xboing — An X Window System based blockout clone. V2.4


xboing [-version] [-usage] [-help] [-sync] [-display <displayName>] [-speed <1-10>] [-scores] [-keys] [-sound] [-setup] [-nosfx] [-grab] [-maxvol <1-100>] [-startlevel <1-MAXLEVELS>] [-usedefcmap] [-nickname <name>] [-noicon]
-speed <n> - The game speed, 1 - 9. 9=Fast
-maxvol <n> - The maximum volume as percentage
-startlevel <n> - The starting level for game
-help - Produce this help message
-sync - Turn on X synchronisation
-usage - Print a brief help message
-version - Print out the current version
-scores - Print out current highscores
-keys - Use keys instead of mouse control
-sound - Turn audio ON for game
-setup - Print setup information
-nosfx - Turn off special effects
-grab - Turn pointer grabbing on
-usedefcmap - Use the default colourmap
-nickname <name> - Use nickname instead of real one
-noicon - Do not create a custom icon
-display <display> - Set the display for the game


XBoing is a blockout type game where you have a paddle which you control to bounce a ball around the game zone destroying blocks with a proton ball.

Each block carries a different point value. The more blocks you destroy, the better your score. The person with the highest score wins.

The arena is filled with blocks and other objects. You have a paddle that can move from left to right at the bottom of the arena. You control the paddle so that the proton ball bounces around blowing up blocks and that it does not go past the paddle and out the bottom, much like a pinball game.

You may like to check out my WWW Home Page for XBoing at the following URL http://www.catt.rmit.edu.au/xboing/xboing.html

Block types

The blocks exhibit different behaviour. The bomb block when hit will explode all other blocks around it. You will score the points for the blocks exploded by the bomb. If another bomb is beside it then it will explode also causing a chain reaction. The solid wall brick will not explode unless next a bomb. The ammunition block will give you four bullets and so on. Special blocks such as reverse and machine gun will only last for one ball/level.

There is also a unlimited ammo block that will enable unlimited ammo for that level. You will always have bullets to shoot with. Cool.

There are random blocks that change their colour and therefore their points every now and then. They add a bit of interest to the levels.

There is a pirate symbol that will kill your ball if touched. You can shoot this block 3 times to kill it. Keep away from the Death block, it terminates your ball!
  The walls off block will turn the wall bounce off on both the left and right side of the arena. This will mean the ball will not bounce off the walls but continue through the wall and wrap around to the opposite side respectively.

The extra time block will add an extra 20 seconds to the clock to help you out.

The reverse block will when hit, reverse the controls to the paddle. This block should be avoided as it makes the game really hard. Hitting another reverse while already in reverse mode will turn it off. This control mode is reset to normal for each new ball.

The teleport block will teleport the ball somewhere else on that level. It will not place you too close to the bottom of the screen or on another block. If the teleport cannot teleport the ball anywhere as the board may be full - it will teleport your ball to the paddle and shoot it off there.

The sticky paddle block will stick the ball to your paddle each time it is hit and wait until you press fire to shoot it off again.

Some blocks will drop from their starting positions and head off down the screen until they nearly hit your paddle. These are normal blocks except they move... They will not clobber an existing block or move into a ball. Note that their score will decrease as the move down the screen!! Get in early I suspect.

There is a roaming dude that just roams around the arena. It has logic to stop it bouncing into something and will not roam off screen! It is worth a few hundred points and must be killed.

There is a machine gun block that allows you to shoot much faster. Note that you will also use your bullets at a greater rate. Can be fun to let off a burst every now and then. Erases counter blocks very fast.

An extra ball symbol may appear and when hit by a proton ball it will give you an extra ball!

There is a shrink paddle block that will shrink your paddle to a smaller size for the level. If you currently have the smallest paddle then it has no effect.

There is also an expand paddle block that will grow you paddle to a larger size for the level. If you currently have the largest paddle then it has no effect.

You can use the bullets to shoot the last pesky blocks or to collect lots of bonus coins. You will be given 4 bullets when a new level starts. If you lose a ball you will be given a token 2 bullets. Use bullets wisely as you will hate yourself when there is one brick left and the ball is missing it for ever.

