An old, little-maintained computer game for X, apparently once ported to work on the Amiga, too.

The Game, Itself

XTank is a multi-player, or single-player overhead-view shooter, primarily. However, xtank can also be played as a racing game, tank-based ultimate or capture the disc.

The Tanks

Before the game, tanks can be choosen from templates or designed from an assortment of: bodies, engines, weapons, armor, suspensions, treads, heat sinks, bumpers, and have the option to add a few other add-ons to their tank.

Game Types

There are five types of games in xtank:

  • Combat -- Just a shoot-everyone-not-on-your-team game.
  • War -- A game based on taking over territory for your team.
  • Ultimate -- According to some documentation: "Sort of a cross between ultimate frisbee and hockey." There's a disc, and the idea is to catch it in the other tank's goal.
  • Capture -- Capture the Flag; except they're disks. Objective is to get them to your team's "goal".
  • Race -- Yeah, it's a race. Be the first to get to a "goal".

Money and Resources

To help keep a balance in the game tanks, ammo, fuel, and repairs cost "money". Scoring is based on the ratios of the values of the tank that was destroyed and the tank that destroyed it. Thus, in addition to the loss of money expensive tank users suffer from, it is also harder for them to gain points, and because money is earned when another player is killed based on the number of points earned. Not to mention that putting too much on one tank will slow it down, or the attempt would just be denied for making the tank too heavy.


XTank, not only comes with a vehicle editor, but it comes with an editor for the game maps built-in. Thus game maps can be choosen from the variety with the program, or be made in great spurts of free time.


Xtank multi-player games work entirely by running the game on one machine and transmitting to the X displays on the other over the network. Xtank is not well-suited for playing over the internet.


Xtank itself is listed as being "copyright 1988" (though freely redistributable and modifiable.) The Xtank source is written to use only raw Xlib under X, and the Amiga stuff is not known to work. Xtank includes code designed to handle threading and dynamic loading (of robots). The threading code (needed to run robots) can be made to run on many systems with little modification. Otherwise one could try to modify xtank to use GNU pth, which is not very hard to do. Xtank uses user-level threads and depends on being able to switch contexts itself. The dynamic loading code in most versions of Xtank found floating around online is, at the author of this node's last check, not very portable, being highly dependent on object file format. It loaded directly from .o files into memory. To make this work on newer systems, a complete re-write of the dynamic loading code, using the more modern dynamically loaded libraries, is probably needed. The author of this node has done this sort of thing on his a private copy of xtank but does not his consider his work very presentable.

Obtaining Xtank

Best bet for finding the source is to use your favorite search engine to find a .tar.gz. floating around somewhere. Even though xtank is now in decline and relatively rare, there are a few versions of the game, some of which may be workable.

Authors of Xtank

The original author of xtank is "Terry Donahue". The most common versions of xtank out there have been enhanced by people apparently who are, or were, at the University of Maryland's Engineering department.

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