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Review: BZFlag 3D Tank Game 165

Posted by michael
from the load-HEAT dept.
GonzoJohn writes "LinuxOrbit.com reviews the 3D Tank game BZFlag. 'Have you ever been walking down the street, minding your own business, and suddenly look down to find something you hadn't expected? It might be money, it might be a decoder ring, it could be anything. But the almost universal reaction is pleasurable. 'That's a nice surprise,' you think as you stoop and pocket whatever good fortune has dropped in your path. The same thing can happen in the strangest places. For example, a recent post on our message boards inquired, 'What's your favorite flag in bzflag?'. Not being familiar with the game, I had to ask "What's bzflag?' Little did I know that such an innocent inquiry would result in an almost indecent obsession with a very cool game.'"
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Review: BZFlag 3D Tank Game

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  • by shani (1674) <shane@time-travellers.org> on Friday April 05, 2002 @08:58AM (#3289859) Homepage
    If I looked down and saw something I hadn't expected, I think I'd close my zipper.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:02AM (#3289874)
    linux games need better names. bzflag sounds like a compression utility or something. i bet we'd all be playing it if it was called something like 'armoured smashing-fist 2000', not bzip2.
    • From the site [bzflag.org]:

      "At this point the game resembled bz by Chris Fouts. This is no surprise because both games are based on the old Atari arcade game BattleZone. In fact, BZFlag was called bz back then because no one in the PCG knew of the existence of Chris Fouts' bz. Yes, that's right, BZFlag was written with no knowledge of bz. The two games share no code and were designed and written independently. They owe their similarities to their BattleZone heritage"

      Now, I'm not saying that it's a great name, but at least there's a reason for it being what it is...
    • I would love that programs would be called like this '3d tank game bzflag' so we know what it is.

      and something that was in the news PAN the newsreader is going to change its name, would you know its a newsreader from the name ? i wouldnt, would 'Newsgroup Reader PAN' be a better name ? you can always replace the PAN with any other fantasy name, but please lets make program names logical, so users will understand what it is..

      Just MY opinion =P

    • % BetterNamer -R /usr/bin
      % ls /usr/bin
      sex001* sex023* sex045* sex067* sex089*
      sex002* sex024* sex046* sex068* sex089*
      sex003* sex025* sex047* sex069* sex090*
      [...]

      Me: Grrrrrrrr...
    • not many names of games are too descriptive of gameplay (e.g. Quake involves no shaking). Most OSS games also have no marketig, so there is no familiarity with a name until perchance your friend finds it in the Debian list or mentioned in IRC...
  • by KevinGale (537574) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:09AM (#3289894) Homepage
    http://www.bzflag.org/
    • And karmawhoring the site as a clickable link:

      http://www.bzflag.org [bzflag.org]

    • by Ahchay (91408)
      From bzflag.org

      BZFlag now officially runs on the Vectrex! This amazing console uses vector graphics instead of the more common pixel-based graphics, making for amazing gameplay! In fact, the Vectrex has the same type of screen used in the original Battlezone.

      Whoa! Is this an April 1st thing or something...

      It would be very very cool - the vectrex is one of my all time desert island systems - but I can't find any more information on site or anywhere else, and I'm pretty certain that Veccie hardware would struggle.

      Can anyone confirm whether this is just a particularly inspired April oneth thang?

      (Gods, I hate this time of year - can't believe anything you bloody well read)

      Cheers
      Chris
      • by Anonymous Coward
        You win the prize (namely, abso-freaking-lutely nothing).

        As a developer for BZFlag, I can vouch for the fact that it is, in fact, an AFJ.

        -- Colin Bayer
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's already hard enough to find a decent server to play on. Now that BZFlag is on Slashdot I fully expect to find an increase in lag, teammate killers, and losers with hacked clients when I start playing this morning. Doh!

    The best flag is the laser by they way.

    • On the "Decks" server, ricochet is turned on and Laser is your best friend and your worst enemy (as you can indescriminately torch off friend, foe, and yourself with a badly placed shot...)- I usually can rack up 10 or so kills if I'm on a low ping night there with the laser. If you're on an arena that doesn't have ricochet turned on and has a LOT of obstacles- Laser's mostly useless as it takes too long to recharge.

      Guided missiles are my preferred one.
  • by gerddie (173963)
    I wonder why the "wide angle" flag is considered bad. Yes, it might not be easy to interpret the image, but if you become used to it, the fish-eye certainly gives you an advantage.
    • "the fish-eye gives you an advantage..."

      dude - that's what the RADAR is for...

      and i suppose colour blindness is an advantage so you don't feel guilty for killing your teammates?? 8^)
  • by LittleGuy (267282) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:10AM (#3289902)
    I'm not surprised about the addiction. It was so good for its time, even in its single-player mode, that the military took a look at it to train its troops.