Throughout the game the bonus coins will appear. Collect these for bonus points awarded when the level is finished. Sometimes the coin may appear as a x2 or x4 symbol which will indicate that the scoring from then onwards will be multiplied by 2 or 4 respectively. Note: if you get a x2 then x4 then x2 you will go back to x2 mode. Also note that this x2 or x4 mode will be disabled after each ball death.

Also during the game some special blocks will appear like reverse, death, extra ball, etc. and then disappear like the bonus coins. These blocks behave like normal but will disappear.

Sometimes a little eye dude will walk across the top and if shot or hit by the ball will earn you 10000 points! He will only walk across if the top row is clear.

If you collect more than 10 bonuses during a level the killer mode is activated which will turn the ball red and the ball will plough through all blocks except the solid ones and finish the level very quickly.

The bonus screen will tell you how you went in the last level. Your bonuses will be added plus the bullet and level bonus. You get 500 points for each bullet not used. You get 3000 points for each bonus and if you get more than 8 bonuses you get a SUPER BONUS of 50,000 points. You also receive a new ball every 100,000 points. Pressing space will skip the bonus animations when the bonus screen appears and your bonus points will still be added.

Like the special popup blocks you may see a dynamite block that will when hit kill all other blocks of the same type. Pretty good block really.

There is a level timer that counts down while playing each level. If you don't complete the level in the allotted time you will not receive the time bonus which is 100 points per second remaining. You will miss out on the level bonus if your time runs out.

The ball will be automatically shot off the paddle after about 5 seconds unless you press the space bar. You can always press `P' to pause the game.

If the ball gets stuck in an infinite loop it will automatically tilt the board if the ball hasn't hit the paddle after a certain time span. The time span is about 8 seconds I think.

When you get a new ball you will see a small red arc with a moving yellow dot go from left to right and back again. This yellow dot indcates the direction of the ball when you start it.

XBoing was started like many other projects to learn Xlib better. I had the XPM library and was already using it in a Motif application. I thought that it would be cool to have nice colour pictures/animations in an Xlib game. So I did. Without the XPM library I would be still playing with the colours I think.


The speed option will adjust the speed of the overall game. It will except integer numbers between 1 and 9. The speed of the game can be changed from within the game as well. See Game Control. The default value is warp 3.

The maxvol option allows you to adjust the maximum volume to be used for the sound effects if sound is supported. It doesn't mean all sounds will be this volume but they will use that volume as the top volume to scale against.

The startlevel option allows you to set the starting level for your games. Note that when your score is placed in the highscore table the level number is the number of levels completed and not the level number attained. Also, in the bonus screen your level bonus will be the number of levels completed multiplied by the level bonus value and not the current level number! Unless this option is used the first level will always be level one.

The help option will display a brief one line description of all the command line options used with xboing.

The sync option will turn on the X Window System synchronisation of all Xlib calls which means that all calls are flushed by the X server before continuing. This will cause the game to become slower but enable some debugging. The default is OFF.

The usage option will print a very brief synopsis of all the command line options and there value ranges.

The version option prints the version of xboing that you are running.

The scores option will print both the roll of honour and your personal best scores to standard out. This can be useful if you are not running the program on an X window display and still want to see what the scores are.

The keys option will enable the use of the keyboard for game control. Within the game you may press <g> to toggle between mouse and key control. The default is MOUSE control.

The sound option will enable sound to be turned on if possible. Within the game you may press <s> to toggle sound on or off. The default is OFF.

The setup option is useful when you have just compiled the program. It will display the paths of the level & sound directories and also give you some information on other things.

The nosfx option will turn OFF special effects. The special effect in question at this stage is the explosion shake. Turning it off will speed the game up a little bit. The default is ON. Servers without backing store will have it turn off automatically as the shaking is shocking.

The grab option will tell xboing to grab the mouse pointer when the game is visible. Pointer grabbing has the effect of stopping you move the pointer outside the game window. This is useful as it constrains the mouse and you don't get colourmap flashes. The default is Off.

