ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

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Bob Dang

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Sep 7, 2003, 10:20:44 PM9/7/03
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1 Corinthians 13
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child,
I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish
things.

SO LONG FOLKS! THANKS FOR A GREAT GAME!

jay bird out......................................................

Zach

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Sep 8, 2003, 10:32:09 AM9/8/03
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msuck...@programmer.net (Bob Dang) wrote in message news:<528ec373.03090...@posting.google.com>...

Why is netrek a childish thing? Can only children play games? It
doesn't say in the Bible adults can't play games. Chess is a game. Do
you think chess is childish? I don't think that verse really is
talking about netrek.

SDG,
Zach

Bob Dang

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Sep 17, 2003, 11:45:53 AM9/17/03
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zin...@yahoo.com (Zach) wrote in message news:<1aaf4de5.03090...@posting.google.com>...


Whoops I actually posted some bible verse to rgn and used it for the
basis of decision to quit netrek. I am more a believer in evolution.
Anyway no one knows what jay bird is up to, not even himself. The
explanation I should really give for this rash post would be too
embarrassing to submit, but suffice to say I am impulsive (but not
schizo).

Oh yeah I am still a believer in my pet "save netrek" project, so dont
think I am walking away from the hobby coding I typed so highly about
in the past. (The one with java, web browsers, and the other fun
stuff). Maybe I can use this space for a formal request to Nick Slager
to help out by providing his official approval and release of glTrek
sources since twink java coders (like myself) need handouts. I could
suggest limiting his src release to a select few (me :-). Anyone else
think this is a good idea?

Nick has done some good work, and we like to build on it. Please help
Nick and forgive the twinks that have not widely adopted your client.

Cheers,
-bd

Nick Slager

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Sep 17, 2003, 1:56:14 PM9/17/03
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I don't really care that noone used my client. It wasn't
done, why should they? Sure, more testing might have been
nice, but that's not the reason I haven't fired up a client
in the last 6 months. The bots are the reason. I do
occasionally throw a http://metaserver.netrek.org:1080 into
a browser to see if they've magically come back. Alas, I
usually see one server with between 0 and 2 people on it.
Pathetic, tragic, sad. You can not save a game that isn't
willing to help itself first. The first step in the work is
done. It would take current server maintainers all of about
2 minutes to get the bots running. But no one seems to give
a rip. So, I will hold my own code hostage until the bots
have been set free on the world.

FREE THE BOTS! (or I'll strap a bomb on my code and send it
out into a busy cafe)

long live the bot revolution

Nick

"Bob Dang" <msuck...@programmer.net> wrote in message
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Bob Dang

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Sep 19, 2003, 11:10:14 AM9/19/03
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"Nick Slager" <slag...@NOSPAM.msu.edu> wrote in message news:<bka75k$2qjl$1...@msunews.cl.msu.edu>...

> I don't really care that noone used my client. It wasn't
> done, why should they? Sure, more testing might have been
> nice, but that's not the reason I haven't fired up a client
> in the last 6 months. The bots are the reason.
>...

> a rip. So, I will hold my own code hostage until the bots
> have been set free on the world.
>
> FREE THE BOTS! (or I'll strap a bomb on my code and send it
> out into a busy cafe)

I played against the bots. Here are some observations:

BOTS v 1 human player (e.g. self)

Easily beat because: by waiting for your team planet to pop. Kill the
cloak bomber, pick and drop. Plus there's some loop that occurs which
starts and kills bots. So these features are not entirely debugged.

v 2 player:

Playing head to head is a maraton. After login its about max warp to
defend, bomb, or whatever. If you know message command system
recognized by the bots from reading the src code or
reading rgn N.Slager posts then you got an advantage. For instance,
you could message your team bots as follows (assuming fed v rom):

F0->F1 ogg 4
F0->F2 bomb rom

etc.

In this case you hang out and do nothing, but message ogg all the time
against the human player. The msg bot features were not clearly
documented on the motd for bot activated servers (e.g. pickled).
Although I cite this as a critique, I only state it because it has
created an unfair advantage in some matchups. Sometimes I paused to
educate my opponents, but how fun is that in the end?

At this point most players would quit during the game, interrupting
the game dynamics as soon as one or the other opponent realized that
they were the loser ( or I would quit when I was out matched). No need
to wait around for the conclusion. Thus the game changed from classic
netrek to bot trek, which was not what ppl want to play. Most people
seem to favor pre-T dogfighting matchups and trashtalking the all
boards instead of playing against the computer. It also occurs to me
that the popularity of netrek lies in its uniquely human matchups and
scenario shifts. Not against robot challenges.

