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Quake III Arena IHV Test

4 March 2009

Prior to the official public Test versions beginning April 24 1999, there existed on the internet a rare leaked version of the IHV (Independent Hardware Vendor) Test. As the name suggests, this build Quake 3 (datestamped February 12 1999) was supplied to video card manufacturers to allow them to test the game against their hardware and drivers. The rumour is that ATI was responsible for the leak (ATI also leaked the famous Doom 3 alpha version years later.)

The Official Word

A version of the IHV (independent hardware vendor) test has been leaked. The leaked version is used for the sole purpose of internal testing and contains no real levels. It serves no purpose other than for hardware vendors to test and optimize features such as multitexture and compiled vertex array implementation. It contains no playable maps. Some maps are specific for testing oversixed textures, extreme texture aspect ratios, and high polygon outputs (much higher than normal maps). We hope the public is aware that this leaked test is useless to them and illegal to have in their possession. This material was given under NDA and its sole purpose for distribution was for hardware vendors to test out various features. We're flattered that so many people are interested in getting their hands on the game, but what is out now is not a game, nor is it the test that will be out in about a month. Trying to play the IHV test will only lead to frustration.
- bluesnews.com/s/386/quake-iii-arena-ihv-test-leaked

What It Contains

  • Versions of all retail weapons excluding the Gauntlet (it's appearance in the IHV is as a Chainsaw); plus a Flamethrower and Grappling Hook. Some weapons lack texturing, and the animation and function of most weapons are drastically different from later versions. Use "give all" at the console to check them out.
  • Particle effects - shown on projectiles and teleporting events. AFAIK these were done away with completely upon the release of the first public Test.
  • Lightning effects in skyboxes. These are very impressive (see my fix RE: the texturing bug in the next section), but unfortunately were removed after this version).


  • tim1.bsp: A medium-sized underground cavern with lava, adorned with masses of organic-themed curved surfaces. Very impressive to look at, but not much to do (the player will easily fall of the edge of the map if straying too far).
  • tim2.bsp: A small raied walkway showing coloured fog above and below the player. A very large texture map (12MB 2048x2048 TGA) faces the player showing hundreds of red balls. Again, nothing to do here except look around.
  • tim3.bsp: The Macworld demo map. Contains several areas joined by teleporters, all of which are very impressive graphically. The player begins in a dark void facing a large floating Q3 logo, a portal structure is situated on the left. Subsequent areas demonstrate NURBS, fog, rotating brushes, and reflective surfaces.
  • tim4.bsp: The only fully playable DM map in the release. An early version of Q3Tourney5, sans fog.

Differences From Macworld 1999 Version

A version closely resembling the IHV was shown as the first public display of Quake 3 at Macworld 1999. Interestingly, the Macworld version differs from the IHV in the following ways:

  • The early Visor player model is shown (the IHV only includes Sarge, see Lost Arena section);
  • Quake 2-style particle effects on teleporters;
  • The red stained glass window with the Q3 logo is translucent (see next section to re-activate);
  • The swinging trident at the conclusion of the map is smaller, and swings sideways, not forwards.

Fixing The IHV Issues

Issue: The Plasma Gun model is missing two texture maps (these portions of the model are displayed in solid white).
Fix: Rename the two PCX files in the Plasma Gun's folder to TGA.

Issue: The forked lightning sky texture shown in the Macworld demo appears in the IHV as solid white. Fix: In the sky.shader file in the Scripts folder, search for "hellredclouds". The second set of braces ({}) defines the lightning shader. Simply swap the lines containing the scroll and scale commands to restore the proper lightning effect!

Issue: Red Q3 stained glass window is not translucent as in the Macworld demo. Fix: There is no translucent shader file associated with the particular stained glass texture name used in the IHV map. The "gothic_block.shader" file located in \baseq3\scripts contains the translucency settings devised by Carmack specifically for this texture (why this was not used in the IHV I attribute to oversight.) Simply modify the file in question to read as the following to re-enable translucency:

    //	*************************************************
    //	* JohnC's filter glass
    //	************************************************* 

    surfaceparm trans
        map textures/gothic_block/blocks11ct.tga
        blendfunc GL_ONE GL_ONE_MINUS_SRC_ALPHA
        map $lightmap
        blendFunc GL_DST_COLOR GL_ZERO

Where to get it

Although Quake 3 is almost 10 years old, the nature of the publication of the IHV test is still a controversial subject and therefore I cannot provide a direct download link. Suffice it to say that the IHV is still available online, albeit in some fairly remote locations.

Quake 3 Retail Mod: Lost Arena

This mod replaces many aspects of the retail release with content influenced by the early Quake 3 betas (including content from the IHV). 21 maps are featured, most are modelled directly from some of the most early map screenshots. The author has done an absolutely outstanding job in replicating these original levels, all are extremely convincing and I greatly admire his dedication. In addition to the maps, certain weapons and player skins are replaced, including the author's own version of the early Visor skin (on which he has done an excellent job), the early "Chopper" Sarge skin from the IHV, and the Plasma and Rail guns. Download here | Author's original web site [archived].

For an authentic IHV experience mirroring that of the Macworld demo, I recommend importing the Lost Arena Visor skins and model into the IHV's baseq3 folder. Once copied, use the console to switch between models and skins.