The usedefcmap option will make xboing try to use the default colourmap. This will be fine if the default colourmap is reasonabily empty (ie: 200 free colour cells!). If you have a complex picture on your background then this option will not work and xboing will be unable to allocate enough colours.

The nickname option allows you to specify a nick name for you instead of using your real name found in the password file. This can be useful for hiding your identity. Please note that I store the user id in the highscore file and use that for checking and sorting. You will still appear only once in the global highscore table.

The noicon option will tell xboing not to create a custom icon. This is needed with some window managers as they only allow a small number of colours and the icon uses a quite a few. You may not like this icon either and want to use your own.

The display option will force the game to be viewed on another display. The format of the display name is <xserver:0.0> like most other programs where xserver is the name of the display. The default is your display of course.

You may also set three environment variables used by xboing. They specify the location of the level files, sounds and the highscore file. They are listed below.

These environment variables will override the settings that are compiled into the program.

XBOING_SCORE_FILE = the highscore file to be used.
XBOING_LEVELS_DIR = the directory with the levels.
XBOING_SOUND_DIR = the directory with the sounds.

Game control

Use the mouse to move the paddle left and right by moving the mouse left and right. All mouse buttons shoot bullets, start ball. The paddle will follow the mouse pointer. This is the best method and easiest to use by far IMHO.

Below are the keyboard controls. (Non case sensitive)

Space = Start game
J = Paddle Left
K = Shoot bullet
L = Paddle Right
Right = Paddle Right
Left = Paddle Left
Escape = End game and return to introduction.
i = iconify the game and pause.
H = View roll of honour.
h = View personal highscores.
p = Pause game.
d = Kill the ball.
a = Toggle audio on/off.
s = Toggle special effects on/off.
c = Cycle through the intro screens.
1-9 = Game speed where 9 is fastest.
+ = Increase maximum volume level.
- = Decrease maximum volume level.
t = Tilt board bumping ball.
z = Save current game.
x = Load saved game.
w = Set starting level.
e = Change to level editor.
q = Quit XBoing.

Save/load game

XBoing supports a one level save game facility. Every five levels you complete you have the ability to save the game once. The game will be saved in your home directory in your account. The ability to save will be indicated by the highlighted word "Save" in the specials area below the arena.

When playing you can press the save key (see GAME CONTROL) and the current state of the game will be saved. If you save it will overwrite any previously saved games. If you had more than 1 saved game it would make it too easy IMHO.

To load a game that has been saved you start a normal game and then press the load game key. The saved game will appear and you can start playing from where you saved.

Please note that the paddle position and ball position is not saved. The paddle will start from where the mouse is and the ball will start from the beginning position.

Level editor

The built in level editor allows you to design your own levels interactively. You can simply click on a block type and then draw into the level to add blocks. The level editor can also let you play test the level before saving it.

To change to the level editor simply press "e" while watching the intro screens. The window will grow right a bit and a tool bar will be shown. You are now ready to draw away.

The left mouse button is the draw button while the middle mouse button is the eraser. You can press the mouse button down and also move the mouse to provide continuous drawing until you release the button in both draw and erase modes.

The right most most button can be used to find out how much a block is worth in points. Simply click on a block in the toolbar or level area and the score will change to the score for that block.

You can play test the level. You will have infinite lives and the level never finishes. Simply press "p" to enter test mode and "p" to exit test mode.

Some basic editing facilities are available such as flipping the board vertically and horizontally and also scrolling 1 block vertically and horizontally.

Within the editor there are several keys that can be used.

Below are the keyboard controls. Case sensitive.

q = Exit editor.
p = Start/End play test.
r = Redraw the level.
s = Save the level.
l = Load the level.
c = Clear the level.
t = Change the time bonus.
n = Change the level name.
v = Flip board vertically.
h = Flip board horizontally.
V = Scroll 1 block vertically.
H = Scroll 1 block horizontally.

Level management is


Note: Highscores are saved at the end of each game. If you quit a game while playing your score will be added to the highscores.