I had thought about writing my own borg team for a long time, using
all sorts of fancy AI stuff I could read in journals and in books. My
conclusion was that the value of a good static evaluator does not have
the same rewards as a monster computer chess machine.

-bd

Zach

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Sep 20, 2003, 2:49:16 AM9/20/03
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Most newbies have problems figuring out how the basic key commands let
alone commanding an army of bots. I think we need smarter bots so that
we can generate a sequence of bot actions by sending one command such
as "Team ogg F3 (SB)" or "request backup" (and 2 bots go and escort
you). I think the best way to keep curious newbies is to have servers
active 24x7 with human players (ideally those with some clue) but we
haven't seen that since the last century so the next best thing is
probably intelligent bots. The GA is an idea with merit however on
that rationale why not just have someone port a Paradise server to
Windows ;) A server such as nl.netrek.org can keep newbis and even old
farts entertained with games of Plasma Pong but that only lasts so
long. I think team interaction (humans vs humans) is what attracted
and kept most of us playing netrek (it helped to have friends
introduce you to it and playing in LAN together but those days are
almost totally gone) and seeing the game played at a high level is
what made the 100-300 hour newbier stick around long enough to get
more clue. Someone had suggested bring back "Clue hours". Perhaps the
server god of pickled or continuum could implement this. Also having a
spiffy client w/ a cool GUI and intelligent Install/Setup and more
transparent customization features and good advertising (Karthik's IRC
idea) can bring people to the servers. Not only has the number of
active players dropped off but with them the active netrek
server/client programmers. Also we used to have very active server
gods who were often also working on coding to help advance netrek.
AFAIK no current server gods or programmers are in a university
lifestyle anymore where they can devote huge gobs of time to
administration and development. I think we need some central organized
body to coordinate and implement these efforts in a way that WILL
effect change. I recall Kevin saying that the (defunct) WNL had plans
to do this or maybe it was Tom saying the INL planned to do this. I
hope such an organized effort can get under way soon lest we see 10
more years of RGN posts lamenting netrek's ever accelerating demise.
So who wants to get the ball rolling and develop an action plan that
the server gods and software developers will cooperate with. If a
business is failing it doesn't just sit back and whine and wait to see
what will happen. If it's a smart business it examines what is causing
the problem and organizes a plan of action to mitigate those areas of
concern and effect positive change.

SDG,
Zach

msuck...@programmer.net (Bob Dang) wrote in message news:<528ec373.03091...@posting.google.com>...

Dossy

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Sep 20, 2003, 2:55:13 PM9/20/03
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In article <1aaf4de5.03091...@posting.google.com>,

Zach <zin...@yahoo.com> wrote:
(it helped to have friends
> introduce you to it and playing in LAN together but those days are
> almost totally gone)

I'm convinced that broadband connections in college dorms has killed
Netrek.

Back in the day, if you wanted a reasonably fast connection (faster than
9600 bps dialup), you had to go camp out in the school's computing
cluster. Inevitably, you'd see /some/ geek playing some neato game
(Netrek) while everyone else toiled away at lame Computer Science
assignments, muttering about linked lists and binary trees. Learning to
be a procrastinator--er, I mean, having recently started college--your
curiousity gets the better of you, so you watch from a distance as this
person clicks away with the mouse, hammers the space bar furiously, and
perhaps laughs here and there.

Eventually, you might get up the courage to walk on over and ask "hey,
dude, what IS that game that you're playing?" and without even looking
up as he dodges an ogger and calmly takes the other team's homeworld,
the guy responds, "Netrek, man. Wanna play? Log in next to me ..."
You log in, open an xterm, and wait for enlightenment. Eventually,
either genocide happens or the guy needs to finally run to the bathroom
and pee like a racehorse, and can help you get setup, show you where the
Netrek client binary is hiding, and show you how to connect to a server.
You still have no idea what you're doing, what the keybindings are, or
what those little round circles on the screen represent. You're
officially a newbie, the kind you'll probably come to despise in three
or four years when you become the guru. Not like the guru that's
sitting next to you, smelling like three day old sweat, who doesn't know
you from Adam but is more than happy to help you get started and show
you how to play. This is where the downward spiral starts ...