    Based on Atari's BattleZone [bzflag.org], it remains my favorite Video Arcade game.
  • Spectre (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pistaugh (316764) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:11AM (#3289906) Homepage Journal
    There used to ba a game exactly like this. It was for the Macintosh if I remember correctly. I think it was called Spectre.
    • Re:Spectre (Score:1, Interesting)

      by HobbitGod42 (568144)
      I think it was spectre 7... well thats what it was on the PC... ah after looking at GameFaqs [gamefaqs.com] I noticed it was Spectre VR...
    • At one time, spectre was the Big Hype game of the year, available on both PC and Mac. Something about it's graphics.. dunno.
      • At one time, spectre was the Big Hype game of the year, available on both PC and Mac. Something about it's graphics.. dunno.


        No, it's because it wasn't just called "Spectre". It was called "Spectre VR". VR? VR means Virtual Reality! I've got to buy that game!


        You can probably snag a copy at Classic Trash [classic-trash.com] if you've got an old PC that has DOS on it. Though WHY it doesn't have Linux and HAS something as old and crummy as DOS would be a good question to ask yourself...;)

  • I happened upon BZFlag on freshmeat a couple of years ago now. It's been steadily improving since I first played it.

    It's a lot like Point Blank, a game I played on SGI O2 machines back in 1998, but nowhere near as complex. (Point Blank had three tanks and one aircraft, gradients in the terrain, and buildings more complex than the solid blocks in BZFlag)

    Still, I enjoy playing it, and there's a windows version, making it great for lan parties.
    • Re:Excellent game. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jandrese (485)
      Yeah, but remember how annoying it was in Point Blank that you couldn't shoot up hills reliably (or at all IIRC). And the Plane was nearly impossible to use (plus it was easily shot out of the sky by those dammable missiles on the hovertank (or was it just a light tank?).) Still, it was plenty fun to play nonetheless.
  • the best flag (Score:4, Interesting)

    by banditski (163064) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:12AM (#3289913)
    i became hooked on this game in school... a bunch (usually 8 or so) guys would stay after class to play until the kicked us out. this went on for the better part of four months.

    but the best flag, imho, is stealth. guided missles are pretty good, but invariably, everyone teams up on the dude with missles. stealth allows you to act as an assasin - picking your targets on your own terms.

    some would say this tactic is 'cheap' - i think cheap is getting missles and jumping onto the highest building and firing constantly. stealth isn't 'cheap', it's 'tactical'. 8^)
    • by Meech (166762) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:24AM (#3289954)

      The CS Department at my school has a 24 hour access rule, meaning that when a good game of bzflag starts, nobody has to leave. These games start very randomly. If a bunch of people are sitting around the lab working on stuff, all there needs for a game is for one person to *cough* and say "bz." The next thing you know, there are 5 to 10 people signed in, with the first person starting the server. It is an amazing phenomenon.

      As far as flags go, here are the best flags:

      • Guided Missle - This flag is the best flag for longevity. Right click and then fire, you just killed someone.
      • Laser flag - instant death from across the board.
      • Stealth - When you are not on someone's radar, they get really pissed.
      • Cloaking - It is hard for them to shoot at what they can't see.
      • Narrow - You become two dimensional in a 3D world.
      • Shock Wave - Everyone within a certain radius of you becomes no more!
      There may be more flags, but those are the best on the version that we play with.
      • These games start very randomly. If a bunch of people are sitting around the lab working on stuff, all there needs for a game is for one person to *cough* and say "bz."

        *sigh*, I miss college. Enjoy it while you can, buddy. Once you get a "real job", you'll never again work with a bunch of people who all share your interests.

        • by cduffy (652)
          Enjoy it while you can, buddy. Once you get a "real job", you'll never again work with a bunch of people who all share your interests.

          Depends on where 'ya work, man.

          My first year at [insert non-dead linux-centric software company... yes, you get to figure out which one -- can't be hard, we've been in /. lately], we had big bzFlag games every day around 5:00 or so. I understand that the year before it was XPilot. When the core engineering group went to lunch together, we'd all geek out 'bout the same stuff (for that matter, we still do, when I'm not telecommuting). We'd go to parties together (one employees' daughter dictated a list of who she wanted to her 4th birthday party -- and it was more than 50% coworkers, myself included), had (and have) a company band, used to have intercompany Nerf fights (now replaced by frequent Birkball games)...

          Yes, really cool workplaces still exist. Thing is, they're rare -- I was damn lucky to find this one. To address your claim directly: I'm still studying computer science (that's why I'm telecommuting some of the time) -- and I'd say my coworkers share my interests far more than my classmates, and my coworkers are most certainly better coders and teachers than my professors (I learn far more from talking to and working with them than sitting in class). So don't be so doom-and-gloom... just because you don't have a really cool job doesn't mean they don't exist. (or, to put it differently... "Neener neener neener!")
      • We used to do the same thing with x-tank. Damn I miss that game.

        Ah, the good 'ole days.
      • Then they switched over to NT because the gamers angered people.

        Its a computer cluster not a library. People are just mad to see people having worlds of fun, while they're stuck writing a paper. Little do these paper writing people know thats the only fun CS people have :)

        And a community too, I really miss that little time I had playing computer games around the cluster.
        • Then they upgraded to Windows 2000, which runs games like Starcraft just fine. They did break the sound drivers, but that's okay.

