xscorch(6) Games Manual xscorch(6)
xscorch - Annihilate enemy tanks using overpowered guns.
Xscorch is a clone of the classic DOS game, "Scorched Earth". The basic goal is to annihi‐
late enemy tanks using overpowered guns :). Basically, you buy weapons, you target the
enemy by adjusting the angle of your turret and firing power, and you hope to destroy
their tank before they destroy yours.
First, fiddle with the options in the main menu. There are a number of options which are
described below, which may make the game easier or harder. The default options make for a
reasonable level of gameplay. Most of the game configuration is controlled from the user
interface, although there are a few command-line options which are mentioned below. Once
you are ready to begin a new game, you might want to Save Options to save your configura‐
tion, then select Begin Game to start a new game.
Gameplay is divided up into several rounds. Each round consists of two parts: the Inven‐
tory phase and the Battle phase. In the Inventory phase, you can buy weapons to shoot at
your opponents, and accessories to help defend your tank. See the Inventory section below
for information on the weapons and accessories you may buy. In the Battle phase, you set‐
up defenses, choose a weapon, aim and fire at your opponents. See the section on Battle
below, for more information.
The player has the option to buy weapons and accessories to make the game more interest‐
ing. Weapons are just that: an assortment of missiles, including ICBM-like warheads,
napalm, lasers, and a number of custom weapons to bring down specific defenses. Acces‐
sories are methods to make gameplay easier for the player and increase their chance of
survival, with guidance systems, shields, fuel, batteries, and other odds-and-ends.
At the beginning of a round, each player is given an opportunity to buy or sell weapons
and accessories. Each player may have up to 99 of any item in their inventory. A few
weapons have an infinite supply (for example, Baby Missiles) - these weapons cannot be
Weapons and accessories are sold in bundles; the price for the bundle is displayed in the
inventory, and you must buy items as a complete bundle. The exception to this is when a
player attempts to buy more of an item than their inventory can hold; in this case, the
bundle will be broken and the weapons are sold on an individual basis, with a small markup
Weapons and accessories may also be sold from a player's inventory. Again, items are gen‐
erally sold as a bundle. The player will receive a reduced amount of money for the sale -
hey, the middleman has to make money somewhere :)
In the Inventory screen, two panels are displayed, listing the weapons and accessories
that are available. The Tab key will switch between the various panes. Up Arrow and Down
Arrow will allow the player to scroll through the list of items, Right Arrow will buy a
bundle, and Left Arrow will sell a bundle of the currently highlighted item.
For each item, the name, bundle size/total price, and current inventory are displayed.
Items which can neither be bought or sold will appear darkened. If the player has maxed
their inventory for that item, or they cannot afford to purchase the item, or the item has
a higher arms level than the player is allowed, then the item cannot be purchased. Items
which can be bought will appear with an arrow pointing to the right, and items which can
be sold will appear with an arrow pointing to the left.
The items that are available are listed in the next two sections.
This list will be added once the weapons list is reasonably stable.
This list will be added once the accessories list is reasonably stable.
This overview is sadly, incomplete.
Change the turret angle. This will adjust the turret angle in increments of 5
degrees. For finer control, hold Shift to adjust the angle in increments of 1
Change the firing power, in the range of 0 to 1000. This will adjust the firing
power in increments of 20. For finer control, hold Shift to adjust the firing
power in increments of 1.
Tab Select the next weapon available in your inventory.
Select the previous weapon available in your inventory.
B, b Activate a battery. A single battery can restore 5% of damage done to your tank,
and therefore restore the maximum firing power by 5% when you are damaged. You
must have a battery to discharge in your inventory to excercise this option.
E, e Activate or energize the currently selected shields.
F, f Activate your fuel tanks. A window will be displayed, indicating the amount of
fuel you have available. As long as you have fuel, you may use the Left and Right
arrows to move one unit to the left or right, respectively. In general, you cannot
move your tank up a steep hill. Immobile tanks will not be able to excercise this
R, r Force a redraw of the screen.
S, s Toggle the currently selected shields. The currently selected shields are the
shields which will be used when you Energize. Shields are classified by a power
number with a type suffix: M for magnetic shielding, F for force shielding, and S
for your standard, run-of-the-mill shields. If no shields are available, 0S is
T, t Toggle contact triggers on/off. This is only meaningful if you actually have some
contact triggers of course, and when tunneling is enabled. Weapons that are fired
after this point will have contact triggers equipped (until you run out).
0 - 9 Display information about a particular player. 1 gives information about Player 1,
and 0 gives information about Player 10.
Enter Accept your orders.
Ctrl+Y Bring up the System Menu (this can also be accessed from the menus). You can con‐
trol certain graphics options from the system menu, clear the screen of smoke
trails, and end a round prematurely.
Ctrl+Z Pauses the game.
Ctrl+R Resign from the game. This will end the game for everyone. You will be asked to
confirm the resignation.
The system menu gives you some control over the game while it is in progress. In this
menu, you will have options to change how the game is displayed (e.g. the Graphics Fast
option described below). You also have access to a few useful commands, described below.
