Why play Netrek?
Primative graphics? Yeah, it isn't filled with eye candy. Neither is Chess or Go; real games don't have to be about the pretty pictures, it's about the game.
Netrek has action and strategy, and they've been honed to a careful balance over a longer development period than any other multiplayer computer game, period. Like chess, bowling, or baseball, you can play netrek for practically your entire life. Even if you are the best dogfighter, there'll be someone who's better at taking planets, or flying a starbase, or scout bombing.
Netrek is probably the first video game which can accurately be described as a "sport." It has more in common with basketball than with arcade games or Quake.
Its vast and expanding array of tactics and strategies allows for many different play styles; the best players are the ones who think fastest, not necessarily the ones who twitch most effectively. It can be enjoyed as a twitch game, since the dogfighting system is extremely robust, but the things that really set Netrek apart from other video games are the team and strategic aspects. Team play is dynamic and varied, with roles constantly changing as the game state changes.
Netrek is no-cost, open source software. Unlike some corporate MMPORPG, it won't disappear in a few years; it'll be around for as long as there are people who want to play it. You don't need a hot machine to play it, and you can play on Windows, a Mac, or Linux (and lots of other unixes too, if you want). You can put a server on one of those paperback-sized home firewall machines to take to a LAN party.
If you're a programmer and you want to change how the game works, you can do it and get people to try it out. You'll be hacking on the oldest Internet game protocol that's still in use (the third one ever written).
Articles and Reviews
- GameSpot.com: The Greatest Star Trek Game You've Never Heard Of.
- WIRED: The First Online Sports Game.
- FreeDownloadCenter.com: Played for a long time now and is still the favorite of its patronizers.
- Netrek made it on Slashdot several times!
- Netrek is on the Telepolis top ten open source games list. (German). (Local mirrors: German, English auto-translated)
- UNIX-Info magazine (dutch): Netrek: het Internet als Nintendo.
The McFadden Files: Early Netrek History
In the mid-nineties, Andy McFadden wrote up some nice historical documentation, which covers from pre-history through 1996.
Other Bits of History
- Akira wrote a personal account of the origin of the term "Ogging".
1997 document describing the major Netrek design changes over the years.
An archive from 1993 of little known facts, bugs or features of servers from yesteryear.
- The Netrek FAQ. Last updated in 2004, this is the FAQ that used to be posted regularly to the Usenet rec.games.netrek group.
- Version 1.7 of the Newbie Guide. The 2.x Newbie Guide was basically cut down from this, with lots of stuff taken out, some of which has been placed into various clue guides. We list the older version here for reference; it includes such chestnuts as "How to play over a SLIP line".