          What's even nicer is that the G3s and G4s that they buy have very gamer-friendly specs. One organization [cmu.edu] on campus has reserved computer clusters during off-peak times to play games like UT in there. Runs great.
        • Then they switched over to NT because the gamers angered people.

          I don't remember the switch to NT stopping us from playing Starcraft. I believe a few guys in Morewood (or was it shlag) set up a windows share with a hacked version of starcraft. Drag and drop to the desktop, then run.

          Or did I miss something in your post?

    • Re:the best flag (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bostik (92589)

      some would say this tactic is 'cheap' - i think cheap is getting missles and jumping onto the highest building and firing constantly.

      Yes, that is definetely cheap. Which is the reason that when I ran a bzflag server, jumping wasn't allowed, unless you got the Jump flag. We wanted to keep the guided missiles in the game, but without the munchkin factor that they, combined with free jumping, give.

      Yep, basically just getting the missiles and hopping on top of the highest building allowed you to snipe every single player that came in your field of vision. I tried it once and it's dead boring.

      Now I'm feeling the urge to reinstall a bzflag server and get in touch with the game again. As if it wasn't difficult enought to let go the last time :)

    • When I was at college, the big fun was NetTrek. Similar things. We would "convene" at the ACS of the Univ. of Washington, which had a "public" X terminal area. Tons of fun.
      • I remember the nights of playing netrek on those crappy X-terms with their 12" monitors. It was at the ACC, closed down in 1999 I think.

        There are still some people playing netrek [netrek.org]. If you use Linux, check out my client Paradise-2000 [speakeasy.org]. If you download IBM's viavoice package for linux, you can have it speak messages and macros outloud to you.

  • The undernet linux channel went through a brief period of bzflag addiction two or three years ago. Great game. Took a bit of fiddling to get it to work correctly with my 3DFX card at the time. Hmm... I should reinstall it...
  • by Manic Miner (81246) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:17AM (#3289930) Homepage

    I LOVE this game, I came across it a month or two ago while looking for 3d games that me and my house mates could play, even on low spec / linux machines. I wasn't convinced when I first loaded it up and had a tank which could jump and very simple graphics, but then we started playing.... I have to say this thing rocks, multi platform, network play, LOTs of players on line a once, serious good fun.

    I do have one gripe though, some of the flags are REALLY anoying if playing with only a few people, homming missle being one of them. All the person needs to do is get on top of a high platform, and thats it, everyone is dead and stay that way until he decides to drop the flag.

    Having said that a lot of the flags are great fun, narrow and wide still make me laugh :). I would like to see the ability to choose which flags are included in the game.. a nice options menu where you can change what's allowed - like the one worms had to allow you to customise the numbers of each type of weapon.

    I was refreshed to find this came.. it has one major thing going for it - good gameplay, it just goes to show that you can still have fun without needed in GeForce 4 graphics card :)

  • The site is slashdotted. For those curious (as I was) about this game, have a look at the homepage [bzflag.org]. It has reviews and screenshots. Anyone got a cached copy of the article?
  • Sounds a lot like the old shareware Amiga game, Tanx 'n' Stuff [emuunlim.com] (Assassins Games Pack, #184 [emuunlim.com]).

    Used to be that Galaxians, Pacman and Worm were getting a reworking on the Amiga in the form of Deluxe Galaga [monroeworld.com], Deluxe Pacman and Megaworm... now it's the Amiga shareware [aminet.org]'s turn for the remix. Hooray!

    We've even seen Populous get a rebirth with Lionhead's Black & White, and Quake [planetquake.com] with Half-Life [planethalflife.com]'s Deathmatch Classic. I wouldn't be surprised in five years time to see a reworking of GTA or Baldur's Gate 2. (Takers, anyone?) :D

  • Is a fully immersed version of the game...
    i.e. put on my VR helmet and gloves...

    Looking around with my head moves the turret, hands do sterring/jumping/shooting...

    I can only dream :)

    If you ever see "Resistance Is Futile" in a game of bzflag, that'll be me ;)
    • You can try that in well equipped (don't say it ;-) arcades. Well, not the gloves, but VR helmets. Unfortunately when I tried it the computers were pretty shoddy. I actually got a bit motion sick from it. (Which I have never gotten from games before, not even Descent.)

      Naturally that had something to do with the general procedure being you turn your head, and 2 seconds later the "world" was going in that direction. (IOW horrible lag.) But it was rather neat.

      I think it would be better if you had aiming with your head and controlled the tank's heading with a joystick.
  • IRIX Version (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cporter (61382) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:22AM (#3289946)
    Oh, man the IRIX version was great. When I worked for SGI '98 - '00 it was played nearly every day in our office. Nothing like an 8-CPU 16GB RAM SGI Onyx2 3-Pipe InfiniteReality system for playing bzFlag at 1920x1200 on a 24" Sony Superwide monitor.

    It ran Quake pretty well, too...

