I've been hard at work on the HTML5 Netrek client, online at http://trekproxy.nodester.com (and source at https://github.com/apsillers/html5-netrek). I have made massive improvements to the game's performance and usability (indeed, while I was testing on Continuum, I found myself playing several full rounds of pre-T). Since my last update in April, I have added:
- login screen with server selection
- speed indicator (settable with mouse, too -- I was hoping to make this playable on a tablet someday)
- engine temp indicator
- repair/fuel/army planet indicators
- phasers (visually a little messy, but they're there)
- defensive torp detonation
- incoming chat (no outgoing yet; not pretty)
- army transport (untested, but I think it should work)
When you try it out, know that sometimes the outfitting screen does not work and you need to refresh the page. This happens very rarely, and I am working on a fix. There's also a "bug" where you get ghost busted after 20-30 seconds of inactivity, which will disappear as soon as I get pings working.
But enough about present. Let's talk about THE FUTURE:
Sadly, I must focus my attention to other projects and cannot continue regular development on the client (until at least next year, probably). There's a lot of work to do before this can be a fully-fledged client (explosion animations, tractors, pressors, key mapping, alliances, to name a few) but I think this client could be a kind of "Netrek Lite" that new prospective players could play in-browser, to sample the game without having to download and install a native client application.
My question to all of you is: what's the best way to go about it? I don't have time to integrate a dynamic tutorial into the game, but I could make an on-page static tutorial ("Once you set course back toward Earth, go to the next lesson...") with paged, incremental lessons. The main question is whether to use a separate server for learning (a quiet server is good for learning to drive, but not combat; a hot server might keep you from following the tutorial due to unexpected combat).
Similarly, what functionality is missing right now that you feel is *critical* to learning to play and/or keeping a prospective player interested? I can give this project a few more solid hours of effort, so please let me know how I should spend them. For example, I could probably implement tractors and pressors, or I could clean up the phaser animation, or I could ensure chat works cleanly, but I can only do so much. I need some discussion of what you think is most important. Rearranging and resizing the elements on the screen (world, galactic, chat) is easiest (and probably most important, since right now the chat is very awkwardly placed) -- that would take only a matter of minutes, once I decided where to place everything.
Finally, if I am going to use a static tutorial, I need someone to either 1) draft out the tutorial text, or at least 2) propose a lesson plan that I could flesh out into a set of tutorial pages.
What say you, mailing list?
P.S. I've only really tested the client on Ubuntu Firefox, so let me know if you find any big browser compatibility bugs. If your browser supports canvas and Websockets (and even those are technically optional) and you find a problem, let me know.