OpenArena Gamer's Manual[]

Welcome to the Arena! This is where warriors from around the world will meet! There is no attendance fee so everyone is invited to join. (Well, we need some kind of short ingame-introtext and I'm no Shakespeare...)

Welcome and thank you for downloading/copying OpenArena!

First this is a completely free game and always will be free!
The game is released under the terms of the GNU GPL v2 license (GPLv2+).


After installing the game start it with

  • Windows: Start/Programs/OpenArena/OpenArena , if the version you downloaded had an installation program. If not, just run the executable (something like openarena.exe or openarena.x86.exe) from the folder where you uncompressed the downloaded package.
  • Linux: Games/Open Arena (Gnome,XFCE, Unity, KDE, LXQt or any Freedesktop-compatible DE/WM); via terminal by typing openarena or /usr/games/openarena if /usr/games is not your $PATH
  • Mac OS X: double-clicking its icon

Note: it is highly advisable to check/set/enable some options and key bindings, so please take a look to the Hints section below.


See also: Manual/Multiplayer

Click at "Multiplayer". On the "Arena Servers" menu change "Server: Local" to "Server: Internet" . A list of open games should appear. Turn "Show Full" and "Show Empty" off. Click on one of the games, press "Fight!" and you are ready to play!


See also: Manual/Singleplayer

If you don't want to play the game online click on "Single Player", then choose if to start one of the tier's match against predefined bots (Single Player Deathmatch) or starting a new game clicking on the "skirmish" button.

What is OpenArena?[]

OpenArena is an open-source content package for Quake III Arena licensed under the GPL, effectively creating a free stand-alone game. You do not need Quake III Arena to play this game.

Installing OpenArena[]

See also: Manual/Install (and see Download mirrors to get the game). See Ports and markets for more platforms.

Windows: Uncompress the downloaded zip it into a folder of your choice (e.g. C:\Program files\OpenArena): that folder will be your "basepath" folder.

Linux: read the Linux Install for infos about different distros. Debian provides the deb files.

Mac OS X: See Manual/Install#Mac (and Download mirrors#v0.8.8 unified Zip archive for an important notice about 0.8.8 for Mac).

Basic information[]

User Interface[]


Starting to play[]

Starting a Game Server[]

More info on the Servers#Server Setup, Manual/Multiplayer and Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced pages.

Here just a couple of examples on few systems:

Execute the OpenArena dedicated server binary, called openarena_dedin Fedora. If you have a "headless" system which you SSH to, you might want to use a command like:

nohup openarena_ded [Q3-similar options] > openarena.log &

The nohup command will fork the rest of the command off and it will persist after you logout. The output will be dumped to "openarena.log" wherever you execute the command. Note you can also use the '<' to issue commands from a file. The ampersand will put it to the background.

Some server scripts to use with 'exec' command would be useful here.

To start a gameserver on a mac type:

cd /Applications/
nohup ./ioquake3.ub +set dedicated 2 +exec server.cfg +map aggressor

OpenArena at LAN-Party[]

For an easy setup one player (preferably the one with the fastest computer) should run the server:

  • Multiplayer
  • "Create"
  • choose a game type and a map
  • open slots for other players
  • start the game by pressing the "fight"-button

Now the other players should start "Multiplayer" and find the new server under "local".

Making the game less violent[]

Type this in the console (pull it down with Shift+Esc or ` ):

/com_blood 0

/cg_gibs 0

Please read Manual/Graphic options#Blood and gibs for more infos.

Advanced information[]

In-game help[]

If you wish, you can install an optional ingame manual. The main help is this wiki site, but you may find useful also a simple help available directly inside the game, after you install it.

You can download if from here (mirror - v 018, 29-oct-2010, based upon OA 0.8.1). The downloaded file should be named autoexec.cfg and placed in your /openarena/baseoa/ folder (under your installation folder, or under your configuration folder, where q3config.cfg is stored too).
Note: if you are already using an autoexec.cfg file to execute your custom settings (not simply an earlier version of the guide, that could be simply overwritten instead), you have two options: 1) copy-paste the content of the guide inside it, merging the guide and your custom settings in one file... or 2) name the guide differently (like guide.cfg) and place an additional line (exec guide.cfg) at the end of your current autoexec.cfg file, to automatically load the new file, too.

You can then use the manual in-game by opening the command console (shift+escape), and typing in the following command: /help and then press enter. A list of commands to use for the manual will appear. If you are unsure how to use this, use the following command: /helpguide and then press enter again (you should after every command).

If you are having any trouble using this (it's not that easy to use for people new to consoles) feel free to ask help on the forum!

