History of MTrek

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Here’s a timeline of the evolution of this game (not 100% inclusive):
[please feel free to point out any inaccuracies, or to add to anything]

1983-1984: Tim Wisseman wrote a program in BASIC, which he called “Multi-Trek”. It ran on a Xerox Alto with 4 terminals. I don’t know whether it was inspired by the “Multi-Trek” FORTRAN game, “Trek”, “Alto-Trek”, “Star Trek” (a text-based game), any combination of the above, or if it was a completely original idea–I’ve never asked.

1985: Tim approached Chuck L. Peterson at UCSC, with the early ideas for the game. Chuck began writing the program in C for the university’s UNIX BSD system.

1986-1987: Multi-Trek, called “M-Trek”, “mTrek”, “mtrek”, or simply, “mtr” by some, began to pick up in popularity. Players used clients which contacted the server through a local connection. ADM-3A was a common terminal choice.

1987-1988: Multi-Trek ran on UCSCB. Around this time, Chuck added the Z-axis, making the game 3-D. From this point until present, the display layout, general functionality, and overall feel, have been nearly identical.

1988-1990: Multi-Trek was removed from UCSCB in 1988. The Torp-fire delay had been corrected by this time and the game was running at 4 updates (or tics) per second.

1991-1992: The game was mostly offline during this period. It would occasionally show up on workstations around campus.

1993: Multi-Trek first appears on netcom.com. Gopher/Veronica had begun returning search results for the Multi-Trek servers under the menu item: GAMES by this time. The game began to quickly recover its playerbase as word got out among UCSC players.

1994: This year saw a surge in the player base when Chuck created the usenet newsgroup alt.games.mtrek and began spamming other gaming-related groups about MTrek. By this time, TELNET gaming was popular at college campuses across the country and players were connecting from all over the world. There were a few significant changes to the game itself, with the elimination of several ship classes and the addition of several others. Also new, was the wormhole object, which allowed players to travel to other quadrants.

1995-1996: Beta and Omega quadrants were added. For a short time, there were 2 servers. One of them only allowed ships to fly around in the Beta quad. Presumably, this was for playtesting the new quadrant.

1996-2001: Called the “Glory Days” by some, this was also the darkest hour in terms of increasing periods of downtime and frequent server moves. A detachment from the game and from the community became apparent in Chuck. Many offered him cash, equipment, and free hosting–just to keep the game running. There was also quite a bit of hateful admin-bashing during these years. The game itself went mostly unchanged during this time, but despite the later outages, this was arguably the peak of popularity for the game. CLP’s M-Trek went offline for the last time in late 2001.

2002: Nothing happened. At all.

2003: Joe Hopkinson began writing Java-Trek. After a few months of private development, he shared what he had and enlisted the help of the mtrek community. The earlier full versions of the game were probably about 95% identical to the last running version of Multi-Trek. Notably, Jay Ashworth was heavily involved with the actual programming.

2004-2006: Joe and Jay maintained the game-host.org JTrek server and the game began to see a some real improvements over its predecessor. A few new ship classes were created. The website was comprehensive and offered several tools to enhance the player’s game, such as: documentation, forums, high score lists, and a place to save macros. Server-side bots were introduced. Players gained an increased ability to manage fleets of ships with the player account function. The Ferengi and D-10 ships from before the update in 1994 were reintroduced.

2007: Again, downtime became more frequent while Joe and Jay had less and less time to give over to running the game. But rather than let it slip away again, they released the source code.

2008-2011: Matt Morey (elixx) hosted a stock version of Java-Trek on a server which was fairly stable for the better part of 3 years. The website is still running but the game has been inaccessible for more than a year now.

2012: Robert G. McCue started the XML-Trek fork with some pretty radical changes to the fundamentals of the game. The project was geared towards a graphical client he wrote, so while players could still technically telnet into the game, a clear advantage is given to the GUI users and the gameplay is vastly different from Multi-Trek. Robert’s game is still online today.

2012-present: After giving Robert’s game a shot, and finding it a litte too different for my tastes, I decided to host a server on mtrek.com with a copy of Java-Trek I had downloaded from github. An early version on mtrek.com had all of the newer ships and features of Java-Trek turned off. It was as close to identical to later versions of CLP’s Multi-Trek between 1996 and 2001 as it could have been, short of duplicating the bugs of that time. Of course by then, the new mtrek.com was beginnig to build a playerbase. Most of the players had been regulars since the 90’s or earlier. The majority wanted the ships from Java-Trek re-enabled, and a couple of the players asked for the ships that were removed in 1994 to be restored. I happily added them all to the game. The game continues to evolve here on mtrek.com and today’s end-result is a game with a look, play, and feel that can only be described as “mtrek”. It combines the ships, quadrants, and features from all 3 decades, with some genuine improvements that take nothing away from the game.