BZFlag Club

All things BZFlag - no [OT] here please
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The Purple Panzer
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BZFlag Club

Post by The Purple Panzer » Thu Jun 02, 2005 12:53 pm

For a few weeks I've been running an after-school BZFlag Club at my son's school (Mystic Middle School in CT - he's in 5th grade). This is a brief report on the experience so far.

It's great to run a server in a computer lab (basically a big classroom with lots of PCs) and have the kids in one room; it makes CTF interesting too, as one can verbally coordinate play.

One goal I've got is to teach them how to make maps (version 1), but so far they just sprint into the room and start driving around. It's a challenge to get their attention - it's the end of the school day, and they have more energy than I do.

There are usually 8 kids or so, and we do this after school on Wednesdays, from about 2:30 to 4:00, when they catch the late bus home.

Every once in a while we'll go on to internet servers (that is, use one of the servers that appear in the normal list). Often there are problems with bad language - more than once this has been started by one of the charming 5th-graders.

They can yell a lot, and sometimes the language degenerates a bit (I was surprised at this, and I doubt they really know what they're saying - and it's not too hard to stop). In general the Club has worked pretty well, but they can get too excited, screaming and generally carrying on. But they're all about 10, so this is understandable. It might be a lot more rewarding with high school kids.

It's been fun to do, but I'm not sure I'll continue it in the fall. If anyone else tries this sort of thing, let me know.

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Post by orchid » Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:56 pm

Thats awesome,

I can just see them charging through the door towards the computers :)

You could test some of the servers to see if they are using the swear filter and "herd" the kids towards those if they play online.

I do recall seeing a couple of servers in the list advertised as "family" friendly servers so they might be good. But really I would
think the game would be more fun on a lan against people you know than over the net.

So can we expect them to form a team for the CTF league? ;)

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Post by Workaphobia » Fri Jun 03, 2005 7:26 pm

I would not suggest encouraging these kids to use online servers. All popular public servers have occasional language problems (although gamesunited seemed comparatively sheltered the last time I was on there), and the administrators probably don't need a classroom full of ten year olds to watch over. ;)

But by all means continue the LAN games. If the school's routers will allow it, see if you can't get another school to do the same and connect remotely - then you can make an actual competitive sport out of it.

Or is that going too far? :)
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Post by cookiecutter » Sat Jun 04, 2005 10:12 pm

I know that secretplace has an extremely strict language filter and the admins are very tough on people who swear.

I am surprised that ten year olds like the game. It is kind of frustrating and hard to maneuver at first compated to more mainstream shooters.

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Post by RPG » Sun Jun 05, 2005 4:53 am

If only they would take my suggestions and do that at my school...

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Post by ducatiwannabe » Sun Jun 05, 2005 12:50 pm

That is REALLY cool! I understand your frustration with 10 year olds, but thanks a lot! :)

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Post by M1A2AbramsTank » Sun Jun 05, 2005 8:21 pm

Yeah, everyone at my school used to play it after school in the PC lab, but then we got this new Technology guy who came in and banned all the BZFlag sites and uninstalled it from all the computers. I think it made everyone pretty mad. :twisted:
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Post by Hannibal » Mon Jun 06, 2005 5:10 pm

wow, the school actually let you download bzflag on what, 25-30 computers?, i know for sure that my school/district would kill that idea before it started, :idea-alt: although i think i could petition the board to get it to a vote.....
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Post by M1A2AbramsTank » Mon Jun 06, 2005 8:08 pm

No, it was only about 18-20, even then not all of them had them.
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Post by Edge » Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:09 am

My Network Admin class plays BZFlag religiously.

We do it at the end of every term. After building our Linux terminals and setting them up, learning all about the commands and such, we learn to download and RPM install BZFlag.

We spend the last few weeks of every term playing LAN games on the default map.

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Post by Death Barrel » Thu Jun 09, 2005 3:05 pm

cool, bzflag club! wish they had that when i was in school :)

try secretplace server they are very strict about language there :)
one time i said @$%*( @#$# &*&**&, and "bum" and was banned for it :) more of a family or young kids server, they have zero tolerance for language there, nice fast server, great for keeping your mouth shut and playing.

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Post by Guest » Thu Jun 09, 2005 4:46 pm

Death Barrel wrote:cool, bzflag club! wish they had that when i was in school :)

try secretplace server they are very strict about language there :)
one time i said @$%*( @#$# &*&**&, and "bum" and was banned for it :) more of a family or young kids server, they have zero tolerance for language there, nice fast server, great for keeping your mouth shut and playing.
One time there I said "%$*&" And I literally mean that... I typed the symbols in... I didn't swear or anything...
But 2 admins were on and assumed I had swore, they were all over me like a rash. lol. Very family friendly server, even if the admins won't listen or accept an apology. :)

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Post by Soraya » Thu Jun 09, 2005 8:58 pm

At my middle school there's thing thing called the Enrichment Program. Its every mon and wed after school for 6 week sessions. There are a bunch of different courses you can take and i could prolly set up a bzflag thing here, but i dunno how many kids would go for it... let alone the school. I dunno if the comp teachers would allow me to download games for this...

rambo/appleflap's new pillbox server has a language filter, but he definately needs to update it. It blocks out 'idiot' but not many actually swears. (note to self - i need to talk to him about that...)
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Teaching Programming with BZFlag

Post by The Vet » Thu Jun 16, 2005 4:56 am

How useful do you think BZFlag will be for teaching a programming class?

Being an open source code, students would be more engaged since they get to see the program compile directly into the game and get to play with the code themselves.

The only problem is that I would want to restrict the class to more advanced and mature students since the game's coding itself may be over the head of a beginning porgrammer and some students may be more interested in playing instead of coding.

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Post by DTRemenak » Thu Jun 16, 2005 5:12 pm

Some parts of the code are very easy to understand. Others...aren't. I guess it pretty much depends on what you're trying to teach. Keep in mind that BZFlag is C++ with lots of STL, not plain C. Also, there's also a lot of stuff that's not properly abstracted (e.g. there are OpenGL and socket calls throughout the codebase), while other parts of it are very clean OOP.

That said, if you decide to do it and any of your students come up with nifty patches (or bugfixes) by all means have them submit them.

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