    • by pmsr (560617)
      You worked at SGI in that period and were playing bzFlag every day in office? And even had an available 8 cpu 16GB SGI Onyx 2 machine to play it on? Jeeez, now i know why i have to pay so much for my SGI machines. ;-)

      /Pedro
      • It was fun :-) But we only had that system for like 3 days, just being prepped for a customer. It was actually very rare for us to have Onyx2s sitting around - I think that one is at the Rose Center Planetarium in NYC's Natural History Museum. I had an Indigo2 and an O2 at my desk, once in a while we would have an Origin2000 4 or 8 CPU system. Of course, when they were in the office, the first thing to do was fire up Quake or bzFlag or something equally insane.

    • I was surprised to see this article too. I have played this on SGIs going back for years - it was one of the demo games that they shipped with the systems.

      We were playing on Indys and Indigo2s, but it was still a lot of fun.

    • You're making me miss working at SGI! And I was there at the same time you were. Now I'm getting all nostalgic for the bzflag server we had running in support. You've got to like having a boss who required his people to play bzflag at least once a day. :)

  • BZFlag rocks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ditz (118228) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:27AM (#3289964) Homepage
    BZFlag is an excellent example of a game which places gameplay above graphics. THe graphics are certainly not like Q3A, but instead made mostly of simple polygons. There are some interesting effects (such as the smoke from the Guided Missile) but clearly the focus is on gameplay.

    The gameplay is simply excellent! It is amazing how such a single game can produce such varied gameplay. For example, several friends and I have been playing BZFlag with max 1 shot delay and good flags only. Of course, each of us developed our own strategy and all was fine until we decided to increase the max shots to 5. Interestingly, all the strategies we used went to waste since they actively took advantage of the 1 shot reload delay. With 5 max shots delay, different flags became more important (ie SuperBullet is vastly more useful in 5 max shot delay).

    All in all, this game is very addictive. Highly recommended :)
    • Re:BZFlag rocks (Score:4, Informative)

      by miracle69 (34841) on Friday April 05, 2002 @10:06AM (#3290094)
      Another game that still has a small following, but is perhaps the oldest game played on the net over TCP-IP is Netrek [netrek.org]. The bronco version (which is closest to the original version and the only version still played daily) is a very subtle game focused on strategy and teamwork. It's easy to learn, but hard to master.

      Unfortunately, netrek has suffered a serious decline due to old graphics, and the expiration of the paradise client for windows. Newbies tend to like the paradise version of the game because it's a little more fun, a little less complex, and the clue on bronco servers can be quite abusive.

      Anyone else here remember playing Netrek? I know I spent a year of college tuition back in '93-'94 playing the game...

      If you're lucky, there are nights when you can play the hockey version of the game. Long Live the SC!

      To this day, when I hear the word "Ogg", I don't think about the music encoding format. Ogg is a verb, not a noun.
      • I played Netrek Hockey back when I was attending USC. While I regret my 18 months at that college, I do not regret a single minute spent on that game.

        That game convinced me that I needed more than Windows and Mac. Nothing on the PC convinced me to stay up playing for 20 hours straight.

        Old graphics for sure -- but in '93 and '94 it really was way ahead of the game as far as multiplayer online games were concerned...

    • Re:BZFlag rocks (Score:2, Informative)

      by nicklott (533496)
      Bah, what's wrong with good graphics? Combat Mission [battlefront.com] manages to combine good graphics with brilliant game play.

      It doesn't run on linux and you have to pay for it (hence I'm gonna get flamed) but it IS very, very good. It has a huge community [combatmission.com] (or here [derkessel.de]) following even though it is only available online and does not exactly have mainstream content.

      Also a rare case of a developer working closely with their customers and allowing them to contribute to a product; the engine isn't open source but the graphics certainly are (to the extent where people are producing whole new enviroments that are totally outside the game's original scope).

  • slashdotted (Score:3, Informative)

    by Niksie3 (222515) <nico@kist.nl> on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:30AM (#3289971) Homepage
    Damn, here is the first page, thats all I got:

    BZFlag: 3D Tank Shoot 'Em Up That Deserves Attention Part 1

    Published by LinuxOrbit.com: April 4, 2002
    by John Gowin, LinuxOrbit Editor-in-chief

    Have you ever been walking down the street, minding your own business, and suddenly look down to find something you hadn't expected? It might be money, it might be a decoder ring, it could be anything. But the almost universal reaction is pleasurable.

    "That's a nice surprise" you think as you stoop and pocket whatever good fortune has dropped in your path.

    The same thing can happen in the strangest places. For example, a recent post on our message boards inquired

    "What's your favorite flag in bzflag?".

    Not being familiar with the game, I had to ask "What's bzflag?"

    Little did I know that such an innocent inquiry would result in an almost indecent obsession with a very cool game.

    What is BZFlag?

    BZFlag is a 3D multi-player tank battle game. You can fight other tanks by yourself as a Rogue (some game servers don't support Rogues) or join a team based on your tank color (Red, Green, Blue, Purple). The object of course is to kill other tank opponents by shooting them, a fairly straightforward scenario for a first-person shoot 'em up type of game.

