I know that Quake (the 1996 MS-DOS game) is a "full" 3D engine, and always had some kind of mouse support.

However, even the original Wolfenstein 3D from 1992 also had mouse support from the get-go, only it was of course not "look up/down" mouse support. Same thing with the DOOM games which came after Wolfenstein and before Quake (1993-1995). They allowed you to use a mouse to move, but not look up/down, because they were not "true" 3D engines. But Quake was.

Yesterday, I watched a live stream of somebody playing Quake. It was apparently on a modern computer, but in a very faithful-looking manner. For example, it was rendered in software mode, and everything looked very similar to how I remember it. He had trouble playing it because he had to use keyboard keys to look up/down, even though he used the mouse for looking to the sides and fire the gun. I was shocked by this and asked him to go into the menu. And, lo and behold, there was no freelook option anywhere! "Lookspring" seemed like it could be it, but it was not. The menu system did not have an option to enable "full"/"free" mouselook. That is, look up/down with the mouse.

I searched the 'net while he was playing and found a forum past saying that all Quake 1 engines/ports ever since the very first version for MS-DOS had so-called freelook support, but that some of them lacked a menu option for this for some bizarre reason. It went on to mention that, if such is the case, you have to go to the Quake console and type +mlook. So I asked the streamer to do so. And he did.

It worked. After that command was typed, he suddenly had full freelook support, and was able to look up and down with the mouse!

Now I wonder:

  1. Since Quake 1 was a full-3D polygon engine right from day one, and mouse support existed also since day one, why would id Software not have made this enabled by default to literally "free" the player and show off their fantastic new engine?
  2. Why would any Quake 1 version/port not have this as a menu item in options, but rather hidden away in the cryptic console?

Even though I remember playing Quake 1 with the keyboard only when it was new, probably mostly due to general MS-DOS mouse issues, I associate that game with free mouselook since it was the first FPS to be in full "real 3D" and thus would have every reason to "brag" about this fact by letting the player look around freely with the mouse.

  • 5
    As well as type it into the console, you could add +mlook to your autoexec.cfg file, to enable it automatically in every level. This was standard operating procedure among my peer group in the late 90s.
    – Kaz
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 9:25
  • 11
    Mouse was not a common thing in 1996 for gamers. It was only used in strategy games or used with Windows. I recall loading mouse drive manually before running SimCity cause I want to save the memory to be be used mouse driver. When it comes the Quake, It was close successor of Doom. Mouse was not required in Doom. Aiming was done in horizontal only and players were used to go with keyboard only. Apparently, Quake didn't wanted to confuse or frustrate the players with mouselook option and stick with minimal mouse options.
    – wizofwor
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 11:51
  • 6
    Quake was probably the game that caused mouse support to mature to what we know today. When it launched, it was familiar to DooM players. Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 12:18
  • 5
    Honestly, having played the original game when it came out, I would say that in this era of gaming the distinction between a menu item and a console-enabled item was minor, from the player's perspective. Even on Quake II, I was in and out of the console every ten minutes.
    – tbrookside
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 18:16
  • 4
    Leave out the FUD about "cryptic console" please.
    – hobbs
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


Answering the first part: why does Quake not have +mlook by default?

John Romero thought mouselook was too advanced to be the default.


John Romero: when we released Quake I thought mouselook was too advanced as a default so made it an option. Defaulted on in later update.


Robert McGregor: Thank you. Sorry, I think I wasn't very clear, specifically "mouse look" for fps control, who in the office / how did it start?

John Romero: mouselook was Quake. We had it in and felt it might be too advanced so we made it optional at launch. Later flipped it back

  • 11
    True story: In 1996, I wrote a short story (and published it on the web) where a key plot point was the narrator learning how to use mouselook with Quake.
    – Jim Nelson
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 22:04
  • 18
    When Quake first came out, we all played it with Doom controls. It was only a few months later that I ran across WASD and mouselook in a gaming magazine, and it was presented as something completely new and revolutionary to try. This was buried alongside other Quake binds and console commands of varying usefulness, such as tying viewing angle commands to the mouse wheel to make a sniper scope.
    – Dranon
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 3:27
  • 6
    @JimNelson: Is the story still online? Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 12:47
  • 4
    Back in the day I didn't know of that option, so I chose the right mouse button for lookspring, and kept it pressed all the time when I was aiming ... so, if I kept the right mouse button down I pretty much had mouselook.
    – vsz
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 15:36
  • @vsc Similar here, I had it mapped to Q together with WASD controls Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 8:41

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