See also: Servers, Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced

To start a multiplayer game (to fight against human players), choose "Multiplayer" from main menù.

Privacy notice: please keep in mind that your activity while connected on a server (e.g. what you "say") may be saved by server logs (and sometimes used for statistics), and that other players may save console "dumps" that may include chat lines from yours, or may record demos including you amongst the other players (even espressly spectating/following you).

After reading this page, you can go deeper by reading Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced, especially in case you wish to be a server admin.

Multiplayer menu[]

Entering "Multiplayer" menu, you will see the integrated server browser (hint: for third-party, external server browsers -that may provide more features than the integrated one-, see Servers#Server browsers).
Press "refresh" button to update the server list. Press "spacebar" on your keyboard to stop the refresh (you cannot change options during refresh). Click on the server you wish and then "fight".
The table will show you the server's name, map in use, number of players connected/allowed, game mode or mod in use, IPv4/IPv6 and PING.

Remember that the server browser of baseoa shows also servers that are using mods. See Mods section below for more info.

"Ping" represents the lag time (latency), in ms. Think it is the time that passes from when you push a button and when the server knows you did. If this value is lower, it is better. For best performances, you should not use other bandwidth consuming applications (for example, peer to peer applications) when playing an online game. Some servers may not allow you to enter if your ping is too high (you would see "Server is for low pings only"): in that case, try another server.

Note: at first runs of the game, your Operating System or Firewall software might show a popup window asking if to allow the program for network access: you need to allow it. If OpenArena cannot reach the internet, it will not be able to find internet servers. Sometimes the popup window may become hidden behind the game window, in that case you may need to minimize/move the game window in order to see the popup window... or to allow the game through some other firewall setting interface.

Hint: when you are playing online on another server, you can't change map (or other parameters, like g_gametype or fraglimit) like on your own server, but you could (if the server allows it) be able to "call a vote" about it (for example \callvote g_gametype 0) and other players will be able to vote (usually, push F1 to vote "yes" or F2 to vote "no"): if the vote passes, the command will be executed. For example, you can use \callvote map xxx to change map or \callvote kick yyy to force disconnection of an ill-mannered player.

Tip: you can access the "Statistics" menu (from the main menu) to check how many "awards" you have got while playing against human players.


You can find various options in the upper section of the screen:

  • Servers: you can search for servers over Internet, or inside your LAN (Local Area Connection) or from your Favorites list.
    On the right, there is a button to delete a server from the favorites list.
    Note: "Local" network scan finds only servers using UDP ports 27960, 27961, 27962 or 27963 (so, it will find max 4 OA server processes for each IP). However, if you know that there is a server within your LAN that uses a different port, you can still connect to it, manually specifing its IP and port using "Specify" button or \connect command (for example \connect "Internet" scan, instead, reads a server list from the "master server", that enumerates "dedicated 2" servers (please read Dedicated server), thus it finds also servers using different ports.
  • Game Type: you can show "all" kinds of game types (including some mod-specific gametypes), or filter for a particular game type.
  • Sort By: it allows you so change the order of the list. Usually it is by Ping, since having lower ping is better.
  • Show Full: if enabled, shows also "full" servers (for example 8/8 players slots already used). You will not be able to connect there until someone quits from that server.
  • Show Empy: if enabled, shows also servers with no players (for example 0/8).
  • Only humans: if enabled, hides "bots" from the count of players (you could notice, for example, a 2/8 change into 0/8, or a 4/8 change into 2/8 if there were two bots on that server)
  • Hide private: if enabled, hides "private" servers, that require a password to connect to. See Servers#Password-protected servers for more info (in short: as a client, you can use \password <text> to specify the password for the server you are connecting to).


You can find various buttons in the lower section of the screen:

  • Back: return to main menù
  • Specify: you can specify a particular server address and port (default port is 27960) to connect to, if you know them (like using \connect <address>:<port> command form command console).
  • Refresh: update server list. You can stop update before it finishes by pressing spacebar.
  • Create: starts a game as a server.
  • Fight: connects to the server selected from the list.


To show the favorite servers list, select "Favorites" from "Servers" option on the top of the "Multiplayer" menu.

To add a server to your "favorites" list, first connect to a server, then press "escape" key (to access ESC menu), select "server info" and then click on "add to favorites". To remove a server from "favorites" list, just select that server and then click on "delete" button.

Favorites IPs/URLs are stored in variables from "server1" to "server16" (their default value is "", blank), so you can store up to 16 favorite servers. You can show all of them in console typing \server and pressing TAB key.

Some external server browsers may allow to store many more favorites.

If you delete a server from the list, the variables that host the list will be "compacted" (sorted) when you exit from the "Multiplayer" menu.

To delete an unresponsitive server from the list using the graphical user interface, remember to set the "Gametype" filter to "All": they will be listed with no description, ping 800 and protocol ???.

You can also delete a server manually, from the console, setting the right variable (from "server1" to "server16") to blank (for example, \server5 ""). After deleting a server, it is advisable to enter and exit from the "Multiplayer" menu, to have the list "compacted".

Warning: As far as OA 0.8.8, there is no error message shown if you try to add a new server to favorites after 16, simply it will not be added.


If you select to create a game, your machine will be a server, and other players will be able to join your game. Acting as both server and client from the same process, you run what is known as "listen server" (opposite to "dedicated server"). You can find this useful when playing with your friends over a LAN (playing on a server inside a Local Area Network usually permits lower pings than playing over the internet), or, if you want, over the internet (in this case, the host should be one with a good bradband connection). If you are the server, your ping will be 0.

You will need to select the "game mode" (a.k.a. "game type".... you will also be able to change it later with \g_gametype command) and the map (you can change it later with \map command), then click "next". It is also possible to select "Auto change map" flag (corresponding to g_autonextmap variable), this will cause the server to automatically change the map (you will not need to write down a map rotation script, and the next map will be picked up randomly).

Then, you can open a "slot" for each player allowed to join the game:

  • Human: this is you.
  • Open: this slot is available if someone wants to connect to your server.
  • Bot: a bot will be there. So you will not be completely alone, waiting for other players to connect. You can also set slots as "open" and add or remove bots later, from the game.
  • ....: this slot is closed and no one will be able to use it.

It is later possible to change the number of "open" slots, using the sv_maxclients variable (a map restart is needed to have the change effective).

There are some options, like "frag limit", "capture limit" and "time limit" (when a match will end); "pure server" (usually you should enable it, it ensures that everyone have the same pk3 files loaded, preventing many common errors); "Optimize for LAN" (see below); "Instantgib" (all the players will have only the railgun and a single hit will kill a player); "All rockets" (all the players will have only the rocket launcher); "Physics" (in the original Q3A, player physics changes slightly depending on the players' frame-rate: in OpenArena this has been fixed. You can select to follow the original "framerate dependent" behavior -see Game physics and Manual/Graphic options#Framerate for some info-, or to emulate like all players have the same framerate ("fixed" at 91 or 125 fps), or "accurate" that, like the name suggests, should be the most precise physics calculation); "Hostname" (you can choose a name for your server).

When you are ready, click "fight".

The map will be loaded and your friends should be able to connect to your server. If there are problems, please read Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#IPs, routers and firewalls.

Very important: the OA server really "runs" when it has got a map loaded. If the OA server program ("dedicated" or not) is launched, but it has no map loaded, clients will not be able to find or join it.

Optimize for LAN[]

If the "Optimize for LAN" option is enabled, the machines that connect to your server from your own LAN (from the same subnet) will ignore the "rate" limit and will get a "snapshot" for each server "frame" (they should get a more accurate representation of the simulated world).

The "Optimize for LAN" option corresponds to the \sv_lanforcerate <0 or 1> variable. Default value is 1.

For more details, please read Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#Optimize for LAN.

Pure server[]

A server can be "pure" or not, depending from the value of the /sv_pure <0 or 1> variable. It is highly recommended to keep the "pure" option enabled (sv_pure 1, which is the default value). Turning it off may cause problems, and should be done only for testing.

For more details, please read Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#Pure server.

Dedicated server[]

It is possible to start a server game also as "dedicated server": in this case the local machine will not use the graphical system and you will not be able to play directly from that OpenArena process. It is useful if you want to set up a permanent OpenArena server. You can run a dedicated server using "standard" OpenArena executable, or using a specific one designed for this mode only. "Dedicated 2" servers are listed "master server" (meant as Internet servers), "dedicated 1" ones not (meant as local servers).

For more details, please read Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#Dedicated server.

Hitch warning[]

An "hitch" is a sort of slowdown or interruption in the program "loop" that handles game events; dedicated servers may show warnings in console when they happen. But this does not automatically mean your server does have a major problem.

For more details, please read Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#Hitch warning.

IPs, routers and firewalls[]

You may need to configure your routers or firewalls for allow online gaming. While this is usually easy (such as allowing your OA executable on Windows Firewall) for players wanting to joining existing servers, allowing your own server server to be accessible from the internet and to be shown in server list is often an hardware task which requires some access to router configuration and some networking knowledge.

For more details and testing tips, please read Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#IPs, routers and firewalls.
There is also a sort of glossary with links to definitions of related terms used: Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#What did you say?

If you are concerned about privacy, keep in mind that server admins can see your IP address (public IP on internet servers, local IP on LAN servers) and client identifier. Third party mods might potentially even show your infos to other players: most mods are perfectly "safe" in that regard, but OpenArena Team has got no control over mods. One more reason why "automatic download" is disabled by default.


See also: Manual/Using mods

You can connect to servers that are using mods, and of course your server can run a mod.