    The "flag" in the title of BZFlag refers to the white flags found scattered across the battlefield in the game. To pick up a flag, you merely have to run over it with your tank. Each flag grants the owner of the flag special abilities within the game. That's where some of the strategy of game comes in. Certain flags bestow powerful gifts to the bearer while other flags are designed to specifically combat the bearer of another flag. Not all flags grant a bonus either. Some of the flags hamper a player for a fixed amount of time before they automatically are released. Because the flags are indistinguishable to all players, it is chance that determines whether you pick up a flag that will make you powerful or shackle you with a burden.

    In order to excel at the game, it pays to know your flags. Here's a quick rundown of the flags available in the game, with a description of what they do, what they're best used for and what they're helpful against.

    First the "good" flags:

    High Speed
    Boosts your speed by 50%. Good for overall use. Can escape Guided Missiles if used to drive perpendicular to the missile path.

    Quick Turn
    Boosts turn rate by 50%. Good for close combat but no major advantage for combating other flags.

    Oscillation Overthruster
    Enables tank to go through buildings. You cannot back up in or into a building, nor can you shoot while sealed inside a building. You must be completely inside a building to be protected from normal shots. Vulnerable to Shockwave, Super Bullet and Steamroller in close quarters. Good for ambush attacks, but your tank always returns to ground level since you sink through any obstacle or building you jump on.

    Rapid Fire
    Increases shot speed and decreases range and reload delay. Good flag for overall combat, no major bonus against other flags.

    Machine Gun
    Increases shot speed and dramatically decreases range and reload delay. Good only for close combat. Real close.

    Guided Missile
    Arguably the most coveted flag in the game, Guided Missile enables shots to guide themselves when locked on an opponent by right-clicking your mouse on an opponent in your view window. The missile can be re-targeted at any time during its flight (with the right mouse button). This allows the player some control over the missile's steering. Vulnerable to the Stealth flag since missiles can't be locked on.

    Laser
    Gives your tank a laser cannon, with effectively infinite speed and range. Just point and shoot. Laser reload time is doubled from normal weapon. One downside is that you have a decent chance of killing yourself from extended reflections of the laser due to its infinite range. Great for long distance kills, but likely you will eventually become your own victim. Used carefully, very powerful. Good against Guided Missile thanks to its extended range.

    Ricochet
    Causes shots to reflect off walls. Many servers have ricochet enable for the entire battlefield, so this flag does nothing on these types of servers. On non-ricochet servers, you can practice your billiards skills by shooting around corners off border walls.

    Super Bullet
    Enables shots to go through buildings. Kills Oscillation Overthruster carriers inside of buildings as well as "zoned" Phantom Zone users. Great for unsuspecting opponents on the other side of a building or wall.

    Stealth
    Tank becomes invisible on radar but is still visible out-the-window. Prevents Guided Missile from locking on the carrier of the flag. Great overall use, especially against opponents not facing you.

    Cloaking
    Tank becomes invisible out-the-window but is still visible on radar. Good for hectic battle due to invisibility, but Guided Missile can still lock on you. Jumping while using this flag is more effective.

    Invisible Bullet
    Radar of opponents can't see your shots, so it's an excellent flag for all around battle and for those not facing you.

    Tiny
    Your tank becomes much smaller and harder to hit. Good for head to head battle due to reduced size.

    Narrow
    With this flag, your tank becomes paper thin. It's very hard (but not impossible) to hit a "Narrow" tank from the front or back. However, the tank is as long as usual so hitting it from the side has normal difficulty. Good for head to head battle, but try not to jump while turning.

    Shield
    Allows the bearer to absorb on hit from an opponent, but the hit ejects the flag immediately. Since the flag may not disappear when it ejects, you may want to wait around for it to fall to the ground so you can grab it again, but the shield flag flies for an extra long time (longer than the normal reload time).

    Steamroller
    Possibly the least desirable of flags (other than Ricochet and Jump when server settings make them useless) this flag enables your to kill other tanks by driving over them. The downside is you rarely get close enough in normal game play.

    Shock Wave
    Makes your tank shoot a shock wave in all directions rather than shells. Any tank caught in the wave is destroyed (including tanks on or in buildings). This is a good tactical flag against Guided Missile an Oscillation Overthruster users. The downside is the shock wave has a short range, so even an opponent without a flag has an advantage. Try not to jump with this flag either.

    Phantom Zone
    Driving through a teleporter send the bearer of this flag to the Phantom Zone. A "zoned" tank cannot shoot, but can drive through buildings and cannot be destroyed except by a Super Bullet or a Shock Wave. Also fun to use to taunt or distract unseasoned opponents who might waste time firing at a "zoned" tank.

    Genocide
    This is a dreaded flag in team play. When the bearer of Genocide kills any tank on another team, all members of that team are destroyed as well. A good way to rack up the points or kill a Guided Missile user by killing off the weakest member of his team. No battle advantage in head to head or Rogue competition.