If you want to propose your suggestions or report errors in that in-game manual, you can use the thread on the forum about it.


Here you can find some things you may check before entering the arena the first times:

  • When you play the game for the first times, you may have to set ("bind") some keys for specific commands. It is advisable to go to Setup --> Controls menu and there, in the "Look" section, set your favourite mouse speed (e.g. you may find useful to set it a bit faster than the default). In the "Misc" section, set the "Use item" key (usually "ENTER", but you may want one next to the A-S-D-W keys usually used for movement). In the "Misc" section, set the key for the "gesture" (your character will perform some sort of "Urrah!" movement: useless but nice) and, more important, one for the "chat-team" feature (this one is useful during team-based gametypes: only your team-mates will see the text you will write after pressing this button, very useful to talk about tactics). Remember that you can use the GUI to bind up to two keys to a single function. It is advisable to quickly check everything in the "Controls" menu, to learn/set useful commands, like how to jump and to use "zoom".
  • Choosing your favorite "autoswitch weapons" mode from Setup --> Controls --> Shoot menu is probably a good idea. Console command is \cg_autoswitch <number>. With autoswitch set to 1, each time you pick up a weapon (even if you already have it), it will select it. Since there is a time needed to change weapon, doing it in the wrong moment (during a gunfight) may be a problem for you: you may prefer to switch weapons when you really want to do it (by default, you can do it using your mouse wheel). OpenArena 0.8.8 added some new autoswitch modes, but they will still work as "always autoswitch" while using old mods. Default value is now 2 -autoswitch if "new"- (it used to be 1, "always"), and often players like 0 (no autoswitch). Read Autoswitch weapons for more info.
  • Go to Setup --> Game Options and enable "Unlag hitscan". This way, the game will compensate your "lag" for hitscan weapons (those, like machinegun and railgun, that immediately hit the target when you press the button, without "flying" in the air). For those weapons, you will not have to anticipate the enemy's movements according to your ping: if you are correctly targeting him when you shoot, you will hit him, even if in reality you are watching the position where he was 0,3 seconds ago and he's there no more. This is useful for online gaming. Enabling or disabling this option trhough the GUI will change the value of at least two variables: cg_delag and g_delaghitscan (1=enabled): the first one is the client-side variable, the second one is the server-side variable.
  • You can go to Setup --> Game Options and enable "Automatic downloading". This way, if the server you are connecting to has its option enabled, it will send to you possible additional files that you don't have but you need to play on it. It will automatically download new maps or mods, if needed. For the place where autodownloaded data is stored, read here.
  • You can go to Setup --> System --> Graphics and adjust these options according to your system's "power" (e.g. you may want to select a higher resolution). If "flares" and "bloom" distract you from the game (especially flares), you can disable them. You can change Brightness from Setup --> System --> Display. You can check your frame-rate enabling \cg_drawFPS 1 from command console. Setting the texture detail to the maximum is advisable to get the best looking of the game. See also here and here. When you change something in "Setup -> System -> Graphics" menu, remember to confirm changes by clicking "accept" button in lower right corner.
  • There are some options that can enable useful on-screen info, like your current speed (and remember that you can gain extra speed using the "strafe jump" technique, continuously jumping again while landing from the previous jump) while holding forward key plus a strafe (lateral movement) key - usually, "a" or "d" keys - and moving the mouse), or your team-mates health and position (this one is "draw team overlay" in "game options" menu). Check the Manual/Graphic options page.
  • You can set your own nickname from the Setup --> Player settings menu. If you wish you can also use OpenArena Name Changer, a nice external tool, to do that. About "player settings" menu: it can be used to select your "model" (your character); setting "handicap" different from "none" would make you weaker.
  • It is advisable to set the correct "data rate" from Setup --> System --> Networking menu (it helps you to get the best experience in multiplayer mode). Nowadays, most users have fast connections and thus have to select "LAN/Cable/xDSL", but if you have an old 56k or ISDN modem, select the corresponding value.
  • Two very useful buttons, when you are in the game: "ESC" key opens the in-game menu, and "TAB" key shows score table (TAB has to be held). For the button to open the command console, instead, please read its own page.
  • When you see that someone starts a voting procedure (e.g. to change map), you can usually vote "yes" by pressing F1 key and "no" by pressing F2 key. It is possible to ask for a vote using the "/callvote" command or from the ESC menu.
  • You can install OpenAL in your system to get a more realistic 3D audio environment. It is not included with the game. Installing OpenAL is not necessary in order to play (you can live happy without it), but it is needed if you want to use the built-in Voice chat feature (and more, using it avoids a problem of sound disappearing when launching a mod, however other workarounds can be used).

See also[]

External links[]