Now, as broadband picks up and fewer students have to go down to the
computing cluster, and can instead sit in their own dorm rooms, pirating
MP3s, wanking to Russian mail order brides and young hot teen porn,
instant messaging 13 year old girls who are really 40 year old police
officers, and spend all their waking hours playing Quake 3 Arena, and
otherwise being totally antisocial.

NETREK IS DEAD. Not because the technology is outdated. Not because
we need newer, flashier, glitzier clients and servers with a gazillion
more useless features and other lameness. Not because all the gurus
have graduated (or dropped out), gotten lives and don't have time for
Netrek.

I blame it all on easy accessibility to broadband connectivity. The
lack of it was what brought all of us together and exposed us to new
things like Netrek. Now, unless we're a FPS or MMORPG, we just won't
attract the next generation of computer-literate social misfits.

(You never heard of a kid going out and shooting up kids at his school
because "he played too much Netrek," did you?)

Another problem is that just about anyone can throw up a Netrek server.
There's too many servers with too few players, today. At any one point,
there's probably at least 20-30 players in the world playing. Across
10-20 servers, that means no more than one or two on any particular
server ... gee, sound familiar? What would happen if there were only
*three* Netrek servers to choose from? We might actually see T-mode
for more than 30 minutes at a clip. Imagine that.

What about recruiting? Has anyone thrown a Netrek LAN-party? Get a
whole slew of people to bring laptops and ethernet cables to play Netrek
somewhere? I've often considered trying to run a Netrek game at a RPG
convention, but having full-time work and a family with two kids, my
spare time has nearly disappeared at this point. However, I wouldn't
mind helping out if someone with more time would take up the lead on the
effort.

There's hope for Netrek. But the Netrek we cut our teeth on, the Netrek
we used to love, is dead. I'm talking about the lifestyle and the
community of people -- it's gone. But, the game lives on and that means
there's still opportunity to make the game enjoyable, again.

(That, and bring back vanilla bronco servers. Please.)

-- Dossy

--
Dossy Shiobara mail: do...@panoptic.com
Panoptic Computer Network web: http://www.panoptic.com/
"He realized the fastest way to change is to laugh at your own
folly -- then you can let go and quickly move on." (p. 70)

Zach

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Sep 22, 2003, 4:35:17 AM9/22/03
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Hey Dossy,

Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I imagine for many of us our
introduction to netrek was something along those lines. I think that
broadband access is one factor, but even during the 90s as Doom and
FPS games were first coming out there was probably many more people
playing Doom or Quake I than netrek and they were playing on dialup.
You'd have to go back to the 80s to find when netrek dominated in
terms of online gaming numbers. However even with the popularity of
Doom/Quake there was still a very sizeable netrek community. However
as we neared the end of the 90s we saw more and more of the netrek
core base retiring and not enough new players come to take their
place. Why that is exactly is hard to say. The fundamental appeal of
netrek is not in the GUI but rather the inherent game dynamics and
teamplay. So I agree that a flashy new client is not the single
solution, however since as you say the era of the university cluster
(and through friends) being the dominant way newbies found the game we
now need a new paradigm for getting people exposed to netrek.
Certainly there are some things the server gods can do to help but I
think we need to focus on marketing. Computer gamers in general are
now much lazier, for good or bad they expect the one-click install and
easy-to-use GUI config process. So if netrek is going to be
competitive and grow the playerbase it's essential we develop a more
professional and intuitive client setup/config. There are marketing
methods that have been discussed once we are at the point of having
our spiffy new client to attract many new users. And when that happens
we must have the available servers to sustain them. Your typical FPS
or RPG player these days is used to having from literally hundreds if
not thousands of servers to choose from and is not likely to wait
around for 45 minutes to get into a server with a big wait queue. So
we need an organized group of people working together and coordinating
client/server development, marketing and able to get cooperation from
the server gods to effect real change in netrek's shrinking
playerbase. If people aren't willing to work together and put in the
time and effort to make things happen than netrek will die eventually.
In it's infancy and during the Golden Era there was much more
development and manhours being devoted to the back-end aspects of
netrek. We had enough player momentum to live off this for a while but
things are now in a state where apathy is high and new players are few
so once again we need to sustain a level of high activity on this
front if we expect to attract and keep more players.

Zach

Dossy <do...@panoptic.com> wrote in message news:<slrnbmp8kg...@ecwav.panoptic.com>...

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