    Jumping
    This allows your tank to jump, but is useless on "jump" servers. Great for servers without jump enabled for all since high-ground can't be reached without jumping. Identify
    Displays the identity of the closest flag in the vicinity. This flag is good for finding a flag you want, but don't get too distracted "flag shopping". This flag offers no battle advantage.

    Then there are the "bad" flags:

    Colorblindness
    This makes all tanks appear black, both on radar and in your view screen. Be careful you don't shoot your teammates.

    Obesity
    This flag causes your tank to become very large and easy to hit. Makes teleporters unusable due to enlargement.

    Left Turn Only
    This prevents your tank from turning right. Only thing to do is drive in straight line or circle left until the flag times out.

    Right Turn Only
    Same as left turn except the opposite direction.

    Momentum
    This flag gives your tank a lot of inertia. Stopping and turning become exercises in physics. The overall effect is less response for all movements.

    Blindness
    This blanks the main view screen, but your radar still works. It is effectively impossible to detect any tank with Stealth, but shooting a Stealth with Blindness is the stuff legends are made of.

    Jamming
    Disables the radar but you can still see out your main view screen.

    Wide Angle
    Ever wonder how a goldfish perceives its owner? This flag gives you some idea. The bearer sees the battlefield through a distorted fish eye lens in the main window.

    Go to Part 2, Strategy and more!

    • Re:slashdotted (Score:2, Interesting)

      by theghost (156240)
      The analysis of Cloaking is missing one crucial bit of info: cloaked tanks are immune to Lasers. (Makes perfect sense, but most developers would've missed that.)

      Cloaking is of limited use otherwise - skilled players use the radar at least as much as the viewscreen, if not more.

      BTW, my favorite config: all good flags, all bad flags (15 seconds or 1 kill), 3 shots, jumping. (The fewer shots you have the more the strategery of the game shines through. BZ can't compare to Quake for adrenaline-pumping click-festiness, but the cat and mouse of stealth vs. gm can't be matched by Quake.)
  • by Captain Large Face (559804) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:31AM (#3289973) Homepage

    Have you ever been walking down the street, minding your own business, and suddenly look down to find something you hadn't expected?

    Yes, an open manhole cover. But I'm feeling much better now.

  • by RobL3 (126711) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:32AM (#3289976)
    The official BZFlag website dosen't ist the OS X version, but you can find the port Here (3.2MB) [hzsystems.com]
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Friday April 05, 2002 @09:34AM (#3289980) Homepage Journal
    There are too many cheat clients for this game. Just showing up in an arena is like asking to be bungholed.
    • Yeah no doubt. The CLIENT is left to tell the server when the player has died or not. A trivial code mod and you never die.

      It reminds me of CS. But there is a major difference: bzflag developers are creating a fix, and this won't be a problem in 1.8.
      • However, some of the major "production" servers running the late 1.7's (e4/e5) have an administration patch installed that allows competent admins to boot problem players. 1.8 will fix this entirely, but keep in mind that "1.8 Released!" is a sort of running joke amongst the developers. ;)

        -- Colin Bayer , Part-time BZFlag Developer.
  • Bolo (Score:2, Informative)

    by GangstaLean (102189)
    I haven't played this game, but it reminds me of the insanity that came out of Bolo [lgm.com] freshman year. hordes of people descending on the Mac lab to team up and beat the crap out of each other in little tanks.

    wow that was fun.
    • by dar (15755)
      I loved Bolo. We played it a lot at Aldus in the early nineties. I miss it since I don't work on Macs any more. It would make a great Linux game. I wonder if the source is available.
  • Ohhh *clicky* Linkies!

    Downloading! yay!

    Clicky Linky! [hzsystems.com]
  • I got to play the arcade version of BattleZone (great game for its time), and the SGI version. When bzflag came out, we used to do "network testing" with it. Dog and Arena were also good for "network testing."

    There was another relatively obscure version of BZ. It ran under Apollo DomainOS. I believe that the program was written by a few geophysics graduate students at MIT back in the mid 80's.

    Hey, my sig is somewhat pertinent to this post!
  • I used to enjoy this game, but then a few servers started making the latency requirred to be so low that only broadband can play. The servers just boot dial up users after a while..

    There goes something else down the tubes for dial up, thanks to those certain server admins..

    And the rest of the servers stink anyway... The games networking either way needs some serious work, but I don't have much faith since dial ups are just ignored today anway.

    Which is a shame for millions like myself, where there isn't a reasonable alternative (sattelite != reasonable).
  • Haiku (Score:3, Funny)

    by offtopic_haiku_man (571388) on Friday April 05, 2002 @10:05AM (#3290086)
    Haven't played the game
    Though it sounds like it is cool
    'Member BattleZone?
  • Yet more proof (Score:2, Informative)

    Yet more proof that it's not the OS, it's the admins.
    Warning: Too many connections in /home/orbitftp/www/pages/pnadodb/adodb-mysql.in c.php on line 105 Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Too many connections in /home/orbitftp/www/pages/pnadodb/adodb-mysql.in c.php on line 105

    Error connecting to dblonew
    Program: /home/orbitftp/www/pages/mainfile2.php - Line N.: 82
    Database: lonew
    Error (1040) :
    • Re:Yet more proof (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rtaylor (70602) on Friday April 05, 2002 @10:57AM (#3290353) Homepage
      Actually, more proof that generating the same thing 10000 times isn't the brightest thing to do.

