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If you’re a fan of any of Valve’s games, you might be familiar with the name Hammer. Hammer refers to the Valve Hammer Editor, the level editor used in making Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, all their classic games. It was never the only level editor in their toolbox; some of the Half-Life team preferred the old BSP editor, and by the 2010s, Valve were more likely to create level geometry in 3ds Max, but Hammer remains iconic as it’s been included with the purchase of every single Valve game since the beginning. However, did you know Hammer was not its original name? Did you know that it was actually originally a level editor for Quake that Valve bought, even hiring the man behind it, to include officially with their games? Meet Worldcraft.

Worldcraft was the brainchild of Ben Morris, a 19-year-old employee of ACDSystems (best known for the ACDSee image organizer and editor). Ben had previously written the Doom Construction Kit for DOS, but with Quake drawing all the buzz that wasn’t going to Duke Nukem 3D, he set his sights on building an editor for that instead. Worldcraft was a far more efficient editor than contemporaries like Thred (or Notepad–yes, people used to map for Quake in Notepad), from the beginning using that evergreen set of four windows anyone who’s tinkered with Hammer before will recognize. This caught the eye of a newly-formed Valve Software, whose new game Half-Life was being built on the Quake engine and who needed an official level editor for it. Valve bought up the rights to Worldcraft, allowing it to get updates for Hexen II and Quake II support until Half-Life came out, at which point it became an official part of the Half-Life SDK.

The Worldcraft site is a charming little patch of 90s CGI and my quickest restoration to date. In a past life, before I joined Protoweb, I ran a site called the Valve Developer Union, which was intended to be an archive of the knowledge and tools necessary to mod Source games. I was inspired to start VDU after having seen an old fan website for Worldcraft known as The Forge fall into disrepair; while the pages had been mirrored, the downloads had all gone missing. I later learned a full backup of PlanetQuake’s FTP server, The Forge’s files included, was available on Dukeworld and put together my own mirror of everything for VDU. The endless hoard of 90s FPS aficionados saved me once again with this restoration: A ZIP of deathmatch maps built in Worldcraft had gone missing from this site’s Wayback grab, and I was able to restore it thanks to a copy from the Quake custom map repository Quaddicted.

Hopefully, my mirror of The Forge can make its way to Protoweb as well once PlanetQuake as a whole is restored. For now, this was a nice trip down memory lane, and hopefully fun for you to look at as well. Enjoy, folks!

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