R Jason Valentine writes "Before Ogg was an encoding standard it was a verb. Before the internet enabled the masses to play against each other in Quake and Ultima Online, there was a cross-platform multiple player interactive online game called Netrek. Netrek can trace its history back to 1972. It's an interesting, though incomplete, read, that includes travels through places like Berkeley's XCF. Netrek generally peaked in play in the early 90's, from about 1992 to 1995 or so, and was popular enough to even get an article in Wired. With this explosion of players, several variations on the original style, called Bronco, emerged. These were Chaos (similar to bronco), Paradise, and Hockey. The Chaos and Paradise variants are all but dead, mostly due to lack of players and an expired Paradise-capable client for Windows. A Bronco pick-up game still occurs daily, and usually once or twice a week, there is a hockey game. League games still exist, and this is the 10th year of league play, with around 200 players registered for the 2002 draft league."
Valentine continues: "Though the graphics are subspectacular, gameplay is enveloping. Like chess, the rules are simple and comprehendable within the first hour of play, yet the game is difficult to master. After a 5 year hiatus, I returned to the game and found play still engaging with a healthy, though small, active community. The clients haven't had a major upgrade in years, and recent rebuild attempts remain unfinished. The development slowdown can be attributed to a decrease in interest and the aging of the original programmers, who now hold steady jobs and don't have an itch to update stable clients. If you've played before, but not in a long time, the game is worth revisiting. If you've never played, and don't have the latest greatest hardware to play the latest installment of the tired FPS genre, check out Netrek. Minimum system requirements are a graphics card that can do 256 colors at 1024x768 and an internet connection."