      Make it once, save the resulting HTML. If the story changes, remake the static HTML.

      More people don't notice 1million downloads of a static page (server wise, bandwidth is another story) -- but you certainly notice a couple million queries with php instances behind them.
      • True, true. But that wouldn't be DYNAMIC!(tm) In this case, though, it's probably more a PHP misconfig; I don't know if it can do connection pooling, but for an anonymous access web app, there shouldn't be more than one database connection, no matter how many people are accessing it. Better yet, store the information in memory, and display the contents of the memory variable. Refresh the variable every ten or fifteen minutes, or simply deallocate it if nobody's looked at it for ten or fifteen minutes. Still dynamic enough, and your database will thank you.
        • Better yet, store the information in memory, and display the contents of the memory variable. Refresh the variable every ten or fifteen minutes, or simply deallocate it if nobody's looked at it for ten or fifteen minutes. Still dynamic enough, and your database will thank you

          Congratulations, you've just reinvented Roxen [roxen.com]'s Cache Tag [roxen.com].

          In Roxen, wrapping that pesky block of CPU/database intensive code in <cache minutes='15' > </cache> tags would have done pretty much what you describe, without any extra coding...
  • We used to have BZFlag tournaments in the CS dept at Stetson. Order a couple of pizza nad then go in rounds of 6-8 for 20 minutes. Then take the winners and play a final. Winner usually got like 20 bucks or a free pizza.
  • UDP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NotoriousQ (457789) on Friday April 05, 2002 @10:32AM (#3290207) Homepage
    If you play this game make sure to set UDP instead of TCP in preferences. TCP is just to slow, and the lag will make the game intolerable.
  • by Bnonn (553709) <bnonny@gmail.com> on Friday April 05, 2002 @10:45AM (#3290290) Homepage Journal
    ...yet you post both a link to a review and to its homepage on Slashdot? One thing's for sure; having now had their servers crushed beneath the onslaught of half a million battle-tank-desperate nerds, the guys associated with this game sure don't love you.
  • Obviously the slashdot effect can kill a tank in its tracks.
  • by Davak (526912) on Friday April 05, 2002 @10:57AM (#3290352) Homepage
    1 - Download 1.7e2 [surfnet.nl]
    2 - Download 1.7e2 [sympatico.ca]
    Bzflag Home Page [bzflag.org]
    Game Den review [gamesden.net.au]
    SourceForge Page [sourceforge.net]
    Game Dudes Review [cablelan.net]
  • by Xouba (456926) on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:01AM (#3290378) Homepage

    It was an "official" event in the Linux section of Xuventude Galicia.net [xuventudegalicia.net] (only spanish and galician, sorry!), a LAN party born about 3 years ago here in Galicia (Spain). And there was another "almost official" tournament in the Arroutada Party [arroutada.org] (the mother of the galician LAN parties). I even partaked in this one (I was only a spectator on the Xuventude's one), and though I was quite The Ultimate Killing Machine in the "training games" (being first almost all the time), I only was the 3rd on the oficcial game. Man, do I suck :-/ ;-)

    Anyway, everyone had a fun time, as I've been told :-) The game is very network-friendly, and very addictive. Some game balance problems that people tell happen because they allowed too many "special options", IMHO. We just played with flags, and no other option (i.e.: no jumping, only 1 shot each time, and so on). That way, game is quite balanced, though if you get the Guided Missile flag, the Stealth flag or the Laser flag, you can be the ruler of the game for a long time :-)

    The Laser flag is my favourite, and specially fun when you play with shots being all ricochet. Well, at least it's fun until you kill yourself for firing straight against a wall. Ouch :-)

    Stealth flag is fun, yes, but Real Men (tm) play guided by their radars, and not their eyes (Or was Stealth the flag that didn't show you on the Radar? I don't remember now :-m) Use of The Force and any other special powers is also encouraged, or course :-)

    Anyway, speedwise it sucks in my P2-366 Compaq Armada 3500 :-/ I think it's because of the graphic card, but haven't looked at it deeply. Well, it absolutely rocks in my Athlon 800 with GF2MX, at least ;-)

  • by Isldeur (125133) on Friday April 05, 2002 @11:22AM (#3290493)
    This is really a gem of a game but I urge people setting up servers not to do the easy thing and hike up the shots to 10 or something and allow jumping.

    The game is *much much* more fun without jumping, though it doesn't immediately seem so. You start to learn how to drive correctly and defensively and it is a much richer experience.

    Games with and without these options can be described as follows:

    With jumping and lots of bullets: You spend most of your time jumping up in the air dodging other people's sprays of bullts, spinning around and landing in directions you just don't want to land in.

