account that different keyboards use different mechanisms, and some of them may break easily when removing/re-adding keys!


  • Use a software capable of temporarily disable that keyboard, such as winkill (you simply launch this small program and it adds a tray icon which allows you enable/disable Windows key with just a click).

I got Z_Malloc error[]

If you experiece Z_Malloc: failed on allocation of X bytes from the main zone error, try using an higher "z_zoneMegs" value (default is 24, as OA 0.8.x) to allocate more RAM to the game. It's a particular cvar, as changing its value from within the game has no effect (the new value results just "latched" forever, even after closing and reopening the game). So you have to start the game with "+set com_zoneMegs <value>" from your OS command line (example: openarena.exe +set com_zoneMegs 256) each time. You can of course create a shortcut/bat file/shell script for that.
If you set it to a value too large, the game may not start, reporting "Zone data failed to allocate X megs.".

Note: other settings which involve allocating memory for the game are com_hunkMegs (default 128, as OA 0.8.x) and com_soundMegs (default 8). Tweaking also such values might provide some better perfomances or fix some other memory-related errors. While it looks like com_soundMegs can be changed on-the-fly, com_hunkMegs needs to close and start the game again to be effective (or to be passed as an OS command-line parameter). If you set com_hunkMegs to a value too large, the game may not start, reporting "Hunk data failed to allocate X megs."

Unable to start the game under OSX[]

In case you cannot start the game at all under OSX, please see Manual/Install#Mac.

I can't find an answer to solve my problem![]

If searching in this wiki doesn't help you, you can try in the forums and their technical section. Or ask in the Discord server.

External links[]

Silverstream's Quake III Arena FAQ

See also[]