Each block has a point score. Some blocks such as the counter block will have more than one score associated with it.

Each time the paddle is hit with the ball your earn 10 points. I'm nice.

There is a death symbol (a pirate) that when hit by a ball will destroy your ball. You can shoot them three times to remove them.

At the end of each level you are awarded a level bouns which is level <n> x 100 points. So for level 20 you get 20,000 points! If you fail to complete the level in the time allotted you will not receive a level bonus.

XBoing uses two highscore files. One displays the global scores which will be your best score to date. The other is a personal high score table with all your attempts (stored in your home directory).

If you obtain the highest score then you will be asked to imput some words of wisdom to your fellow game players. This short message is displayed under the Boing Master's name and is there for all to see. This message is saved with the high score file so watch out if it rude.

red = 100
blue = 110
green = 120
yellow = 140
tan = 130
purple = 150
bomb = 50
wall = 0
roamer = 400
drop = row * 100
specials = 100
ammo = 50 plus bullets
counter = 200 (each number).

Sound support

Xboing has support for sound. It has sound code for the following machines :-

HP, SUN, NetAudio, LINUX & NetBSD PC Soundblaster, RPLAY sound system, and DEC Audiofile.

Most support and use the .au format sound files. The linux version just sends the data down to the audio device which may cause slight clicking sounds due to the audio file header. Future versions of xboing will support other machines if patches are sent to me or if I learn the sound format. I am not going to have heaps of converted files all over the place in different formats as the archive would be HUGE.


The levels are not increasingly harder to play - some are but some are easy. This is because it takes ages to create and design levels.

The level data is specified in a simple ASCII file that can be edited. The levels are loaded when required from the directory specified when the game was made.

You can create more levels if you like making sure that they are in the correct format and that they have a correct filename.

Copy newlevel.data to level??.data and use that for the editing of new levels.

The format of the level is shown in the newlevel.data file in the source distribution in the levels directory.

Make sure you have a level title and a time bonus in seconds.

level format: (case sensitive)

. = blank
w = wall block
r = red block
g = green block
b = blue block
t = tan block
p = purple block
y = yellow block
X = Bomb
B = Ammo
c = Unlimited Ammo
D = Death
R = Reverse
H = Teleport
L = Extra ball
M = Machine Gun
W = Walls off
? = Random block
d = Drop Block
+ = Roaming dude
m = Multiple balls
s = sticky block
< = Shrink paddle block
> = Grow paddle block
T = Extra Time block


I will place all new versions of XBoing in /contrib on the site ftp.x.org. I will post an announcement of the new release in the newsgroup comp.windows.x.


XBoing - An X11 blockout style computer game

(c) Copyright 1993-1997, Justin C. Kibell, All Rights Reserved

The X Consortium, and any party obtaining a copy of these files from the X Consortium, directly or indirectly, is granted, free of charge, a full and unrestricted irrevocable, world-wide, paid up, royalty-free, nonexclusive right and license to deal in this software and documentation files (the "Software"), including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons who receive copies from any such party to do so. This license includes without limitation a license to do the foregoing actions under any patents of the party supplying this software to the X Consortium.

In no event shall the author be liable to any party for direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages arising out of the use of this software and its documentation, even if the author has been advised of the possibility of such damage.

The author specifically disclaims any warranties, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. The software provided hereunder is on an "AS IS" basis, and the author has no obligation to provide maintenance, support, updates, enhancements, or modifications.


Justin C. Kibell - Systems Programmer/System Administrator
CATT Centre RMIT - Melbourne - Victoria - Australia.
email: jck@catt.rmit.edu.au
SnailMail: PO BOX 260, Eltham, Victoria, Australia, 3095

Computer Science Graduate
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)


See README documents in source distribution for list of bugs and bug fixes.

Mail all bug reports/suggestions to jck@catt.rmit.edu.au specifying the version and machine type you are using. Use 'uname -a' to explain the machine type. Please note the version of X11 that you have installed as well, ie: X11R6, X11R5, X11R4, etc.

Please read all documentation before asking for help - only fair.