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Manual Reference Pages  -  BATTALION (6)


battalion - a giant monster game


Demo Mode


battalion [ -alone ] [ -backdrop ] [ -detail level ] [ -music ] [ -sound ] [ -help ]


battalion is a giant monster game where you are a giant monster fighting to survive against the military while causing as much destruction as you can.

You can choose to be one of four possible monsters: Googelon, Techs, the Vapour or Flutter:

Googelon An idealistic young monster from Osaka bay heads off to America to seek his fortune.

Techs A communications satellite gains consciousness while broadcasting a Sam Peckinpah retrospective. After several more hours studying the films of Sergio Leone and John Woo, Techs heads down to Earth, ready to integrate into society.

the Vapour A dangerous experiment on a college campus goes terribly wrong an the vapour escapes from a dorm room after a really excellent party.

Flutter A bug zapper is accidentally cross connected to the atomic pile of a nuclear reactor. A thunderous ZAP! The sky is filled with blue light ... and something else.

Your sudden arrival caught the military off guard, but they’re on their way. The military is equipped with Tanks, Rocket Launchers, Maser-Tanks, Helicopters, Jet Fighters, and Bombers. More powerful weapons are currently under development and will be deployed against you when available. And if the situation looks hopeless ...

Your current health is displayed in a coloured bar at the top left corner of the screen. You lose energy when you move, activate your weapon, or get hit. You slowly regenerate energy throughout the game. When your energy runs out, you die and the game is over.

You get points for destroying military vehicles and buildings (but not trees.)


-alone Battle without the aid of other monsters.
-backdrop Run without the textual overlays, making battalion more suitable for use as a backdrop or a screensaver.
-detail level Select the rendering quality from 0 (low) through 1 (med) to 2 (high). The Mesa version of battalion defaults to level 0 and the OpenGL version to level 2.
-music Turn on the background music at startup.
-sound Turn on sound effects at startup.
-help Show a listing of the command line options.


Battalion starts out in demo mode, cycling through the monsters and unleashing them upon a small unsuspecting town. The monsters aren’t very bright but demo mode will give you an idea what you are up against. When you want to get in on the fun, press the spacebar. You can then choose your monster and start senselessly destroying things.


The 1, 2, 3 keys control your view:
1 Monster view. You see the battlefield from the monster’s point of view.
2 Overview. You see an overview of the battlefield. The i,j,k,l keys rotate the battlefield in this view.
3 Army view. You see the battlefield from one of the military vehicles attacking you.

The mouse and the arrow keys move the monster:
Mouse forward/up arrow moves monster forwards
Mouse backward/down arrow moves monster backwards
Mouse right/right arrow turns monster to its right
Mouse forward/left arrow turns monster to its left

The left mouse button and the ’ctrl’ keys on the keyboard activate the monster’s weapon.

The ’a’ and ’z’ keys on the keyboard tilt the monster’s head up and down.
’a’ key tilts the monster’s head down
’z’ key tilts the monster’s head up


You can resize/iconify the battalion window as you like. The game is paused while it is iconified.

The d (detail) key steps through the detail modes -1, 0, 1, and 2 (vector, low, medium, high), and can also be set at startup using the -d option. Mode 1 is the default on SGI machines with mode 0 as the default on all other systems. Mode -1 (vector) simulates what the game would look like as a vector-graphics game. Mode 0 (low) removesd some detail to speed up the game. Mode 1 (medium) is the satandard graphics mode. Mode 2 (high) will make the graphics look better (with fog, transparent explosions, and a bit of texture mapping) but will play slower.

The h key activates displays the showcase help file (which contains the same information as this man page, but with lots of pretty pictures.) The game is temporarily halted while you are viewing help. SGI version only. If you are running battalion on a Sun or with Linux then you can view the help files as individual GIFs in the help directory.

The g key can be used to toggle pointer grabbing, which keeps the mouse pointer inside the battalion window.

The m key turns the background music on/off. Music will slow the game down slightly; and I wouldn’t recommend running any other sound-intensive programs at the same time as battalion. The Solaris version of battalion includes very basic audio support - the music samples are not synchronized, and battalion blocks the audio device while it is running.

The p key turns pause on/off. Pause freezes the action (you can’t move, and neither can the army) but the other controls (123,ijkl,dhmpsv) are still active.

The s key turns the sound on/off. Sound will slow the game down slightly; and I wouldn’t recommend running any other sound-intensive programs at the same time as battalion. The Solaris version of battalion includes very basic audio support, and battalion blocks the audio device while it is running.

The v key turns 3D video on/off. If you have a pair of 3D glasses attached to your computer and a capable monitor you will see the game in 3D. The size of the 3D area will match the size of your current 2D window, allowing you to speed up the 3D game by shrinking the size of your window before invoking 3D video. SGI GL version only.

The high score file is kept in /usr/tmp/battalion_hiscore. If you wish to use a different directory, you can set it using the BATTALIONSCOREDIR environment variable.

If the environment variable BATTALIONSCOREUNIQUE is set, the number of high score entries per user is limited to only one (the top entry).

The networking code allows multiple monsters to collaboratively or competitively rampage through the same city. For a collaborative session there is a single server and multiple clients which can be started in any order. The server uses the -network parameter to declare itslef a server and the -port #### to declare what port number is being used (default is 6000.) The clients use the -client parameter to delare themselves to be clients, -host <ip address> to give the location of the host, and -port #### to match the server’s port.

For example the server could be started as "battalionO -net -port 6000" on machine akemi. A client wishing to join would be started as "battalionO -client -host akemi -port 6000". The host machine IP address can also be specified instead of its name. SGI and Linux (and probably Sun) versions only.


No giant monsters were harmed during the development of this game.


Andrew Johnson
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--> BATTALION (1) August 1996

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