Category:Map Making

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BZFlag uses its own map file format, BZW (BZ World). BZW files are text based and contain a list of objects and map options that are read by the BZFS server. There is a Map FAQ that deals with several frequently asked map making questions.

Map Creation Methods

BZFlag has several well practiced methods for the design of maps, from simple text editing, custom editors, to exporters for 3D modeling software. While basic dedicated map editors, such as BZEdit, can often only create simple objects, 3D modeling software can create complex custom mesh objects, but have a much steeper learning curve.

Dedicated Map editors

Dedicated BZFlag map editors (i.e. written specifically for graphically editing BZW files) generally go by the name BZEdit. There are a number of versions of BZEdit that have been developed over the years. Each editor has its own level of support for various map features. At this time there is no custom editor that supports every feature of the BZW format. In general, these will only support simple version 1.10 objects, like boxes, pyramids, bases, and teleporters.

Editors supporting BZW 1.10 features:

Editors supporting some BZW 2.0 features.

Non-dedicated editors

Technically, you can use any 3D modeling package that can export to .obj format. You can then either use modeltool or Wings3D to convert that file to BZW format.


The blender 3D modeling application features a plug-in called BZWTools, which enables blender to read and write the BZW file format and to create BZW specific objects. Tutorials on using blender (not specific to BZFlag) can be found on the blender web tutorials pages.

Wings 3D

Wings 3D is a good modeler to use if you're new modeling. It has a much smaller learning curve than Blender, although it doesn't have as many features. The BZW Exporter for Wings3D allows you to export wings objects to a BZW file. Tutorials on using wings (not specific to BZFlag) can be found on the wings web tutorials pages, as well as a useful tutorial on UV mapping

Getting Maps In .obj Format

It is not widely known that you can export a bzflag map from the actual bzflag client in .obj format. To do so, you must connect to a server hosting the BZW map you would like to download and type /saveworld -o "mapname.obj". This will allow you to then import the .obj file into a modeler and edit the map.

Creating BZW files via scripting or trivial programming

Several of the existing BZFlag maps are created using a trivial application custom created for the purpose of generating each map. The application/program consists of print statements that output BZW file primitives. This method, using Perl, visual basic or C, allows re-use of the print statements with variables, for relatively fast creation of nearly identical objects. Once a coder creates a box primitive, for instance, another box can be created with a simple call to the same set of print statements but with different size or location arguments. The sets of print statements are then collected by the coder to create a library of available primitives (box, cylinder, fancy-teleporter, cage) that can be used again and again. The library of primitives may then be used to create additional maps but without all of the original work required to make the first map. The flaws in using this method compared to a graphical modeler or even BZEdit are:

  • Representation of the work are not available without first launching a BZFlag client to look at the map
  • Errors in the library or in calls might make the map unusable but with only visual basic, Perl or C compiler output as a clue

The advantage of this method is that the library is relatively easy to improve compared to bzedit and new features of bzflag are easily applied. In addition, the ability to replicate structures in a for-next loop context allow for repetitive or stepped structures with more rapidity than other mapping methods.

Editing by Hand

The last method of creating maps is simply coding them by hand as text files using the raw BZW structures. This is still one of the most common ways that people create and edit maps, and can be very fun and challenging. This is easily done in any text editor, for example NotePad on Windows, and TextEdit on Mac OS X.

Most maps made by hand tend to be fairly simple, though experienced mappers have made some extraordinary maps in this way. The reason for the popularity of the "hand made" approach is partly because of the simple structure of the BZW code, but also the fact that, until recently, there were no graphical editors available for operating systems like Mac OS X. A detailed explanation about creating a map by hand can be found on the Editing by Hand page.

Maps that contain 2.0 objects (such as mesh) tend to have been either completely made in a text editor, or partly modeled in 3D modeling software, and later manipulated in text format.


This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.