Getting Started

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This article covers the basics of getting started with BZFlag. It is intended for new players who have just found the game and require assistance. More detailed help can be found on our Getting Help page.

Getting Started

These simple steps have been designed to allow new users to begin playing the game as quickly as possible.

Downloading and installing the game

The main thing users need to play is the game software. Users can Download the software for a number of different systems.


The most common operating system for players is Microsoft Windows. A simple installer can be found at, . Simply Double click the downloaded file to install the game.


The next most popular system for players is Apple's MacOS X for the Macintosh famialy of computers. The version for macs can be found at, . Simply drag the BZFlag icon from the extracted DMG to your hard drive to install the game.


The project does not distribute a premade binary package for linux, but many linux distrobutions have BZFlag in their package management systems ( APT, YUM, emerge, etc.. ). Linux users can always build the game from the source code. Please see the downloads page for more information.

Registering a callsign(Optional)

It is not mandatory to register a callsign ( the name a player uses in-game), but it is hihgly recommended.

A few of the benefits of registering are:

  • The callsign is reserved, and can not be used by any other player.
  • Registered users post on the BZFlag forums
  • Registered users can join global groups, and leagues.
  • Many servers require registration to play.

Users that wish to register can simply do so on the BZFlag fourms at [1]

Running the game

Once the game is installed, it must be run to play.


Windows users that have installed the game with the provided installer will find a shortcut to the game in the start menu, under program files. Users simply have to click this shortcut to start the game.

Mac OS X

Macintosh users simply have to double click the BZFlag icon that they draged to there computer to start the game.


Linux, and other unix based platforms can start the game by typing the command bzflag in a terminal.

Joining a game

When the game is first started it will show the main menu screen. Users navigate the menu by using the Up and Down arrow keys to highlight a menu item, and using the enter key to select and activate the highlighted item.

Main Menu

The main menu includes a number of menu items that lead to sub menus. The most important menu for new layers is the Join Game item.

The Main Menu

Join Game Menu

Users wishing to join an internet game in progress should choose the Join Game item from the main menu.

On the first run of the game software all the fields in the Join Menu will be empty. Players need to use the arrow keys to highlight the Callsign item and input a player name. This name will be how other players see the user. Registered users should use the same callsign that they registered when playing. Registered users should also enter in their password into the item marked password. This password is only used for to verify your identity and is NEVER sent to the game server.

The e-mail string is optional and usually left blank by many users.

Once this information has been entered, the user must choose a server to play on. Servers are games of BZFlag that are hosted on the internet. There are over 200 servers to choose from. A listing of all the servers can be found by highlighting the Find Server menu item to bring up the server list.


Server List

If you want to see a list of current servers, move to the "Find Server" option. A second or two after you select this, a series of servers will appear on the list, with the most popular servers being first. Select one that sounds good, and you will be returned to the "Join Game" screen. Then select "Connect", and you will join the server. Once the join is complete, you will see a list of users, a server message, and any other info (such as chat), in the chat box.

The Serverlist

Playing BZFlag

Once you've joined a server, you are going to be playing with anywhere from 5-35 other people. Their names are listed on an in-game screen, which can be enabled or disabled by pressing "s". This list shows a few things:

  • Current players
  • Player score (Kills, deaths, teamkills, etc..)
  • Current teams (Each color represents a team)
  • CTF Score (If the map is a CTF (Capture The Flag), then the current CTF score is in the top-right)


The Radar (In the bottom left), shows a top, 2d view of the map. This is useful for dodging bullets, and making sure no one sneaks up behind you.

Mouse Box

The "mousebox" is used for a few things:

  • Helps you aim. The tiny rectangle in the middle shows where your bullets are going to go
  • Your altitude. The sides of the mousebox have markings, showing how high off the ground you are.
  • Reload time. To the left of the mousebox, there are small rectangles, each of which show how long until a shot is reloaded. The number of boxes depend on the number of shots on the server.


When playing BZFlag, keep a few simple rules in mind:

  • Don't shoot at people on your own team.
  • Make sure to not accidentally carry your team flag everywhere. (This is called flag running)
  • If you're nice to others, they will be nice to you. (Keep the language clean, be polite, etc..)
A typical server. This client has modified textures, so it will not look identical to yours.