Kills everyone still alive in the round. No player gets credit for the kills, and
none are considered a suicide. This option is useful if all human players have
already been eliminated from the game, but the AI players are making no progress
whatsoever in annihilating each other. This option ends the current round only.
If you have used smoke tracers or have Trace Paths enabled, then this option will
clear all smoke trails from the sky.
Resigns from the current round and all remaining rounds. This option ends the
entire game, and will take you back to the intro screen.
Takes you to the Sound Options window.
Human The humans believe they are the superior mind. The AI's rather disagree with that
sentiment. Keep this in mind when you are wondering why 9 AI's would want to
simultaneously target your tank...
Moron This AI fires at random. Of all the AI's, this one has by far the highest suicide
rate. An alternate name is ``Cannon Fodder''.
This AI goes for targets it has a line-of-sight to. It's not a great player other‐
wise. This AI buys weapons that have the best economical yield, but during the
game it will select weapons which have the highest yield.
This AI is similar to the Shooter, except a Spreader buys weapons with the highest
yield, without regard for the price.
This AI chooses a victim. Once chosen, the victim is attacked until they are dead,
or the Chooser loses the ability to reach the victim. This AI does not need
line-of-sight, but fortunately it cannot compensate for wind.
This AI is like Chooser, except a Calculater can compensate for the wind. These
guys are fairly deadly in a fight; they also tend to allocate large budgets to
defense and offense.
This AI goes for weapons that will cause as much damage as possible, without much
regard for individual victims. This AI prefers spread weapons to the more focused,
precision weapons. A few Annihilaters can clear the terrain easily. These AI's
don't worry about defenses too much. With their destructive tendency, they won't
survive long anyway - but neither will anyone else.
No one knows what this AI thinks...
This selects one of the above AI's at random, but you will not be informed which AI
Number of Players (integer, 2-10)
Set the number of players participating in the game.
Number of Rounds (integer, >= 1)
Set the number of rounds to play for this game.
AI Type (list)
Select the AI type. Human players are ``Human''; the remaining AI's are documented
Player Name (string)
Give a unique name for each player.
Tank Style (list)
Select the type/shape of the tank, for each player.
Interest Rate (float, 0-0.30)
Interest rate for savings, compounded once per round.
Dynamic Interest (toggle)
If enabled, interest rates will change during the game.
Initial Cash (integer, 0-1000000)
Amount of money each player should start with.
AIs Can Buy (toggle)
If enabled, computers are permitted to buy items. The AI's are very uninteresting
if this option is turned off.
AIs Buy Aggressively (toggle)
If the previous option is enabled, the AI's will buy items conservatively. With
this option, the AI's will allocate larger budgets and buy bigger items early in
Free Market (toggle)
Specify how scoring works, selecting from Basic, Standard, Greedy, or possibly
other methods defined in the configuration file:
Basic Players only receive money for kills and survival.
Standard Players receive less money for kills and survival, but they will also
receive money for damaging an opponent.
Greedy Players are paid as in Standard scoring, but with bonuses for unused
inventory at the end of the round.
The Lottery (toggle)
If the lottery is enabled, there will be a random drawing at the start of each
round. A random player will receive a bundle of a random weapon for free as the
lottery award. This is a great way to inject a little extra life into AIs who are
usually conservative buyers. Plus it's always great fun when you get a free Anni‐
Air Viscosity (float)
Gravity (float, 0-10)
Specify the gravity, in pixels per cycle squared (one cycle is roughly 50 millisec‐
Ground Damping (float, 0-10)
Specify the ground damping, used in tunnelling calculations.
Maximum Wind Speed (float, 0-10)
Specify the maximum wind speed, in pixels per cycle squared. The actual wind
velocity is initialised once per round, to some value in (-max, max).
Wind is Dynamic (toggle)
Normally the wind remains constant through a round. If this is enabled, the wind
will change once per turn.
Suspend Dirt (percentage)
Tanks Fall (percentage)
Borders Extend (integer, >= 0)
This specifies how far off-screen weapons should be tracked, when you are playing
with no walls. When this value is zero, weapons will disappear as soon as they
leave the screen in the horizontal direction, even if wind would have brought them
Walls Are (list)
Specify how weapons behave when they hit a boundary. Note, the ground is always
``concrete'' -- this specifies how the sides and ceiling behave:
None The sides and ceiling are open.
Concrete All sides are solid. Weapons hitting any boundary will explode.
Padded Weapons hitting the sides and ceiling will bounce off, although at
a reduced velocity.
Rubber Weapons hitting the boundary will bounce off at exactly the same
Springy Weapons hitting the boundary will bounce off with an additional
``kick'' to the velocity.
Wraparound The ceiling is open. Weapons going off one side will reappear on
the opposite side. Explosions will also wrap around the screen if
they detonate near an edge.
Random One of the above types of walls are selected at random.
Specify the background sky.
Hostile Environment (toggle)
Land Generator (list)
Specify the generator to use to create the land.
Specify the noise on the generated landscape.
Arms Level (integer, 0-4)
Specify the maximum arms level for the game. Only weapons with this arms level or
lower may be purchased by any player, under normal circumstances.
