So What is This 'Nerf Arena', Anyway?
Well, it's a computer game, based on the same "engine" as Unreal Tournament, but without the bloodshed, decapitation, and bouncing body parts.  Instead of a fight to the death between grizzled mercenaries, what we are playing here is "Nerf" - or paintball.  Nobody gets killed; instead, when their health-points fall to zero, they are swiftly "teleported" away, and restart in a different part of the arena, without any special weapons or enhancements they had picked up.  They leave behind a floating lozenge of points, which the nearest person dashes forward to pick up before they melt away.  Other points come from shooting at points-targets, or accurately firing at opponents, making for a more sophisticated scoring system than "20 frags and you win".  The game can be bought or ordered at any good computer games store, under the name Nerf ArenaBlast in the USA, or Nerf Arena in Britain, but if you want to check it out first, there is a demo version, with just two arenas, which can be downloaded from the internet.  You can get hold of it by way of Slam's site - see our opening page for a link to him. The full game does have the benefit of a "Training Arena" to get you used to moving, shooting, swimming, and generally leaping around; it also has twenty different games set in eight different settings, plus the potential to be expanded by downloading extra maps to make further arenas available for online play.  Or offline play, if you follow our tips!
old news updates and other text oddments
How Do I "Talk" Online?
Just hit the "T" key on your computer keyboard.  Alternatively, if you are in a "Team" server, hit the "R" key and only people on the same team will receive your message.  Then just type your words in, they will appear along the bottom of the screen.  To "publish" them hit the "line return" key (or maybe the "Enter" key - set-ups vary), and they will appear at the top of the screen for everyone to see.
          When you arrive in an online game, it is usual to say "Hi", or something similar; when you have to go, then "Bye" is a good idea, as otherwise people may assume your computer is having problems.  Generally, at the end of a game people type "GG" to say "Good Game" - maybe with an exclamation mark or two!  "GS" means "Good Shot", to which the brief acknowledgment "TY" (for "Thank You") is polite.  "BRB" is "Be Right Back", which usually means that the player is dashing to get a drink or something, leaving his online "avatar" standing around looking bored until somebody blasts him and grabs the points.  "BBL" is "Be Back Later", which means he is leaving but hopes to return.   "LOL" means "Laughs Out Loud", if somebody has made a joke or otherwise amused you; or maybe "ROFL" (Rolls On Floor Laughing) is more appropriate?
Say That Again?
If somebody asks what you just said, because it vanished off the top of the screen before he could read it, you can suggest he "brings the console down" by hitting the "#" key (or on some set-ups, the "@" key), which brings down a blue shutter over the top half of the screen, with the chat and game-description shown - after reading, you get rid of it with the "Esc" key.  However, this does sometimes throw you out of the game for over-use of the virtual memory, so that you have to re-start NAB and lose all your points from that game.  The simplest thing to do is to hit the "T" key again, and use the keyboard's up arrow to bring back the last line you typed - or hit
more than once to bring back older lines.  Once you have the line you want, press the "enter" (or line return...) key to display it.  Some people over-use this little trick, so beware; use it to repeat the same line over and over and it looks like nagging, or whining.  Very handy if somebody asks for a complicated website address and isn't a quick writer, though!
What Are These "Clans" About, Then?
When you see that a player's name has a couple of capital letters in brackets at the end (without a space - names can't have spaces in them, if you want separate words you can't be Sir Missalot, you have to type it as Sir_Missalot), or similar symbols, that means that he or she is a member of a clan, which is a group of Nerf ArenaBlast players who play together, talk together, sometimes team up in an Arena, and even have special battles against other clans.  If your name doesn't have anything on the end like that, and you start to show that you can play reasonably well, you may get asked if you want to join somebody's clan.  Don't be too eager, that "clan" may just be one person.  Check up on the clan.  The main ones have their own website pages; Clan Destiny has its page on this site, because that is the clan I am in (and that is a clickable link to take you there); clans do change with time, so check around to see which other ones are active now.
          So, you decide which clan you want to join, then when you see a member online, you ask him about it.  You probably will need to see the clan leader, who usually has "-Leader" (or "-General", or something...) after his clan initials; you may need to "try out" for him, just show what you can do, though you may find somebody else online who can assure him you are star quality. If you don't come across the person you want online, you can always e-mail him - or try our messageboard, even! Then, if you don't disgrace yourself totally, you should be invited in. 
