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The Internet Entertainment Games

Whatever Happened to Netrek? 29

FWMiller asks: "Yea, about 5 years I was skilled at a wonderful network game called Netrek. This game was really a sport, requiring not only arcade skills but strategic thinking and extremely well developed team play. Today I was thinking of trying to play again and to my dismay, the entire sport, which used to encompass hundreds of simultaneous players and games has all but disappeared! Does anyone out there have any idea if we witnessed the extinction of one of my favorite graduate school pastimes?" It seems that the home site of Netrek is alive and well, but the metaserver, which showed current active games, is not. Is anyone still playing? Will the Metaserver be replaced or is there some current or future alternative?
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Whatever Happened to Netrek?

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  • First ogg! (Score:2, Funny)

    by PD ( 9577 )
    Got you! Can't blame it on lag.
  • by jkidd ( 552837 )
    I prefer the old Xtank game, but I don't think anyone is updating it...
    • Re:Xtank (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PD ( 9577 )
      I think anyone playing a tank game on Linux will probably be playing bzflag. Try it, it's quite a bit of fun.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Violet Null ( 452694 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @06:44PM (#5634108)
    An Ask Slashdot that isn't...

    1) ...something that you should ask a lawyer and not 10,000 IANALs.
    2) ...something that could be answered by Google in seconds.
    3) ...an obvious attempt at getting free market research.
    4) ...just plain stupid.

    Unfortunately, I know absolutely nada about Netrek, but, hey, I just wanted to express a positive opinion about an Ask Slashdot. For once.
  • May I... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pilferer ( 311795 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @07:08PM (#5634275)
    May I suggest rec.games.netrek ?

    http://groups.google.com/groups?q=rec.games.netrek [google.com]
  • Probably my FAVORITE game of all time.
  • For anyone who uses Ogg Vorbis, Netrek is the reason why the files end in .ogg.

    In "modern" terms, to "ogg" is similiar to "zerg". Before there was zerg, there was ogg. And nothing grants satisifaction like "dooshing" a starbase.

    Netrek was team versus team "capture the flag" over the internet before first person shooters became all the rage. It was great back in 1992, I still remember playing on Paradise servers back in 1993.

    It was a relatively simple concept that mostly college kids played. Simple, a
    • Re:Ogg the BASE! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mstorer3772 ( 526790 )
      As I recall, Ogging was a kamakazi attack designed to cause your ship to explode as close as possible to your opponent, causeing as much damage as possible.

      And mass ogging was pretty much the only way to take out a starbase. Those things were TOUGH.

      I read the annecdotal origin of the term online somewhere, many moons ago.

      That game rocked.
      • I thought ogging was when you swooped at maximum speed, cloaked. Just when you passed your opponent, you dropped cloak and fired all weapons at your opponent, which would be directly aft at close range. Since you were moving so quickly under cloak, you probably wouldn't be noticed, and you'd also be out of range of the explosion as well as other enemies quite quickly.

        Am I right or wrong?
    • In netrek the races you can play are the Federation, the Klingon, the Romulan and the Orion. There are 16 players in the game. Each team has player a through h. So The Federation players are Fa through Fh, Orions are Oa through Oh and so on. There was a text chat box availible to communitate with other players where you would denote other players using that naming scheme.

      In the game you tried to conquer enemy planets by landing your troops there. But you had to score a kill on an enemy ship before you
  • Will the Metaserver be replaced

    I am the Metaserver! Bow down to me.

  • An even more team-based, even less popular variant was Netrek Hockey. Tractor/pressor beams controled the puck, and all the ships were dropped into a scaled hockey rink, complete with two-line passing and off-sides.

    Great stuff. HUGE goals.
  • metaserver.us.netrek.org worked as of a few days ago. The syntax, as I recall, was netrek -m metaserver.us.netrek.org (for the COW client at any rate). There aren't nearly as many players as there used to be a few years ago (I played for a while just after starting college).
  • by Unbeliever ( 35305 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @10:31PM (#5635409)
    And both are still alive.

    metaserver.netrek.org is the round-robin for both metaserver.us.netrek.org and metaserver2.us.netrek.org, FYI.

