Tips: Beginner Tips #1

Monday, August 7, 2006


This is Beginner Tips: the tips for people jumping aboard BZFlag. Here you will find a few tips to help you across the learning curve.

Getting BZFlag

Go to Select your operating system. If Linux, click on bzflag source. Then, select the program version you want. Select the mirror closest to you. Save the download somewhere easy to find (home folder or desktop). After that, for Windows, double click on the setup file. In Linux, unzip and follow the instructions in the readme in the folder, or in Mac OS X, simply drag the BZFlag icon from the disk image into the Applications folder.

Starting BZFlag

In Windows, use any of these methods:

  1. Double click the BZFlag<version> link on your desktop
  2. Navigate the Start menu: All Programs (or Programs) >BZFlag<version>>BZFlag<version>
  3. Click on the BZFlag<version> button on your task-bar

In Linux, open a terminal and enter “bzflag” in the window.

In Mac OS X, double click the BZFlag icon in the applications folder. You can drag BZFlag into the dock for quick launching if you want to. To start it from the command line, type “/Applications/BZFlag/contents/MacOS/bzflag”.
First Run

On the first run, the program will create a folder to store your config file and your cache. Under Linux, it will be in “/home/<username>/.bzf”, under Windows it will be under “My Documents\My BZFlag Files”. For Mac OS X, you can find this in “~/library/Application Support/BZFlag”.

Also on first run, the program will create a config.cfg file for storing your configurations and test your graphic card to decide which graphics setting is best. Under Linux, the config file will be in “/home/<username>/.bzf/2.*/config.cfg”, under Windows it will be under “My Documents\My BZFlag Files\2.*\config.cfg”. Under Mac OS X: “~/library/Application Support/BZFlag/2.*/config.cfg”. The * indicates the second version number.

Reading Help

It is highly recommended that you read the Help. Use the arrow keys to navigate to the menu item Help. Press <Enter> to read it. Use <Page Down> to go to the next page, <Page Up> to go to the previous.

About Callsigns

A callsign is what other players will identify you as. You must have at least a callsign to play. Callsigns cannot contain special characters. Enter your callsign into the Callsign field.

If you register, you’ll be able to chat and vote in some servers and also be able to post things in the BZFlag Forums. To register, go to, click Register on the navigation bar, and follow the instructions. After you registered, you must activate your account by clicking on the activation link in the confirmation letter you received in your email. Finally, after your account is activated, you can enter your callsign and password in the Callsign and Password fields in BZFlag, respectively.

Joining a Server

To join a server, that is to connect to a server and to play with other players, enter the server information into the Server and Port fields. An easier way is to use the Join a Server page. Navigate to the item with arrow keys and press <Enter>. Use the arrow keys to highlight a server and press <Enter> to select it. Then, choose a team by using the left and right arrow keys: Red, Green, Blue, Purple, Rouge, or Observer. If you join Red, Green, Blue, or Purple, be careful not to shoot your teammate. Instead, shoot other teams’ tank (to identify a tank’s team, the tank will be the color of the team and the bullets that it shoots will be the color of the tank). If you join Rouge, you can shoot all tanks (including other Rouge tanks). If you join the Observer team, you cannot shoot, but you can watch other tanks play. Use Automatic to let the computer decide for you. When you’re done, navigate to Connect and press <Enter> to connect to the server. Sometimes you will not be able to join the team you choose so to even up the teams. In this case, the computer will choose another team, join you to that team, and tell you what team you’ve joined.

How to Play

Once you’ve joined a server, press <I> or right click to spawn (the term to start driving a tank). Once you’ve spawned, use the arrow keys or your mouse to move. Press <Enter> or left click to shoot a bullet. Be aware not to team-kill (killing your own teammates)! To identify the team you’re on, look at the color of your callsign on the top left corner of the screen. The color of your callsign is the team you’re on.

About Flags

There are three different kinds of flags:

  1. Team flags: Capture these flags to win a point for your own team. Don’t bring flags to the other team!
  2. Super flags: These flags add good and bad features to your tank. Good flags gives you new weapons and power-ups while holding them. Bad flags make you can’t see the radar or the HUD, or make you easier to hit. You cannot manually drop a bad flag. Bad flags are dropped automatically by waiting for the flag to time out or by picking up an antidote flag.
  3. Antidote flag: This flag lets you drop the bad flag.

Team flags have their team color on it. Super flags are white. Antidote flags are yellow. Flags are shown on the radar or the HUD. You can drop a flag by pressing <Space> or clicking the middle mouse button.


Jumping is quite useful for getting on to other buildings. It’s not recommended to jump from bullets but to dodge them. Jumping makes you more vulnerable to shots.


If you kill a tank of another color, you will get one point and the target tank will lose a point. If you kill your teammate, you and your teammate will lose a point. If you got shot, the other tank gains one point and you loses one. If you capture a flag, your team will gain one point. If you capture your own flag on another base, your team will lose one point and the team that you capped your flag on will gain one.

The Radar

The radar is located on the bottom left corner of your screen. The radar shows walls, teleporters, other tanks, and bullets, super bullets, shock waves, and guided missiles. You cannot see stealthed tanks. You cannot use the radar when you have the Jamming flag. The radar has three ranges: short, medium, and long. Use <1>, <2>, <3>.


HUD stands for Heads Up Display. In the HUD there are two squares. If you move your mouse out of your inner square, you will move towards that direction. The farther the mouse is from the inner square, the faster you’ll move. On the outside circle, there are two strips: a direction-facing indicator and a altitude indicator. There is also small rectangles beside the altitude strip. These display how many bullets you have. If you shoot a bullet, the rectangle will turn red. Then, slowly green will overtake the rectangle. When the bullet have reloaded, the rectangle will be translucent. If all of your squares contains red, you’ll have to wait to reload until you can fire again. A message will tell you how many seconds before you can shoot again. There are two flags that will speed up reloading: Rapid Fire and Machine Gun. Laser flag will slow your reloading. Rapid fire shoots short range bullets. Machine gun shoots super short ranged bullets. Laser shoots an infinite ray.

Well, that’s all for today. Enjoy playing BZFlag!


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