          So, what does that mean?  You will have to add the clan initials to your name when you play online; you will probably have to play as a certain player-avatar, either a single one for all members, or the choice of any from one particular team.  You will need to give the clan leader your e-mail address, and probably have to remember one or two special codes for team playing, one or two special meeting places in various arenas.  Visit the clan website, and check out the rules, which are usually fairly simple: no swearing, respect for clan officers and all clan leaders, be helpful and honest, don't step on my blue suede shoes...that sort of thing.  And if after a few days you decide you made a wrong choice, it is easy to leave, to become a free agent or join another clan - nobody will think badly of you unless you do it too often!  Just tell the clan leader, maybe by e-mail, and drop those initials from your online name.
          Being in a clan does give you a group to belong to, and does give you a wider playing experience.  I would certainly recommend it.
Can I Play as Other Characters?
Playing NAB offline, you only have a choice of four "avatars" - the Amateur team, the Twisters.  However, there is a way around that.  When you get the opening screen, click "Multiplayer"; at this point the game will vanish from your screen, retreating to become a small but decorative blue-and-yellow "N" button on your task bar, over by the Start Button.  Your "Dial-Up Connection" box will appear on the screen - click cancel.  Then click the "N" button to bring the game back to fill the screen.  You can now select "Setup Player" and choose your name and, from the drop-down list, any character.  When you select one the picture appears on the screen, so if you decide you don't like the look of him or her, select some other avatar.  Now choose to click "Setup Server", and choose whichever arena you want to play - and that includes the second Luna Bonus arena, Luna X-2, which normally you cannot play offline, and any new maps you have downloaded.
Choose the length of time you want the game to last (0 means unlimited), set the maximum point score (preferably 0 again), and click "Play"... 
Where Is Everybody...?
Oh, didn't I mention that?  The "Bots" (robots - the computer-generated players you play against offline, also called AIs for Artificial Intelligences have all stayed at home.  You can avoid this by just setting up your player and then walking to the arena via the Nerf Plaza, but that means you can't get at the special maps, or adjust the length of the game, etc.  Otherwise, without the game running you need to click your taskbar's Start button, then
and files; look on your hard drive (usually c) for Nerf.ini, and scroll down it about 60% of the way until you come to the line "bMultiplayerBots=False" and change it to "bMultiplayerBots=True". By default, this gives you 5 Bots to play against.  A few lines lower you will find the line "InitialBots=5", which you can change if you want more or fewer of them running around trying to frag you.  In some arenas more would be good; in others, perhaps less!  Anyway, now close the file, and when asked confirm that, yes, you do want to
the changes that you have made.  That should be it.  If you don't find the file on your hard drive, check on the CD or DVD drive where you have the NAB disk inserted; it won't allow you to make changes there, but will allow you to save a changed copy to your hard drive; this is only around 12KB, so takes up very little room.  If your search of drive c turned up more than one copy of Nerf.ini, of 11 to 13KB, check them out and change them all; anything for a quiet life!  If later you decide you value your peace and quiet more, or you want to set up an online server and people object to finding Bots there too, you will need to go back into your file (or files) and change true back into false, but once you get used to it, this takes very little time.  Are the Bots generated this way as tricky as the "Mega Nerf" level ones you are (I hope) encountering offline?  Perhaps not, but see what you think.  You can also make these Bot changes in the "Advanced Options" section of the Nerf screens.
What is "Camping"?
Camping is bad.  Or, to go into greater detail, it is the unsporting and downright sneaky practise of lurking in ambush, particularly if the person waits close to a "respawning point" where players who have been blown away are re-inserted into the game.  A moment to get one's bearings makes such a player an easy target - boom!  Definitions of what camping is do vary.  Some people say you should not stop to wait for a points-target to come back on, or the shield or megapower to reappear, but should always keep on the move...which is generally good advice, as a stationary player is an easy target.  So, if somebody says that what you are doing is "camping", the best thing to do is stop doing it...
How Do I Add Those Extra Arenas?
You need to download the maps for them, and put them in the Nerf map file.  My advice is to get the map file open first; it is possible that computer systems may vary, but this is what has worked for me.  Start by clicking your computer desktop's start button; choose find, and then
files or folders
.  This brings up a window called "Find: All Files".  In the named box, if c is your hard drive, type c:\program files\Atari\Nerf\Maps; in the look in box choose the c icon, and then left-click the "Find Now" button.  You should now get a window listing the maps, with a tiny blue-and-yellow "N" icon alongside each one, from AR-Asteroid on.  Click edit at the top of the window-box, just below the "Find: All Files" title bar, then choose select all; click file (next to edit) and highlight and click select containing folder.  This should open your map folder onto your desktop - a selection of coin-size "N" icons, each with a map name below it.  Now that you have this folder open, make it fairly small and move it out of the way to one side, ready for use.  For the future, it is a good idea to use the add to favourites option.
          Now you are ready to go online, to wherever you are getting the map or maps from (unless somebody sent you one as an e-mail attachment, in which case you just need to open it); Reaper's (or now Sharpknux's) site is usually a good place to go (using our handy links-button on our Links page), or the various i-drive files, but a lot of Nerf sites offer at least some maps for download.  Reaper also has a "marks out of ten" grading for each map, and if you click it, you should get a review and screenshot, unless the map is very new!
           Anyway, the hard part is over.  Just choose to download a map from the site; it will be zipped, so will probably take under a minute to download.  Then let the file unzip itself, and then open it.  You should now have a new window, with the Nerf arena's own title, displaying another coin-size "N" icon, plus one or two minor text files, such as "readme", which will only have a few words of description.  Line this window up on the right side of the screen, and line up the map file window alongside.  Right-click on one of the items in the right-hand window; in the box that opens, left-click on cut.  Move your cursor over to a clear space in the map file, and right-click again.  From the box that opens, left-click on paste.  After a second, the icon will vanish from where it was, and magically appear in the map file.  If it overlaps another icon, left-click and drag it clear.  You can move the text files too if you want to keep them, unless you are told that you already have a file by that name, do you want to replace it?  No. You can right-click and rename a ReadMe if you like, then transfer it.  With the map "Vulcanizer" there is a sound file to transfer as well, vulcanizer.uax - this needs, in the same way, to be put into the sound folder, which you call up in the same way as the map folder: search out c:\program files\Atari\Nerf\Sounds. It is possible that other future maps may also have sound files, so watch for that. Similarly, textures files need to go in
c:\program files\Atari\Nerf\Textures.
Now minimise the map (or whatever) folder (which you may want to use again if you decide to download another map!), and start up a game of Nerf.  As you are still online, you could try setting a server up; if all has gone to plan, the name of the new arena you have downloaded will be on the pointblast list you can choose from, so check it out!  If you have difficulty opening one of the folders, try specifying that destination (as in blue above) as the place to unzip the file to, when given the option, and that will open the folder, which you can then add to your favourites for future use.
But I Still Can't Get Those New Maps To Work...?
Well, computer systems do vary.  Did you manage to find the maps file okay?  If you can't get the address we gave you to work (and if c isn't the letter of your hard drive, use whatever letter it is!), try browsing through your files, or just search by entering "Nerf" in the box.  Once you have found the file, it is no use as a list with tiny icons alongside; you do have to "select all" and then "select containing folder", to change it into a display like a tray of coins or medals, each "N" icon with its map title below it.  When you have downloaded your new map, and unzipped it, and got it to "open" too, the icon in this little window should be the same as the ones in the bigger window (or part thereof) you have alongside.  If the icon is a funky "U", then it can't work, but otherwise it is a simple matter of "cut and paste" to transfer the new map's icon into the main map file.  You should then find the new map's name added to the drop-down menu you are presented with when you try to make a server.  Don't try to add the map-icon to a map file on your CD or DVD drive (drive e?), as that is the actual Nerf disc, which cannot be changed.  It is, as they say, "read only", so you cannot write on it!  Not being a technical expert, that is about all I can say; try e-mailing somebody a bit cleverer, such as SLAM, but do go through the whole thing more than once first, including the actual downloads.  Believe me, it is well worth the trouble once you see some of the new arenas!
          If you have added the icon to your map file, and the title of the arena appears on that drop-down list for making a server, but you still cannot actually make or enter a server for that map - well, the only thing I can think of is that the file has been corrupted, and it would be well worth deleting the map-icon from your file, and trying to instal it a second time.  Maybe download it from a different location, if there is a choice; it can help if you make sure no other programs are running while you are downloading and installing, so close things down where you can.  You can even turn off your screen saver, or, as Microsoft sometimes ask for their downloads, temporarily shut down your virus checker, but remember to turn it on again after!  Some people have found that shouting at their computer screen helps, or thumping the top of the monitor, but these methods are not generally held to be beneficial...