Bomb Icon Size (integer, 0-4)
Specify the size of the bomb icons, while they are traversing their path in the
sky. This does not affect the size of explosions, or the size of the smoke paths
(if trace paths is on).
If set, weapons are allowed to tunnel through land. If you enable this, you will
want to buy contact triggers if you want a particular weapon to always detonate on
impact (instead of tunneling through land).
Scale the size of explosions by this value. If playing on a very large or very
small playing field, you might want to adjust this value.
Trace Paths (toggle)
If enabled, all weapons leave a smoke trail to reveal their trajectory. If this
option is off, you can still use Smoke Tracers to determine the path a weapon will
Useless Items (toggle)
Some weapons are not useful given the current configuration (e.g. contact triggers
are irrelevant if tunneling is disabled). If this option is enabled, then weapons
which will have no effect are not listed in the inventory screens.
Screen Width (integer)
Set the width of the playing field, in pixels.
Screen Height (integer)
Set the height of the playing field, in pixels.
If enabled, the land and sky gradients will be dithered. This option is particu‐
larly useful on 16-bit displays, where the gradient is very noticeable otherwise.
This does slow down land generation somewhat.
If enabled, explosions and other effects will be animated. This option can also be
controlled from the System Menu.
Graphics Are Fast (toggle)
If enabled, all graphics are always as fast as possible. This option can also be
controlled from the System Menu.
Computers Are Fast (toggle)
If enabled, graphics are fast when there only computer players are alive. This
option can also be controlled from the System Menu.
Determines if all players will fire at once (Synchronous), or whether each player
will fire independently (Sequential).
Determines the player order.
Talk Mode (list)
Determines who is allowed to talk.
Talk Probability (percentage)
Determines the likelihood that a player will speak at the end of a turn.
Extended Status (toggle)
If set, the status bar will contain an additional row of extended information dur‐
ing the game (things such as trigger and battery inventories, life, wind).
If set, tooltips will be displayed where available. A restart is required to
change the value of this option.
Human Target Practice (toggle)
AI's will always prefer human targets to AI targets (except for AI's that fire at
random). When playing against 9 Calculators, this can make your day pretty lousy.
Allow Offset Targetting (toggle)
Generally, when a weapon hits a shield it does less damage than an explosion deto‐
nating right outside the shield (weapons hitting the shield do not have a chance to
detonate). This changes the AI targetting behaviour so they will deliberately aim
outside the shield, if their intended victim has raised shields.
Always Offset (toggle)
If the above option is set, this option will force the AI to always offset its tar‐
getting as if the player had raised shields. This allows the AI to compensate for
cases where the player may simply not have had their turn yet to raise shields.
The downside is the AI will never attempt to score a direct hit with this option
Enable Scan Refinement (toggle)
If set, harder AIs are allowed to refine their trajectories by computing trajecto‐
ries that take into account player shielding effect and various other factors they
do not normally consider. This option could slow down gameplay a bit but makes the
AIs much more difficult.
No Budget Constraints (toggle)
AI's will spend as much money as they can, disregarding their budget preferences.
Enable Sound (toggle)
When set, music and sound effects will be played.
Use HQ Mixer (toggle)
When set, mikmod's high-quality mixer will be used.
--help Display a brief synopsis of the command-line options available.
This is insanity, Max! Or what if it's genius?
Display weapon yields, and economical yields.
Specify an initial window geometry for xscorch, where w is the width and h is the
height of the playing field. Useful for displays less than around 800x600 resolu‐
tion. Note this option overrides the settings in the config file, but you can save
the new options to your config file so you don't have to specify this every time.
You may also use -g.
Load an alternate user config file, in file.
Enable music and sound effects. You may also use -S.
Disable music and sound effects. You may also use -s.
Enable use of the high-quality mixer, if sound is enabled. This may use a lot of
CPU power on older machines.
Disable use of the high-quality mixer, if sound is enabled.
--name Set the name of your player, if you are initiating a network game. By default,
your user name is used.
--port Set the port number to use in a network game. This option is only relevant if you
also specify --client or --server. The default is dependent on the protocol num‐
ber, but is some large port number.
Start xscorch in client mode, and connect to server (which should already be run‐
ning). If --name and --port are not specified, reasonable defaults are used.
Start xscorch in server mode, and wait for connections from the clients. --name
may be used in conjunction to specify the name of this player.
This is very unstable right now, and therefore is not documented.
User's default configuration for xscorch.
Profile bitmaps for the tanks, usually stored in the local share directory.
The xscorch home page at <http://www.xscorch.org/>. There is also additional documenta‐
tion in the source distribution.
xscorch was written by Justin David Smith <justins(at)chaos2.org> and Jacob Luna Lundberg
<jacob(at)gnifty.net>. (Please do not list these e-mail addresses on webpages, or list
them in other packages, without contacting us first.)
This manual page written by Justin David Smith <justins(at)chaos2.org>. Copyright(c)
2001,2000 Justin David Smith.
Justin David Smith May 2001 xscorch(6)