The integrated server browser shows both servers that run the standard game (baseoa) and servers that use mods, although the server browser built-in in some mods may have been tweaked to show only servers using that specific mod.
There is a column which shows a short version of the gametype name for servers running baseoa and mod name for servers running a mod. Some third party server browsers, such as Monster Browser, allow to see the name of the mod from the the game variable of the server, which is set when it's not running baseoa.
Some mods may use the same gametypes numbers as are used in OpenArena, but with different meanings (for example, take a look to the gametypes list of the Excessive Plus mod).

If you try to connect to a server that is using a mod, and you have it already installed (manually or automatically), the game will start; if you don't have it yet, and you have the "autodownload" option (\cl_allowdownload) turned off (or the server has \sv_allowdownload turned off), the game will not work. If, instead, autodownload is enabled, the required files will be automatically downloaded to a specific subfolder, dedicated to the mod. To know where the autodownloaded files are saved, please read FAQ#Where are autodownloaded files saved?. Sometimes, enabling autodownload may be necessary also for servers that run baseoa, if they include additional maps.

To have your own server to use a mod, if you use the standard OpenArena executable, you can launch it from the "mods" menu and then create the match (the cvar "\dedicated" can be set to 0, 1 or 2), or load the mod directly from the OS command line (openarena.exe +set fs_game <modfolder>). If you use the "dedicated server" specific executable (oa_ded), you have to load the mod from command line (oa_ded.exe +set fs_game <modfolder> +set dedicated <1 or 2>). It is advisable to update the sv_hostname variable (your server name) to exaplain what your server is running.

A "real" mod, worth of its name, is a work of one or more coders, map creators and beta testers, that includes specific programming, to get something new out of the game... but, in a certain sense, you can easily "create" a mod simply creating a new folder and putting inside it various pk3 files with additional stuff, like new maps, models, sounds, textures, shaders, that are added to or replace the ones provided by the standard game. Each folder at the same tree level of baseoa contains a separate mod: you can easily copy an existing mod to a new folder and add your own additional data to create your own "fork" of that mod... but if you want to modify the code part of the mod (for example, to change score rules, game physics or user interface), you may need to get its source code in some way (maybe trying to connect its original developer).
Remember to enable sv_allowdownload 1 to allow clients to download the new stuff from your server; you can also use "www download" feature to allow clients to download files from an external web server at higher speeds. Remember that some additional pk3 files may cause compatibily problems in the clients (sometimes these problems may show themselves only in a second time, when the client will try to play locally); usually they can simply be fixed by the client by deleting the additional pk3 file responsible of the problem, but sometimes it is hard to identify it, and it will be downloaded again when re-connecting to the server for the first time. Thus, be careful when adding stuff to the game, inside mods folders and especially inside the baseoa folder: in the latter one, usually only new maps are added. And making some tests to be sure that your server does not modify the clients in a wrong way could be a nice idea; for example, you should not place in the baseoa folder of your server a pk3 that changes the sounds of the weapons, while you may want to do it in the folder of your own mod.

See also Manual/Using Mods#Notes for Server Administrators.

External server browsers[]

We described the integrated server browser, above. But you can also find online OpenArena servers from some web pages or from external server browser programs. They could include more informations and more functions than the integrated server browser (for example, Qtracker shows you also the name of the mod in use on the server). Please read Servers page for more info and Servers#Tools section for a list of external server browsers that support OpenArena.


See also: Servers and Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#Commands .

Here we list just a few multiplayer-related commands and variables. For more of them, please read Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#Commands.

Some commands and variables may be available only when acting as server, or as dedicated server, or as client. When playing locally, you are both client and server.

  • \connect <server:port> - Use from client. This command allows you to specify a particular server to connect to. For example, \connect or \connect (use the server's IP instead of, anyway this address will work if you launch two OpenArena precesses on your machine, one as "dedicated server" and the other as a client).
    Remember that the command console allows you to paste (e.g. Shift+Ins) text from your OS clipboard. Can be very handy for entering server addresses.
  • \reconnect - Use from client. Reconnects to the last server. Useful if you lose connection for some reason.
  • \disconnect - Use from client. Disconnects you from the current server, returning to main menu.
  • \callvote <command> <parameters> - If the server allows it, players can "vote" to change some server settings, for example map or g_gametype.
  • \serverstatus - Use from client. Gives information about the server you are connected to (e.g. current map, gametype and dmflags).[1]
  • \sv_maxclients <number> - Use from server. This is the number of clients that will be able to connect to your server at the same time (including bots, human players and spectators). Default value is 8, and 16 is a quite common value... anyway it can be higher or lower. A change will be effective after a map restart. Take in account your connection bandwidth (especially upload bandwidth) and your sv_maxrate value.
  • \password "<privpass>" - Use from client. Set it to match the password for the "private" server you are connecting to, to be able to enter. Ask the server admin for the password. See Manual/Multiplayer/Advanced#Commands for more passwor-related variables.


  1. Note: in OA 0.8.5 there was a bug, and the command would have closed the program there... this has been fixed in OA 0.8.8 binaries.

See also[]