So How Do I Set Up a Server, Then?
Assuming you have clicked "Multiplayer" when you start up the game, then "Setup Player" to get your name and avatar sorted out, instead of "find games" go for "Setup Server" and follow the options offered you.  Do bear in mind that setting up a server does make your computer more noticeable to hackers and other things that lurk in the depths of the internet, so if it isn't your computer, ask first!  Setting time and points to 0 gives unlimited time and scoring, otherwise set your own limits.  Do not choose the "dedicated" server option, as that means that you yourself can't play. Make it public, and do not go for the LAN option.  But otherwise, check things out, but be aware that "home-made" servers are not as strong as the professional ones, and not everyone may be able to enter; also you may get dreadful "lag" if more than two or three players join you.  Well, as host you won't, but they will!
Can I Set Up a "New Arenas" Server?
You can start your server with any arena from the drop-down menu you are offered, which will include all the new arenas you have put in your map file.  The problem is, if you limit the time of that arena, the next arena you get will be an old arena, and the arenas will cycle through in the same old way from then on.  Unless, that is, you go into the Nerf.ini file or files on your computer.  I have three of these for some reason, but it is the biggest of the three, at 14KB, which, near the bottom, has lists of maps.  The third list is the one for pointblast arenas; the first twelve lines (maps 0 to 11) have the regular arenas listed, but after that the lines just have the map number; so, fill in the names of the new arenas there, for example if you just wanted to add the earliest new arenas, it would be:
Maps[12] PM-HallofGiantsRemix.nrf   Maps[13] PM-LongestYard.nrf           Maps[14] PM-Morbias][Remix.nrf      Maps[15] PM-MorpheusRemix.nrf     Maps[16] PM-Vulcanizer.nrf              Maps[17] PM-InjectorRemix.nrf         Maps[18] PM-SpaceNoxxRemix.nrf   Maps[19] PMOrbitspire.nrf
Maps[20] PM-FrigateRemix.nrf
Maps[21] PM-Surge3Remix.nrf
Maps[22] PM-HealPod][Remix.nrf
Maps[23] PM-CoughinRemix.nrf
Maps[24] PM-FractalRemix.nrf  ...etc
In fact, you can choose whatever 32 maps you like.  It is probably vital that you use exactly the same spelling and punctuation as listed above; note the missing hyphen between "PM" and "Orbitspire".  When you have saved the changes to the file when prompted, and closed it, you should now have a server which goes through all the maps, old and new, in order, so if you set it going with 15 minutes of Hall of Giants, that will be followed with the same time for Longest Yard, Morbias, and so on - and it will be eight hours before you get to Hall of Giants again, if your list is 32 maps long!
How Do I Take "Screenshots"?
Short answer: press the [F9] key in the top main row of the keyboard.  Well, if you want to get rid of the hand and gun, you need to press [tab] and type "sethand center" (without the quotation marks) and hit [enter] or [line return] or whatever, while hitting [F5] a few times will remove the "HUD" figures and faces, leaving just the picture.  Afterwards, another [F5] and "sethand right" will return things to normal.  You should now have the screenshot in the c:\program files\atari\nerf\system folder, so open that up and have a look for "shot0000" or whatever you can find.  Clicking on the icon should get you a small picture over on the left - while double-clicking gives you a full-size "Image Preview" to admire.  But you need to open this in a photo-tweaking program like "PaintShop Pro" - either spend vast sums, or look for something on magazine cover-discs, or a download site like Tucows.  Open that up, go for "open file" and type in c:\program files\atari\nerf\system\shot0000 then open that, to show a rather larger version of the picture.  You will probably want to increase the brightness, and then save the picture in jpg format - with any name you like, such as "shot0000" for example!  With Homestead it is simple to add such things to a website, just click on "import an image from your computer" and type in "c:\shot0000.jpg" and, after a few seconds, it should appear.  You can change the size and generally move it about.  With other website builders, well, try the "Help" button...
If you are making or remixing a map for Nerf ArenaBlast, it is important to know which texture files you can use that everyone will have, as opposed to ones you may have downloaded with a map.  This is the list:
Details  (not "Detail")
It is easy to open any of these files in the Editor - just don't do that while you are making a map, or forever afterwards that map will demand the use of that file...unless you go back to an earlier version you have saved.  And here's the "sounds" folder:
Most of those are "public address" announcements.  Luckily we don't normally need to bother with the system:folder, which has about 78 objects in it!