    Netrek is still around, to be sure. There are quite often full servers on the main bronco and hockey variant servers. It is definitely on life support, though.

    Why is netrek so tiny now? I can probably offer a few personal opinions, in order of importance.

    The decline in University UNIX labs and the rise in Windows systems without a stable (or even available) Windows client during the Windows boom. There are now 2 good clients available for Windows, but during the critical time, there was nothing, so people couldn't easily play. On top of that, being in a UNIX lab gave exposure to the game. "Hey, what's that guy playing? I wanna play too!" was/is Netrek's only source of advertising. We can't buy ad space in gaming magazines.

    The rise of twitch games. "Lets blow this guy away with a rocket" sounds more fun than "Lets escort this guy to such-and-such a planet and hope he can take it." Netrek, being mainly a strategy game, requires more thought and concentration and less reflex and adrenalin. Twitch games are essentially "mouse, move, and fire." Netrek requires that the player learn tons of nuances, rules-of-thumb, and situational awareness skills, which Netrek calls "clue," for a team to be successful. But before he can even learn that, the keyboard control scheme and operation of the client requires much practice. The steep Netrek learning curve is a big hurdle for newbies.

    The simple graphics. Netrek is a strategy game with simple pieces that were hashed out 13 years ago haven't changed in a while. On top of that, those pieces were developed from Netrek's predecessor, a 2-D text based game. There's no need for anything more than just sprites to represent those pieces. That makes the client look lackluster compared to high polygon count, bump-mapped, real-time generated backgrounds with tons of gore games on the market now.

    People got real lives. The original player base isn't in college anymore. We now have jobs, families, and a house or apartment to take care of. I stopped playing for a bit because I was working full time, getting a graduate degree, and am currently recovering from spine surgery, for example.

    And finally, of those remaining, a small subset of players are rather abusive of newbies. We should be encouraging newbies and teaching them how to play. However a few expect new players to be uber-clue the moment they first start the client. To be fair, a great majority of the old-clue aren't like that, but the abusers are rather loud.

    Netrek isn't dead. There are still organized league play groups active, and I would imagine that the regular league playerbase is bigger than the pickup playerbase. www.netrek.org should show you where to start.

    • Do you know where a good BSD client source can be found, possibly with useful instructions? I'm thinking it could probably built against OS X w/XDarwin. I've spend some time looking and many links are dead, or I've gotten Linux builds. I have found a BSD source that may work if I can figure out where to get libXpm, or if I have it and it just isn't correct for this build. If I get it built I'd host it somewhere, but first I need to get it built.
  • If I remember correctly, the first time i came across Netrek was in the days of the Mac SE. Did it first start on the mac?

    • If I remember correctly, the first time i came across Netrek was in the days of the Mac SE. Did it first start on the mac?
      Different game. The game you played on your Mac was Nettrek (two T's). It was a single player game.
      • It was most certainly NOT a single player game. My friends and I would play for hours in the University computer lab on a room full of networked Mac SEs. A dozen of us would play together at the same time. What a blast!
    • Netrek was based on Xtrek, which was developed at UC Berkeley in the late 80's. That in turn was based on trek82 by Dave Davis. There seems to be a good history at http://www.ecst.csuchico.edu/~netrek/history/Timel ine.html

      I spent many hours playing xtrek in 86-87 when when I was supposed to be working on my research...
  • The INL [inl.org] still has a homepage, though it hasn't been updated since the fall. The INL is pretty much the only competative netrek league.

    They definately still play. I get traffic on my team's mailing list about games and times. (Shoutz Outz to SMACK Pack [inl.org]! Kick the plasma old school boyz!) I'm so rusty and old that I don't even practice anymore though.

    SMACK Pack SC Bomber Emeritus

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault