> (NOTE: When speaking of the client, I am referring to the NetrekXP 2006
> client, V1.0)
Hey Cliff, I'm the author of Netrek XP 2006, thanks for the feedback, I'll
try and hit some of the points you've covered.

> - 10 updates/sec.  Because the client does not interpolate between
> server updates, gameplay appears 'choppy'.  This is probably the area
> where I would most be inclined to change the server, moving to an
> event-based network protocol with sync rather than a updates/sec protocol.

Nick Slager's java netrek client (jtrek) did this sort of interpolation.
It was most noticeable on torp movements.  I actually thought it made torp
movement worse though, they kinda went all wobbly.  If you want to take a
look at his client you can get it at:

It definitely has some neat stuff grahpics wise.  Perhaps more ideas can
come from looking at it ;).

> - Graphics.  In general the bitmapped graphics look dated.  Now I have
> the utmost respect for those who have come along and tried to give the
> game a more updated look with new bitmaps (Pascal comes to mind
> recently) but it's not just the bitmaps.  Smothing out movements
> (vis-a-vis smooth ship rotations) and better effects (explosions with
> particle effects, maybe some lighting, trails off the torps or plasmas)
> are the top things which come to hmind.

Well with ship movements to 256 positions (for the new bitmap set at
least), turning is smoother than ever.  Lighting effects would be cool,
maybe some particle effects too.  Trails off torps would just be
distracting though.

> - Playfield. I've always felt the tactical should be much larger.
> Obviously the galactic is very important and its ability to convey
> information should not be diminished, but perhaps it could be made as an
> overlay, or hidden under some circumstances, etc to give the player more
> tactical screen real estate (even if no real additional information is
> disphhlayed on the tactical.)

I agree, one of the longer term goals for the client is to make tactical

> - Sound.  Netrek has always been weak on this front.  We all know that
> it sounds like what it is - developers grabbed some wavs from their
> favorite Star Trek-themed source and slapped a playSound() call in the
> right places in the code.  What needs to happen is someone who is good
> at manipulating sound files needs to fix these up, balance their levels
> and integrate them into an overall sound scheme for the game.  A bit of
> background noise (the hum of the ship) wouldn't hurt.  To be fair,
> recent clients have done a better job with some of the sounds (shields
> sound good, for instance,) but others leave much to be desired (the
> login WAV on NetrekXP 2006 for instance seems jarring, the cloaking
> sound takes WAY too long compared to the cloak animation time, phaser
> blast sound is slightly delayed compared to the graphics.)

Engine hum might be ok, but I think it would get old after the first 100
hours :).  As for the specific WAV files you mentioned.
1) Login wav was a bit shrill, I fixed this in version 1.1
2) The cloak/decloak event is very short (less than a second), I've always
been used to the cloak sound being longer than the cloak event (has been
that way in every client I've seen).  I don't think it is too long
personally.  Plus all sounds overlap now so it's not like the length of
the sound prevents you from hearing some other sound.
3) I've not noticed a delay on the phaser sound, are you getting delays on
other sounds as well?  I haven't had a chance to really test the sound on
different systems, and since it's a whole new way of playing back sound
with newSound: on (I'm assuming you are using newSound), I'm curious to
see if there are some problems.

> - Configuration.  RC files died in the 90s, at least as a primary method
> of users configuring applications.  There needs to be a proper
> configuration UI, including a modern keymapping system.  Obviously keys
> can be remapped using the help screen, but this fact is a bit opaque to
> new players and provides no instruction.

I do feel the keymap mapping is still the most difficult user
configuration required, which is why I tried to include the best keymap
possible as the default with the client.  As for remapping keys by help,
we let players know that in one of the hint of the day messages.
The best I've come up with for changing options, is in game through the
options menu.  Most rc options can be changed there.  All netrekrc options
are listed in a file in the documentation folder called netrekrc_options.
You can choose to save your current options through page 6 of the options
menu, this creates a netrekrc.sav file in your netrek folder.  I spent
quite a bit of time improving this, so that is should basically create a
duplicate of your netrekrc with whatever options you changed in game.  I'm
hesitant to actually save over your netrekrc though, so you still have to
either rename the file or copy/paste into your netrekrc.

> The ability to move windows in
> the client is nice, but quite possibly misguided, especially since you
> can do it while in combat.  There are probably a limited number of
> genuinely useful configurations, and it may be wise to make it so you
> can't create dumb ones (for instance, where the galactic is partially
> obscured by the tactical.)  These will obviously seem like minor issues
> to devs and hardcore players, but I believe new players will expect more
> polish from a game which is ostensibly 20 years old in its present form.

Again, I tried to include the best possible window placement in the
default netrekrc.  You can turn off window movement in game by adding the
netrekrc option windowMove: off.  This is the default setting.

> - Window decoration.  Now maybe this can be turned on and I simply
> haven't looked for the switch, but by default the game should be using
> the OS standard window decorations for the main window, so that it can
> be resized, closed, minimized, etc.  Having a game window without a
> title bar (as appears on NetrekXP 2006) looks VERY strange.

The main window can be made resizeable, and it does come with a title bar.
You will need mainResizeable: on (also the default setting).  To bring up
the title bar, hit alt-enter.  The title bar cuts into the viewable
space if your monitor resolution is set to the size of your netrek window.
I could make the title bar on by default, but I think it's best the way it
is.  One of the tip of the day messages also explains how to use alt-enter
to bring up the title bar.  NetrekXP 2006 main window is minimizeable as
well.  As for the close button, it's greyed out.  Not quite sure why.
It's like that in COW and NetrekXP too.  Any insight onto this one would
be appreciated.