    Without jumping and lots of bullets: You actually can play cat and mouse. When your opponent's 2 shots are gone and you've dodged them, you can release at will. Much more interesting game. The other is just silly, but that's how people tend to start and they never learn better.
    • I agree for the most part, but without jumping BZ loses a lot of strategy and skill.

      3 shots with jumping on makes for great play. The good players learn fast that jumping should only be used for positioning or as a last resort. The first two shots are really just feelers - will they jump or dodge? If they jump then you own them with a well-timed 3rd shot. If they dodge then the fun really begins - try and hit them with the 3rd or save it in case they come for you?

      Plus there's the thrill of a well-executed turning jump that saves your bacon and puts you right in line for a shot (it's a sweet, sweet thing), not to mention the dramatic dog-fight when two tanks go head-to-head, each jumping and turning in the air like Neo and Elrond as they pass.

      Without jumping the game's a pretty conventional tank game with mediocre graphics. With jumping, good and bad flags, and limited shots you can enjoy a 1-on-1 game as much as a free-for-all.

      (IMO Quake is good for action, but comparing it to BZ is like comparing solid gold checkers to an old wooden chess set.)
  • I'd like to reccomend another game very similar (yet superior) to bzflag. It is called Wulfram II [wulfram.com]. It follows the same concept of a tank game as bzflag does, execpt it involves teamwork, bases, and much more strategy. Unfortunately, it is only available for win32, although if you send the author enough money, he'll speed up his port to unix and osx. The game is free, although donations of as little as $4 per month are highly encouraged. All in all, i'd say this game is everything that bzflag is and more. It combines a little action, real-time strategy, teamwork, and more into one great game.

    The graphics aren't GREAT, but they're still nice, and the game runs on most pcs, and the graphics are still signifigantly better than BZFlag. People with a voodoo2 or 3 can play using glide, which produces really nice graphics. Unfortunately a 3dfx driver update broke glide support for the game, and it can only be played wiht dated drivers (completely broken on voodoo4/5).

    A last note is that the thing that sets this game apart from others is it's incredibly realistic physics and gravity, etc. I have never seen a game with more realistic physics, etc. The sequal being worked on by the underpaid independent developer (yes... one developer) will be even better with the addition of an advanced lighting engine. (by physics, i'm talking about how a pulse shell arcs, how tanks are dragged to the ground, etc.). These phyiscs also help combat lag, as the server uses a vector-based coordinate system, which greatly reduces bandwidth to help 56k users (such as myself).

    Go out and pay it! http://www.wulfram.com
  • Seeing the screenshots of bzflag somewhat reminded me of the tons of fun my friends and I had at Virtual World (the BattleTech Sim)

    This leads me to ask...has anyone out there written a B-Tech sim game that resembles the Virtual World gameplay? Back then it was simple low-poly graphics, so I imagine it wouldn't be that hard to reconstruct. I'm sure that would amass the same cult following that currently surrounds bzflag.
  • In my graphics course here at Algonquin College (Ottawa, ON) we learned OpenGL on SGI O2 workstations. These things were amazing. There'd be 15 of us all in this room playing BZFlag and yelling and screaming cause we'd be having such a good time. Often we'd miss other classes cause we just didn't want to stop playing, it's THAT addictive. Strange that it's not popular on other platforms.
  • XPilot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by option8 (16509) on Friday April 05, 2002 @04:53PM (#3292764) Homepage
    sounds as addictive and fun as xpilot used to be when i was in school. i wonder if there's still a big community at the Uni playing xp these days or if they've all moved up to quake and it's brethren. i haven't played any really good networked games since xp (and that includes all the hours of q3 arena, etc i've put in in the last year or so)

    xp was introduced to me as "asteroids, but you get to kill other people" and i thought "now that sounds fun"

    and addictive. dang. i spent more nights staring at little blips on the computer lab screens than i care to count. as i got more into it, i even started designing my own ship outlines - and even started to see other people copying them.

    I was Delta Clipper (after the NASA project) and occasionally Happy Fun Ball (tm) due to my tendency to bounce around the screen, rather than actually try to navigate...

    no flags, but there were little powerups (i forget the term we used for them) that would bestow invisibilty, speed, bouncing or multiple shots, mines, guided missiles, and loads of other stuff i never really learned how to control - the game used just about every key on a Sun keyboard, plus meta+key combos.

    man, what a fun game. (http://www.xpilot.org/ [xpilot.org])

    so, what's this about tanks? is there a Darwin/OS X port? can i play on my ibook? i'm about ready for a new addiction...

  • by jupiter$spectre (444183) on Friday April 05, 2002 @05:33PM (#3293007)
    As one of the developers, here is some information about what's going on currently:

    1.8 will look very little like 1.7. The user interface is fully customizable (through xml) and worlds will be completely custom. The network code is also being completely rewritten to reduce lag. 1.8 is in CVS HEAD for anybody who would like to try out the new features.

    Also, a CTF (capture-the-flag) league is getting going. If you're interested in doing team battles and tournaments, take a look at http://bzflag.org.league/ [bzflag.org]

    BZFlag is also on OPN - feel free to drop by and make a suggestion or three.

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