New to BZFlag? Congratulations! You have discovered the best free game in the world.
The Coolest Multiplayer FPS in the World
When you see BZFlag for the first time, your initial train of thought might be that the game's graphics don't look that great. Well...they don't.
They never will.
They never should.
When all you do is compare looks of games, then BZFlag won't hold a candle against the latest commercial creations.
Things get even worse when you actually download the game. It will be your choice and nobody is going to stop you, but be warned...there will be no point of return. Resistence is futile.
So lets face it, you might just as well:
- Get to know your tank
- Get to know the flags
- Get to know the people
Welcome to a special kind of game and a great Internet community.
BZFlag can be played in one of three gaming modes:
- FFA (Free-For-All, up to 4 teams plus rogues)
- CTF (Capture-The Flag, 2 to 4 teams plus rogues)
- RC (Rabbit-Chase, 1 rabbit and many hunters)
Has your engine warmed up yet?
Technical Bla Bla
BZFlag runs on a wide array of platforms too. The following are currently supported:
- Windows 95 or newer
- Linux 2.1 or above
- Mac OS X
- Solaris (all versions)
- Irix 5.3 or newer
- FreeBSD (in ports)
BZFlag only requires around 10Mb of disk space and minimal RAM. A network connection is of course required for mutliplayer fun.
- A 3D accelerated graphics card that supports OpenGL
- A soundcard
- A fast internet connection, especially if you want to run a BZFS server
Ownership and Development
BZFlag is developed and continuously upgraded as an Open Source software project by a team of programmers. The Project Manager? Tim Riker.
Driving and Jumping
The easiest thing to do in BZFlag is taking your tank for a spin.
It's movement -forward, reverse and steering- can be accurately controlled with the mouse. The key to this is your mouse pointer's position relative to the big square box, which is called your HUD (Heads Up Display), located in the middle of your window. This HUD represents the maximum speed or turning rate your tank can have. A tiny square box inside the HUD represents a dead-stop area. Just give it a try and move your mouse inside and outside the HUD at various places to see how your tank responds.
The HUD also gives you positional information in the form of a compass taper on the top and an elevation taper to the right.
You now know enough to drive an armoured battle tank. However, there are a few more things you need to know:
- When reversing your tank, it will only go half the speed
- All movement is instanteneous, unless you happen to carry the bad Momentum (M) flag
Congratulations, you are now driving the most unique tank in the world...
...it can jump.
This wonderful feature can be both a blessing and a curse, often used all too eagerly by rookies. It's a blessing because you can dodge incoming bullets in an instant. It's a curse since your opponent can spray your estimated landing position with deadly bullets.
In mid-air you have no directional control over your tank, which means that once you jump -which takes 4 seconds- you will keep whatever speed and turnrate you had. This lack of control is what makes it so easy for your enemies to accurately calculate your landing spot and orientation. So unlike in Unreal Tournament or Quake, where jumping is preferred, in BZFlag you only jump when absolutely necessary.
If you jump, you better know exactly why you do it, where you'll be heading and where you will be facing upon touchdown. Fail to do this and you'll be toasted over and over again.
So Many Flags
It's All About Flags
BZFlag, as the name implies, is all about flags. To learn more about them, head over to the Lord of the Flags guide. For now just know that most flags will do good things to your tank, while some give you a disadvantage.
Where are They
Flags normally only spawn on the ground, but they can be dropped on buildings too if the server you are playing on is configured as such.
How to Find Them
Simply look out for white flags in the main window or use your radar, where they're marked as small white crosses.
Picking Them Up
Picking flags up is easy, just run them over. This also works when you reverse your tank over a flag.
Unless you carry the Identification (ID) flag, you will not know which flag is which until you grab it. Only when you take a flag its name is displayed on the top right of your window; good flags in white and bad flags in red. When playing CTF, team flags will be in the team color.
You can only carry one flag at a time, meaning you'll have to drop a flag first before you can have another.
How you lose a flag depends on its type: good or bad.
A good flag can be dropped at all times on your command. The standard and recommended key is the middle-mouse button.
Losing a bad flag is not so easy, depending on how the server you are playing on is configured. There are up to three ways to do it:
- Most servers will let a bad flag time-out, after 5 to 10 seconds or so. A clock starts ticking and your flag simply drops when the countdown reaches 0.
- Most servers will also let you lose your bad flag if you score one or more kills. The exact number of opponents you have to take out varies per server, but usually this number will be set to one.
- Some servers will have anti-dote flags. These are yellow flags and are dropped in a random location somewhere in the world at the moment you pick up a bad flag. Run it over and your bad flag is dropped. The easiest way of finding it is to use your radar and look for a yellow flag marker or use your HUD's compass which will now be enriched with a yellow pointer.
When a player drops a flag -good or bad- it will be thrown into the air after which gravity gets the chance to pull it back. Chance, because there is a 50% possibility that it will disappear into thin air, in which case a new flag will respawn somewhere else.
A flag can be taken out of the air like this at any drop but is guaranteed to go out on the 4th.
Cool! A Radar!
Not Just a Gadget
Cool...you have a radar. Now that's a nice addition to your main window!
The radar is no addition to your main window, it's the other way around actually.
You always should realize that your main window only offers a pittyful 60 degree view, and yes -you guessed it right- your radar does a whopping 360. For this reason and this reason alone a veteran tanker will focus on his radar view about 70% of his time, if not 80% or 90%. The main window is only used more once a target is aquired visually or during some building jumping.
Rookies will typically argue this and use the main window more. This is true. It is also true that you can tell you are not a rookie anymore if you find yourself using your radar more than your window.
Don't underestimate the power of the radar.
Key to efficient radar use are the zoom keys 1, 2 and 3. Use them wisely and you'll be good. Damn good.
- Key 1 - Zoomed in, used about 8% of the time
- Key 2 - Normal zoom, used about 90% of the time
- Key 3 - Zoom out, used about 2% of the time
Recent editions of BZFlag have a more advanced radar where your elevation is taken into account and complex structures are displayed more clearly. Just have a look at it, and compare your radar view when on different elevations. If a map has hollow structures you even can distinquish them from solid ones.